January 12 (2006, 2007)
An Unfinished Essay: Trails of Placer County

File dated January 12, 2006:

Trails of Placer County 

When the joke is on us, it is best to know the punchline at once: the historic trails of Placer County have been, and are being, ruined, obliterated, and gated closed. In the fall of 2004, for instance, Sierra Pacific Industries drove their bulldozers up and down the Big Granite Trail, south of Cisco Grove. They may as well have dropped a bomb on that lovely old trail, still marked with its "small i" Forest Service blazes, on the trees which remain.

We should ask, how could this be? Where was the Sierra Club, where was PARC, when miles of our ancient paths were being destroyed?

The Sierra Club and PARC were out to lunch.

If we failed to act then, it does not follow that we must also fail now and in the future. We can and should turn back the clock! We can volunteer our time and efforts to maintain historic trails, in these days of budget crunches, when the agencies which administer our public lands (Tahoe National Forest [TNF], and the Bureau of Land Management [BLM]) are so strapped for funds, and cannot maintain or patrol their own trail systems.

Here I will tell a little of the story of these old trails.

Indian Trails and Emigrant Roads

Many were the trails which threaded Placer County's forests and canyons. Their history is complex; the Donner Trail, for instance, follows the line of a pre-existing Indian trail which crossed the Sierra. Petroglyphs along the Donner Trail suggest it was used by the Martis Culture, of 4500-1500 years ago. They were latecomers to the party, though; it is likely that paleo-Indians used this trail ten thousand years ago.

An Indian trail branched from the main Donner trail at Emigrant Gap and, rather than dropping into Bear Valley, stayed on the ridge and followed along southwest though what would become Alta, Dutch Flat, Gold Run, Illinoistown, and Auburn, all the way down to Sacramento. Covered wagons began to lumber down this Indian trail no later than 1849, and it became known as the Old Emigrant Road. It is Placer County's almost unknown, genuine, emigrant trail (as opposed to the much better-known Placer Emigrant Road, which was built in 1852 to attract settlers).

I mention this Old Emigrant Road to help illustrate that trails have long been an issue: in 1850, the first California legislature was quick to enact a law declaring all existing emigrant trails to be public roads, which could not be blocked, or fenced, or gated, nor could tolls be charged for their use.

Hence, in the Dutch Flat area, the Old Emigrant Road was the first formal "public" road. It remains open to public use in places, like Dutch Flat's Main and Sacramento streets.

I should say that this act of the 1850 legislature is much in accord with common law, which body of jurisprudence dates to Roman times; for the issue of public use of paths and roads and trails is an ancient, ancient issue. The legal concept, that the public acquires a right merely through their use of a road or trail, over some reasonably long period of time, is an old concept.

Well. The Old Emigrant Road was used freely all through the 19th century, and well into the 20th century. Today, a welter of gates and houses "no trespassing" signs block all access, a little above Alta. People forgot that it was a specially-designated public road; people forgot it even existed.


Because I shall have much to say about maps and parcels of land in what follows, a short discussion about the basis for the legal description of a parcel of land, follows.

In California's first formal surveys by the General Land Office, a system of townships and sections was extended over the entire state, dividing it into 'townships' six miles square, each township consisting of thirty-six one-mile-square 'sections', maps were made of each township. The oldest of these, here in Placer County, at least, in the Dutch Flat area, date to the 1860s, with the survey of the township boundaries completed earlier in the 1850s. Such maps show the square township divided into thirty-six numbered sections.

Ideally, a section is one mile square and comprises exactly 640 acres. In practice, the difficulties posed to surveyors by mountainous terrain led to many innaccuracies, and one sometimes finds sections which are two miles long, etc. etc.

How do we denote the townships, then?

Briefly, Mt. Diablo, in the Coast Ranges, is the origin of a local system of geographic coordinates. It has coordinates {0, 0}. Rather than calling the two numbers 'x' and 'y', we call them Township and Range. The northeast corner of a township, then, is some multiple of six miles north or south of Mt. Diablo, and some multiple of six miles east or west of Mt. Diablo.

For instance, the township containing the town of Gold Run is named Township 15 North, Range Eleven East (we abbreviate: T15N, R11E); from which we deduce that the northeast corner of this township, a point near Casa Loma Road above its crossing of the railroad, east of Alta, is 15*6=90 miles north of Mt. Diablo, and 11*6=66 miles east of Mt. Diablo.

