University of Nevada Press


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ISBN: 978-0-87417-752-7
Binding: [Paperback]
Pages: 304
Publication date: March 2008
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The Overland Journey from Utah to California
Wagon Travel from the City of Saints to the City of Angels
Historian Edward Leo Lyman has provided the first history of the complete Southern Route and of the people who developed and used it. The wagon trail between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles is one of the most important and least-known elements of nineteenth-century Western migration. Known as the Southern Route, it included the western half of the Old Spanish Trail and was favored because it could be used for travel and freighting year-round. It was, however, likely the most difficult route that pioneers traveled with any consistency, following not rivers but leading from one—sometimes dubious—desert watering place to the next and offering few havens for the sick, weary, or unfortunate.

Based on extensive research in primary sources—including many early travelers’ accounts—and on Lyman’s own investigation of the route and its branches, the book discusses the exploration and development of the Old Spanish Trail, its horse thieves and traders, including Jed Smith and Kit Carson, along with government explorer John C. Frémont.

“Finally, a major, new treatment of the important trail to southern California. Edward Leo Lyman brings to life the history of one of the West’s most important pioneer roads and adds new details that escaped previous histories. Trail historians of the American West have found a new primer.” —Ronald W. Walker, professor of history, Brigham Young University

“Edward Leo Lyman has captured for us the essence and significance of this forbidding trail and elevated it into the mainstream of western trail history.” —Gerald L. Prescott, Southern California Quarterly

“Lyman knows his subject well and writes with enthusiasm… Although portions of the subject have been addressed by others, the Salt Lake City—Los Angeles segment of the Old Spanish Trail has never received the scholarly attention that Lyman has presented.” —Todd I. Berens