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 much money did people bring on the Oregon Trail?
Two hundred pounds of flour, thirty pounds of pilot bread, seventy-five pounds of bacon, ten pounds of rice, five pounds of coffee, two pounds of tea, twenty-five pounds of sugar, half a bushel of dried beans, one bushel of dried fruit, two pounds of saleratus, ten pounds of salt, and half a bushel of corn meal
How much did it cost to cross the Oregon Trail?
The overland journey from the Midwest to Oregon and California required a six-month journey across 2,000 miles of difficult terrain, and it was also an expensive venture, costing a man and his family around $1,000.
How much does it cost to go on the Oregon Trail?
There are interpretive exhibits at many parks and sites along the Oregon National Historic Trail, including Alcove Spring Park near Marysville, Kansas, which has exhibits, hiking trails, and trail remnants. The Oregon National Historic Trail has no user or entry fees.
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.
What was the best month to start the Oregon Trail?
The Applegate train started assembling in late April, the best time to get going, and the departure date had to be carefully chosen because there wouldn’t be enough grass on the prairie to keep the livestock strong enough to travel if they started too early in the spring.
Can you still walk the Oregon Trail?
You can walk the Oregon Trail, too: there are several long segments that can be backpacked or day hiked, as well as dozens of short hikes near historic attractions and interpretive centers.
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.
Where did pioneers sleep?
Despite the romantic depictions of the covered wagon in movies and on television, it would not have been very comfortable to travel in or sleep in the wagon. Some pioneers did camp on the groundu2014either in the open or sheltered under the wagonu2014but many used canvas tents.
How long did it take to cross the Oregon Trail?
During its heyday, from the mid-1840s to the late 1860s, it was likely used by 300,000 to 400,000 people, with perhaps a half million traversing it in total, covering an average of 15 to 20 miles (24 to 32 km) per day; most journeys took four to five months.
How much did it cost to join a wagon train?
The overland journey from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon or California took six months and cost up to $1,000 for a family of four, including the cost of a wagon, which was around $100.
What is the Oregon Trail known for?
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 mid-nineteenth century. It was difficult and snaked through Missouri, present-day Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and finally Oregon.
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.
Is the Oregon Trail still used 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.
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.