Sen. Orrin Hatch announced last week the introduction of a bill to include alternate routes in the Oregon, Mormon, Pony Express, and California National Historic Trails.
"These trails literally opened up the West," Hatch said. "They paved the way for rapid economic expansion and millions of people who flocked to developments in the new frontier. This bill helps preserve the stories of these early pioneers who settled in Utah and throughout the West."
Since the enactment of the National Trails System Act of 1968, public support has grown for broadening the law to include alternate routes branching off the main trails, since the current "point A to point B" approach to these trails does not truly represent the pioneers' journey westward.
The 1981 National Trails System Act spurred the Park Service and trails organizations to produce a more complete picture of the westward expansion. Hatch's proposal would allow the National Park Service to update the Oregon, the Mormon, the Pony Express, and the California National Historic Trails to include variant routes taken by the early pioneers of the West.
"Tens of thousands of pioneers embarked on their journeys from a number of different locations," Hatch said. "These trail variations and alternate routes show the ingenuity and adaptability of the pioneers as they were forced to contend with inclement weather, lack of water, difficult terrain, and other threats. It's fitting that their routes be recognized."