Presenting the “lost” year of the overland emigrants in 1848, this volume sheds light on the journey of the men, women, children, and the wagon trains that made the challenging trek from Missouri to Oregon and California. These primary sources written by seven men and women diarists from different wagon companies, tell how settlers endured the tribulations of a five-month westward journey covering 2,000 miles. These intrepid souls include a young mother, a French priest, a college-educated teacher, and an ox driver. Subjected to the extremes of fear, failure, suffering, and hope, they persevered and finally triumphed.
Tapping into newly discovered archival sources, Michael LaSalle enriches our understanding of the westward movement through his painstaking reconstruction of the experiences of eighteen wagon trains that took to the Oregon and California Trails in 1848. Richly illustrated with photographs, artwork, and maps, his narrative weaves the various “voices” of these pioneer reporters into a compelling day-to-day trail experience that provides insight into this great American adventure.
—Willis M. Conover, Professor Emeritus,
The University of Scranton
Emigrants on the Overland Trail takes a unique and fascinating approach to writing about westward emigration. Rather than just following one group of emigrants, Michael LaSalle follows all the wagon trains that headed west in 1848. As they struggle along each section of the trail, readers develop a thorough understanding of the physical and emotional challenges of the journey. We come to know and care about the successes of these pioneers. This is a “must read” for everyone interested in Overland Trail history.
—Lynda Paznokas, Professor Emeritus, Washington State University