Journey To Oregon

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Books, articles, and ephemera publications document new findings and reprint diaries, memoirs, and descriptions of the trail and travel conditions. As an icon of Oregon history, the Oregon Trail is likely to endure in scholarship and in heritage commemorations. Applegate, Jesse. Barlow, Mary S. Bowen, William A. Seattle: University of Washington Press, Burcham, Mildred Baker. Clark, Keith, and Lowell Tiller. Terrible Trail: The Meek Cutoff. Caldwell, ID: Caxton, Men and Women on the Overland Trail. New Haven: Yale University Press, Haines, Aubrey L.

Historic Sites along the Oregon Trail. Gerald, MO: Patrice Press, Johnson, David Alan. Founding the Far West. Berkeley: University of Calififornia Press, Kaiser, Leo, and Priscilla Knuth, eds. Kroll, Helen. Mattes, Merrill J. The Great Platte River Road. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, McClelland, John M. Longview Publishing, Miller, James D. Minto, John. Moore, Shirley Ann Wilson. Oregon Trail Emigrant Resources. Oregon State Library, Salem. Parkman, Francis. New York: Knickerbocker Magazine, Taylor, Quintard.

Garcia, and Terry P. Wilson, Lexington, MA: D. Heath, Vaughan, Chelsea. William L. The Charles and Melinda Applegate House in Yoncalla is the oldest known residence in Oregon that has remained in continuous family ownership since its construction. The house The Applegate Trail, first laid out and used in , was a southern alternative to the western-most segment of the Oregon Trail, with its users leaving the original Oregon City-bound Oregon Trail route near Ft.

Hall, in what is now southeastern Idaho, and following the California Trail west along the The Barlow Road is a historic wagon road that created a new route on the Oregon Trail in Until the road was opened, the overland portion of the Oregon Trail effectively ended in The Dalles. Mount Hood, and the Cascade Range in general, was an insurmountable obstacle to early This quest for profit—achieved through the pioneering extraction of the Pacific Jesse Applegate, an influential early Oregon settler, is most remembered for his leadership role in establishing the Applegate Trail.

Louis in He was educated at Rock Springs Seminary in He joined the R. Morrison family wagon group as a contract laborer, with an unbounded commitment to the cross-country trek John M. Shively was an Oregon pioneer who was active in territorial affairs as a businessman, lobbyist, postmaster, surveyor, and gold seeker. He was born April 2, , in Shelby County , Kentucky.

The Sweetwater would have to be crossed up to nine times before the trail crosses over the Continental Divide at South Pass, Wyoming. Three to five ferries were in use on the Green during peak travel periods. The deep, wide, swift, and treacherous Green River which eventually empties into the Colorado River, was usually at high water in July and August, and it was a dangerous crossing. Over time, two major heavily used cutoffs were established in Wyoming. Ferries here transferred them across the Green River. From there the Sublette-Greenwood Cutoff trail had to cross a mountain range to connect with the main trail near Cokeville in the Bear River Valley.

In , 13, [56] of the 19, [57] emigrants traveling to California and Oregon used the Lander Road.

The traffic in later years is undocumented. It exited the mountains near the present Smith Fork road about 6 miles 9. The road continued almost due north along the present day Wyoming—Idaho western border through Star Valley. In Idaho, it followed the Stump Creek valley northwest until it crossed the Caribou Mountains and proceeded past the south end of Grays Lake.

The trail then proceeded almost due west to meet the main trail at Fort Hall; alternatively, a branch trail headed almost due south to meet the main trail near the present town of Soda Springs. This cutoff rejoined the Oregon and California Trails near the City of Rocks near the Utah—Idaho border and could be used by both California and Oregon bound travelers. Located about half way on both the California and Oregon trails many thousands of later travelers used Salt Lake City and other Utah cities as an intermediate stop for selling or trading excess goods or tired livestock for fresh livestock, repairs, supplies or fresh vegetables.

The Mormons looked on these travelers as a welcome bonanza as setting up new communities from scratch required nearly everything the travelers could afford to part with. The overall distance to California or Oregon was very close to the same whether one "detoured" to Salt Lake City or not.

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To raise much needed money and facilitate travel on the Salt Lake Cutoff they set up several ferries across the Weber , Bear, and Malad rivers, which were used mostly by travelers bound for Oregon or California. Big Hill was a detour caused by a then-impassable cut the Bear River made through the mountains and had a tough ascent often requiring doubling up of teams and a very steep and dangerous descent.