Now, the numbering of the thirty-six sections comprising each township begins on the northeast and run west across the northernmost six sections, then doubles back east, then back west, then east again, then west, then finally east (see Figure 1, T15N_R11E_1866.jpg).

So, we can now denote each particular one-mile-square section as, say, Section 17, T15N R11E.

But from the beginning each section is considered to be divided into quarter-sections, and each quarter-section, into sixteenth-sections. These are called "aliquot parts" of the section.

Aliquot descriptions of parcels are perfectly legal descriptions: hence one will often see some 40-acre square parcel described as, say, the "SE 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of Section 17, T15N R11E."

The whole process of surveying the townships and sections and setting monuments and so on is called the "cadastral survey," and forms the basis for all legal property descriptions. The work of the cadastral survey continues to this day. Most all Forest Service and BLM maps use these townships and sections, which are also carefully depicted on standard USGS topographic maps, such as the 7.5-minute maps.

The old General Land Office (GLO) maps provide a wealth of historical information. They are accompanied by the original surveyors' notes. To my knowledge they have never been published in an easily accessible format, for our area; one can find them, and obtain copies, at BLM field offices, or at the main BLM state office, on Cottage Way in Sacrmento. I myself have a dozen or in hard copy, and another dozen or so in digital image format, on my computer.

The GLO maps often show the old trails, and quite as often, they do not: for it was not the surveyor's job, in 1866, say, to record the course of roads and trails; his job was to lay in the section lines, by monumenting the section corners. His job was to record bearings and distances and local changes in magnetic declination.

I have noticed, however, a possible exception to this hit-or-miss lassitude with regard to trails and roads: the GLO surveyors always seem to take care to label the old emigrant roads, "Old Emigrant Road," whatever the township.

In the light of which observation, I theorize that a part of the surveyors' mission was to record those special roads, which must always be public roads, in consequence of the 1850 state law.

Ancient Trails Become Modern Roads

The 49ers arrived here to find a rich complex of Indian trails. These, however, were not often suited for loaded pack animals; so many well-graded trails were built during the Gold Rush, to supply mining camps. For instance, in 1849, a loaded wagon could be driven right up the Old Emigrant Road, from Sacramento to Illinoistown (modern Colfax). Heavy wagons could not climb any higher on the Bear-American Divide, due to increasing grades. So, goods were loaded onto mules and the march upcountry continued, via trail, to Dutch Flat, Green Valley, Little York, and other early mining camps.

It is natural, in the development of a region, for some trails to be replaced by roads. Hence the mule trail from Illinoistown to Dutch Flat only lasted a few years, until a wagon road was built. The railroad was added in 1866. And today, we have Highway 80.

Not all trails could become roads—there are limits to how much money can be reasonably spent. The trail from Dutch Flat to Green Valley was never converted to a road, for instance; too much work would have been required.

It is also natural that in the economic development of a forested region, that logging roads will spread and offer access to areas previously reached only by trail. We can find evidence for this transition in the old newspapers and diaries of Placer County; in the 1860s, for instance, miner Isaac Coffin lived at Texas Hill, east of Emigrant Gap, and walked to Dutch Flat on trails.

By 1880, a road had reached Texas Hill, and in the 1890s, a sawmill was built there. Isaac Coffin lived to see the forest and canyon paradise he had known, as a young man, with its six-foot-diameter Sugar Pines, reduced to a mess of stumps and mud.

The Big Granite Trail originally started at Cisco, on the railroad, and climbed to the pass on the Yuba-American Divide at Huysink Lake. From there the mule trail proceeded south and east into Little Granite and Big Granite canyons, and finally to the North Fork American river. But by 1900, a road had been pushed up to Huysink, and the first timber harvests had already taken place, on the Yuba side of the divide.

So, to some extent, it is reasonable to expect that trails will become replaced by roads.

Gates and Signs

It also happens that trails get gated closed, or fenced off, or simply ruined by timber harvests. For instance, the historic Fords Bar Trail, from Gold Run to Iowa Hill, crossing the North Fork American, remained open to the public until about 1985, when the property at the trailhead changed hands, and the new owner, an equestrian, put up a barbed-wire fence blocking access, and so proudly nailed up her "no trespassing" signs.

