Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Gold Rush Travel Journal, 1849-1850

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, October 2009

Summary Information
Title: Gold Rush travel journal
Creator: Anonymous
Inclusive dates: 1849-1850
Extent: 1 volume
This travel journal documents a journey from the Missouri River to California during the time of the California Gold Rush. The trek began on April 28, 1850, near Fort Leavenworth on the Missouri River, and ends on October 31, 1850, at Georgetown, California, on the edge of what is now the Eldorado National Forest, north of Sacramento.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2003. M-4308.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Gold Rush travel journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This item tracks the journey of its unnamed author from the Missouri River at Elizabeth Landing to Georgetown, California, as he travels west to prospect for gold in 1850.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Gold Rush travel journal (44 pages) spans the period from April 28, 1850, to October 31, 1850, and details an overland journey from the Missouri River to California, during the time of the California Gold Rush. Of the diary's 44 pages, the last 9 contain lists of food purchased from stores and traders (buying tobacco and food and selling gold), and the final page concerns buying food in St. Louis (May 29, 1849).

The author made entries every few days and provided descriptions his location, total distance traveled, and, occasionally, of weather and temperature. While the party traveled mostly by horse and wagon, they also used rafts and ferries to cross rivers. Entries are short and generally provide only details of the scenery and the party's routes on their way west. The author began his journey on the Missouri River at Elizabeth Landing, and ended it at Georgetown, California. Several entries specify his location with names of rivers and landmarks, including the Little Blue River, "Grand Island" (north of Fort Kearney), the Platte River, Chimney Rock, Fort Laramie, the Sweetwater River, the Soda Springs, the Bear Creek River, Goose Creek, Mary River, "Hudspeth’s Cutoff," and the Humboldt River. The traveler also mentioned the killing of a buffalo by a William Hubbard, trading with the Sioux Indians on the North Platte River, signing Chimney Rock, and passing by a spring hot enough to boil coffee. He provided financial details such as the cost of particular ferry crossings and supplies. At one point, the author recorded being ill with mountain fever, but quickly recovered without further incident. On June 2nd, he noted that "the dust [was] very bad and the ground was covered with Alkali and the dust [on the] mountains looked like they had burned for a thousand years."

On October 1, 1850, the author left his company and traveled to Georgetown, California, and began working on a claim at Pools Bar on October 5, 1850. His last entry is from Georgetown, California, on the edge of what is now the Eldorado National Forest, north of Sacramento.

Subject Terms

    • California--Gold discoveries.
    • California National Historic Trail--Description and travel.
    • Chimney Rock (Neb.)
    • Fort Laramie (Wyo.)
    • Georgetown (Calif.)
    • Gold mines and mining--California--History--19th century.
    • Humboldt River (Nev.)
    • Overland journeys to the Pacific.
    • Overland trails--Description and travel.
    • Platte River (Neb.)
    • Soda Springs (Idaho)
    • Sweetwater River (Wyo.)
    • Voyages and travels.
    • West (U.S.)--Description and travel.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Volume   1  
    Gold Rush travel journal,  1849-1850 [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data

    See the Gold Rush travel journal control file for a map that traces the prospector's journey from the Missouri River to California.