The Oregon Trail in Idaho

Posted by Hughes Group Blog Team on Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 at 3:48pm.

Lewis and Clark's famous Oregon Trail cuts through what is now southern Idaho, traversing perilous river crossings, deserts, and mountains. There were also alternate routes, cut-offs and connecting trails which reflected the surrounding terrain. For example, if a valley was 10 miles wide, so was the nearest trail. Should a ford or canyon have proven to be narrow, the trail would also be narrow. There are many landmarks along the Idaho portion of the trail, so if you're considering purchasing Idaho real estate, you'll find this region to be rich with historic value.


President Thomas Jefferson selected his long-time friend Meriwether Lewis 
to lead the venture west, and Lewis chose William Clark, a seasoned frontiersman, as his co-leader. In May 1804, an exploratory party of a few dozen intrepid men headed west up along the Missouri River. Jefferson's hope was that an easy water route to the Pacific would be discovered. The expedition drew out over so much time, that many assumed the members of the party had perished. Fortunately, that was not the case. Rather than attempt to provide a snapshot historical lesson beyond these basics, the intent of this article is to focus upon what highlights of the Oregon Trail you'll find in modern Idaho, so that is where the remaining gist is centered. 
 Unfortunately, what Clark claimed was "...the most practicable and navigable passage across the continent of North America" was anything but that. In fact, no pioneer wagon would ever retrace their footsteps over the extremely challenging terrain. But the mystery of the West was unlocked, thanks to their efforts and map-making skills. Here are just a few of the many Idaho features of the Oregon Trail:
  • Oregon Trail Marker Number 375 in Idaho is located near Boise in Ada County. Erected by the Idaho Historical Society. It's on Interstate 84, one mile north of Black's Creek Road at a rest stop area between Boise and Mountain Home. It gives directions to other nearby stops and points of interest along the Trail.
  • Smith's Trading Post, or Fort Smith in Bear Lake County, Trail Marker #159. Run by Pegleg Smith, this trading post on Bear Lake enjoyed a booming business during the gold rush of 1849. Thousands passed through this prime location, due to the lure of gold fever. In fact, many '49ers reported Pegleg made over $100 per day - a virtual fortune in that day and age.
  • Payne's Ferry is located near Hagerman, Idaho - Marker 206. A scow powered by oarsmen allowed Oregon Trail wagons to ford the Snake River at this point between 1852 and 1870.
  • The Famous Three Islands Crossing found in Glenns Ferry, Idaho. This small town takes great pride in the wonderful Oregon Trail. Even going so far as to re-enact the river crossing to display just how difficult it was for those brave early Americans, Glenns Ferry honors them well.

As you're learning, Idaho is surrounded by historical points of interest. So investing in Idaho real estate not only provides you a beautiful place to live, complete with plenty of great outdoor vistas and activities but the opportunity to easily travel to and learn more about the brave pioneers along the Oregon Trail who helped open up the West so we can still enjoy its many benefits today. Come home to Idaho!

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