BLM, university partner on short film about Nobles Emigrant Trail


Bureau of Land Management

BLM Office:

Eagle Lake Field Office

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A train of 19th century wagons in high desert. SUSANVILLE, Calif. – A short film about the Nobels Emigrant Trail, an important route for 19th century pioneers, is now available for public viewing, thanks to a partnership involving the Bureau of Land Management and California State University, Chico.

The film is available below or at

Expert filmmakers from the Advanced Laboratory of Visual Anthropology at Chico State produced, directed and filmed the story along the trail route that crosses high desert public lands northeast of Susanville. It describes how the route alleviated some hardships that 19th century emigrants faced on other routes into California’s gold fields and farmlands. The film features interviews with BLM archaeologists and with representatives from Trails West, an organization that documents and marks emigrant trails.

“Importantly, this film includes perspectives of the people native to our region,” said Brian Novosak, manager of the BLM Eagle Lake Field Office in Susanville. “Insights shared by Melany Johnson of the Susanville Indian Rancheria are a vital part of this story.”

Explorer William Nobles in 1852 pioneered the route connecting the Shasta County community of Shasta City with the established Applegate Trail near the Black Rock Desert. The trail crossed the Smoke Creek area, bringing emigrants into the Honey Lake Valley and the current site of Susanville. It continued across the mountains that are now part of the Lassen National Forest before terminating at Shasta City.

Visitors can still see remnants of the original trail running parallel to the Smoke Creek Road northeast of Susanville, in Susanville’s Memorial Park, and in areas west of Susanville. Many trail segments are marked with Trails West signposts. Information and a trail map are available at



The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.