Jess Petersen made a presentation to the Sons of Utah Pioneers, Settlement Canyon Chapter about the various overland trails that came through Utah and continued on to California.
Many have believed that there was just one “Overland Trail.” Petersen taught through word and maps the correct history of this fabled trail. When Brigham Young entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, there was no motivation to blaze a trail further west to California. There was the existing Oregon Trail that the saints used until they cut south and followed the Hastings Cutoff Trail into Salt Lake Valley. That main Oregon Trail was the popular and well used corridor into Oregon and California. The Mormon Battalion used the Oregon Trail on their return from California to Utah, and then the cut-off into the Salt Lake Valley.
It wasn’t until Johnston’s army arrived to quell the Mormon Uprising that the need for a more direct western trail to California became a need to freight supplies to the soldiers stationed just east of Tooele at Camp Floyd. Johnston sent for Captain James H. Simpson, who then surveyed and built the Overland Trail through the rest of Utah, hence the name “Simpson Springs” for that stop along this long and mainly water-less trail across the West Desert into Nevada and beyond. Unknown to this writer is that there was a central section of the Overland trail, and Northern and Southern sections, as well as numerous offshoots from these main trails.
It was all together a fascinating look into the history of our own backyard. The Sons of Utah Pioneers thank Jess for his years of research in order to help us understand this amazing undertaking. Jess Petersen has written two books about these little known exploits. Contact him if you are interested in learning more.
The presenter for the March 3 SUP meeting will be Chad Robert Parker, who just finished and published the book, “Sterling Bridge.” This book is a history of Old Town and New Town Tooele, and the efforts of Sterling Harris to bring these two often warring sections of Tooele together. It bodes to be an entertaining and information-filled evening about our own front yard.
The Sons of Utah Pioneers and their spouses and friends meet the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm in the wonderful TATC building in Tooele’s growing “Education Corridor” on the far west end of 200 South in Tooele. They hope you will give them a try and join their potluck dinner and presentations.