About 5 miles 8. The springs here were a favorite attraction of the pioneers who marveled at the hot carbonated water and chugging "steamboat" springs. Many stopped and did their laundry in the hot water as there was usually plenty of good grass and fresh water available. Fort Hall was an old fur trading post located on the Snake River. At Fort Hall nearly all travelers were given some aid and supplies if they were available and needed.

Mosquitoes were constant pests, and travelers often mention that their animals were covered with blood from the bites. At Soda Springs was one branch of Lander Road established and built with government contractors in , which had gone west from near South Pass, over the Salt River Mountains and down Star Valley before turning west near present-day Auburn, Wyoming, and entering Idaho. One branch turned almost 90 degrees and proceeded southwest to Soda Springs.

On the main trail about 5 miles 8. Its main advantage was that it helped spread out the traffic during peak periods, making more grass available. There were only a few places where the Snake River was not buried deep in a canyon, and few spots where the river slowed down enough to make a crossing possible.

Two of these fords were near Fort Hall, where travelers on the Oregon Trail North Side Alternate established about and Goodale's Cutoff established crossed the Snake to travel on the north side. Nathaniel Wyeth, the original founder of Fort Hall in , writes in his diary that they found a ford across the Snake River 4 miles 6. Another possible crossing was a few miles upstream of Salmon Falls where some intrepid travelers floated their wagons and swam their stock across to join the north side trail.

Some lost their wagons and teams over the falls. Goodale's Cutoff , established in on the north side of the Snake River, formed a spur of the Oregon Trail. This cutoff had been used as a pack trail by Native Americans and fur traders, and emigrant wagons traversed parts of the eastern section as early as It passed near the present-day town of Arco, Idaho , and wound through the northern part of what is now Craters of the Moon National Monument. This journey typically took two to three weeks and was noted for its very rough lava terrain and extremely dry climate, which tended to dry the wooden wheels on the wagons, causing the iron rims to fall off the wheels.

Loss of wheels caused many wagons to be abandoned along the route. It rejoined the main trail east of Boise. At Salmon Falls there were often a hundred or more Native Americans fishing who would trade for their salmon, a welcome treat. The crossings were doubly treacherous because there were often hidden holes in the river bottom which could overturn the wagon or entangle the team, sometimes with fatal consequences. Before ferries were established there were several drownings here nearly every year. The north side of the Snake had better water and grass than the south.

The usually lush Boise River Valley was a welcome relief. This last crossing of the Snake could be done on bull boats while swimming the stock across. Others would chain a large string of wagons and teams together. The theory was that the front teams, usually oxen, would get out of water first and with good footing help pull the whole string of wagons and teams across. How well this worked in practice is not stated. Often young Native American boys were hired to drive and ride the stock across the river—they knew how to swim, unlike many pioneers.

Starting in about the South Alternate of Oregon Trail also called the Snake River Cutoff was developed as a spur off the main trail. It bypassed the Three Island Crossing and continued traveling down the south side of the Snake River. It rejoined the trail near present-day Ontario, Oregon. It hugged the southern edge of the Snake River canyon and was a much rougher trail with poorer water and grass, requiring occasional steep descents and ascents with the animals down into the Snake River canyon to get water. Travellers on this route avoided two dangerous crossings of the Snake River.

In , the Central Pacific established Kelton, Utah as a railhead and the terminus of the western mail was moved from Salt Lake City. The Kelton Road became important as a communication and transportation road to the Boise Basin. Boise has 21 monuments in the shape of obelisks along its portion of the Oregon Trail. Once across the Snake River ford near Old Fort Boise the weary travelers traveled across what would become the state of Oregon.

In settlers cut a wagon road over these mountains making them passable for the first time to wagons. At Fort Nez Perce some built rafts or hired boats and started down the Columbia; others continued west in their wagons until they reached The Dalles. After the trail bypassed the closed mission and headed almost due west to present day Pendleton , Oregon, crossing the Umatilla River , John Day River, and Deschutes River before arriving at The Dalles. Arriving at the Columbia at The Dalles and stopped by the Cascade Mountains and Mount Hood, some gave up their wagons or disassembled them and put them on boats or rafts for a trip down the Columbia River.

Once they transited the Cascade's Columbia River Gorge with its multiple rapids and treacherous winds they would have to make the 1. The pioneer's livestock could be driven around Mount Hood on the narrow, crooked and rough Lolo Pass. Several Oregon Trail branches and route variations led to the Willamette Valley. It was rough and steep with poor grass but still cheaper and safer than floating goods, wagons and family down the dangerous Columbia River. The Applegate Trail established , cutting off the California Trail from the Humboldt River in Nevada, crossed part of California before cutting north to the south end of the Willamette Valley.

