The first emigrant wagon train bound for the state of California left Independence on a 1,730 mile journey on this date in 1841. There were 70 men, women, and children in 15 wagons in what was known as the Bidwell-Bartleson group. 

In Idaho, about half the original party decided to take the easier trail to the Oregon territory. The rest determined to continue to California and headed west along the north shore of the Great Salt Lake. 

They were forced to abandon their wagons in Nevada. With their surviving animals they eventually found their way through the Ruby Mountains to the Humboldt River and climbed the Sierra Nevada Mountains into California. Most were nearly dead from starvation and exhaustion. 

Content based on information from the U.S. Department of the Interior Land Management Bureau.

Photo credit: Roger Lipera, Unsplash