Jesse and Lindsay Applegate, members of the first wave of Oregon Trail emigrants, watched their ten-year old sons drown in the Columbia River when a boat overturned in the rapids near The Dalles in 1843. Once their families were settled, the Applegates vowed to find a route into the Willamette Valley to avoid the river.
In June of 1846, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate along with thirteen other men, set out to explore a new route blazed from West to East intersecting the California Trial at the Humboldt River in Nevada. The new path was historically linked to the Oregon Trail as an alternate route into Oregon. It provided a passageway not under British control and avoided the obstacles and dangers of the Burnt River Canyon, the Blue Mountains and the Snake and Columbia Rivers.
On October 19th, 1846, Applegate Trail emigrants coming from the East camped in this general area and had to bury one of their own, Martha Leland Crowley had died of Typhoid fever and they buried her near Grave Creek.