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Beginning in 1843, emigrants traveled across the continent along what became known as the Oregon Trail. Increased traffic during the 1850’s resulted in the first government road construction project in the west. The 345 mile Central Division of the Pacific Wagon Road went from South Pass, Wyoming, to City of Rocks, Idaho, a geologic formation, which marked the Division’s western boundary. Superintendent Frederick W. Lander of Salem, Massachussetts, supervised construction for the U. S. Department of the Interior. The 256 mile section of the road leading from South Pass to Fort Hall, Idaho, is known as the Lander Cut-off. The cut-off traversed this Salt River Valley for 21 miles and parallels Highway 89 through this area. The new route afforded water, wood, and forage for emigrants and their stock. Between 1858 and 1912, it provided travelers with a new, shorter route to Oregon and California, saving wagon trains seven days. Lander, with a crew of 15 engineers, surveyed the route in the summer of 1857. The following summer, 115 men, many recruited from Salt Lake City’s Mormon emigrants, constructed the road in less that 90 days at a cost of $67,873. The invention of the automobile led to its abandonment.

Lander Cut-Off of the Oregon Trail. Dedicated to all the pioneers who passed to win and hold the West.