Then she subdivided the land, and now houses have sprouted above the old trail, still blocked by the barbed wire.

It so happens that at this place, out along Garrett Road, south of Gold Run proper, there are large acreages of public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). One of the newly-created parcels just barely crossed to the east side of Garrett, which road has a deeded, 50-foot County easement. Yes, the parcel's boundary fell just barely on the east side of the road, where a large area of BLM land is graced with a remarkable coniferous forest, perched atop bluffs overlooking Giant Gap and the Gold Run Diggings. Various small roads lead from Garrett onto this public land, and an old trail, dubbed the Paleobotanist Trail, leads out into the Diggings, from a parking area in the magic forest.

Early in 2004, the (absentee; Sonoma County) owner of this newly-created parcel blocked off these little roads into the magic forest, because the roads cross a thin strip of his private property. Up went still more "no trespassing" signs. It was insult added to injury: first, in 1985, we lost the Fords Bar Trail, a major, "first-order" route connecting two Gold Rush towns, across the American River Canyon; then, in 2004, we lost access to our own public lands in the Magic Forest, and to the parking area for the Paleobotanist Trail.

Similarly, the "Big Granite Trail" road from Cisco, up to Huysink Lake, was freely used as a "jeep trail" down into the 1970s, when the owners of cabins flanking the old road decided the road was private. Public use ended then.

Now, as an unpopulated region becomes settled and populated, it is reasonable to expect, that not only shall trails often become roads, but also, that trails may become surrounded by houses, inhabited by people who regard hikers, or equestrians, or bicyclists, or motorcyclists, or jeepers, all alike, as trespassers.

Or, we might also reasonably imagine that inhabitants of a house beside a pre-existing trail might accept foot and equestrian and bicycle use of the trail, but not motorized uses: no noise!

Or the owner might accept foot use only, by the public; a foot trail has a much smaller "signature," in its impact upon terrain and scenery, than do trails which can bear equestrians and bicycles.

We begin to detect the complexity of the issues surrounding our old trails; if a public trail crosses private land, is it still a public trail?

The question is, as it so often is, are there no limits? How many historic trails will we abandon? How many will be obliterated by timber harvests and heavy bulldozers? How many will be gated closed?

Are there no trails we protect from destruction or closure?

Well, of course there are trails we should protect—very many trails! I will come to particulars, in due time, but for now, I wish to bring our trails history into better focus.

The Old Fight to Keep the Old Trails Open

I wrote above that, as an unpopulated region is settled, trails may come into conflict with residential uses. Here in Placer County, the situation is a bit different: a once-populated region, with a rich complex of public trails no one would have dared to close, became depopulated, as gold mining waned. Use of the trails continued, but was diminished. Few if any trails were closed, but some fell out of use, and were quickly overgrown by brush.

On the other hand, as mining waned, tourism increased, and railroad access to this part of the Sierra allowed many "outsiders" to enjoy our fine old trails. Lardner remarks, in his 1927 History of Placer and Nevada Counties, that at Cisco, horses and guides were available for those who wished to visit the wildlands, to camp or hunt or fish. By this time, many of the old trails were being maintained by Tahoe National Forest, and the rangers began marking the trails with their special "small i" blazes.

These blazes are found, usually, on the trunks of large trees beside the trail, at about breast height, and consist of a lower rectangle, say, two inches wide, six inches high, and above this, a square, two inches on a side, both chopped carefully through the whole thickness of bark, into the sapwood. After a more or less long time, a tree will heal over the blaze, and one will only see a vague rectangular region in the bark, but with practice, these old blazes are fairly easily recognized.

It is pathetic to follow one of those old trails, utterly ruined by logging, no trace of the trailbed left, nineteen out of twenty trees which once held Forest Service blazes gone altogether, yet, if one has a sense for trails and terrain, one can, with all due patience, still pick one's way, from rare blaze to rare blaze, over a trail which once rang with the voices of happy children and their parents, off to camp in some meadow, in a wild canyon.

But I have reached ahead of myself. Just know that we long had a vast system of trails, many marked and maintained by Tahoe National Forest. They ran north, south, east, west, crossed all the canyons, and led back and forth across the Sierra crest.

