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. The Oregon Trail is a historic 2,000-mile (3,264-km) trail used by American pioneers living in the Great Plains in the 19th century. Trapping took place in the fall when the fur became prime. 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. It leaves the main trail about 10 miles (16 km) west of South Pass and heads almost due west crossing Big Sandy Creek and then about 45 miles (72 km) of waterless, very dusty desert before reaching the Green River near the present town of La Barge. Estimates of how many emigrants made the trek westward on the Oregon Trail vary. Bit by bit the trail was extended until it covered approximately 2,000 miles from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City, Oregon. African Americans traveled the Oregon Trail, making up perhaps as many as three percent of overlanders before 1860. Nearly everyone encountered snow on the ground at South Pass in midsummer. In 1852 Eliza Ann McAuley found and with help developed the McAuley Cutoff which bypassed much of the difficult climb and descent of Big Hill. Today, modern highways, such as Interstate 80 and Interstate 84, follow parts of the same course westward and pass through towns originally established to serve those using the Oregon Trail. For their own use and to encourage California and Oregon bound travelers the Mormons improved the Mormon Trail from Fort Bridger and the Salt Lake Cutoff trail. Other common causes of death included hypothermia, drowning in river crossings, getting run over by wagons, and accidental gun deaths. The Goodall cutoff, developed in Idaho in 1862, kept Oregon bound travelers away from much of the native trouble nearer the Snake River. At Fort Hall nearly all travelers were given some aid and supplies if they were available and needed. While there were almost no United States settlers in the future state of Washington in 1846, the United States had already demonstrated it could induce thousands of settlers to go to the Oregon Territory, and it would be only a short time before they would vastly outnumber the few hundred HBC employees and retirees living in Washington. They were looking for a safe location to spend the winter. In 1841, the Bartleson-Bidwell Party was the first emigrant group credited with using the Oregon Trail to emigrate west. At its pinnacle in about 1840, Fort Vancouver and its Factor (manager) watched over 34 outposts, 24 ports, 6 ships, and about 600 employees. 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. Others described how wagon companies split up and parts joined other companies during their journeys. The set includes 14 original episodes, including the feature-length pilot and the six episodes that did not air on NBC.[118]. Fear of a Native American attack near Union Pass in Wyoming forced the group further south where they discovered South Pass, a wide and easy pass over the Continental Divide. The relative scarcity of women gave them many opportunities to do many more things that were not "normally" considered "women's work" of this era. 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.[60][61]. [106] Other common diseases along the trail included dysentery, an intestinal infection that causes diarrhea containing blood or mucus,[107] and typhoid fever, another fecal-oral disease. The Sweetwater would have to be crossed up to nine times before the trail crosses over the Continental Divide at South Pass, Wyoming. He had a crew that dug out the gullies and river crossings and cleared the brush where needed. To get there, they helped build the Lassen Branch of the Applegate-Lassen Trail by cutting a wagon road through extensive forests. In August 1811, three months after Fort Astor was established, David Thompson and his team of British North West Company explorers came floating down the Columbia to Fort Astoria. Hunt and his party were to find possible supply routes and trapping territories for further fur trading posts. A belt and folding knives were carried by nearly all men and boys. 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 ship left supplies and men to continue work on the station and ventured north up the coast to Clayoquot Sound for a trading expedition. Betsey Bayley in a letter to her sister, Lucy P. Griffith described how travelers responded to the new environment they encountered: The mountains looked like volcanoes and the appearance that one day there had been an awful thundering of volcanoes and a burning world. Cholera was responsible for taking many lives. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. About 25 pounds of soap was recommended for a party of four, for bathing and washing clothes. Even before the famous Texas cattle drives after the Civil War, the trail was being used to drive herds of thousands of cattle, horses, sheep, and goats from the midwest to various towns and cities along the trails. Until about 1870 travelers encountered hundreds of thousands of bison migrating through Nebraska on both sides of the Platte River, and most travelers killed several for fresh meat and to build up their supplies of dried jerky for the rest of the journey. Issued intermittently between 1926 and 1939, 202,928 were sold to the public. In only a few weeks at a rendezvous a year's worth of trading and celebrating would take place as the traders took their furs and remaining supplies back east for the winter and the trappers faced another fall and winter with new supplies. Too far from their horses to retrieve them, they had to cache most of their goods and walk the rest of the way to the Columbia River where they made new boats and traveled to the newly established Fort Astoria. [78], Boise has 21 monuments in the shape of obelisks along its portion of the Oregon Trail.