This map means business!


10 July 2023
This fascinating map told would-be fortune hunters where to dig for gold
We spotlight a fascinating map showing possible routes that would-be gold prospectors might take to make their way out west to Oregon at the height of the gold rush.

Folded into the back of Disturnell’s Guide to New-Mexico, California & Oregon this map (published in 1850) details the possible routes that would-be gold prospectors might take to make their way out west to Oregon - to reach the gold fields in the least possible time.

It’s fun working on Family Tree (as you might have guessed) and one of the really enjoyable tasks is sourcing images to illustrate articles. In the upcoming August 2023 issue eminent genealogist and mine of information Chris Paton is covering the many reasons why our family members may have upped sticks and left Britain and Ireland to seek work across the globe. And gold prospecting was obviously a huge lure for many.

This map was taken from Disturnell’s Guide, one of many emigrant guides that were published to help people find out about the practicalities of their proposed venture. Such guides covered, in great detail, lists of what people needed to pack for the journey, information to help them plan their own route west, etc. 

We’re sharing the map with you here so that you can enjoy poring over it, larger than we can squeeze within the pages of the magazine. Alternatively view it here.

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To find out more about emigrant’s guide explore the digitised collections on

And to learn more about tracing your British & Irish ancestors’ working lives overseas and motives for moving, see the August issue of Family Tree, on sale 14 July.

Top image: Gold prospectors constructing a long box with a filter for panning gold. Process print after H.M. Paget, 1899. Wellcome Collection, public domain mark.