Ask the Marshall

How long would it have taken a wagon train to go from Mississippi to California in the 1800s?

How long would it have taken a wagon train to go from Mississippi to California in the 1800s?

Bobby & Myra Echols
Cumming, Georgia

The roughly 2,000-mile trip from Missouri to California or Oregon—about the same distance as Mississippi to southern California—took about five to six months, providing good feed was found along the way and one didn’t run into any bad luck. Fifteen miles was a good day’s journey, but bad weather, Indians or other challenges could (and often did) slow down the train. A rain-swollen river might delay the trip for weeks.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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