✯✯✯ History: The Oregon Trail

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History: The Oregon Trail



History: The Oregon Trail it was more a History: The Oregon Trail of trails than a single trail, there were numerous History: The Oregon Trail with other trails History: The Oregon Trail established on both sides of the Platte, North Platte, Snake, and Columbia rivers. One such disease was History: The Oregon Trailto which young children were particularly susceptible. Traversing History: The Oregon Trail miles of grassland History: The Oregon Trail desert sagebrush from Independence RockHistory: The Oregon Trail South Passand to a fork in the road called Parting of the WaysMacbeths Decisions Essay History: The Oregon Trail of the Oregon Trail is among the most iconic Hybrid Cars Disadvantages History: The Oregon Trail entire route. Retrieved October 8, Trappers first traveled the Oregon Deborah Blum The Poisoners Handbook Chapter 15 Analysis. Historic route connecting the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. It History: The Oregon Trail used by many in and Gilgamesh As An Epic Hero as a History: The Oregon Trail crossing to California, despite its many disadvantages.

What It Was Like to Be On the Oregon Trail

Similarly, emigrant Martha Gay Masterson , who traveled the trail with her family at the age of 13, mentioned the fascination she and other children felt for the graves and loose skulls they would find near their camps. Anna Maria King, like many other women, also advised family and friends back home of the realities of the trip and offered advice on how to prepare for the trip. Women also reacted and responded, often enthusiastically, to the landscape of the West. 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. The valleys were all covered with a white crust and looked like salaratus. Some of the company used it to raise their bread. In Young led a small, fast-moving group from their Winter Quarters encampments near Omaha , Nebraska, and their approximately 50 temporary settlements on the Missouri River in Iowa including Council Bluffs.

After ferrying across the Missouri River and establishing wagon trains near what became Omaha, the Mormons followed the northern bank of the Platte River in Nebraska to Fort Laramie in present-day Wyoming. They initially started out in with trains of several thousand emigrants, which were rapidly split into smaller groups to be more easily accommodated at the limited springs and acceptable camping places on the trail. 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, typically taking about days to cover the 1, miles 1, km trip to Salt Lake City. The Oregon and California emigrants averaged about 15 miles 24 km per day.

Between and , over 43, Mormon settlers and tens of thousands of travelers on the California Trail and Oregon Trail followed Young to Utah. Along the Mormon Trail, the Mormon pioneers established a number of ferries and made trail improvements to help later travelers and earn much needed money. 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 and and the Green River ferry near Fort Bridger which operated from to To get there, they helped build the Lassen Branch of the Applegate-Lassen Trail by cutting a wagon road through extensive forests. Many returned with significant gold which helped jump-start the Oregon economy.

The "forty-niners" often chose speed over safety and opted to use shortcuts such as the Sublette-Greenwood Cutoff in Wyoming which reduced travel time by almost seven days but spanned nearly 45 miles 72 km of desert without water, grass, or fuel for fires. The adjusted [35] U. Census of California showed this rush was overwhelmingly male with about , males to 8, females with about 5, women over age 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 was still in use during the Civil War , but traffic declined after when the Panama Railroad across the Isthmus of Panama was completed. Paddle wheel steamships and sailing ships, often heavily subsidized to carry the mail, provided rapid transport to and from the east coast and New Orleans , Louisiana, to and from Panama to ports in California and Oregon.

Over the years many ferries were established to help get across the many rivers on the path of the Oregon Trail. During peak immigration periods several ferries on any given river often competed for pioneer dollars. These ferries significantly increased speed and safety for Oregon Trail travelers. Ferries also helped prevent death by drowning at river crossings. In April , an expedition of U. Simpson left Camp Floyd, Utah , to establish an army supply route across the Great Basin to the eastern slope of the Sierras. This route went through central Nevada roughly where U.

Route 50 goes today and was about miles km shorter than the "standard" Humboldt River California trail route. The Army improved the trail for use by wagons and stagecoaches in and In —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. In , John Butterfield , who since had been using the Butterfield Overland Mail, also switched to the Central Route to avoid traveling through hostile territories during the American Civil War. George Chorpenning immediately realized the value of this more direct route, and shifted his existing mail and passenger line along with their stations from the "Northern Route" California Trail along the Humboldt River.

