California-Nevada Chapter Oregon-California Trails Association

Our mission is to protect the historic emigrant trails legacy by promoting public awareness of the trails through research, education, and preservation. 

The California-Nevada Chapter is one of eleven chapters of the Oregon-California Trails Association, an organization dedicated to the preservation, appreciation and enjoyment of all transmigration trails to the west, the trails that made the United States an ocean-to-ocean nation.

West Pass – Carson Route

At nearly 9,600 feet, West Pass was the highest pass the emigrants crossed.

West Pass
Diaries Give You A Glimpse of the Emigrant Experience

Francis Hardy, from Ohio, a member of the Piqua Independent California Company,  described the climb up to the Second Summit, also known as West Pass, the highest Sierra pass taken by the emigrants at nearly 9,600 feet elevation. Most diarists mentioned the year round snow bank near the top.

“Tuesday, Aug 20, 1850

Traveled 5 miles which brought me to the summit of the Snowy ridge- the ascent is very rough in places but the most of the way is tolerable passable- just before reaching the summit the road passes over (or rather through) a large snow bank which is so hard that it will bear up a loaded pack mule, but where the wagons pass over it they have worn out a deep channel in places reaching to the ground – the view from the summit of this mountain is very extensive and presents some of the most sublime scenery which I have ever witnessed – the constant melting of this snow forms numerous small creeks which come leaping down from crag to crag forming beautiful cascades which sparkle brilliantly in the light of the sun and make the woods vocal with the music of their rushing, foaming waters. ”

Map West Pass
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