After an arduous overland journey, Levi Scott and his son John arrived in Oregon City in November 1844. Scott joined the Jesse Applegate's 1846 expedition seeking a better, safer way through the Cascades to the Willamette Valley. Their new southern route wound through the Umpqua Valley, three mountain ranges, and the Black Rock Desert before meeting the established California Trail.
Applegate recruited emigrants and while others went ahead to prepare the road, Scott led the initial wagon train west. He details a harrowing trip. Retracing the trail in 1847 and 1849, he again faced narrow escapes and deadly encounters with Native Americans.
Edited and extensively antated, Scott's unpublished autobiography has become Wagons to the Willamette. An exceptional contribution to Oregon Trail history, it is the only first-hand account written by someone who t only searched for the southern route but also accompanied its first wagon train.