Fast forward to 1950. Noticeably, in the boom years after World War Two, the population of California had increased, and at long last, so had the population of economically-depressed Placer and Nevada counties. Suddenly, new houses appeared, new roads, new gates, new "no trespassing" signs. Suddenly, trails and open space became an issue.

And what was odd was that, the very same trail no one had dared to block, in 1890, was gated closed without a second thought, in 1950.

Tahoe National Forest had apparently seen the writing on the wall. Because of the 1862-64 railroad land grants to the CPRR, in which the Big Four obtained every other square mile (section) of land for twenty miles to either side of the tracks, Tahoe National Forest's public lands were in a "checkerboard" pattern of alternating sections. Every other section was owned by the Southern Pacific Land Company. Almost all TNF foot trails perforce crossed from public land to railroad land to public land to railroad land, and so on.

These trails were old, long predating TNF itself, and although they had always been regarded as public trails, and were maintained and patrolled by TNF rangers, it was best to play it safe. Immediately after WWII, in 1946, TNF began a rough survey of the courses of these old trails, and in 1950, negotiated deeded easements with Southern Pacific.

For instance, the Big Granite Trail has just such an easement, granted to the United States by the Southern Pacific Land Company.

So, we see that TNF made successful efforts, in the 1940s, to secure public access to its trail system, across the old railroad land grant sections. But these railroad lands form only part of the private holdings within Tahoe National Forest; there is many a patented mining claim or homestead or timber claim, now fully private property, within or near the Forest boundaries.

And at that same time, around 1950, came the houses, the cabins, the realtors, and the fences, the gates, the "no trespassing" signs. The citizens of Placer County, who had themselves hiked these old trails, as had their parents and grandparents before them, would not stand for it; a series of hearings ensued, and in May of 1953, the Board of Supervisors enacted a Trails Ordinance, which declared all trails depicted on United States Geological Survey maps, to be public trails, and provided misdemeanor-type penalties for any attempt to block access to these trails.

Within minutes, a group of large landholders in Placer County filed suit in the Superior Court at Auburn, to prevent the Board from enforcing its new Trails Ordinance.

Apparently, the interests of private property won out, for in 1954, the 1953 ordinance was rescinded, and a weaker ordinance enacted instead, citing no maps, but merely stating that all public trails are hereinafter declared to be County public trails, and providing for the same penalties. The 1954 ordinance was never enforced, as public access to one trail after another was blocked.

So: who is to say just what constitutes a "public trail"?

It was clear as a bell to most County residents, in 1953. The old trails, the trails their grandparents would never have dared to block or close, were public trails, end of story!

But, how to show that the trails are public, in court?

Since such issues are much to be expected in a state of such rapidly increasing population, we are not surprised that the courts would become involved. Around 1970, in Gion vs. the City of Santa Cruz, a case involving public access to a beach over an old, ad hoc trail crossing farm fields, the courts decided in favor of the public, and the decision was upheld upon appeal.

I should say that the criteria the courts accepted, in Gion, to demonstrate that the public had acquired a right to use the old beach trail, were much less stringent than those easily met by the very trails addressed in Placer County's 1953 Trails Ordinance. That is, if the Superior Court in Auburn, in 1953, had had the precedent established by Gion vs. the City of Santa Cruz to guide its judgement, would have ruled in favor of the County, and allowed the Ordinance to be enforced.

For, the beach trail through the fields in Santa Cruz, had never been depicted on multiple editions of USGS maps; the beach trail had never been marked, maintained, and patrolled by the Forest Service; the beach trail had never had a formal easement deeded to the public, as did many of our trails, here in Placer County.

At that same time, we as a state were trying to keep the California coast from becoming a wall of houses and fences adorned with "no trespassing" signs. There was clearly no end to the selfishness and egotism of those who wish to cover our coast in houses; people thought it a wonderful thing to build a house on a promontory visible for miles, and close the old road to the beach below with a gate and "no trespassing" sign. The same script was played out again and again.

And eventually, We the People had had enough. We did not stop coastal development, but we brought it within more reasonable bounds.

But is California's coast the only part worth protecting, in this way? Is the coast the only part of our state, in which we hold development within more reasonable bounds?

I say, no, of course not, there is so much which is precious in California: so many canyons, so many peaks, so many rivers, lakes, fine views and scenery, wild places where wildlife thrives; yes, we are blessed; but we are throwing our heritage away!

