Many of the inscriptions are from the peak years of Oregon Trail travel in the 1840s and 1850s. When pulled by teams of oxen or mules, they could creak their way toward Oregon Country at a pace of around 15 to 20 miles a day. Closer by, a series of strange rock formations captured the pioneers’ attention. In fact, due to … An easier trail was needed. Well-meaning settlers often tried to make pets of the wild animals they came across on … Oregon Trail summary: The 2,200-mile east-west trail served as a critical transportation route for emigrants traveling from Missouri to Oregon and other points west during the mid-1800s. I ate about all I could get my hands on but experienced no bad results—they were ripe and mellow.”. There are tons of interesting facts about Oregon that they don’t teach you in school though. Even in July in this part of the country, emigrants shivered in early morning and night. “I well remember our start down the river, and how I enjoyed riding in the boat, the movement of which was like a grapevine swing,” recalled Jesse. He was given a fair trial and, if found guilty, was sentenced according to the nature of his offense. Meek and Newell managed to get the first wheeled vehicles over the Blue Mountains. Still, it wasn’t until 1843 that the pioneer dam finally burst. The Applegate train began to assemble in late April, the best time to get rolling. These vehicles typically included a wooden bed about four feet wide and ten fee… In late October, the Applegate train finally reached Fort Walla Walla. While pioneer trains did circle their wagons at night, it was mostly to keep their draft animals from wandering off, not protect against an ambush. During the Gold Rush of 1849, pioneers reportedly abandoned a whopping 20,000 pounds of bacon outside its walls. The player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding his party of settlers from Independence, Even so, their warnings about the road to Oregon—described as a deplorable succession of dangerous rivers, hostile Indians, famine and winter storms—were not far from reality. Stuart's 2,000-mile journey from Fort Astoria to St. Louis in 1810 took 10 months to complete; still, it was a much less rugged trail than Lewis and Clark's route. Definition: The Oregon Trail began as a network of unconnected trails used by Native American Indians and Fur Traders. That year, Marcus helped lead the first major wagon train of around 1,000 settlers along the Oregon Trail, an exodus now known as the “Great Migration.” Traffic soon skyrocketed, and by the late-1840s and early 1850s, upwards of 50,000 people were using the trail each year. These met along the lower part of Plate River Valley which was located near Fort Kearny. In 1844, there were 1,475 Oregon-bound emigrants; in 1845, 2,500 emigrants. The Oregon Trail puts you in charge … Contrary to the depictions of dime novels and Hollywood Westerns, attacks by the Plains Indians were not the greatest hazard faced by westbound settlers. This was the first wagon train to set off on the 2,170 mile route. Jesse A. Applegate, who would die at age 88 in 1919, wrote: “Oh, how we could have enjoyed our hospitable shelter if we could have looked around the family circle and beheld all the bright faces that had accompanied us on our toilsome journey almost to the end. Many emigrants elected not to visit the fort, however, because it was shorter to follow a path across a grassless tableland—Sublette’s Cutoff. In late November 1843, they reached trail’s end, Fort Vancouver, which had been built by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1825. HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. While most Oregon-bound emigrants traveled a route that passed by landmarks in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon, there was never just one set of wagon ruts leading west. Many died of overdoses, especially of laudanum. The Oregon Trail opened at a time when the westward settlement and development of the trans-Mississippi West had stalled at the Missouri River; Mexico still claimed all of California, and Alaska remained Russian territory. While there was the main trail that pioneers followed to Oregon, eventually many other branches of the trail were developed as pioneers headed to different parts of Oregon Territory and California. Popular depictions of the Oregon Trail often include trains of boat-shaped Conestoga wagons bouncing along the prairie. Travelers would chop out big chunks for their water casks, and some even made ice cream. Few emigrants passed by the rock without leaving their names or initials chiseled into its surface. Jesse saw the other boat across the river and “presently there was a wail of anguish, a shriek, and scene of confusion in our boat that no language can describe. Prosperous families usually took two or more wagons because the typical wagon did not have a large carrying capacity. Various companies took turns at guard duty, one night out of three. “As I looked about me I felt that the grass was the country, as the water is the sea,” wrote novelist Willa Cather in My Antonia. Fun Facts The Oregon Trail stretched more than 2,000 miles from Missouri almost to the Pacific Ocean and the Oregon coast. Instead, the Native Americans had used … With this in mind, settlers typically preferred to ride horses or walk alongside their wagons on foot. They did know that the backcountry of Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas had not proved to be a shining paradise. If they began the more than 2,000-mile journey too early in the spring, there would not be enough grass on the prairie to keep the livestock strong enough to travel. To keep the animals moving, it often became necessary to lighten their loads. The California Trail was eventually traveled by some 250,000 settlers, most of them prospectors seeking to strike it rich in the gold fields. After traversing a 22-mile tableland, the emigrants had to lower their wagons down a dangerously steep drop to what seemed an oasis to them—Ash Hollow, a woodsy glen that provided sweet spring water and shade. The area close to Register Cliff was the first night’s camp west of Fort Laramie. It started in Independence, Missouri and traveled a cleared trail that reached to Fort Hall, Idaho. The trip made him a national celebrity. The land ahead was challenging. American History by Mr. Donn has an entire page on The Oregon Trail. After flour sacks, food, furniture, clothes and farm equipment were piled on, not much space remained. Where the cutoff rejoined the main trail, the travelers headed northwest. Since they were unable to drive wagons through the Columbia’s steep-walled, heavily timbered gorge, the men in the Applegate party spent about two weeks at Fort Walla Walla sawing lumber and building skiffs. At each stop, the wagons were drawn up into a corral. Those in a hurry sometimes even paid stonecutters a few dollars to carve their messages for them. A map showing the westward trail from Missouri to Oregon. Fires were dimmed at an early hour, and everyone retired to rest for tomorrow’s march. In 1841, Father Pierre DeSmet, a Jesuit missionary, had spotted some names carved there by fur traders and called it “The Great Record of the Desert.”. The emigrants marveled at the Great Plains. The oxen and mules would be exhausted—as would the patience of their owners. The original game was designed to teach school children about the realities of 19th century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. These vehicles typically included a wooden bed about four feet wide and ten feet long. Let us give you some facts about the Oregon Trail Game. Oregon Trail, in U.S. history, an overland trail between Independence, Missouri, and Oregon City, near present-day Portland, Oregon, in the Willamette River valley. It crossed varied and often difficult terrain that included large territories occupied by Native Americans. Online Photo Tour of the Oregon Trail from Independence Rock. The Oregon Trail monument at South Pass was erected in 1906 by early trail booster Ezra Meeker. ... Fort Astoria on the Columbia River in western Oregon) became the first white man to use what later became known as the Oregon Trail. Another boat held Jesse’s brothers Elisha and Warren and a cousin, Edward Applegate, all under 12, as well as two men in their early 20s, and 70-year-old Alexander McClellan. If it is only a few miles a day. Over the years, other wagon trains used Westport, Leavenworth and St. Joseph as jumping-off points. It could only be traveled by horseback or on foot. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. The water was ten inches up the waggeon beds in the deep plaices. But first they had to get through the Great Basin around the Great Salt Lake. The first of these were the multi-tiered, 400-foot-high mound of volcanic ash and clay that became known as the Courthouse and its smaller rock companion, the Jail House—so dubbed because of their resemblance to municipal buildings in St. Louis. 1. But the Columbia could be turbulent, and this final leg of the journey proved to be the worst ordeal of all. Marcus Whitman and his nephew Perrin Whitman proved to be excellent guides as the wagons crossed into more challenging terrain. These pioneer wagon ruts can still be seen in all six of the states that once encompassed the trail. This article was written by Bob Brooke and originally appeared in the April 2000 issue of Wild West. The Oregon Trail was a 2,170-mile (3,490 km) east-west, large-wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail in the United States that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. Others mixed it with sugar and citrus syrup to make lemonade. Unfortunately, they also had their drawbacks. Frontier explorers and fur trappers blazed the rough outlines of the Oregon Trail in the early 19th century, but the route was initially considered too demanding for women, children or covered wagons to navigate. They came from all directions, by steamboat and over primitive roads that a day or two of heavy rain turned into quagmires. For all other uses you must first obtain permission. Between 1841 and 1869, hundreds of thousands of people traveled westward on the trail. From about 1811-1840 the Oregon Trail was laid down by traders and fur trappers. The snow-crested Laramie Mountains rose in the distance. It was as if the land itself were pulling the people westward. For most groups it took around five months to make it the whole way. