The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925

California Emigrant Roads Through Texas

Gold was discovered in California, January, 1848. Fantastic
rumors of this discovery had reached the East by early fall, but
it was not until the President of the United States discussed it
in his msesage to Congress, recommended the establishment of a
branch mint at San Francisco, and later displayed specimens of
the gold ore in the White House, that serious-minded people began
considering a trip to the gold mines. "What is the best route
to California?" became the question of the day. Already some
had gone by sea around the Horn, or across the Isthmus of Pan-
ama, but both of these were expensive, and most people had to
look for a land route across the continent.
There was one well known route-the Oregon Trail from Inde-
pendence, Missouri, with its branch to California, from Fort Hall.
Most people knew of the Old Santa Fe Trail to Santa F6, New
Mexico, but beyond that point little was known of a wagon road
that Colonel Philip St. George Cooke had made from the Rio
Grande Valley to California, 1846-47. General Kearney had
led "The Army of the West" to California during the War with
Mexico, and when he found the route along the Gila impossible
for wagons he ordered Colonel Cooke to find a road and bring
the wagons through. This Cooke had done by detouring to the
south, around the mountains, through that part of New Mexico
and Arizona which was later purchased by Gadsden. A New
York paper first published Cooke's report of this expedition;'
this report and a statement from Cooke concerning the avail-
*Acknowledgments are due to Dr. Herbert E. Bolton, of the University of
California, for introduction as a graduate student to the field in which
this paper lies, to my husband, Dr. Tom P. Martin, for criticisms and
suggestions, and to Dr. E. C. Barker for help incident to final editing for
publication; but they are not responsible for any of the defects of this
'The New York Courier and Enquirer, copied in The Corpus Christi Star,
January 13, 1849. The New York paper explained that its article was
in advance of the official publication, and added, concerning Cooke's expedi-
tion, "This is a most important discovery, and must prove of great service
especially if that portion of Mexico should hereafter be annexed to the
United States, as a railroad would in all probability be built over the

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed October 4, 2015.