Parting of the Ways

Raft River ditchFrom the Massacre Rocks area the Oregon Trail continues west, generally following today’s interstate highway. When the emigrants reach the Raft River valley in the 19th century there was a broad river to cross. All that’s left of the river today is an irrigation ditch.

But on the plateau above the river valley is a major landmark of the trail…the Parting of the Ways. Here emigrants heading for the gold fields would turn towards California while those bound for Oregon would push on due west.

Sign"At noon crossed Ford Creek & at night reached Raft River & encamped. Grass good. At this point the two trails diverge for California and Oregon. We met here quite a train taking the Oregon Trail, mostly families."
--Henry Tappan, July 23, 1849

"Until 1849 the Oregon Trail is headed predominantly to the Willamette Valley and once the Gold Rush takes place in 1848, 1849 then the majority of travelers on the Oregon Trail will be headed to California and so it’s really a misnomer to say that it is the Oregon Trail because it becomes the California Trail once those travelers turn off, and they diverge just south of what is now Raft River Idaho and they head into Nevada and into the Sierras ultimately."
--Laura Woodworth Nye, History Chair, Idaho State University

Just below the Parting of the Ways is the lonely grave of a woman who died from wounds suffered during the Indian attacks in the Massacre Rocks area.

"Mrs. Adams, who was wounded in the fight of the other train, died last night. We buried her this morning. Here some of our train will leave us and take the road to California."
--Robert Scott, August 12, 1862