Overland Trail, any of several trails of westward migration in the United States. The term is sometimes used to mean all the trails westward from the Missouri to the Pacific and sometimes for the central trails only. Particularly, the term has been applied to a southern alternate route to the Oregon Trail used by the Overland Stage. It branched from the parent trail at the junction of the North Platte and South Platte rivers and followed the South Platte to near the present Greeley, Colo., where it left the river and went largely overland, crossing the Laramie and North Platte rivers and rejoining the parent trail east of Fort Bridger. The term is also particularly applied to a route to California that went west from Fort Bridger to the Great Salt Lake (thus duplicating in part the Mormon Trail), then on to Sutter's Fort in California; it was much used by California-bound immigrants.
See J. M. Faragher, Women and Men on the Overland Trail (1979); D. L. Smith, ed., Survival on a Westward Trek (1989).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.