The Overland Trail

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California Gold Rush:

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How it Started?

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Overland Trail

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The overland trail was the cheapest, but slowest route.

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By Wagon!

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Wagon Train
California Gold Rush wagon train
(Source: Library of Congress)
Many people came to California by covered wagon. This was a long, difficult journey.

Travelers needed to travel across difficult land. They needed to cross the desert and climb the mountains with their wagons, mules and oxen.

It was very important that the travelers left early enough so not to get caught in the Sierra Mountains during the winter. Many were aware of the tragic fate of the Donner party in 1846.

Coming by land with covered wagons had its advantages. Travelers could pack a lot more gear. They would pack a cooking stove, plates and cups, and forks and knives. They would carry enough food and supplies for a 6 month journey. Food was usually bacon, ham, rice, dried fruits, bread, flour, sugar, rice, molasses, butter, coffee and tea.

California Forty Niners
Oxen-pulled Wagon (Source: Library of Congress)
Overland travelers would take tools for mining, farming, and fixing the wagon. They also took guns and ammunition, and clothes and blankets.

All of this had to be carried in a wagon about 9 feet long and 4 feet wide.

Some travelers also brought cattle and chickens to provide food.

This was a difficult route. People were often poorly prepared. Many people died during the trip from illness, starvation and drowning.

 

On Foot!

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Many people local to California, and those arriving by ship, ended up walking on foot to gold country.  

 

Books on the California Gold Rush

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  Books on the California Gold Rush
   

 

Links to other sites on the California Gold Rush

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For a daily history lesson see AccentHistory.net http://www.accenthistory.net

California Natural Resources

http://ceres.ca.gov/ceres/calweb/
geology/goldrush.html
Eyewitness to History http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/
californiagoldrush.htm
 

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