Places like the North Fork American river canyon should be treated with all the restraint and deference we apply to Big Sur or Carmel: no, you can't build your house right on the canyon rim! No, you can't block that old trail!

So. Summarizing trails history:

A rich complex of trails evolved and remained largely intact down to the 1940s. TNF negotiated deeded easements on many trails from Southern Pacific, in 1950. Placer County passed a Trails Ordinance in 1953, declaring all trails depicted on existing USGS maps to be public trails. The 1953 ordinance was rescinded in 1954. With more and more people moving into Placer and Nevada counties, environmental organizations attracted many members, but ignored the old trails. Gates and fences blocked some historic trails, while timber harvests obliterated others. About 1985, Southern Pacific, under the cloud of a corporate takeover, decided to sell off its lands in California. Many of the old "railroad" sections were purchased by High Sierra Properties, which in turn sold many to Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI).

The sale of the railroad lands after 1985 led to vastly increased timber harvests on the old railroad lands, and historic trails were ruined on a vast scale.

In 1990, SPI pushed logging roads into Four Horse Flat and obliterated sections of the Big Granite Trail; the Cherry Point Trail was turned into a logging road, for a mile above Four Horse Flat; simultaneously, the Sugar Pine Point Trail was obliterated, as was the Big Valley Trail.

Volunteer efforts to restore the Big Granite Trail were underway when, in fall of 2004, SPI returned to the area and obliterated still more sections of the trail.

Renewed efforts to keep this historic trail open are underway. There will be some work parties in the summer or fall of 2006; contact Ron Gould for more info, or to be added to the work detail.

The Blame Game

I have already remarked that the "environmental" community of Placer and Nevada counties stood by and did nothing while mile after mile of our historic trails were being ruined. This is incomprehensible enough. But what about the public agencies entrusted with the management of our public lands, such as Tahoe National Forest, and the Bureau of Land Management?

To examine either one of these bureaucracies will show that they are generating a ton of paperwork which demonstrates that they are in compliance with this or that law, protecting the environment. What is not made very obvious, amid all this paperwork which proves so very much compliance, is that TNF and the BLM do not take good care of their old trails.

It is hard to decide where to begin. Shall one begin with ignorance? Suppose you, a citizen, walking along a Forest Service trail, reach an area where the trail disappears beneath logging slash and bulldozer skid trails. "I shall call the Forest Service," one promises oneself; and one does so call.

You ask to speak to someone about trails and are passed to a Recreation Specialist. But the Specialist has just transferred to the Tahoe from some other National Forest, in Alaska or Utah or Kentucky, and has never heard of the Big Granite Trail, much less ever walked on it.

Sensing one has reached the wrong person, one asks to speak to a trails maintenance person; for obviously the Big Granite Trail is in need of repair.

This employee also has never heard of the Big Granite Trail, but kindly informs you that no money exists to repair the trail; perhaps, in some future year, funds will be found for it.

Now suppose that you have been walking the trails and making the calls, since 1985. Again and again your sense of outrage has become muted under the soothing bureaucratic response of Tahoe National Forest: the trail is on private property, we have no control; the trail needs repair, but we have no money; the trail should be patrolled, but we have no money; and one will be soothed in this way, if one is lucky enough to reach someone who has ever even heard of your trail.

The Tahoe has changed since the days when rangers actually worked to protect the old trails. Not only did they blaze the trails, maintain them, sign them, and patrol them, but if someone gated one of the TNF trails closed, they tried, at least, to stop it.

An old friend of mine's family had owned property at the head of the Green Valley Trail, near Alta, since the 1930s. They did not live there, but would camp there in the summer. In the 1950s, they put a gate on the road leading to the trailhead.

Soon thereafter, Tahoe National Forest rangers arrived and told them the road and trail were public and could not be gated. So the gate came down!

That was in the good old days. As late as the 1962-66 editions of the Tahoe National Forest map, we see that the rich complex of historic trails remained very largely intact.

Subsequent maps are growing blank spots as more and more trails are so badly ruined, there can be no point in including them on the TNF map.

The story of just exactly how TNF changed, from the patrolling rangers of the 1950s, to the desk-bound bureaucrats of modern times, would take too long to tell, here. Suffice to say that in the 1950s and 1960s vast areas were opened to logging, for the first time, and so much wilderness and open space were being lost, so fast, that Congress intervened, after much complaint from We the People, and ordered the Forest Service to inventory remaining Roadless Areas. This was called RARE, and was found inadequate, so the FS embarked upon RARE II.

