The Truckee River you can see on the other side of the Interstate highway provided the first drink of life-saving water California-bound emigrants had after crossing the Forty-Mile Desert. Emigrants and animals staggered to the Truckee, half dead and crazed with thirst, about three miles east of here near the point where I-80 crosses the river. The clear, cold water, flowing from the Sierra Nevada to the west, was a welcome change from the alkali-tainted water the travelers had been forced to drink for several hundred miles.

This portion of the California Trail along the Truckee River represents a transitional area for the emigrants — the end of relentless dust and heat, but the beginning of the last great challenge – crossing the Sierra Nevada. Going up the Truckee River canyon was not an easy task. The wagons would have to cross the river more than 30 times along a rough route with steep banks and fast water before the travelers reached the meadows near present-day Reno. Those who had opted for the Carson River route at beginning of the Forty-Mile Desert had an easier time for wagons, with only a few crossings of the Carson River and gentler terrain. As years went by, the Carson River route became the favored route for an emigrant’s final push to California.

I was over come and tired out, I would travel a little and I would lay down on the sand and rest and the sun shining on me, There is no timber thare I though I would never get through and I laide down to kick the bucket; but I thought of home and it give me a little more grit and I would get up, and stager along. I was so thirsty my tonge and lips cracked and bled but I was able to get to the water and after drinking a little – I dare not drink much – I felt better.” - Andrew Orvis, 1849

Butter Churn - Used to make butter on the westward journey, as well as at the emigrant’s new home at the end of the journey.
Cuttings & Bulbs - Along with seeds, cuttings and bulbs were carried for planting in California. During the journey cuttings needed to be kept damp and moist, a task that often proved difficult.
Mule Deer - Plentiful in much of the country through which the California-bound emigrants passed, deer were an important source of meat during the journey.
Hunting and Gathering - Although deer were plentiful in much of the country through which the California-bound emigrants passed, travelers had to find antelope, rabbits, and fish along the Humboldt River route.