Route 99 and Interstate 5 through Oregon roughly follow the original Applegate Trail. Three types of draft and pack animals were used by Oregon Trail pioneers: oxen , mules , and horses. By , many emigrants favored oxen—castrated bulls males of the genus Bos cattle , generally over four years old—as the best animal to pull wagons, because they were docile, generally healthy, and able to continue moving in difficult conditions such as mud and snow.

Moreover, oxen were less expensive to purchase and maintain than horses. Oxen typically traveled at a steady pace up to two miles an hour. One drawback of oxen was the difficulty of shoeing. Oxen hooves are cloven split , and they had to be shod with two curved pieces of metal, one on each side of the hoof. While horses and mules allowed themselves to be shod relatively easily, the process was more difficult with oxen, which would lie down and tuck their feet under themselves.

Mules were used by some emigrants. Food and water were key concerns for migrants. Wagons typically carried at least one large water keg, [82] [83] and guidebooks available from the s and later gave similar advice to migrants on what food to take. Jefferson, in his Brief Practice Advice guidebook for migrants, recommended that each adult take pounds of flour: "Take plenty of bread stuff; this is the staff of life when everything else runs short.

Food often took the form of crackers or hardtack ; Southerners sometimes chose cornmeal or pinole rather than wheat flour. Randolph B. Marcy , an Army officer who wrote an guide, advised taking less bacon than the earlier guides had recommended. He advised emigrants to drive cattle instead as a source of fresh beef. Canning technology had just begun to be developed, and it gained in popularity through the period of westward expansion.

Initially, only upper-class migrants typically used canned goods. Canning also added weight to a wagon. Rather than canned vegetables, Marcy suggested that travelers take dried vegetables which had been used in the Crimean War and by the U. Some pioneers took eggs and butter packed in barrels of flour, and some took dairy cows along the trail.

Oregon Trail - The journey |

At the time, scurvy was well-recognized, but there was a lack of clear understanding of how to prevent the disease. Emigrant families, who were mostly middle-class, prided themselves on preparing a good table. Although operating Dutch ovens and kneading dough was difficult on the trail, many baked good bread and even pies. For fuel to heat food, travelers would collect cedar wood , cottonwood , or willow wood, when available, and sometimes dry prairie grass. Tobacco was popular, both for personal use, and for trading with natives and other pioneers.

Each person brought at least two changes of clothes and multiple pairs of boots two to three pairs often wore out on the trip. About 25 pounds of soap was recommended for a party of four, for bathing and washing clothes. A washboard and tub were usually brought for washing clothes. Wash days typically occurred once or twice a month, or less, depending on availability of good grass, water, and fuel. Most wagons carried tents for sleeping, though in good weather most would sleep outside.

A thin fold-up mattress, blankets, pillows, canvas, or rubber gutta percha ground covers were used for sleeping. Sometimes an unfolded feather bed mattress was brought for the wagon, if there were pregnant women or very young children along. Storage boxes were ideally the same height, so they could be arranged to give a flat surface inside the wagon for a sleeping platform.

The wagons had no springs, and the ride along the trail was very rough. Despite modern depictions, hardly anyone actually rode in the wagons; it was too dusty, too rough, and too hard on the livestock. Travelers brought books, Bibles, trail guides, and writing quills, ink, and paper for writing letters or journalling about one in kept a diary. A belt and folding knives were carried by nearly all men and boys. Awls, scissors, pins, needles, and thread for mending were required. Spare leather was used for repairing shoes, harnesses, and other equipment. Some used goggles to keep dust out of the eyes.

Saddles, bridles, hobbles, and ropes were needed if the party had a horse or riding mule, and many men did. Extra harnesses and spare wagon parts were often carried. Most carried steel shoes for horses, mules, or livestock. Tar was carried to help repair an ox's injured hoof. Goods, supplies, and equipment were often shared by fellow travelers. New iron shoes for horses, mules, and oxen were put on by blacksmiths found along the way. Equipment repairs and other goods could be procured from blacksmith shops established at some forts and some ferries.

Emergency supplies, repairs, and livestock were often provided by local residents in California, Oregon, and Utah for late travelers on the trail who were hurrying to beat the snow. Non-essential items were often abandoned to lighten the load, or in case of emergency.

