Mormon Trail to Southern CaliforniaEdit This Page
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In 1847 members of the Mormon Battalion were honorably discharged at Los Angeles, California from their service in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War. Some made their way from various places in California to Salt Lake City, Utah. Those leaving from southern California blazed the trail that came to be called the Mormon Trail to southern California. The next year Jefferson Hunt, one of these former soldiers, and others made the return trip to California to pick up supplies. In 1849 Gold Rush emigrants hired Hunt to show them this trail.
The Mormon Trail to southern California usually followed the west side of the Wasatch Front linking several settlements from Salt Lake City to St. George in Utah. From St. George, Utah the trail passed through the extreme northwestern tip of Arizona and then on to Las Vegas, Nevada. From Las Vegas the road usually crossed the mountains down into San Bernardino, California and then west to Los Angeles. Sometimes it was extended south to San Diego.
The exact route of the Mormon Trail to Southern California may have varied over the years for different groups. Most often it passed through:
Connecting migration routes. The Mormon Trail to southern California linked to other migration routes at each end and overlapped part of another. The migration pathways connected at the northeast end included:
- California Trail (Salt Lake Cutoff) 1846 from Salt Lake City to City of Rocks, Idaho (and eventually northern California)
- Mormon Trail 1847 from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah
- Central Overland Trail 1859-1869 from Salt Lake City, Utah to Carson City, Nevada (and usually on to northern California)
- Union Pacific Railroad 1869 Ogden, Utah to Omaha, Nebraska
- Central Pacific Railroad 1869 Ogden, Utah to Sacramento, California
- Denver and Rio Grande Railroad 1883 Salt Lake City, Utah to Grand Junction, Colorado (and Denver)
The migration pathways connected at the southwest end of the Mormon Trail included:
- Camino Real de California 1770s linking Spanish Mission churches in California and Baja California
- Old Spanish Trail 1829 Los Angeles, California to Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Butterfield Overland Mail 1857-1861 from San Francisco via Los Angeles to Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri
- Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway 1881 Los Angeles, California to Chicago, Illinois
- Southern Pacific Railroad 1883 Los Angeles, California to New Orleans, Louisiana
- Atlantic and Pacific Railroad 1885 Los Angeles, California to Albuquerque, New Mexico (and the Santa Fe Railway)
Overlapping migration route The Old Spanish Trail (1829) and the Mormon Trail to southern California overlap from Cedar City, Utah to Los Angeles, California.
Modern parallels. The modern road that roughly matches the Mormon Trail to southern California is Interstate I-15.
Settlers and Records
No complete list of pioneer settlers who traveled the Mormon Trail to southern California is known to exist. However, a variety of sources exist which can be used to identify most of them.
Mormon Pioneers. Two sets of settlers used the Mormon Trail to southern California. First, the Mormon pioneers tended to settle along the trail in Utah, Nevada, or San Bernardino in California. Use the research strategies and tools described on the Mormon Trail Wiki page to help identify most of them.
California Pioneers. A second set of pioneers were bound primarily for southern California. For strategies and records you can use to help identity California settlers, see the California Trail Wiki page.
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