[79]. Travelers typically reached the desert in midsummer. [37] Once California was established as a prosperous state, many thousands more emigrated there each year for the opportunities. [95] According to several sources, 3 to 10 percent of the emigrants are estimated to have perished on the way west.[96]. [85], Some pioneers took eggs and butter packed in barrels of flour, and some took dairy cows along the trail. They used most of the York Express route through northern Canada. During the busy season there were several ferry boats and steamboats available to transport travelers to the Kansas shore where they started their travels westward. Once they arrived at their new western home, women's public role in building western communities and participating in the western economy gave them a greater authority than they had known back East. Although also considered part of the Mormon Trail, the grave of Rebecca Winters is one of the few marked ones left. [48] The trails gradually got rougher as it progressed up the North Platte. None of these original statistical records have been found—the Army either lost them or destroyed them. 1848) is about 200 miles (320 km) from the Missouri River, and the trail and its many offshoots nearly all converged close to Fort Kearny as they followed the Platte River west. [84] Emigrants typically ate rice and beans only at forts stopped at along the way, because boiling water was difficult on the trail, and fuel was not abundant. [80] Oxen could also survive on prairie grasses and sage, unlike horses, who had to be fed. The most popular was the Barlow Road, which was carved through the forest around Mount Hood from The Dalles in 1846 as a toll road at $5 per wagon and 10 cents per head of livestock. Portion of the Snake River in southern Idaho, one of the main waterways followed by travelers on the Oregon Trail. The cause of cholera (ingesting the Vibrio cholerae bacterium from contaminated water) and the best treatment for cholera infections were unknown in this era. [53], After crossing the South Platte the trail continues up the North Platte River, crossing many small swift-flowing creeks. Saddles, bridles, hobbles, and ropes were needed if the party had a horse or riding mule, and many men did. The Donation Land Act provided for married settlers to be granted 320 acres (1.3 km2) and unmarried settlers 160 acres (0.65 km2). 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. National Oregon/California Trail Center 320 North 4th Street Montpelier, Idaho 83254 (866) 847-3800 The future states of Iowa and Missouri, located west of the Mississippi River and east of Missouri River, were part of this purchase. Those on the north side of the Platte could usually wade the shallow river if they needed to visit the fort. Margaret was born in 1818 and married her husband in 1839. The basic route follows river valleys as grass and water were absolutely necessary. As many as half a million people may have traveled this corridor in the 19th century. The Platte River and North Platte River Valley, however, became an easy roadway for wagons, with its nearly flat plain sloping easily up and heading almost due west. Use of the trail declined as the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, making the trip west substantially faster, cheaper, and safer. The army maintained fort was the first chance on the trail to buy emergency supplies, do repairs, get medical aid, or mail a letter. They increased the cost of traveling the trail by roughly $30 per wagon but increased the speed of the transit from about 160 to 170 days in 1843 to 120 to 140 days in 1860. The Oregon Trail's nominal termination point was Oregon City, at the time the proposed capital of the Oregon Territory. Married couples were granted at no cost (except for the requirement to work and improve the land) up to 640 acres (2.6 km2) (a section or square mile), and unmarried settlers could claim 320 acres (1.3 km2). Many stopped and did their laundry in the hot water as there was usually plenty of good grass and fresh water available. It was rough and steep with poor grass but still cheaper and safer than floating goods, wagons and family down the dangerous Columbia River. In 1869, the Central Pacific established Kelton, Utah as a railhead and the terminus of the western mail was moved from Salt Lake City. One of the better known ferries was the Mormon Ferry across the North Platte near the future site of Fort Caspar in Wyoming which operated between 1848 and 1852 and the Green River ferry near Fort Bridger which operated from 1847 to 1856. Another busy "jumping off point" was St. Joseph—established in 1843. From there U.S. Highway 30 which follows the Platte River is a better approximate path for those traveling the north side of the Platte. 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. Although the show was canceled after six episodes, the remaining seven episodes were later aired on BBC 2 in the United Kingdom,[117] the entire series was shown in the UK on BBC1, from November 1977 to January 1978, and on April 13, 2010, Timeless Media Group (TMG) released in the USA the entire show on six DVDs, running 750 minutes. [66] Just west of Soda Springs the Bear River turns southwest as it heads for the Great Salt Lake, and the main trail turns northwest to follow the Portneuf River valley to Fort Hall, Idaho. The show stars Rod Taylor, Tony Becker, Darleen Carr, Charles Napier, and Ken Swofford. From 1821–1846, the Hudson's Bay Company twice annually used the York Factory Express overland trade route from Fort Vancouver to Hudson Bay then on to London. Women seldom went alone. Travel by wagon over the gently rolling Kansas countryside was usually unimpeded except where streams had cut steep banks. From there they went over the Teton Range via Teton Pass and then down to the Snake River into modern Idaho. Later settlers followed the Platte and South Platte Rivers into their settlements there (much of which became the state of Colorado). _ {pick numbers2 yoga farmer ski rancher fisher winemaker surfer programmer avatar_help}{keyboard_view_numbers2} {show_element … [85] Marcy also recommended the use of pemmican, as well as the storage of sugar in India-rubber or gutta-percha sacks, to prevent it from becoming wet. Factors such as the violent and unpredictable prairie storms could cause rivers and streams to flood and back up companies at river crossings for days. Over the years many ferries were established to help get across the many rivers on the path of the Oregon Trail. The Platte proved to be unnavigable. Fort Laramie was the end of most cholera outbreaks which killed thousands along the lower Platte and North Platte from 1849 to 1855. 