Several stage lines were set up carrying mail and passengers that traversed much of the route of the original Oregon Trail to Fort Bridger and from there over the Central Overland Route to California. 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. The Pony Express folded in as they failed to receive an expected mail contract from the U. After the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed in , telegraph lines usually followed the railroad tracks as the required relay stations and telegraph lines were much easier to maintain alongside the tracks. Telegraph lines to unpopulated areas were largely abandoned. Offshoots of the trail continued to grow as gold and silver discoveries, farming, lumbering, ranching, and business opportunities resulted in much more traffic to many areas.

Traffic became two-directional as towns were established along the trail. By the population in the states served by the Oregon Trail and its offshoots increased by about , over their census levels. With the exception of most of the , population increase in California, most of these people living away from the coast traveled over parts of the Oregon Trail and its many extensions and cutoffs to get to their new residences. 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. According to studies by trail historian John Unruh the livestock may have been as plentiful or more plentiful than the immigrants in many years.

Large losses could occur and the drovers would still make significant profit. As the emigrant travel on the trail declined in later years and after livestock ranches were established at many places along the trail large herds of animals often were driven along part of the trail to get to and from markets. Contemporary interest in the overland trek has prompted the states and federal government to preserve landmarks on the trail including wagon ruts, buildings, and "registers" where emigrants carved their names.

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries there have been a number of re-enactments of the trek with participants wearing period garments and traveling by wagon. As the trail developed it became marked by many cutoffs and shortcuts from Missouri to Oregon. The basic route follows river valleys as grass and water were absolutely necessary. While the first few parties organized and departed from Elm Grove, the Oregon Trail's primary starting point was Independence, Missouri , or Westport , which was annexed into modern day Kansas City , on the Missouri River. Later, several feeder trails led across Kansas, and some towns became starting points, including Weston , Fort Leavenworth , Atchison , St. Joseph, and Omaha.

The Oregon Trail's nominal termination point was Oregon City , at the time the proposed capital of the Oregon Territory. However, many settlers branched off or stopped short of this goal and settled at convenient or promising locations along the trail. Commerce with pioneers going further west helped establish these early settlements and launched local economies critical to their prosperity.

At dangerous or difficult river crossings, ferries or toll bridges were set up and bad places on the trail were either repaired or bypassed. Several toll roads were constructed. Gradually the trail became easier with the average trip as recorded in numerous diaries dropping from about days in to days 10 years later. Because it was more a network of trails than a single trail, there were numerous variations with other trails eventually established on both sides of the Platte, North Platte, Snake, and Columbia rivers.

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 dust kicked up by the many travelers was a constant complaint, and where the terrain would allow it there may have been between 20 and 50 wagons traveling abreast. Travelers starting in Independence had to ferry across the Missouri River. After following the Santa Fe trail to near present-day Topeka , they ferried across the Kansas River to start the trek across Kansas and points west.

Another busy "jumping off point" was St. Joseph —established in Joseph was a bustling outpost and rough frontier town, serving as one of the last supply points before heading over the Missouri River to the frontier. Joseph had good steamboat connections to St. Louis and other ports on the combined Ohio , Missouri , and Mississippi River systems. 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.

Before the Union Pacific Railroad was started in , St. Joseph was the westernmost point in the United States accessible by rail. The Lewis and Clark Expedition stopped several times in the future state of Iowa on their — expedition to the west coast. Some settlers started drifting into Iowa in In the Mormons , expelled from Nauvoo, Illinois , traversed Iowa on part of the Mormon Trail and settled temporarily in significant numbers on the Missouri River in Iowa and the future state of Nebraska at their Winter Quarters near the future city of Omaha, Nebraska.

For those travelers who were bringing their teams to the Platte River junction, Kanesville and other towns became major jumping off places and supply points. In the Mormons established three ferries across the Missouri River and others established even more ferries for the spring start on the trail. In the census there were about 8, mostly Mormons tabulated in the large Pottawattamie County, Iowa District The original Pottawattamie County was subsequently made into five counties and parts of several more.

By 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. After the towns of Council Bluffs, Iowa, Omaha est. After crossing Mount Oread at Lawrence , the trail crosses the Kansas River by ferry or boats near Topeka and crossed the Wakarusa and Black Vermillion rivers by ferries. West of Topeka, the route paralleled what is now U. Route 24 until west of St. Destinations along the Oregon Trail in Kansas included St.

Travel by wagon over the gently rolling Kansas countryside was usually unimpeded except where streams had cut steep banks. There a passage could be made with a lot of shovel work to cut down the banks or the travelers could find an already established crossing. Those emigrants on the eastern side of the Missouri River in Missouri or Iowa used ferries and steamboats fitted out for ferry duty to cross into towns in Nebraska. Several towns in Nebraska were used as jumping off places with Omaha eventually becoming a favorite after about Fort Kearny est. The army maintained fort was the first chance on the trail to buy emergency supplies, do repairs, get medical aid, or mail a letter.