Many travelers would salvage discarded items, picking up essentials or leaving behind their lower quality item when a better one was found abandoned along the road. Some profited by collecting discarded items, hauling them back to jumping off places, and reselling them. In the early years, Mormons sent scavenging parties back along the trail to salvage as much iron and other supplies as possible and haul it to Salt Lake City , where supplies of all kinds were needed.

During the gold rush, Fort Laramie was known as "Camp Sacrifice" because of the large amounts merchandise discarded nearby. Some travelers carried their excess goods to Salt Lake City to be sold. Professional tools used by blacksmiths, carpenters, and farmers were carried by nearly all. Axes, crow bars, hammers, hatchets, hoes, mallets, mattocks, picks, planes, saws, scythes, and shovels [88] were used to clear or make a road through brush or trees, cut down the banks to cross a wash or steep banked stream, build a raft or bridge, or repair the wagon.

In general, as little road work as possible was done. Travel was often along the top of ridges to avoid the brush and washes common in many valleys. Overall, some , pioneers used the Oregon Trail and its three primary offshoots, the Bozeman , California , and Mormon trails to reach the West Coast, Another 48, headed to Utah. There is no estimate on how many used it to return East. Some of the trail statistics for the early years were recorded by the U. Army at Fort Laramie, Wyoming , from about to None of these original statistical records have been found—the Army either lost them or destroyed them.

Only some partial written copies of the Army records and notes recorded in several diaries have survived. Emigration to California spiked considerably with the gold rush. Following the discovery of gold, California remained the destination of choice for most emigrants on the trail up to , with almost , people traveling there between and Travel diminished after , as the Civil War caused considerable disruptions on the trail. Many of the people on the trail in — were fleeing the war and its attendant drafts in both the south and the north. Trail historian Merrill J. Mattes [92] has estimated the number of emigrants for — given in the total column of the above table.

A thousand pioneers head West as part of the Great Emigration

But these estimates may well be low since they only amount to an extra , people, and the census shows that over , additional people ignoring most of the population increase in California, which had excellent sea and rail connections across Panama by then showed up in all the states served by the Bozeman, California, Mormon, and Oregon Trail s and their offshoots. Mormon emigration records after are reasonably accurate, as newspaper and other accounts in Salt Lake City give most of the names of emigrants arriving each year from to Though the numbers are significant in the context of the times, far more people chose to remain at home in the 31 states.

Many were discouraged by the cost, effort and danger of the trip. Western scout Kit Carson is thought to have said, "The cowards never started and the weak died on the way", though the general saying was written [ when? Many who went were between the ages 12 and Between and , the U. These census numbers show a , population increase in the western states and territories between and Some of this increase is because of a high birth rate in the western states and territories, but most is from emigrants moving from the east to the west and new immigration from Europe.

Much of the increase in California and Oregon is from emigration by ship, as there was fast and reasonably low cost transportation via east and west coast steamships and the Panama Railroad after The cost of traveling over the Oregon Trail and its extensions varied from nothing to a few hundred dollars per person. Women seldom went alone. The cheapest way was to hire on to help drive the wagons or herds, allowing one to make the trip for nearly nothing or even make a small profit.

Those with capital could often buy livestock in the Midwest and drive the stock to California or Oregon for profit. Families planned the trip months in advance and made much of the extra clothing and many other items needed. The route west was arduous and fraught with many dangers, but the number of deaths on the trail is not known with any precision; there are only wildly varying estimates.

Estimating is difficult because of the common practice of burying people in unmarked graves that were intentionally disguised to avoid their being dug up by animals or natives. Graves were often put in the middle of a trail and then run over by the livestock to make them difficult to find. Disease was the main killer of trail travelers; cholera killed up to 3 percent of all travelers in the epidemic years from to Native attacks increased significantly after , when most of the army troops were withdrawn, and miners and ranchers began fanning out all over the country, often encroaching on Native American territory.

Increased attacks along the Humboldt led to most travelers' taking the Central Nevada Route. The Goodall cutoff, developed in Idaho in , kept Oregon bound travelers away from much of the native trouble nearer the Snake River. Other trails were developed that traveled further along the South Platte to avoid local Native American hot spots. Other common causes of death included hypothermia , drowning in river crossings, getting run over by wagons, and accidental gun deaths.

Later, more family groups started traveling, and many more bridges and ferries were being put in, so fording a dangerous river became much less common and dangerous. Surprisingly few people were taught to swim in this era. Being run over was a major cause of death, despite the wagons' only averaging 2—3 miles per hour.