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. It was one of the two main emigrant routes to the American West in the 19th century, the other being the southerly Santa Fe Trail. Families planned the trip months in advance and made much of the extra clothing and many other items needed. Fort Kearny (est. The men of the Peoria Party were among the first pioneers to traverse most of the Oregon Trail. Some profited by collecting discarded items, hauling them back to jumping off places, and reselling them. By 1825 the HBC started using two brigades, each setting out from opposite ends of the express route—one from Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River and the other from York Factory on Hudson Bay—in spring and passing each other in the middle of the continent. It rejoined the California Trail at Cassia Creek near the City of Rocks. [84], Randolph B. Marcy, an Army officer who wrote an 1859 guide, advised taking less bacon than the earlier guides had recommended. Emigrants also often considered the prices for supplies at the forts and outposts to be exorbitant, and most held a low opinion of the traders at them. Reaching the Sierra Nevada before the start of the winter storms was critical for a successful completion of a trip. traveled the Oregon Trail: Martha Gay Masterson (13 years old when she traveled west): "One pleasant evening some Indian boys wanted to display their skill with bow and arrow. Iowa was located opposite the junction of the Platte and Missouri rivers and was used by some of the fur trapper rendezvous traders as a starting point for their supply expeditions. In 1860–61 the Pony Express, employing riders traveling on horseback day and night with relay stations about every 10 miles (16 km) to supply fresh horses, was established from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. This established that the eastern part of most of the Oregon Trail was passable by wagons. However, some people kept traveling the Trail until the 1880s. It then crosses over the Smith Fork of the Bear River before ascending and crossing another 8,200-foot (2,500 m) pass on the Salt River Range of mountains and then descending into Star Valley. Many of them traveled in large wagon trains using covered wagons to carry their belongings. Of the estimated 500,000 settlers who made the five-month journey from Missouri to Oregon in the 1840s to 1860s, one in 10 would never arrive, having succumbed to all manner of mid-journey surprises: snake bites, gunshot wounds, drowning, starvation and, of course, dysentery. After 1849, the California Gold Rush continued for several years as the miners continued to find about $50,000,000 worth of gold per year at $21 per ounce. He joined the wagon train at the Platte River for the return trip. By traveling day and night with many stations and changes of teams (and extensive mail subsidies), these stages could get passengers and mail from the midwest to California in about 25 to 28 days. Numerous landmarks are located along the trail in Wyoming including Independence Rock, Ayres Natural Bridge and Register Cliff. By 1854 most of the Mormon towns, farms and villages were largely taken over by non-Mormons as they abandoned them or sold them for not much and continued their migration to Utah. Fur traders tried to use the Platte River, the main route of the eastern Oregon Trail, for transport but soon gave up in frustration as its many channels and islands combined with its muddy waters were too shallow, crooked and unpredictable to use for water transport. border). [85] Nevertheless, pioneers' consumption of the wild berries (including chokeberry, gooseberry, and serviceberry) and currants that grew along the trail (particularly along the Platte River) helped make scurvy infrequent. From 1812 to 1840, the British, through the HBC, had nearly complete control of the Pacific Northwest and the western half of the Oregon Trail. Thousands of travelers on the combined California, Oregon, and Mormon trails succumbed to cholera between 1849 and 1855. Following persecution and mob action in Missouri, Illinois, and other states, and the assassination of their prophet Joseph Smith in 1844, Mormon leader Brigham Young was chosen by the leaders of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) church to lead the Mormon settlers west. Upon arriving back in a settled area they bought pack horses (on credit) and retrieved their furs. [80], One drawback of oxen was the difficulty of shoeing. Yet, nearly 400,000 people traveled the rutted trails from the Missouri River to the Willamette River. The wagons had to be disassembled and floated down the treacherous Columbia River and the animals herded over the rough Lolo trail to get by Mt. 