Ask the Marshall
- Written by Marshall Trimble
- Published April 26, 2011
How long did the Old West wagon train era last?
The wagon trains first began heading west in the early 1820s with the opening of the Santa Fe Trail from St. Louis, Missouri. The emigrant trains to Oregon and California had their origins in the mid-1840s, hitting their peak during the 1850s following the California Gold Rush.
After the Civil War, the transcontinental railroad was completed. Some emigrants still came by wagon train, but most of the newcomers arrived by rail. In fact, the railroad companies had been awarded large land grants, so they recruited people from the U.S. and Europe to head west by train and purchase land from them.