The Cherokee Trail

In 1849 a group of whites from Washington County, Arkansas, and Cherokee from the Nation rendezvoused on the Grand (Neosho) River at the Grand Saline for the sole purpose of going to the California Goldfields. They traveled under the leaderhip of Captain Lewis Evans, the Sheriff of Evansville, Arkansas. They were the first wagons over Fremont's Trail in the area and were using his journals. The 1849 White/Cherokee Pack Company followed a trail along the front range of Colorado then turned west along Colorado/Wyoming Border toward Fort Davy Crocket and then on to Fort Bridger. They blazed the Evans Northern Cherokee Trail south of Elk Mountain in Wyoming and then across the Red Desert to Fort Bridger. (Fremont did not follow this route, but had turned North toward the Oregon Trail)

The Cherokee Indians were not a nomadic tribe. Most were Masons, literate in both English and Cherokee. In 1850 four separate wagon trains of whites/Cherokee arrived at the South Platte in present Denver, crossed the South Platte and then proceeded north to Laporte and onto the Laramie Plains where they turned west along the Colorado/ Wyoming border via the Fort Davy Crockett trail to Fort Bridger. The lead wagon company cut the road from Tie Siding to Fort Bridger known as the 1850 or Southern Cherokee Trail.

Both routes were heavily used. Neither the 1849 nor the 1850 group went over Bridger Pass, as it was not explored until 1850, and was not open for wagons or used by military until 1858. From 1858 until 1862 the route over Bridger Pass was the Cherokee Trail, a variation of the Evans 1849 trail. After the Overland Stage moved down onto it, it was called the Cherokee/Overland Trail.

All of the three Cherokee trails were used by those claiming homesteads in Wyoming and later as many county roads in Wyoming.

Many thanks to Dr. Jack E and Patricia K. A. Flectcher and Lee Whiteley, researchers and co-authors of a new book on the Cherokee Trail. Visit their web site for more detailed information on the history of the Cherokee Trail and some very good maps!

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