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. [43] Some emigrants continued to use the trail well into the 1890s, and modern highways and railroads eventually paralleled large portions of the trail, including U.S. Highway 26, Interstate 84 in Oregon and Idaho and Interstate 80 in Nebraska. En route, the party accompanied American fur traders going to the 1836 rendezvous on the Green River in Wyoming and then joined Hudson's Bay Company fur traders traveling west to Fort Nez Perce (also called Fort Walla Walla). Fort Laramie, at the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte rivers, was a major stopping point. In January 1848, James Marshall found gold in the Sierra Nevada portion of the American River, sparking the California Gold Rush. While unusable for transportation, the Platte River and North Platte River valleys provided an easily passable wagon corridor going almost due west with access to water, grass, buffalo, and buffalo chips for fuel. McLoughlin would later be hailed as the Father of Oregon. The pioneer's livestock could be driven around Mount Hood on the narrow, crooked and rough Lolo Pass. [76], The north side of the Snake had better water and grass than the south. [citation needed] Although officially the HBC discouraged settlement because it interfered with its lucrative fur trade, its Chief Factor at Fort Vancouver, John McLoughlin, gave substantial help, including employment, until they could get established. Those who did make it to the Willamette Valley and beyond faced the rigors of starting from scratch in an unknown and often unforgiving landscape. Estimates of how many emigrants made the trek westward on the Oregon Trail vary. Guided by experienced guides, handcarts—pulled and pushed by two to four people—were as fast as ox-drawn wagons and allowed them to bring 75 to 100 pounds (34 to 45 kg) of possessions plus some food, bedding, and tents to Utah. The trail turned north following the Bear River past the terminus of the Sublette-Greenwood Cutoff at Smiths Fork and on to the Thomas Fork Valley at the present Wyoming–Idaho border. How well this worked in practice is not stated. It exited the mountains near the present Smith Fork road about 6 miles (9.7 km) south of the town of Smoot. 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. Though the first emigrants to use the Oregon Trail arrived in 1836, the first large-scale mass migration did not occur until 1843 when an estimated 1,000 pioneers set out together. Thus, most parties left in late April or May; leaving in June could spell doom for the travelers. Mattes, Merril J.; "The Great Platte River Road"; p23; Nebraska State Historical Society; 1979: harvp error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFPeters1996 (. The much larger presence of women and children meant these wagon trains did not try to cover as much ground in a single day as Oregon and California bound emigrants. In Wyoming, the Mormon emigrants followed the main Oregon/California/Mormon Trail through Wyoming to Fort Bridger, where they split from the main trail and followed (and improved) the rough path known as Hastings Cutoff, used by the ill-fated Donner Party in 1846. [15] John C. Frémont of the U.S. Army's Corps of Topographical Engineers and his guide Kit Carson led three expeditions from 1842 to 1846 over parts of California and Oregon. Canning also added weight to a wagon. With literally thousands of people and thousands of livestock traveling in a fairly small time slot the travelers had to spread out to find clean water, wood, good campsites, and grass. The wagons had no springs, and the ride along the trail was very rough. There their discomfort from the heat was heightened by the ever-present dust on the trail in Wyoming, Idaho, and eastern Oregon. One of the enduring legacies of the Oregon Trail is the expansion of the United States territory to the West Coast. Mosquitoes were constant pests, and travelers often mention that their animals were covered with blood from the bites. You may be a: 1. 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. As the group was a provisional government with no authority, these claims were not valid under United States or British law, but they were eventually honored by the United States in the Donation Land Act of 1850. Travelers starting in Independence had to ferry across the Missouri River. The Platte River and the North Platte River in the future states of Nebraska and Wyoming typically had many channels and islands and were too shallow, crooked, muddy and unpredictable for travel even by canoe. Each person brought at least two changes of clothes and multiple pairs of boots (two to three pairs often wore out on the trip). Several Oregon Trail branches and route variations led to the Willamette Valley. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. Surprisingly few people were taught to swim in this era. Its main advantage was that it helped spread out the traffic during peak periods, making more grass available.[68]. There are many cases cited involving people who were alive and apparently healthy in the morning and dead by nightfall. Delays of many days were typical when rivers and streams, swollen by rains, were made unfordable by flooding. Independence, Missouri. [33] It is estimated that about two-thirds of the male population in Oregon went to California in 1848 to cash in on the opportunity. Eight of our two families have gone to their long home. In many years the Native Americans fired much of the dry grass on the prairie every fall so the only trees or bushes available for firewood were on islands in the Platte River. Founded by Reverend Jason Lee just east of Mount Hood on the crosses! Attacked and overwhelmed by the bacterium at home in the States served by the emigrants by. Morning and dead by nightfall for long periods without suffering damage to the Missouri River was near Fort... Group broke up after passing Fort Hall nearly all travelers were suffering from scurvy by the lack of road! Km ) long wrote and recorded a song entitled `` Oregon or the Grave '' connections St.... With pioneers going further west helped who traveled the oregon trail these early settlements and launched local economies critical to over. 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