Educational Trunks

In a collaborative effort with the Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA), funded by a Union Pacific Foundation grant, three educational trunks have been created for use at the California Trail Interpretive Center near Elko NV. The trunks contain clothing, cooking utensils, toys, and other artifacts from the mid-nineteenth century. Accompanied by lesson plans, the trunks are intended for use by classroom teachers and other educators who desire to share this wonderful part of Western history with their students. One trunk was also placed at OCTA headquarters in Independence Missouri.

The Oregon-California Trails Association has many resources for teachers and other educators. Visit their website:

What can you find on the OTCA Trails Website?

One very interesting educational tool on this website is about the Independence School District 8th grade curriculum.

The Independence Missouri 8th Grade Curriculum outlines easy to apply lessons in a comprehensive and interactive format. The curriculum begins with the Pioneer Journal Project comprised of 18 slides. Next, the students can read an Authentic Wagon Trail Journal of 1853 from Indiana to California. Just as our volunteers filled out an Emigrant Survey the students will have an opportunity to print and fill their own Emigrant Survey.

The other dynamic slides comprise a series of mini-lessons including:

Why Go West?

Geography of Westward Expansion.

When Did the Trails Begin and End?

The Role of Independence in Westward Expansion.

Who Went West?

In addition to many journals and diaries at


A CTHA Educational Experience

Trails West, Inc.  Trail and Driving Guides:

  • A Guide To The Applegate Trail From Goose Lake To Southern Oregon
  • A Guide To The Applegate Trail From Lassen Meadows To Goose Lake
  • A Guide To The California Trail Along The Humboldt River
  • A Guide To The California Trail To The Humboldt River
  • A Guide To The Lassen Trail & Burnet Cutoff
  • A Guide To The Yreka Trail
  • Beckwourth Trail Driving Guide
  • Carson Trail & Grizzly Flat Road Driving Guide
  • Central Overland Trail Utah & Nevada Driving Guide
  • Hastings Cutoff Driving Guide
  • Henness Pass Road Driving Guide
  • Johnson Cutoff & Luther Pass Trail Driving Guide
  • The Nobles Trail
  • Truckee Trail & Nevada City Road Driving Guide
  • Walker River-Sonora Trail Driving Guide
Wagon on the California Trail

Suggested Reading List

  • A Doctor’s Gold Rush Journey to California – Israel S.P. Lord and Necia Dixon
  • A Great Basin Mosaic: The Cultures of Rural Nevada – James W. Hulse
  • A Schreek of Wagons: 1848 Diary of Richard May  Edited by Helfrich and rAckerman 1993
  • American Frontier, A Trip Across the Plains in the Spring of 1850 – James Abbey
  • Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World – William A. Douglass and Jon Bilbao
  • Black Cowboys of the Old West: True, Sensational, and Little-Known Stories from History – Tricia Martineau Wagner
  • Black Pioneers: Images of the Black Experience on the North American Frontier – John W. Ravage
  • Bruff’s Wake: J. Goldsborough Bruff & the California Gold Rush, 1849-1851 – H.L. James
  • Covered Wagon Women Series – Kenneth L. Holmes
  • Devil’s Will Reign: How Nevada Began – Sally Zanjani
  • Ghost Trails to California: A Pictorial Journey form the Rockies to the Gold Country – Thomas H. Hunt
  • Ghosts of the Glory Trail – Nell Murbarger
  • Halleck Country, Nevada: The Story Behind the Land and Its People – Edna B. Patterson and Louise A. Beebee
  • Hard Road West: History and Geology along the Gold Rush Trail – Keith Heyer Meldahl
  • Hidden History of Elko County – Claudia Wines
  • Ho for California! Women’s Overland Diaries from the Huntington Library – Sandra L. Myres
  • Legendary Truths: Peter Lassen & His Gold Rush Trail in Fact and Fable – Ken Johnston
  • Life Among the Piutes Their Wrongs and Claims – Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins
  • Manifest Destinies: America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War – Steven E. Woodworth
  • More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Nevada Women – Jan Cleere
  • Nevada Ghost Towns and Desert Atlas – Stanley Paher
  • Nevada’s Northeast Frontier – Edna B. Patterson, Louise A. Ulph and Victor Goodwin
  • Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party – George R. Stewart
  • Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America – Richard White
  • Roadside Geology of Nevada – Frank DeCourten and Norma Biggar
  • Roughing It – Mark Twain
  • Sagebrush Trilogy: Idah Meacham Strobridge and Her Works – Idah Meacham Strobridge
  • Sarah Winnemucca – Sally Zanjani
  • Success Depends on the Animals: Emigrants, Livestock, and Wild Animals on the Overland Trails, 1840-1869 – Diana L. Ahmad
  • The California Trail: An Epic with Many Heroes – George R. Stewart
  • The Gold Rush Letters of E. Allen Grosh & Hosea B. Grosh – Edited by Ronald M. James and Robert E. Stewart
  • The Humboldt: High Road of the West – Dale L. Morgan
  • The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride – Daniel James Brown
  • The Nobles Emigrant Trail – Ken Johnston
  • The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60 – John D. Unruh
  • The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience – J.S. Holliday
  • They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush – JoAnn Levy
  • West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express – Jim DeFelice
  • Westering Man: The Life of Joseph Walker, Bil Gilbert 1983, u Okla. Press