The wagons could not easily be stopped, and people, particularly children, were often trying to get on and off the wagons while they were moving—not always successfully. Another hazard was a dress getting caught in the wheels and pulling the person under. Accidental shootings declined significantly after Fort Laramie, as people became more familiar with their weapons and often just left them in their wagons. Carrying around a ten-pound rifle all day soon became tedious and usually unnecessary, as the perceived threat of natives faded and hunting opportunities receded.

A significant number of travelers were suffering from scurvy by the end of their trips. The diet in the mining camps was also typically low in fresh vegetables and fruit, which indirectly led to early deaths of many of the inhabitants. Some believe that scurvy deaths may have rivaled cholera as a killer, with most deaths occurring after the victim reached California.

Miscellaneous deaths included deaths by childbirth, falling trees, flash floods, homicides, kicks by animals, lightning strikes, snake bites, and stampedes. According to an evaluation by John Unruh, [] a 4 percent death rate or 16, out of , total pioneers on all trails may have died on the trail. Reaching the Sierra Nevada before the start of the winter storms was critical for a successful completion of a trip.

Wur’s Whirlwind Journey to Oregon

The most famous failure in that regard was that of the Donner Party , whose members struggled to traverse what is today called Donner Pass , in November When the last survivor was rescued in April , 33 men, women, and children had died at Donner Lake ; with some of the 48 survivors' confessing to having resorted to cannibalism to survive. Disease was the biggest killer on the Oregon Trail. Cholera was responsible for taking many lives.

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Airborne diseases also commonly affected travelers. One such disease was diphtheria , to which young children were particularly susceptible. There were other possible migration paths for early settlers, miners, or travelers to California or Oregon besides the Oregon trail prior to the establishment of the transcontinental railroads. James Sinclair led a large party of nearly settlers from the Red River Colony in These northern routes were largely abandoned after Britain ceded its claim to the southern Columbia River basin by way of the Oregon Treaty of The cost could be reduced to zero if you signed on as a crewman and worked as a common seaman.

The hundreds of abandoned ships, whose crews had deserted in San Francisco Bay in —50, showed many thousands chose to do this. Catching a fatal disease was a distinct possibility as Ulysses S. Grant in learned when his unit of about soldiers and some of their dependents traversed the Isthmus and lost about men, women, and children. Another route established by Cornelius Vanderbilt in was across Nicaragua. Vanderbilt decided to use paddle wheel steam ships from the U. All his connections in Nicaragua were never completely worked out before the Panama Railroad's completion in Another possible route consisted of taking a ship to Mexico traversing the country and then catching another ship out of Acapulco , Mexico to California etc.

This route was used by some adventurous travelers but was not too popular because of the difficulties of making connections and the often hostile population along the way. George Cooke 's Mormon Battalion in who were the first to take a wagon the whole way. This route was used by many gold hungry miners in and later but suffered from the disadvantage that you had to find a way across the very wide and very dry Sonora Desert.

It was used by many in and later as a winter crossing to California, despite its many disadvantages. Employing over at its peak, it used Concord Stagecoaches seating 12 very crowded passengers in three rows. It used 1, head of stock, horses and mules and relay stations to ensure the stages ran day and night.

I've just had 24 days of it. Other ways to get to Oregon were: using the York Factory Express route across Canada, and down the Columbia River; ships from Hawaii, San Francisco, or other ports that stopped in Oregon; emigrants trailing up from California, etc. All provided a trickle of emigrants, but they were soon overwhelmed in numbers by the emigrants coming over the Oregon Trail. Without the many thousands of United States settlers in Oregon and California, and thousands more on their way each year, it is highly unlikely that this would have occurred.

The western expansion, and the Oregon Trail in particular, inspired numerous creative works about the settlers' experiences. A journey of about km throughout 6 states — Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon — which at that time lasted from 4 to 6 months according to the seasons. Oregon is the land of the greatest Shakespearian festival in the United States.

It attracts almost The seat is the nice small town of Ashland , located about few ten km far from the border with California. A journey to Oregon: Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Here you find the complete list, the movie sets included. Currently you have JavaScript disabled. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. Share on Facebook Share. Share on Twitter Tweet. Share on Linkedin Share. A journey to Oregon, towards Mount Hood. A journey to Oregon: Portland Sign.

A journey to Oregon, on the road. Old Oregon Trail, the trail. A journey to Oregon: Ashland.