Alternate routes for the Mullan Road began appearing almost as soon as the original road was built. In Eastern Washington, Texas Ferry Road and Kentuck Trail were two popular alternatives between Spokane Bridge and Walla Walla.
The Texas Ferry Road route became viable when the Texas Ferry was established circa 1864, crossing the Snake River at Riparia near present Little Goose Dam.2 In 1867, Henry Lueg records that "the Texas trail was not used by wagon travelers."3 By 1877, the road was described by General Sherman as the "most direct" route between Spokane Bridge and Walla Walla. He traveled it—with wagons—in five days at the end of his inspection of the Yellowstone, Bighorn Mountains, and Mullan Road.4
The Kentuck Trail came into use in the 1860's. It was about 15 miles shorter than the Mullan Road.5 In 1867, Lueg's wagon party chose this route despite there being more ranches and settlements on the old Mullan Road.6 In his diary of the trip, he noted the California Ranch. This ranch is five miles south of present Spokane and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He described the route south of California Ranch as largely unsettled.
This map is intended only for research. If you choose to explore any old road or trail, always obtain owner permission before entering private property.
1. These routes were determined by comparing Cadastral Survey maps circa 1861 to 1878 with Google Earth, historic descriptions of the roads, and field observations. More research is needed to improved their accuracy. Until then, in many places, these routes are only approximations.
2. Hackbarth, E. (2014). Trail to Gold: The Pend Orielle Route. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho: Museum of North Idaho, 149-151.
3. Kingston, C. S. (1950, July). The Northern Overland Route in 1867. Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 248.
4. Sherman, W. T. (1878). Reports of Inspection Made in the Summer of 1877 by William Tecumseh Sherman of Country North of the Union Pacific Railroad. Washington, District of Columbia: Government Printing Office, 47.
5. Hackbarth, 140.
6. Kingston, 248.