As We Have Seen, President Jefferson, Whose Master Mind Organized And
Devised This Expedition, Had Dwelt Longingly On The Prospect Of Crossing
The Continent From The Headwaters Of The Missouri To The Headwaters
Of The Then Newly-Discovered Columbia.
The route thus explored was more
difficult than that which was later travelled by the first emigrants
across the continent to California.
That route lies up the Platte River,
through what is known as the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains,
by Great Salt Lake and down the valley of the Humboldt into California,
crossing the Sierra Nevada at any one of several points leading
into the valley of the Sacramento. The route, which was opened
by the gold-seekers, was followed by the first railroads built across
the continent. The route that lay so firmly in Jefferson's mind,
and which was followed up with incredible hardships by the Lewis
and Clark expedition, has since been traversed by two railroads,
built after the first transcontinental rails were laid.
If Jefferson had desired to find the shortest and most feasible
route across the continent, he would have pointed to the South Pass
and Utah basin trails. But these would have led the explorers
into California, then and long afterwards a Spanish possession.
The entire line finally traced over the Great Divide lay within
the territory of the United States.
But it must be remembered that while the expedition was being organized,
the vast Territory of Louisiana was as yet a French possession.
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