RARE II identified several large Roadless Areas in Placer County: the North Fork American, Granite Chief, Duncan Canyon, and the North Fork of the Middle Fork.

Around this time, efforts were being made to include the North Fork American in the National Wild &Scenic River system; and in 1978, it was so added.

This may have deluded the environmental community into thinking that trails giving access to the Wild &Scenic River, the North Fork American, would be rigorously protected and preserved, and patrolled, and maintained.

Almost the opposite has happened.

It is bizarre beyond belief that Tahoe National Forest would sit back, as it has, and watched its system of historic trails be ruined. It even had easements on many of these trails!

Here are a few TNF trails partly or entirely ruined in recent decades:

1. China Trail, south side.
2. Big Granite Trail.
3. Cherry Point Trail.
4. Big Bend-Devils Peak Trail.
5. Big Valley Trail.
6. Sugar Pine Pont Trail.
7. Long Valley Trail.
8. Monumental Creek Trail.
9. Mears Meadow Trail.

Note: these are from one small area, about ten miles square.

Turning to the BLM, it is entrusted with managing the North Fork American Wild & Scenic River from the TNF boundary, in Green Valley, south of Alta, west to the W&SR boundary, just upstream from the Colfax-Iowa Hill bridge.

On the north side of the North Fork, moving from west to east, the principal trails giving access to BLM-managed reaches of the river are

1. Stevens Trail. Open.
2. Fords Bar Trail. Closed in 1985.
3. Pickering Bar Trail. Not marked by any sign.
4. Canyon Creek Trail. On private property, now for sale, which same Congress ordered the BLM to purchase, in 1978.
5. Green Valley Trail. Open. Placer County negotiated an easement and constructed a public parking area (2005).

Now for trails giving access to BLM-managed parts of the North Fork, south of the river, from west to east:

1. Stevens Trail, south. Open; Jay Shuttleworth helped establish parking and easements, in 2003.
2. Blue Wing Trail (south side of Fords Bar Trail). Open, although "no trespassing" signs appeared at the trailhead, in 2005. Unmarked.
3. Truro Mine Road. Open, probably should be closed to motor vehicles. Unmarked.
4. Green Valley Trail, south. TNF (1980s) allowed owners of the Gold Ring Mine to use motorcycles on the trail; BLM tried to stop motorized uses in court, failed. River trail leading west from Gold Ring has always been used by the public, has fallen out of use as private use of the Gold Ring has increased, due to motorcycle access.

So with the BLM we have a mixed record. They have done a good job with the Stevens Trail, and the volunteer efforts of Jay Shuttleworth proved critically important, especially in keeping the south-side reach of the trail open, leading to Iowa Hill. The BLM also fought hard to keep motorized uses out of Green Valley and the W&SR.

In Defense of TNF, the BLM, PARC, and the Sierra Club

Tahoe National Forest was born with the seeds of its own destruction nestled within it: the railroad lands, given to the CPRR. Add to these the many patented mining claims and homesteads and timber grants, which formed other private inholdings; and the water rights which had been developed for mining, passed into the hands of PG&E, along with thousands of acres of lands within what would become the Tahoe. Clearly, the private inholdings present...

[end of document]

North Fork Movie, created January 12, 2007


  1. Awesome - I think this entry should be published in the Dutch Flat Community newsletter.

    Found another unrelated tidbit while searching on keywords from the above:
    Historical Sleuth Seeks Out Forgotten Past of Dutch Flat

  2. Wow, great, I'd not seen that article before, good find Rich!

  3. One of the things Russell opened my eyes about was the value of public access and the real constant threats of lousing access to our public lands. Russell was very much in my thoughts when NFARA prevailed in its complaint of the block access on the road to Lost Camp. Another private land owner blocking a public road that Russell mentioned to me was on the old Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road (and Lincoln Highway) between Donner Lake and Donner Pass. Without a doubt, this is one of the most historic roads in California and one of its most famous sections. The people fighting to save this historic road have recently had some success in their effort. Russell also encouraged and contributed to this effort. See http://historicdonnertrail.org for more information.