California Hill, Nebraska

A Path Climbed by Thousands of Westward Emigrants

This large hill, which became known as “California Hill,” was climbed by thousands of emigrants heading west during the covered wagon migrations, 1841-1860.


California Hill, Nebraska

Many emigrants were bound for Oregon. California became the destination of a majority of travelers after gold was discovered there in 1848. The most important crossing of the South Platte River during this period was south and a little east of here. After fording the river and ascending California Hill, the emigrants traveled northwesterly to the North Platte River via Ash Hollow. The terrain restricted the route wagons could take up the hill, causing deep ruts that are still visible about two-thirds of a mile north-northwest of this marker.

California Hill and the marker were gifts to the Oregon-California Trails Association by Malcolm E. Smith, Jr. in memory of Irene D. Paden who dedicated much of her life to retracing and writing about the Oregon and California Trails. The acquisition was facilitated by the generous cooperation of Ivor D. and Carol A. Dilky, the Farmers Home Administration and the Adams Bank and Trust.


Open to the public: West of Brule, Keith County, Nebraska. SW Corner, Sec. 14, T13N, R41W. The marker is located on the north side of US 30, approximately 4.5 miles west of Brule, Nebraska.