Nobles Emigrant Trail

Hey all! For the next few posts of Off the Rails I’ll be touring a portion of the Nobles Emigrant Trail. The route was established by William H. Nobles in 1851 as a shortcut into the upper Sacramento Valley from the existing Applegate and Lassen Trails as they crossed into California from Nevada. The trail brought miners to the northern mines, led to the development of towns along the route including Susanville and Redding, and was a major transportation route until the arrival of the railroad in the region in the 1870s.

Nobles Emigrant Trail map (courtesy Lassen County Office of Education)

I recently toured the western half of the trail, between Susanville and Shasta, California. The landscape includes high meadows surrounded by pine forests, volcanic rock fields at the base of Mount Lassen, and rolling hills covered with oak woodlands.

Nobles Trail street sign near Redding, CA

Even the main roads felt remote, but I was able to get away from those and onto forest service dirt roads, very close to the original track the emigrants took. A huge help was the book I brought along as a companion, Ken Johnston’s The Nobles Emigrant Trail, which relates historical events and points along the trail.

Emigrant Trail street sign near Viola, CA

So, keep an eye on this page to tag along with me over the next few posts as I hunt for remnants of the trail, check out roadside historic markers and vista points, seek out the best local diners in the region (spoiler alert: chili and biscuits at Duke’s in Olivehurst), and try to avoid paying over $5 per gallon for gas (spoiler alert: good luck!).

There will be maps that trace the Nobles Trail, as well my route as I tried to get as close to the original as possible. And plenty of photos: what the trail looks like today, nearby historic sites, and the beautiful landscape of the upper Sacramento Valley, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and where the Cascade Range meets the Sierra Nevadas.

Other Website Changes

Also new to the blog are affiliate links and a tip jar. Some of the links you’ll see here, like the one for the Nobles Trail book above, are affiliate links. That means that if you click the link and buy the product, I get a small kick-back for the referral. There’s no added cost to you, and the funds help to keep the internet on over here and support the creation of more content.

I’m also adding a tip jar, in case you’d like to buy the author a cup of coffee or a tank of gas. Click the button below for a one-time donation – you’re welcome to override the amount to anything you’d like to contribute. Credit card info is handled securely by Stripe, and aside from my tremendous gratitude, you’ll automatically receive a receipt via email.

If you’d prefer to meet in person for coffee, I’d love that! If you’re in the southern California area or will be near one of the trails I’m tracing, I’d love to get together for a cup and a chat. Head to the Contact page and drop me a line.

I’ve decided to try out affiliate links and other monetization options on the blog instead of going the traditional book publishing route. With all of the media tools available today (both social and otherwise), I can provide much richer content than I would be able to in a traditional printed book: large color photographs and maps that I think help immerse the reader in the events I’m sharing about. It also means more frequent content updates and more interaction with the readers, which I hope we’ll both enjoy.

Please, don’t feel obligated to contribute! It’s just an option – first and foremost, enjoy the material. Thanks for coming along on the journey!

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