As news of the discovery of gold in 1849 traveled around the world, millions of people packed up their belongings, left their homeland and traveled to California in wagons and by boat. As many as 30,000 settlers are estimated to have used the Overland Emigrant Trail in just one year.
While the scene may be silent now, take yourself back to the 1850s and 1860s and imagine the sounds of the wheels on covered wagons rolling slowly up the steep slopes of the Sierra, on primitive trails, through thick brush, dense tree cover, boulders, uneven terrain, Native American attacks, and challenges from unsettled weather. Weary and footsore travelers lost loved ones along the way who were either not strong enough to make the journey, died in accidents, or fell ill with no suitable medical care in the vast prairie. Imagine the effort required to pull covered wagons up the side of steep cliffs with ropes and pulleys.
The Overland Emigrant Trail marker stands to recognize the multiple hardships of the pioneers as they traveled west seeking a fortune from gold or just the promise of a new life. The Overland Emigrant Trail is one of a complex series of trails that crossed most Midwestern states to eventually lead into Utah, California, Oregon, and Washington.
The historical marker is located on California Highway 49 about 10 miles south of Grass Valley.
Nevada means “snow-covered” in Spanish. During winter months, Nevada County’s eastern border is wholly engulfed in the snows of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. In the 1840s and 1850s many emigrants arrived in California via the Overland Emigrant Trail which threaded through the infamous Donner Pass.