Posted in Maps, Migration trails, National atlases, Pioneer Overland Travel, Railroad maps, Websites

Tracks West: Railroad and migration maps for you

I like to collect maps to help in my research and often create maps to suit my needs.  Today I am posting a few maps that help in my understanding of migration into the western states.  Every western states researcher should have a sound understanding of migration routes, railroads, and rivers that affected the movement of emigrants and influenced settling patterns.  You can create your own maps using templates found at by looking under “printable maps”.

Here is a map I marked with the major overland migration routes west, with key cities or forts that were either stopping points or final destinations.

Map - migration routes to western states

It is good to understand which railroads affected migration to the western states in the 1800s.  There were more railroads than these, but these are some of the early majors lines you should know about, and the years they were completed.

Map - Western railroads

Here is an overview of the major rivers that affected movement west, either as migration routes, or obstacles that had to be crossed:

Map - Western rivers

Feel free to download or print these maps for your personal use, and try creating some of your own.  As you do so, your understanding of your ancestors’ lives will increase, and you might get some new ideas for research.  Happy trails!


I am an Accredited Genealogist® professional living in California. I have been researching and teaching since 1988.

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