Men like John Coulter, Joseph Walker, Kit Carson and Jedediah Smith are examples of early western travelers whose reputations are imprinted on the American psyche. One of the better examples of these trail blazers is James P. (Jim) Beckwourth. Lesser known today, he was a legend in his own time.
Jim Beckwourth's Story
Beckwourth's tales were recounted by many in the middle 1800's and often considered merely outlandish boasts. However, he was credible enough to have found an alternative route for travelers from the east to reach California through the Sierra Nevada. His trail proved to be an easier path than the one further south taken by the ill-fated Donner party.
The Donner's wagon train followed today's I-80 over some of the highest elevations in the Sierra. Beckwourth's path is closely followed by Hwy-70 where it intersects with the Hallelujah Junction on I-395 and heads west through Portola and on to Chico in California's central valley.