February 16, 7pm, at the museum
SHS Docent Robert Keahey will give a presentation on early immigration to California. Hear about the various routes immigrants traveled, early attempts to cross the Sierra Nevada in wagons, the successful trek of the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy wagon train, and the drivers behind this biggest migration in U.S. history.
The westward migration to California is the largest in U.S. history, with over 250,000 people making the journey across the Great American Desert between 1840 and 1870. The Donner Party, the California Gold Rush, and the Intercontinental Railroad are indelibly etched in the annals of western history. But before the Donners, the Forty-Niners and the Golden Spike there were the Bidwells, Bartlesons, Walkers and Murphys who blazed a 2,000-mile trail across the rugged western plains and mountains to California.
Starting with a discussion of the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, key aspects of the development of the California Trail are examined: the drivers that ignited the spark to “go west”; key people – both famous and infamous – who dared to venture into new frontiers; the essential elements of a wagon train; and then a look at notable migrations from 1840 to 1846.
Finally, we examine an important question – “What was the impact of these early pioneers on the westward expansion?”
By Robert Keahey*
*Robert Keahey, a member of the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum docent team, shines the spotlight on these early pioneers who have mostly been relegated to the footnotes of California history. This event is offered free of charge and open to the general public.