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of what is now the state of Kansas and nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and Wyoming. They were able to negotiate the other rapids without mishap. It was no wonder that, in places, ruts along the Oregon Trail are still visible today. A.J. If on schedule, a wagon train reached the bluff in late June. American Oregon Trail pioneer and writer Ezra Meeker. They often stopped to swap buffalo robes and buckskin moccasins, fringed shirts and leggings for tobacco, ironware and worn-out clothing. ... Pfc. (Rodney Bryant and Daniel Woolfolk/Military Times)... Homepage Featured Top Stories, Homepage Hero. 1-5 Oregon Trail Facts 1. Such slowdowns would often throw off the schedule and sometimes cause major problems down the road. The Oregon Trail was the Important route taken by settlers from the east migrating to build a new life in the western part of the United States. Vast and unclaimed riches far to the west, across the Great Plains, beckoned. Between 1841 and 1866 about 350,000 people used what had become the most famous wagon route across America. The train included nearly 1,000 persons of both sexes, more than 200 wagons, 700 oxen and nearly 800 loose cattle. The Oregon Trail is a computer game originally developed by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger in 1971 and produced by MECC in 1974. One in 17 never made it. Prairie schooners were capable of carrying over a ton of cargo and passengers, but their small beds and lack of a suspension made for a notoriously bumpy ride. Of the rest, the vast majority splintered off from the main route in either Wyoming or Idaho and took separate trails leading to California and Utah. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! The Oregon Trail was a major route that people took when migrating to the western part of the United States. Our line of historical magazines includes America's Civil War, American History, Aviation History, Civil War Times, Military History, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Vietnam, Wild West and World War II. Americans were not the first people to use the Oregon Trail. That wagon train followed the Oregon Trail, a route laid down by fur trappers and traders just 20 years before. The food and rest they found there was welcome, but soon it was time to face new tasks and challenges—building homes and dreams in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The Oregon Trail is more than a simple hike — it’s a journey through time. But the real thrust westward came the following year, when the Oregon Trail took on a new significance thanks to the so-called Great Emigration. Tasked with suppressing a nationalist insurgency in the East Indies, Turkish-born Dutch commando Raymond Westerling proved brutally successful It was strong enough to keep the oxen from breaking out, and also served as a barricade in case of Indian attack. William Newby noted in his diary: “Hunted buffalo and killed 2. For the most part, the range rose a mile above sea level, with its most prominent peak, the white-capped Mount Hood, standing nearly a mile higher. Facts, information and articles about The Oregon Trail, a part of Westward Expansion from the Wild West Oregon Trail summary: The 2,200-mile east-west trail served as a critical transportation route for emigrants traveling from Missouri to Oregon and other points west during the mid-1800s. Sarah Cummins described them as being “like the wild regions of Africa.” They marveled, too, at the prairie wildlife—antelope, black bears, grizzlies, coyotes, buffalo and, of course, prairie dogs. A path lost in time when the magic and mystery of earthbound exploration was on its last legs, when the wild unknown was becoming less wild and more known. The date of departure had to be selected with care. “It is no disparagement to others to say that to no other individual are the emigrants of 1843 so indebted for their successful conclusion of their journey as to Dr. Marcus Whitman,” he added. Eventually, the wagons would be dragged up Burnt Canyon into present-day Oregon, skirt the treacherous swamps of the lovely Grande Ronde River valley, and finally climb slowly among the cold evergreens of the Blue Mountains. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. However, the most frequent epitaph was, “Died: Of Cholera.” Because there was no wood for coffins, bodies were wrapped in cloths and buried under mounds of earth and rocks. Years later, when he was in his 70s, he wrote Recollections of My Boyhood, in which he largely succeeds in portraying events and personalities from the 1843 western crossing through the eyes of a young boy. The Oregon Trail was part of the idea of Manifest Destiny because of the fact that Manifest Destiny was the idea that America should expand into the Western Territory. The Great Emigration of 1843 had begun. Applegate would later provide descriptions of life on the Oregon Trail in his memoir, A Day with the Cow Column in 1843. The trees were cut just near enough to the ground to allow the wagons to pass over the stumps, and the road through the forest was only cleared out wide enough for a wagon to pass along….We were overtaken by a snowstorm which made the passage very dismal. Buffalo, wild game, elk, deer and small game such as rabbits and squirrels offered welcome meat supplies. The Oregon Trail, which stretched for about 2,000 miles (3,200 km), flourished as the main means for hundreds of thousands of emigrants to reach the Northwest from the early 1840s through the 1860s. Indians on their pinto ponies, some of these dragging laden travois, trailed by, gazing curiously at the ox-drawn wagons. Conestoga wagons, which weighed one-and-a-half tons tons empty, were too heavy for travel where there were no roads. And it was by no means […] All Rights Reserved. The trail pointed the way for the United States to expand westward to achieve what politicians of the day called its “Manifest Destiny” to reach “from sea to shining sea.”