<< Back to Historic Trails Map

covered wagon.
Oregon-California-Mormon Pioneer-Pony Express Trails

Oregon Trail

Although its name has come to symbolize the entire western covered wagon emigration, the Oregon Trail is a distinct wagon road that stretched 1,932 miles from Courthouse Square in Independence, Missouri to Oregon City on the Willamette River in Oregon country. The route was known to mountain men, fur trappers, traders and missionaries in the 1820s and 1830s but was not successfully negotiated by a wagon train until 1843. The Trail entered Oregon Territory when it crossed South Pass in what is now western Wyoming.

The actual route is well marked by BLM concrete marker posts and by white carsonite stakes placed by the Oregon-California Trails Association. Much of the Trail west of Casper is located on public lands and is visible and accessible. Auto tour route signs are posted on public roads and highways paralleling the Trail.
 California Trail

This trail is best known for the incredible amount of traffic it carried during the California Gold Rush years of 1849 through the mid-1850s. The California Trail continued to split traffic with the Oregon Trail before and after the Gold Rush. The California Trail shares its route with the Oregon and Mormon Pioneer Trails from Fort Laramie through South Pass. During the Gold Rush years, most of the Forty-Niners elected to take any one of a series of shortcuts that bypassed the southern dog-leg of the original trails to Fort Bridger.

Trail marking and land ownership patterns are the same as the Oregon and Mormon Pioneer Trails.
 Mormon Pioneer Trail 

This 1,297 mile trail links Nauvoo, Illionois with Salt Lake City, Utah. The western stretch of the Trail across Wyoming was opened in 1847 when church leader Brigham Young led a pioneer party of 148 Latter Day Saints and 72 wagons from the Missouri River to their new, permanent home in the Salt Lake Valley.

The Mormon Pioneer Trail through Wyoming is roughly identical to the Oregon Trail from Fort Laramie to Fort Bridger. The same patterns of land ownership and trail markings apply
 Pony Express Trail

For eighteen months starting in April, 1860, the Pony Express was the talk of the nation. Since that time it has become a legend the world enjoys. The firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell turned the idea into reality and a crew of "young, skinny, wiry fellows...expert riders willing to risk death daily" carried it out. Each rode over 100 miles a day, changing horses every 10-15 miles. They carried the mail between St. Joseph and Sacramento, 2,000 miles in ten days, sometimes less. The completion of the transcontinental telegraph in October, 1861 signaled the end of the Pony Express.

The Pony Express Trail follows the Oregon and California trail routes through eastern Wyoming and South Pass to Fort Bridger. From there it makes use of the Mormon Pioneer Trail into the Salt Lake valley. The route is well marked, both along the actual trail and on parallel highways and byways. Much of the trail is on BLM public lands west of Casper.