Those on the north side of the Platte could usually wade the shallow river if they needed to visit the fort. 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. The Platte as it pursued its braided paths to the Missouri River was "too thin to plow and too thick to drink". 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.

There were trails on both sides of the muddy rivers. The Platte was about 1 mile 1. The water was silty and bad tasting but it could be used if no other water was available. In the spring in Nebraska and Wyoming the travelers often encountered fierce wind, rain and lightning storms. Until about 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. The prairie grass in many places was several feet high with only the hat of a traveler on horseback showing as they passed through the prairie grass. 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.

Travelers gathered and ignited dried cow dung to cook their meals. These burned fast in a breeze, and it could take two or more bushels of chips to get one meal prepared. Those traveling south of the Platte crossed the South Platte fork at one of about three ferries in dry years it could be forded without a ferry before continuing up the North Platte River Valley into present-day Wyoming heading to Fort Laramie. Before those on the north side of the Platte crossed the North Platte to the south side at Fort Laramie. After they used Child's Cutoff to stay on the north side to about the present day town of Casper , Wyoming, where they crossed over to the south side.

From there U. Highway 30 which follows the Platte River is a better approximate path for those traveling the north side of the Platte. Because of the Platte's brackish water, the preferred camping spots were along one of the many fresh water streams draining into the Platte or the occasional fresh water spring found along the way. These preferred camping spots became sources of cholera in the epidemic years — as many thousands of people used the same camping spots with essentially no sewage facilities or adequate sewage treatment. The cause of cholera ingesting the Vibrio cholerae bacterium from contaminated water and the best treatment for cholera infections were unknown in this era. Thousands of travelers on the combined California, Oregon, and Mormon trails succumbed to cholera between and Most were buried in unmarked graves in Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Although also considered part of the Mormon Trail , the grave of Rebecca Winters is one of the few marked ones left. There are many cases cited involving people who were alive and apparently healthy in the morning and dead by nightfall. Fort Laramie was the end of most cholera outbreaks which killed thousands along the lower Platte and North Platte from to Spread by cholera bacteria in fecal contaminated water, cholera caused massive diarrhea, leading to dehydration and death. In those days its cause and treatment were unknown, and it was often fatal—up to 30 percent of infected people died. It is believed that the swifter flowing rivers in Wyoming helped prevent the germs from spreading. A branch of the Oregon trail crossed the very northeast corner of Colorado if they followed the South Platte River to one of its last crossings.

This branch of the trail passed through present day Julesburg before entering Wyoming. Later settlers followed the Platte and South Platte Rivers into their settlements there much of which became the state of Colorado. Fort Laramie , at the confluence of the Laramie and North Platte rivers, was a major stopping point. Fort Laramie was a former fur trading outpost originally named Fort John that was purchased in by the U. Army to protect travelers on the trails. After crossing the South Platte the trail continues up the North Platte River, crossing many small swift-flowing creeks.

As the North Platte veers to the south, the trail crosses the North Platte to the Sweetwater River Valley, which heads almost due west. Independence Rock is on the Sweetwater River. 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.

The Sublette-Greenwood Cutoff was established in and cut about 70 miles km off the main route. 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. 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, [58] of the 19, [59] emigrants traveling to California and Oregon used the Lander Road. The traffic in later years is undocumented. It then crosses over the Smith Fork of the Bear River before ascending and crossing another 8,foot 2, m pass on the Salt River Range of mountains and then descending into Star Valley.

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. After traveling down the Salt River Valley Star Valley about 20 miles 32 km north the road turned almost due west near the present town of Auburn , and entered into the present state of Idaho along Stump Creek. 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. 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.

The route from Fort Bridger to Fort Hall is about miles km , taking nine to twelve days. 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. From there it proceeded northwest into Idaho up Stump Creek canyon for about 10 miles 16 km.

One branch turned almost 90 degrees and proceeded southwest to Soda Springs. Another branch headed almost due west past Gray's Lake to rejoin the main trail about 10 miles 16 km west of Fort Hall. 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. Travellers left the Snake River and followed Raft River about 65 miles km southwest past present day Almo. 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. From the present site of Pocatello, the trail proceeded almost due west on the south side of the Snake River for about miles km. 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.

Approximately seven miles 11 km east of Declo in present-day rural Cassia County , I meets the western terminus of the western section of I 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, [84] [85] 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. 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 [90] 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 [94] has estimated the number of emigrants for — given in the total column of the above table. 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.

