Lone Hand Western - Old West History

Oregon Trail Landmarks

Below is a table of the distances between landmarks the pioneers would have used on the Oregon trail.  Considering the fact that the pioneers traveled only 10 to 15 miles a day it gives good idea of how long the journey would take.


In miles between landmarks.

From Independence to Rendezvous 20
" Rendezvous to Elm Grove 13
" Elm Grove to Walkarusha 20
" Walkarusha to crossing of Kansas river 28
" Kansas to crossing of Turkey creek 14
" Turkey creek to Little Vermilion 24
" Little Vermilion to branch of same 12
" To Big Vermilion, with intermediate camps 29
" Vermilion to Lee's branch 8
" Lee's branch to Big Blue 6
" Big Blue to the junction with St. Joseph's trail 10

The distance from St. Joseph, Missouri, to the Independence trail, striking it ten miles west of Blue river, is about one hundred miles. Good camps can be had from eight to fifteen miles apart.

From forks of road as above, to Big Sandy, striking it near its junction with the Republican Fork of Blue river, with intermediate camps 42

" Sandy to Republican fork of Blue river 18
" up Republican fork, with good camps 53
" Republican fork to Big Platte 20
" up Big Platte to the crossing of South fork 120

Camps can be had at suitable distances, with wood for fuel upon the islands.

From lower to upper crossings of South fork 45

There is a road on each side of the river, and but little choice in them.

From South to North fork, at Ash Hollow 20
" Ash Hollow to opposite Solitary Tower, on Little creek 42
" Little creek to opposite Chimney rock 16
" Chimney Rock to where the road leaves the River 15
" thence to Scott's Bluffs (Good Spring) 10
* Scott's Bluffs to Horse creek 12
" Horse creek to Fort Laramie 24
" Laramie to Dry Branch and Big Spring 12
" to Bitter Cottonwood 10
To Willow Branch 7
" Horse Shoe Creek 7
" River 8

Thence to where the Road leaves the River 8

To Big Timber creek 16
"Marble creek 5
" Mike's head creek 12
" the River, crossing several streams 10
"Deer creek 6

Thence to crossing of North fork of Platte 25

From crossing of Platte to Spring 10

Thence to Mineral Springs (bad camp) 8

" Willow Spring (good camp) 5
" Independence Rock on Sweet Water 22
" Devil's Gate 5

Up Sweet Water to South Pass (good camps) 104

Over the dividing ridge to Pacific Spring, the waters of which run into Green river 5


From Spring to Little Sandy 20

Here the road forks, the southern trail going by way of Bridger's Old Fort, and thence to Bear river. The northern (which is two and a half days less driving) strikes Green river about forty miles above the southern trail; I will give the distance on both routes.

The northern route, from Little Sandy to Big Sandy 6
From Big Sandy to Green River 40
(No water and but little grass between.)
" thence to Bear river, (with good camps,) 64
On the southern route: —
From Little Sandy to Big Sandy 12
Down Big Sandy to Green river 24
Cross Green river and down 8
From Green river to Black's fork 15
Up Black's fork to Bridger's Old Fort 30
From Old Fort to Little Muddy (poor camp) 8
" thence to Big Muddy (poor camp) 10
Up Big Muddy to the dividing ridge (good camp near head of creek) 32
Over dividing ridge to spring 10
From spring to camp on Bear river 6
" thence to where the northern trail comes in 10

To Smith's fork three miles, to Narrows four miles, and thence to crossing of Bear three miles .... 10 Here the road forks; the nearest is to follow up the creek two miles, cross and then go over the ridge five miles to the foot of Big Hill, where the roads again unite 7

The other road crosses the river, follows up the bottom about ten miles, re-crosses and is then about seven miles to junction.

From foot of Big Hill, to top of ridge is about 3

thence to Big Timber on Bear river 4
Here is a company of American traders and trappers
From Big Timber to Soda Springs 36
" Spring to Soda Pool seven miles, to Spring Bush three 10
" Spring to Running Branch 9
" thence to foot of hill 8
" foot of hill over dividing ridge and down to camp 12
" thence to Lewis's river bottom at Springs 18
and to Fort Hall 5
" Fort Hall to the crossing of Portneth 6
" Portneth to American falls 12
" American falls to Levey creek 15
" thence to Cassia creek, (here the California trail turns off) 8
" Cassia to Big Marsh 15
"Marsh to River 11
" River to Goose creek four miles, seven miles to river, and twelve miles to Dry Branch, (water in pools) 23

To Rocky Creek 8

" crossing of Rocky creek, eight miles, down to where the road leaves the bluff of creek, seven 15
" Salmon Falls creek 20
From thence to Salmon falls 6
" Falls to first crossing of Lewis river 23
" crossing to Bois river is about 70
Camps can be had from six to fifteen miles
Down Bois river to Fort Bois (good camps) 46
Cross Lewis river and thence to Malheur 15
" Malheir to Birch creek, about 20
" Birch creek to river three miles, and thence five miles to Burnt river 8
Up Burnt river about (good camps) 26
From where the road leaves Burnt river, to the lone pine stump in the bottom of Powder river, (the
last thirteen miles no water) 28

To the crossing of Powder river . . 10
To Grand Round 15
Across the southern end of Grand Round 7
Up Big Hill and on to Grand Round river , 8
Over the Blue Mountains to Lee's encampment 19
To Umatillo river 16
Down Umatillo river 44
" Columbia river to John Day's river 33
From thence to Falls river 22
And thence to the Dalles of the Columbia 16
From the Dalles to Oregon city, by way of wagon road south of Mount Hood about 160

Upon reaching the Columbia, emigrants should have persons in advance to select suitable places for camp ground: as the country along the river is extremely barren, and the grazing limited to small patches.


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