The Great Platte River Road through Nebraska and Wyoming was the grand corridor of America's westward expansion. The Trapper's Trail, the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, the California Road, the Pony Express route, and the military road from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Laramie--all converged in the broad valley of the Platte, forming a kind of primitive superhighway. This was the transcontinental route of the covered wagon migration of 1841-1866, one of the epic adventures of American history.
From jumping-off places along the Missouri River--notably the Omaha-Council Bluffs, St. Joseph and Kansas City areas--the emigrant throngs came together at Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory. Although the Great Migration continued to South Pass, Wyoming Territory, and beyond, this book focuses on the feeder routes, Fort Kearny, Fort Laramie, and the harrowing 400 miles between these two famous U.S. Army outposts.
In a research project extending over two decades, haunting libraries from Illinois to California, as well as following the old trails, the author has consulted over seven hundred original overland journals. This monumental work is based largely on these contemporary sources, and wherever possible the fresh original language of emigrants, soldiers, foreign observers, and other travelers has been utilized.
A chronology, original maps, contemporary sketches, modern photographs, and a comprehensive bibliography--including the most thorough compendium of overland journals published to date--are valuable aids to the reader.
Return to Society Titles