The Oregon National Historic Trail
The The 2,200-mile east-west Oregon trail served as a critical transportation route for emigrants traveling from Missouri to Oregon and other points west during the middle 1800s. Travelers were enticed by promise of gold and land. Times were also less inviting in the mid to easter potions of what is now called the United States due to diseases like yellow fever and malaria. People flocked westward in search of a better life.
The pioneers were able to bring very little with them. When they left their homes in the east, they had to leave most of their belongings. Often settlers with heavy household furniture discarded them along the way due to weight. The covered wagon was mostly filled with food. It took over a 1,000 pounds of food to feed a family of four on the trip out west. They took preserved foods such as hard tack, coffee, bacon, rice, beans, and flour.
The first major migration took place in 1843 when a single large wagon train of 120 wagons and 500 people made the trip.
In 1978, the U.S. Congress officially named the trail the
Oregon National Historic Trail.
Through Wyoming, the trails followed the North Platte and Sweetwater rivers west to South Pass, and then divided into routes bound for Oregon, Utah or California.
Some facts that are not often know about the history of the trail might surprise you.
Around 400,000 - 500,000 set out on the treks west.
Often discarded items littered the trail as families lightened their loads. Broken down wagons were even sometimes abandoned.
The pioneers left behind graffiti on register rocks that marked the way west.
Indian attacks were rare and the natives often helped the pioneers.
Cholera killed many settlers along the way and accounted for most of the 20,000 deaths along the way.
Only about 80,000 people settled in Oregon
Ruts from the wagons can still be seen today along the trail.
Ezra Meeker, the most famous traveler made the trip by wagon, train, automobile, and eventually airplane! - see him pictured below.