Between 1841 and 1866, more than a half-million people followed trails to Oregon, California, and Utah in one of the largest mass migrations in American history. The Great Medicine Road, Part 4 collects the letters, diaries, and reminiscences of some of the emigrants who made this journey between 1856 and 1869, as a second generation of miners, farmers, town builders, and religious believers turned their adventurous eyes westward in search of new beginnings.
Here, in their own words, are the experiences of young men hoping to make their fortunes in mining operations that had sprung up as the gold rush wore down, in California but also now in the silver mines of Nevada’s Comstock Lode and the recently discovered gold mines of Colorado’s Denver and Pike’s Peak regions. Here also are families and farmers looking for land in the fertile Willamette Valley of Oregon, or joining the Mormon community in Utah. And here are the stories of intrepid sojourners traveling with—or without—military escorts as the Civil War, conflicts with Indians, and the Mormon stand against the U.S. government altered the circumstances of westward traffic.
These documents, with an introduction and editorial notes written by historian Michael L. Tate to provide context and commentary, comprise the fourth and final installment in a documentary history of the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. They give a living voice to the history of the American experience at a time of westward expansion and profound, unprecedented change.