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The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

california trail

california trail

The Grave of Nancy Hill

On the Oregon-California Trail in western Wyoming lies the grave of 20-year-old Nancy Hill, who died of cholera while bound for California in 1852. The gravestone, though old, is not original and part of the inscription—“Killed by Indians—” for many years misled locals about the cause of her death.

Haystack Butte

Not many diarists mentioned Haystack Butte, a minor landmark on the Sublette Cutoff of the Oregon/California Trail, but forty-niner J. Goldsborough Bruff sketched it in his journal. Some remarked that the 60-foot-high butte resembled “a farmer’s hay stack;” others called it called it “a bee-hive” or “sugar-loaf.”

The Grave of Ephraim Brown

Out of nearly 200 people who died from murder or other homicides on the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s, only one lies in a grave with a known location. Missourian Ephraim Brown, a leading figure on a wagon train bound for California, was killed near South Pass in 1857 in what appears to have been a bitter family dispute. Details, however—who killed him, why and how—are frustratingly sketchy.

Big Sandy Crossing

The main branch of the Oregon Trail crossed the Big Sandy River at present Farson, Wyo. State Highway 28 running southwest from Farson continues to parallel the route. Swales are often visible alongside the highway, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left.

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