In 1843, part of the Applegate family of Missouri headed west along the Oregon Trail to the Oregon Country.[1] Charles, Jesse, and Lindsay led their families along the trail and lost two children on the journey down the Columbia River.[1] The hardships along the way influenced the family to find an easier and safer way to the Willamette Valley.[1]

In 1846, the Oregon Provisional Legislature allowed the Applegates and others to attempt to find a more southerly route to Oregon.[2] 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.[1][2] Leaving La Creole, the party spent three and a half months surveying a route to Fort Hall in present day Idaho.[3] At that location the Applegate Trail departed the main branch of the Oregon Trail.[3] On the return trip, the group brought approximately 150 immigrants along this southern route, also known as the South Road, South Emigrant Trail or the Scott-Applegate Trail.[3]

[edit] Route

From Fort Hall, the route headed south following the Humboldt River before passing through the Black Rock Desert in present-day Nevada.[4] The trail then entered northern California and passed Goose and Tule lakes.[1] After crossing the Lost River, the route then crossed the Klamath Basin and the Cascade Range into Southern Oregon.[3] The trail then followed Keene Creek to the Siskiyou Mountains where it followed the south branch of the Rogue River.[3] Heading northerly, the route followed the Umpqua River before crossing the Calapooya Mountains into the southern Willamette Valley.[3]

[edit] Subsequent history

The trail continued to be used and improved over the next few decades after the initial party traveled the trail.[3] 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.[1] This included Jesse and Lindsay Applegate.[1] On August 3, 1992, the Applegate Trail became a National Historic Trail as part of the California National Historic Trail.

Copyright © 2006-21 Claud "Sonny" Rouch, all rights reserved. Website by OACYS Technology. Cover photo by Roberts Engineering.