See also the Scenic Roads section.
The present-day Alaska Highway runs for just over 1500 miles from Dawson Creek in British Columbia to Fairbanks in Alaska. I have not travelled on this road. I believe that while it is paved all the way, services become less frequent as you go further north, especially in winter.
The historic Bozeman Trail ran for 400 miles from the Oregon Trail in Wyoming to Virginia City in Montana. I cannot find any reference to a town called Virginia City in modern-day Montana, so I assume it was a gold-rush boom town which no longer exists. There is a town called Bozeman on I-90 in south-central Montana, which may have been on the trail. The Bozeman Trail crossed the lands of the Sioux and Cheyenne peoples, adding to their resentment of the encroachment of the Europeans.
The present-day Cabot Trail is a road, reported as being highly scenic and offering spectacular views, which runs along the northeastern coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The road passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
The historic California Trail was the route west for many pioneers in the nineteenth century. The trail followed the same route as the Oregon Trail as far as Fort Bridger in Wyoming, from where it branched off to the southwest.
The historic El Camino Real (Spanish for "The Royal Road" - Real is pronounced ray-al) ran along the Rio Grande valley in New Mexico from El Paso north to Santa Fe and into eastern Colorado. I-25 follows much the same route today.
I have also seen a statement that the town of Fullerton in California's Orange County is situated on the old El Camino Real. If this information is accurate then it must be referring to a different road with the same name, I feel.
The historic Chihuahua Trail ran from Mexico City to Santa Fe in New Mexico. It passed through Albuquerque, New Mexico. It therefore would seem to follow much the same route as El Camino Real, and may just have been an alternative name.
The historic Chisholm Trail ran north from San Antonio in Texas, via Austin and Fort Worth, then through Oklahoma (referred to as "Indian Territory" at the time when the trail was used) to Wichita and finally Abilene in Kansas (which is not to be confused with the town of the same name in Texas). The trail was a major cattle driving route, used by cattlemen driving their herds for shipment east by rail in the period following the American Civil War. The trail began to fall into disuse once the main shipment point moved west to Dodge City in the early 1870's, and was abandoned once all cattle shipments were made by rail from the 1880's.
See National Road.
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, administered by the United States National Park Service, runs for approximately 3,700 miles approximately along the route taken by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
The trail starts near Wood River in Illinois and runs through parts of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington State. However, many sections of the expeditions' journey were conducted by boat on the Missouri and Columbia Rivers. Several sections of the route which are now covered by modern-day roads are marked with a special sign with a silhouette of Lewis and Clark, one of them with his arm outstretched pointing to the left. However, the route is not signposted as an integrated unit. There are a number of historic memorials, visitor centres, etc along the way. A considerable amount of detailed information is available on the relevant page of the US National Park Service web site.
The Lincoln Highway was, I believe, the first transcontinental highway. Some short sections of the old highway are marked by historical markers. Lincoln Highway web site
The historic Mormon Trail paralleled long sections of the Oregon Trail. Instead of covered wagons, many Mormons pulled hand carts along the trail. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to discover any more information about this trail, but presumably it led to Utah.
See the Natchez Trace Parkway page.
The historic National Road, also called the Cumberland Road, ran for nearly 800 miles from Cumberland in Maryland to Vandalia in Illinois. Part of US40 now runs along the same route. The building of the road was a significant factor in the development of the land west of the Appalachian Mountains.
The historic Oregon Trail ran for about 2000 miles from its "jumping-off point" of Independence in Missouri to the Willamette Valley (south of present-day Portland) in Oregon. The trail started by following the Platte River for about 540 miles through present-day Nebraska, passing Scotts Bluff, to Fort Laramie in present-day Wyoming. It then continued along the North Platte and Sweetwater Rivers via Fort Caspar (now the present-day town of Casper, spelt with an "e" instead of an "a") to South Pass in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. This was the only pass for hundreds of miles in either direction through the Rockies which was both sufficiently gradual to be feasible for wagons and which offered sufficient grazing for horses. From South Pass the trail headed south to Fort Bridger before following the Snake River across southern Idaho. The final section of the trail crossed the Blue Mountains in Oregon before reaching the Columbia River, where wagons were floated downstream. Various cutoffs and other routes were used were used as alternatives to some sections of the main trail.
Between 1842 and 1862 an estimated 300,000 emigrants travelled along the Oregon Trail. The journey took some five or six months, and timing of when to start out was critical in order to provide sufficient grazing and in order to avoid bad weather in the mountains.
Most emigrants used oxen to pull their covered wagons, not horses.
The United States Bureau of Land Management have established an excellent Oregon Trail Interpretive Centre near the town of Baker City, Oregon.
There is an excellent Museum of the Oregon Trail at Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska.
The United States National Park Service administer the Oregon National Historic Trail. Although much of the route can be travelled on modern-day roads, and there are numerous historical markers and exhibits along the way, the route is not signposted as an integrated unit. A considerable amount of detailed information is available on the relevant page of the US National Park Service web site.
Route 66, or US66 to give it its official designation, is immortalized in the well known song of the same name, which lists many of the places the road passed through:
Route 66 was never a coast to coast road - it started at Chicago, Illinois, one third of the way across the continent.
Route 66 was the road taken by many of migrants from the dustbowl region to the crop growing areas of California during the Great Depression years.
Nowadays, just about the entire length of Route 66 has been replaced by Interstates. However, some historical sections of the old highway have been preserved.
The historic Santa Fe Trail ran for about 780 miles from Independence in western Missouri, via Topeka, Council Grove, Pawnee Rock and Dodge City in Kansas, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The trail crossed the westernmost part of the Oklahoma panhandle and looped south so as to approach Santa Fe from the south, presumably because of the mountains further north. The trail was used by as many as 5000 wagons a year from 1822 until the railway reached Santa Fe in 1880.
Fort Union National Monument, just off I-25 in New Mexico, lies on the route of the Santa Fe Trail.
I have read a statement that the city of El Monte in Los Angeles County, California, was the western terminus of the Santa Fe Trail. If this information is correct, then presumably it refers to another trail of the same name, perhaps one which ran west from Santa Fe.
The Trail of Tears is the name given to the forcible eviction in the late 1830's by federal troops of some eighteen to twenty thousand people who formed the majority of the Cherokee tribe, from the area around the Great Smoky Mountains three hundred miles west to "Indian Territory" (present-day Oklahoma), following the discovery of gold on their tribal lands. About four thousand died due to hunger, disease and exposure on the way.
See the Trans-Canada Highway page.
The historic Wilderness Road ran for over 200 miles from the Holstein River Valley in western Virginia, via eastern Tennessee and the Cumberland Gap to central Kentucky. One route branched west to Nashville and the other went north to Louisville. The road was cleared and marked in the 1770's by Daniel Boone and a party of thirty axmen. For the next fifty years the Wilderness Road was the main migration route for about 200,000 people who settled Tennessee and Kentucky. The Wilderness Road was also known as Boone's Trace. Some present-day highways follow the same route.
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