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Applegate Trail: Map

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Main route of Oregon Trail (green line) and California Trail (thick red line), including Applegate Trail (northernmost thinner red line)
The Applegate Trail was a wilderness trail through today's U.S. states of Idahomarker, Nevadamarker, Californiamarker, and Oregonmarker, and was originally intended as a less dangerous route to the Oregon Territorymarker. U.S. Route 99 through Oregon (now Oregon Route 99) and Interstate 5 follow the trail's route.

Background

In 1843, part of the Applegate family of Missourimarker headed west along the Oregon Trail to the Oregon Country. Charles, Jesse, and Lindsay led their families along the trail and lost two children on the journey down the Columbia River. The hardships along the way influenced the family to find an easier and safer way to the Willamette Valley.

In 1846, the Oregon Provisional Legislature allowed the Applegates and others to attempt to find a more southerly route to Oregon. The group began the task on June 25, 1846, with Jesse Applegate, Lindsay Applegate, David Goff, John Owen, B. F. Burch, W. Sportsman, Robert Smith, a Mr. Goodhue, J. Jones, B. Ausbuan, and Levi Scott starting the survey. Leaving La Creole, the party spent three and a half months surveying a route on a round trip to Fort Hallmarker in present day Idaho. At that location the Applegate Trail departed the main branch of the Oregon Trail. On the return trip, the group brought approximately 150 immigrants along this southern route, which also known as the South Road, South Emigrant Trail or the Scott-Applegate Trail.

Route

From Fort Hall, the route headed south following the Humboldt River before passing through the Nevada desert. The trail then entered northern Californiamarker and passed Goose and Tule lakes. After crossing the Lost River, the route then crossed the Klamath Basinmarker and the Cascade Range into Southern Oregonmarker. The trail then followed Keene Creek to the Siskiyou Mountainsmarker where it followed the south branch of the Rogue River. Heading northerly, the route followed the Umpqua River before crossing the Calapooya Mountainsmarker into the southern Willamette Valley.

Subsequent history

The trail continued to be used and improved over the next few decades after the initial party traveled the trail. In 1848, when news of the California Gold Rush reached the Willamette Valley, many settlers left Oregon for the gold fields using the trail to reach northern California. This included Jesse and Lindsay Applegate. On August 3, 1992, the Applegate Trail became a National Historic Trail as part of the California National Historic Trail.

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