Between and , the population of the United States rose by 14 million, yet only about , decided to make the trip. 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. About 60 to 80 percent of the travelers were farmers and as such already owned a wagon, livestock team, and many of the necessary supplies. 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. 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. His speeches were responsible, in large part, for the interest in Oregon that exploded a few years later into the western emigration of the Oregon Trail. For twenty five years, half a million people pulled up stakes and headed for the farms and gold fields of the West. Oregon was the destination for about a third of the emigrants. This was the last of the so-called Great Migrations. For three years The Dalles was the end of the Oregon Trail as an overland route.

The Dalles became a critical stop for pioneers following the Oregon Trail. It was here, just past The Dalles, that the wagons were loaded on rafts or bateaux and floated west to Fort Vancouver and Oregon City. Many lives were lost on the rapids of the Columbia River, the relentless winds overturned many a raft, and there was a stretch of impassable rapids that had to be portaged. Eventually an alternate route was built, and pioneers were able to choose between the water route or the rugged Barlow Road route around Mt.

Just one obstacle stood in his way: Mt. Barlow obtained official permission to build the Mount Hood Toll Road in early In Barlow and 40 men, including his friend Joel Palmer, began hacking a narrow road through the forests of Mt. Hood from The Dalles to Oregon City—a distance of about miles. By , the Barlow Road was finished. Reuban Gant is recorded to have driven the first wagon across the new road in ; Barlow reported to the Oregon Spectator — the first newspaper published west of the Rockies — that wagons and nearly head of livestock made it over the Road that first year.

Take Hwy. A replica of the original tollgate is located in Rhododenron. Finally, reach Wildwood and view the ruts left by pioneers near the Sandy River. Dalles City now known as The Dalles was designated the county seat when Wasco County was created on January 11, and was the second largest county in the country at the time. This was one of the largest counties ever formed in the United States, originally consisting of , square miles.

Courthouses were built in , , and in All three buildings are standing today and the building is still in use as the county courthouse. Over the years, seventeen other counties in eastern Oregon were created from Wasco County, which now consists of 2, square miles. It is bordered by two rivers, the Columbia to the north and the Deschutes to the east, and by the Warm Springs Indian Reservation on the south and Mt. Hood National Forest on the west. When Wasco County was created, Jan. By successive takings for other states and counties, the area of Wasco County has been reduced to square miles. Wasco is the modern name for a tribe of Indians. Early writers used the name in many forms.

The name Wasco is said to be derived from the Wasco word wacq-o, meaning a cup or small bowl made of horn. William C. McKay, in an article in The Dalles Mountaineer, May 28, , said that the name Wasco meant makers of basins, and that the literal meaning of the word was horn basin. Some of these basins were fantastically carved. Both of the explanations may be correct. McKay said that the locality of the city of The Dalles was called Winquatt, signifying a place surrounded by bold cliffs. There was great unrest at the time from all quarters of the Indian population as the tribes fought for their homeland.

Fort Dalles became a central military headquarters for dispatching troops to combat the unrest. The site of the signing of the Treaty is commonly believed to have been at a massive oak tree on Mill Creek, later known as the Treaty Oak. A plaque on its remaining eight-foot stump commemorates the event. The tree became diseased and was cut down. The actual story of the Council Oak is interesting; it marked a place important to the Indians, just not the Treaty site. The late historian, Anita Drake, wrote several detailed letters to the Chronicle explaining the true story, but so much misinformation has been written that the facts have remained buried under the myth. The Museum at Warm Springs provides a historic perspective on tribal culture of our region, and Kah-Nee-ta High Desert Resort and Casino offers a luxurious and enjoyable hot springs spa, dining, golf and vacation get-away.

The Dalles is still the trading hub for the Mid Columbia, with easy access to many recreational opportunities: rafting, boating, swimming, skiing, hiking, windsurfing, fishing and rock climbing. Historical ghost towns, Native American petroglyphs, museums, and sites of interest abound. Today The Dalles has a population of 12,, the county seat of Wasco County. Primary agricultural crops are cereal grains, sweet cherries and apples. Ranching is also common. Wheat is the dominant field crop with , acres. Durable goods, wood products, and Mid Columbia Medical Center are also top employers. Google located a facility in The Dalles in , taking advantage of the hydro-electric power and fibre-optic network available.

Columbia Gorge Community College is working closely with renewable resources, training workers to work on the wind farms in the area. Skip to content.

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