Butte Meadows in Tehama County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
History of the Lassen Trail
Lassen was an inveterate trail blazer and inspired by the desire to route emigrants to his Bosquejo Rancho and prospective Benton City, he pioneered a route in 1847 that diverged from the Applegate Trail just south of Goose Lake (presently Modoc County).
Lassen was accompanied by a party of emigrants from Missouri, whom he had persuaded to leave the better established California Trail, which took a more southerly route toward Donner and Carson Passes. They followed the Applegate Trail, established the year before for Oregon travelers, until departing in a southwesterly direction along the Pit River.
Unfortunately, Lassen had not traveled the route before, and soon encountered great difficulties in the Pit River Canyon. The party converted their ten ox-drawn wagons into lighter and more maneuverable carts. They wandered south through steep hills and thick timber, looking for a way to circumvent Mt. Lassen and its adjacent peaks. By the time they had found a passage westward, winter was approaching and the discouraged emigrants faced starvation.
Fortunately, help arrived. A large party of gold seekers, from Oregon, coming south
Lassen had charted a new trail to California, but his wagon train suffered greatly, and the trip has taken months longer than the shorter Donner Pass and Carson Pass routes would have taken. Lassen now had the ill will of those who followed him and a dubious reputation as a trail blazer.
The Lassen Trail had a year of prominence that began in August 1849, when a party of 49ers took the "Lassen cut-off," believing it to be a shorter route to the gold fields. Latecomers that year followed unquestioningly the growing number of tracks across the desert, attracted by an inaccurate sign; posted where the Lassen-Applegate trail left the Humboldt River in Nevada which read "Only 110 miles to diggings." They suffered grievously from the dwindling grass supply, the long distance and an early snowfall in the Lassen Peak region in October and November that caught many wagons still on the trail. At great personal risk, relief parties from Sacramento Valley rescued the last stragglers and took them to Lassen Ranch.
Some 8000 people has crossed into California via the Lassen Trail that year. Word spread of their misfortunes, however, and very few thereafter make the mistake of following it.
Erected by Lassen National Forest.
Location. 40° 8.088′ N, 121° 42.384′ W. Marker is in Butte Meadows, California, in Tehama County. Marker is on Lassen Trail (Forest Road 27N08) near Highway 32, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Forest Ranch CA 95942, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Welcome to the Ishi Wilderness (a few steps from this marker); Lassen Trail - Unrecognizable Emigrants (a few steps from this marker); Lassen Trail - Bruff's Camp (approx. 2.6 miles away); Bruff's Camp (approx. 2.6 miles away); Lassen Trail - The Narrows (approx. 3.4 miles away); Lassen Trail - Mill Creek Overlook (approx. 7.2 miles away); Lassen Trail - The Last Summit (approx. 8.6 miles away); Katie Thompson – Mattie Thompson – Josie Campbell (approx. 9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Butte Meadows.
More about this marker. There are no signs identifying Forest Service Road 27N08 or Lassen Trail. This marker is about 22 miles from Highway 32 on Forest Service Road 27N08
Also see . . . The Circuitous Route of Peter Lassen - Pacific Crest Trail Reader. Little is known about the adventures and sufferings of the Lassen party as it pushed southward from Goose Lake toward the Sacramento Valley. For the first few days the going was easy. The journey lay along the meadow-lined waters of the upper Pit River. Then, below the present town of Bieber, the flatlands pinched out; and the travelers left the Pit and headed in to a hilly region to the south. (Submitted on September 2, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.)
Additional keywords. California Gold Rush
Categories. • Roads & Vehicles • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 2, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 143 times since then and 42 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 2, 2015, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.