. Propaganda about Oregon and early accounts of travel west flourished in newspapers, pamphlets and emigrants’ guidebooks, creating an Oregon fever. Since the majority of emigrants were farmers with families, they often chose Murphy farm wagons as their chief means of transport. Some slept in tents, some in wagons, some on the ground, under the stars. We wonted thare hides for to make bots to craws the river.”. “The ox is the most noble animal, patient, thrifty, durable, and gentle,” he said. “There was a soda spring or pool between the camps, and Fremont’s men were having a high time drinking soda water,” recalled Jess. By early November, a small fleet of boats was heading down the Columbia River toward the Willamette Valley. It was co-authored by Beau Wise and Tom Sileo, who also... Homepage Featured Top Stories, Homepage Hero, Mag: Military History Featured, Military History, Military History Magazine. Travelers were inspired by dreams of gold and rich farmlands, but they were also motivated by difficult economic times in the east and diseases like yellow fever and malaria that were decimating the Midwest around 1837. Ill-broken oxen and reluctant mules either bolted or sulked in harness, entangled themselves in picket ropes or escaped entirely and sped back to the starting point. Oregon’s image was that of a place of renewal, where everything was bigger and better and people could better themselves. Little was known about health and sanitation, and no vaccines were available. More than a third of the emigrants’ supplies was likely to have been used up by this time. As the years passed, enterprising settlers also blazed dozens of new trails, or cutoffs, that allowed travelers to bypass stopping points and reach their destination quicker. Alas, they were not there!”. The rear wagon was connected with the wagon in front by its tongue and ox chains. One of the first deaths in the Applegate train was that of 6-year-old Joel Hembree. These shortcuts were especially popular in Wyoming, where the network of alternative pathways meandered more than a hundred miles north and south. The most popular campsite along the Sweetwater was next to Independence Rock, so called because the schedules of many wagon trains brought them to the granite monument around the Fourth of July. McCall wrote of his fellow travelers, “They laid in an over-supply of bacon, flour and beans, and in addition thereto every conceivable jimcrack and useless article that the wildest fancy could devise or human ingenuity could invent—pins and needles, brooms and brushes, ox shoes and horse shoes, lasts and leather, glass beads and hawk-bells, jumping jacks and jews-harps, rings and bracelets, pocket mirrors and pocket books, calico vests and boiled shirts.” A passerby was reminded of birds building a nest while watching one family load its wagon. In 1843, the trickle of emigrants into Independence, Missouri, began to swell. The majority travelled in wagons pulled by horse, as they were used to carry their belongings along with food and other supplies. Popular depictions of the Oregon Trail often include trains of boat-shaped Conestoga wagons bouncing along the prairie. In the photo gallery, the view across South Pass toward the Wind River Mountains from the top of Pacific Butte is by Barbara Dobos. The trail ran from Independence, Missouri , to what is now northern Oregon , near the Columbia River. From a distance, the mountainsides looked like green meadows, but up close they revealed mostly dry sand and rock. One trip on the Oregon Trail was more than enough for most pioneers, but Ohio native Ezra Meeker eventually made the trek a half-dozen times using nearly every available means of conveyance. But youth was not to be denied, the trek was a great adventure, and life stretched far ahead. Hostile encounters increased in the years after the beginning of the Civil War, but statistics show only around 400 settlers were killed by natives between 1840 and 1860. Promptly at seven, the bugle sounded, and the wagon train was on its way. The road beyond Fort Laramie became littered with castoffs—sheet-iron stoves, clothes trunks, tools, claw-footed tables, massive oak bureaus, cooking pots and even food. Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. Perhaps hunters came in with choice parts of buffalo or antelope, and everyone enjoyed a feast. Facts of the Oregon Trail With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, America nearly doubled in size, extending the country’s western border from the Mississippi River … Most emigrants, including Captain Burnett, swore by oxen. The presence of ice in midsummer indicated that they had reached the highest point on the trail—the Continental Divide at South Pass. It ran beside waterways, stretched across tall-grass and short-grass prairies, wound through mountain passes, and then spanned the Pacific Slope to the promised lands of Oregon and California. In the year 1836, the first wagon train set off from Independence, Missouri, heading west. 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