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In 1834, a group of missionaries traveled west to the Oregon
territory. In the years that followed, many other settlers followed.
The Oregon Trail
began in St. Louis,
Missouri and crossed
over two thousand miles
of plains and mountains,
finally ending in the
Willamette Valley in
Oregon. The journey
took four to six months
and the travelers faced
many hardships for the
promise of a better life.
Willamette Valley
The Covered Wagon
The most popular starting point for the trip was St.
Louis. Here families were faced with many decisions.
What should we take, what do we need to leave
behind? Anything they took had to fit in the wagon.
Fort Kearny was built to
protect the emigrants on the
Oregon trail. It also provided a
place for travelers to buy
supplies and send mail to
friends and family back east.
Click to See
Ft. Kearny
The land was flat and seemed to
stretch forever, until they came to
Chimney Rock.
Click to see
Independence Rock
From Fort Laramie, the settlers journeyed on past
Independence Rock. The south pass is a gap in the Rocky
Mountains that stretches for miles. This provided an easier
route for the wagon trains to travel.
California Trail
Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail extended
through what is now Idaho. It was
also in this area that the trail split
and the California trail began. The
California trail was started after
Gold was discovered in California
in 1848. Many people were lured
to California by dreams of striking
it rich.
Those who continued on the Oregon Trail, came to Fort
Hall. This fort was originally built as a trading post for the fur
traders. Now it was a stopping off point for the pioneers. After
leaving Fort Hall, they traveled on through what is now Idaho and
were faced with an important decision. Should they cross the
Snake River or take the overland route. Some chose to cross at
Three Island Crossing. This was a direct route to Fort Boise and
saved some time, but the crossing was difficult and dangerous.
Replica of Fort Hall
Even though the journey was almost over, Barlow Road a treacherous
stretch still lay ahead. This toll road was built as an alternative to
navigating the Columbia River.
Sarah Cummins (A traveler on the trail):
"The traveling was slow and toilsome; slopes were almost impassible for
man and beast. As night was coming on, it seemed we all must perish, but
weak, faint and starving we went on. I could scarcely put one foot before
the another. I weighed less than eighty pounds at the time. My own party
had been 14 days with only nine biscuits and four small slices of bacon. "
After the Barlow Road, Oregon City was the next and final
destination on the Oregon Trail.
Here the settlers could visit the only land office west of the
Rocky Mountains to file their claim. The land was rich and
fertile, a welcoming place to settle.
There were many other trails and routes that
settlers took to reach the west. The Oregon Trail was one
of the most used routes.
In the 1860’s, people stopped using the trail, can
you guess why?
The transcontinental railway was completed.
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Clip Art diagram
western clip art St. Louis
Photographs wagon and oxen williamette valley chimney rock Fort Hall Replica
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nebraska trail trail map
Animated wagon Oregon Map
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