7. Hudspeth Cutoff

The Hudspeth Cutoff was used by many westward travelers during the California Gold Rush to save precious travel time. The previous route took travelers all the way to Fort Hall in Idaho. After this new route was trailblazed by Benoni M. Hudspeth, John J. Myers and a large group of pioneers in 1849, the Hudspeth Cutoff soon became a well-traveled part of the California Trail system.


Pioneers in 1849, the 49’ers, hoped to start prospecting for gold as fast as possible. So, anything that got them closer to their goal faster than others was worth the risks. In the heat of the California Gold Rush, two experienced and talented mountain men, Hudspeth and Myers, created the Hudspeth cutoff to try to save valuable time. Benoni M. Hudspeth had already traveled the original California Trail in 1843. Both men had traveled with John C. Fremont to California in 1845, so they had experience with the area.


On July 19, 1849, Hudspeth and Myers led a large party of 70 wagons from Missouri through this new, more direct route. They thought that the new cutoff would save significant time and lead them directly to the Humboldt River. Unfortunately, the pass only saved about 25 miles of travel distance and had several difficult stretches with four north-south ridges and limited water resources. Even so, this new route became the most commonly used route in the area over time.


The two markers in the map below are Idaho Historical Markers marking the approximate beginning and ending points of Hudspeth's Cutoff.