Photos and story by Tom Hunt


The Nancy Ann Allen gravesite BEFORE the outingNancy Allen Grave


The Nancy Ann Allen gravesite AFTER the outingNancy Allen Grave


The final CA/NV Chapter outing of 2000 took place on the weekend of September 29 – 30 when about 25 chapter members fenced and marked the Nancy Ann Allen grave at Bridge Creek on Nobles Trail.

The fencing project was under the direction of Tom Dougherty, and it was a model of pre-planning and efficiency. Everything was pre-cut and drilled, and the entire project was accomplished by lunchtime. This included the removal of the badly deteriorated existing pipe fencing and a general cleaning up of the gravesite. The small, existing historical plate was removed and delivered to the custody of the historical museum in nearby Westwood. Following the installation of the marker and fencing, most of the participants accepted the kind invitation of Tom and Jeanine Dougherty to be their guests at a delicious barbecue supper at nearby Bogard Campground adjacent to the historic Lassen and Nobles Trails emigrant camping area on Pine Creek.

The work team was efficient; the company congenial; the autumnal weather delightful; and the supper exceptional. A great time was had by all. The only downsides to the outing were traffic delays getting to the work site due to the major reconstruction of Highway 44, and the always-insufferable Tom Hunt. The highway project was needed and welcome and will soon be forgotten; the same cannot be said about Tom Hunt. But then, there’s nothing new about that.

For chapter members who may wish to visit the refurbished Nancy Allen gravesite in the future, it is most easily reached by leaving Highway 44 to the right (east) at the old Pittville Road junction. This junction is located between Hog Flat Reservoir and McCoy Flat Reservoir approximately 10 miles north of the junction of Highway 44 with Highway 36 five miles west of Susanville. It is then approximately four miles to Bridge Creek via the old Pittville Road. The grave is in the large meadow off to the left within a few feet of the creek. Do not attempt this drive before the roads are dry after winter.

Nancy Allen Grave

Nancy Allen Grave

Nancy Allen Grave



Many hundreds of Overland Trail emigrants died while crossing the continent during the great westward expansion of the mid-Nineteenth Century. Most of these emigrants were buried in unmarked graves beside the trails, and have been lost to history. This Nancy Ann Allen grave is one of a very few graves which was marked at the time of death on local stone and has survived as a known site down to the present time. It is a very special place for all of those Americans who treasure their national heritage.

This inscription on the gravestone reads:


Age 25 years

Died Sept. 27, 1857

Research has provided no further biographical information concerning Nancy. However, on June 23, 1865, Major Gorham Kimball, driving a flock of sheep to Idaho from California, wrote in his journal: “Found the grave of Mrs. Nancy Allen today. Some poor emigrant woman -on her way to California.

This grave vas marked and fenced with iron pipe fencing in 1924. The inscription on the small attached plate reads: “Restored by ‘Women’s Study Club’ of Westwood 1924.” In September of the year 2000, as part its program for preserving this nation’s overland emigrant trail heritage, the California/Nevada Chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association was granted permission by the Fruit Growers Supply Company of Burney, California to replace the badly-deteriorated and vandalized pipe fencing with this wooden fence and historic marker.

Nobles Trail was opened as an emigrant route into Shasta City and the northern Sacramento Valley in 1852. William Nobles contracted with the merchants of Shasta City to show a party of representatives from that prosperous gold mining settlement the new route in return for the payment of $2000 with the proviso that “should [the accompanying party] be dissatisfied with the road when they reach the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountain, I shall not consider myself entitled to any remuneration whatsoever.” Nobles received his promised fee with the enthusiastic thanks of the party and continued on to the East, where be was instrumental in the successful effort to establish the Honey Lake, South Pass, Fort Kearny Military Road–the Honey Lake-to-Humboldt-River section of this road being his Nobles Trail.

The route of the trail branched off of the earlier Applegate-Lassen Trai1 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada and came by way of Smoke Creek, Rush Creek, Honey Lake Va11ey (Susanvi11e), Bridge Creek, Bogard Station, and Poison Lake. At Poison Lake the trail turned westward and then southward up Butte Creek to enter Lassen National Park at Butte Lake. Here it turned westward again to pass north of Cindercone and Mt. Lassen to Deer Flat, Shingletown, Fort Reading, and Shasta City. In later years, branches were opened off of it to Oroville via Lake Almanor and Inskip as we1l as to Yreka via Port Crook and the Old Military Road east of Mt. Shasta. Nobles’ route was heavi1y used in the 1850’s and 1860’s, especially as a route for bringing large herds of stock into California.