The Oregon Trail was a 2,000-mile route that ran from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City, Oregon, and was used by hundreds of thousands of American pioneers to emigrate west in the 1800s. It was difficult to navigate and snaked through present-day Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.
Missionaries Blaze the Oregon Trail
Missionaries were among the first to cross the Oregon Trail, with Nathan Wyeth leading the first missionary group west in 1834, where they established an outpost in what is now Idaho.
Marcus Whitman, a missionary, set out on horseback in 1835 to prove that the westward trail to Oregon could be traversed safely and further than ever before. His party made it to the Green River Rendezvous, then faced a grueling journey across the Rockies with the help of Hudson Bay Company trappers.
Great Emigration of 1843
The Great Emigration of 1843, which began on May 22 and lasted five months, was one of the most significant events in American history, as it effectively opened the floodgates of pioneer migration along the Oregon Trail. The group consisted of 120 wagons, about 1,000 people, and thousands of livestock.
The incident sparked a seven-year conflict between indigenous peoples and the federal government of the United States.
Life on the Oregon Trail
Emigrants had to sell their homes, businesses, and any belongings they couldn’t take with them, as well as hundreds of pounds of supplies such as flour, sugar, bacon, coffee, salt, rifles, and ammunition, in wagons that were typically six feet wide and twelve feet long.
Oregon Trail Route
Thousands of pioneers traveled thousands of miles along the Oregon Trail, crossing the Great Plains, following the Platte River, and ascending the Rocky Mountains. Summer thunderstorms made travel slow and dangerous, so leaving in April or May was critical for the best chance of survival.
The “Great Register of the Desert” was named after the rock. Settlers climbed the Rocky Mountains to the South Pass, then navigated the Snake River Canyon and the Blue Mountains, with some continuing south into California.
Dangers on the Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail became a well-worn path and an abandoned junkyard of surrendered belongings, as well as a graveyard for tens of thousands of pioneer men, women, and children who died of diseases like dysentery, cholera, smallpox, and flu.
The End of the Oregon Trail
Thousands of emigrants used the Oregon Trail on their way to California, and it was also a major thoroughfare for massive cattle drives between 1866 and 1888, before railroads virtually eliminated the need for wagons in the West by 1890.
How long was the Oregon Trail in days?
Because of the large number of women and children on board, these wagon trains were unable to cover as much ground in a single day as Oregon and California bound emigrants, taking an average of 100 days to travel the 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to Salt Lake City.
How far did the Oregon Country reach?
From the early 1840s to the 1860s, the Oregon Trail, which spanned about 2,000 miles (3,200 km), served as the primary route for hundreds of thousands of emigrants seeking to reach the Northwest.
How long did the journey westward take?
In fact, the Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled across the western part of the continent and back in two years, four months, and nine days.
Can you walk the Oregon Trail today?
Pioneers heading west from Missouri used the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail to find fertile lands; today, travelers can follow the trail along Route 66 or Routes 2 and 30.
What was the greatest cause of death on the Oregon Trail?
Accidental deaths on the trail included falling off or under wagons, being crushed by wagon wheels, and injuries from handling domestic animals. Wagon accidents were the most common, with both children and adults falling off or under wagons and being crushed under the wheels.
When was the best time to leave for the Oregon Trail?
Players should ideally begin in the spring, the earlier the better; the best month to begin is usually April, and the best year to begin is between 1843 and 1848; this way, players will avoid getting cold, and because of the year, they will miss a disease that will most likely wipe out everyone after 1848.
What states did the Oregon Trail go through?
The trail runs through seven states: Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. It starts in Wayne City, Missouri, and ends in Oregon City, Oregon. Emigrants also left from St. Joseph, Missouri, and Omaha, Nebraska.
Who found the Oregon Trail?
The first white man to use the Oregon Trail was Robert Stuart of the Astorians (a group of fur traders who established Fort Astoria on the Columbia River in western Oregon). Stuart’s 2,000-mile journey from Fort Astoria to St. Joseph was the first of its kind.
Why didn’t most pioneers ride in their wagons?
The wagons were pulled along the dusty trail by teams of oxen or mules. People didn’t ride in the wagons very often because they didn’t want to wear out their animals; instead, they walked alongside them, becoming just as dusty as the animals.
Where did most pioneers come from?
European and African Americans migrated westward from the Thirteen Colonies and later the United States to settle in and develop areas of North America that had previously been inhabited or used by Native Americans.
Why did pioneers go to Oregon?
Economic problems infuriated farmers and businessmen, and free land in Oregon and the prospect of finding gold in California enticed them westward. The majority of the pioneer families followed the Oregon-California Trail or the Mormon Trail.
How many died on the Oregon Trail?
At least 20,000 people died along the Oregon Trail due to accidents, drowning at dangerous river crossings, and other illnesses; most trailside graves are unknown because burials were quick and the wagon trains moved on.
Has anyone walked the Oregon Trail?
Bart Smith went for a walk on June 15 u2014 a really, really long one; in fact, Smith is walking the entire Oregon Trail, which is about 2,000 miles long.
Can you still see the Oregon Trail?
Swales, which mark the exact route used by emigrants as they traveled westward, can still be seen in the field, according to the National Frontier Trails Museum.