Genoa - Mormon Station


You’re now standing at the western edge of the Great Basin. If you were an emigrant headed to California, you would have entered the Great Basin 450 miles back along the trail in southern Idaho, or 500 miles back in Salt Lake City if you had taken the Hastings Cutoff.

The mountains in front of this sign, separating you from California and its promise of gold or land, are only 200 yards away. After making it this far, you would have experienced a tremendous feeling of accomplishment — you had reached the last great physical barrier standing between you and your long dreamed-of goal. Yet, looking up at the foothills of the mighty Sierra Nevada, you might also have wondered if you, your animals, and your wagon had enough remaining strength to cross these mountains.

Many emigrant parties rested in at this place, letting their animals eat the lush grass and regain their strength before pushing over the Sierra Nevada. At the little store that has been preserved here, emigrants could purchase or trade for supplies. From here the trail goes south to the headwaters of the Carson River and then west over the mountains into California.

At twelve oclock we arrive at a mormon station ... The best of Pine timber is to be seen here ... After Seven miles travel this morning, we Enter a Canyon or narrow pass through which the Head waters of this River (which we have been assending) Descends ... When I look at the Huge Rocks, the large Pine & Fir Trees, the Steep precipices and lastly the Machy or Swampy places near the Head of this Canyon, I only Consider bare Passable.” - William H. Kilgore, July 30 & 31, 1850

Kilgore's journal can be viewed on Hathitrust.

Oxen - Cattle used as draft animals. Especially suited for pulling heavy loads, they cost less than mules, were able to live off trailside grasses, and were less likely to be stolen by native bands.
Pack Train - A few emigrants used pack mules to carry their belongings along the trail. They had the advantage of speed over the slower-moving wagons, but provided no shelter from the elements.