Difference between revisions of "Oregon Trail"

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''[[United States|United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[United States Migration Internal|Migration]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[US Migration Trails and Roads|Trails and Roads]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Oregon_Trail|Oregon Trail]]''  
 
''[[United States|United States]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[United States Migration Internal|Migration]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[US Migration Trails and Roads|Trails and Roads]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] [[Oregon_Trail|Oregon Trail]]''  
  
[[Image:Oregon Trail.jpg|647px]]
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The '''Oregon Trail''' went from western [[Missouri]] across the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Plains Great Plains] into the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Mountains Rocky Mountains] to [[Oregon City, Oregon|Oregon City, Oregon]]. It was most heavily used in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s. It was the longest historic overland migration [[Image:{{ScoBlu}}]] trail in [[:Category:North America|North America]]. The length of the wagon trail from the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_River Missouri River] to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willamette_Valley Willamette Valley] was about 2,000 miles (3,200 km). It normally took four to six months to traverse the length of the Oregon Trail with wagons pulled by oxen. About 80,000 pioneers used it to reach Oregon, and about 20,000 to Washington before the transcontinental railroad in 1869.<ref name="OrTr">Wikipedia contributors, "Oregon Trail" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Trail (accessed 12 July 2012).</ref> <br><br>  
 
 
The '''Oregon Trail''' went from western [[Missouri]] across the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Plains Great Plains] into the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Mountains Rocky Mountains] to [[Oregon City, Oregon|Oregon City, Oregon]]. It was most heavily used in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s. It was the longest historic overland migration trail in [[:Category:North America|North America]]. The length of the wagon trail from the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_River Missouri River] to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willamette_Valley Willamette Valley] was about 2,000 miles (3,200 km). It normally took four to six months to traverse the length of the Oregon Trail with wagons pulled by oxen. About 80,000 pioneers used it to reach Oregon and Washington before the transcontinental railroad in 1869.<ref name="OrTr">Wikipedia contributors, "Oregon Trail" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Trail (accessed 12 July 2012).</ref>  
 
  
 
=== Background History  ===
 
=== Background History  ===
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'''Oregon boundary dispute.''' [[Washington|Washington State]] and [[British Columbia]] were at first disputed and jointly occupied by Britain ([[Canada]]) and the [[United States]]. The British and their [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson%27s_Bay_Company Hudson's Bay Company] controlled Washington northwest of the Columbia River. But pressure was being exerted against Canada. In 1836 American pioneer groups began migrating over the Oregon Trail into Oregon. Thousands came over the next decade, far more than from Canada. Slogans of the 1844 American presidential campaign clamored for war to take Washington and British Columbia by force. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 gave Washington to the United States and British Columbia to Canada.<ref>Wikipedia contributors, "Oregon boundary dispute" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_boundary_dispute (accessed 12 July 2012).</ref>  
 
'''Oregon boundary dispute.''' [[Washington|Washington State]] and [[British Columbia]] were at first disputed and jointly occupied by Britain ([[Canada]]) and the [[United States]]. The British and their [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson%27s_Bay_Company Hudson's Bay Company] controlled Washington northwest of the Columbia River. But pressure was being exerted against Canada. In 1836 American pioneer groups began migrating over the Oregon Trail into Oregon. Thousands came over the next decade, far more than from Canada. Slogans of the 1844 American presidential campaign clamored for war to take Washington and British Columbia by force. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 gave Washington to the United States and British Columbia to Canada.<ref>Wikipedia contributors, "Oregon boundary dispute" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_boundary_dispute (accessed 12 July 2012).</ref>  
  
'''Reasons for migrating.''' [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_men Mountain men fur trappers] were the earliest to use the Oregon Trail. A few early missionaries came in the 1830s. Larger groups of American settlers began arriving in 1843. The [[California Trail]], [[Mormon Trail]], and [[Bozeman Trail]] overlapped much of the Oregon Trail and branched off it starting in 1846. The [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Gold_Rush California Gold Rush] of 1849 contributed significantly to west coast migration. Western gold and silver strikes, free farm land, lumber, and ranching all increased traffic on the Oregon Trail. An estimated 80,000 pioneers used the Oregon Trail by 1869, and about 320,000 more followed part of the Oregon trail to take one of its three main branches.<ref name="OrTr" />  
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'''Reasons for migrating.''' [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_men Mountain men fur trappers] were the earliest to use the Oregon Trail. A few early missionaries came in the 1830s. Larger groups of American settlers began arriving in 1843. The [[California Trail]], [[Mormon Trail]], and [[Bozeman Trail]] overlapped much of the Oregon Trail and branched off it starting in 1846. The [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Gold_Rush California Gold Rush] of 1849 contributed significantly to west coast migration. Western gold and silver strikes, free farm land, lumber, and ranching all increased traffic on the Oregon Trail. An estimated 80,000 pioneers used the Oregon Trail to Oregon, and 20,000 to Washington by 1869, and about 320,000 more followed part of the Oregon trail to take one of its three main branches.<ref name="OrTr" />  
  
'''Preparations.''' Most emigrants were farmers who already had their own wagons and most of their own supplies. Other travelers usually purchased supplies at "jumping off" points in [[Missouri]], [[Iowa]], or [[Kansas]]. Supplies cost as much as $200 per person including a [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covered_wagon covered wagon], teams of oxen, 150 pounds of food per person, tobacco, cooking gear, extra shoes, two sets of clothes, 25 pounds of soap, washboard and wash tub, tent, a canvas or rubber groundcloth with blankets for sleeping, tools, guns and ammunition. Some also bought a trail guide book.  
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'''Preparations.''' Most emigrants were farmers who already had their own wagons and most of their own supplies. Other travelers usually purchased supplies at "jumping off points" in [[Missouri]], [[Iowa]], or [[Kansas]]. Supplies cost as much as $200 per person including a [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covered_wagon covered wagon], teams of oxen, 150 pounds of food per person, tobacco, cooking gear, extra shoes, two sets of clothes, 25 pounds of soap, washboard and wash tub, tent, a canvas or rubber groundcloth with blankets for sleeping, tools, guns and ammunition. Some also bought a trail guide book.<ref name="OrTr" />
  
'''Trail life.''' Non-essentials were often abandoned on the trail to lighten the load. Forts and trading posts ([http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Kearny Ft. Kearny], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Laramie_National_Historic_Site Ft. Laramie], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bridger Ft. Bridger], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hall Ft. Hall], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Boise Ft. Boise], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Nez_Perc%C3%A9s Ft. Nez Percés], and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Vancouver_National_Historic_Site Ft. Vancouver]) along the way usually provided supplies, fresh animal teams, repairs, spare parts, and news of trail conditions. Hunting (including bison), fishing, and trading were also common along the route. Emigrants usually formed into [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagon_train wagon trains] for security. Almost everyone preferred to walk rather than ride in dusty, bumpy wagons. They had to average 11 miles (18 km) to 17 miles (27 km) per day to reach Oregon City in four to six months. To leave too early risked muddy trails and too little grass for livestock. To arrive late risked traveling in winter weather. Thunderstorms and fierce winds were common. In good weather they often slept under the stars. On the prairie [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cow_dung buffalo chips] were gathered for use as cooking fuel. Wash day was about every two weeks. Many travelers enjoyed side trips climbing over trail landmarks like [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimney_Rock_National_Historic_Site Chimney Rock], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotts_Bluff_National_Monument Scott's Bluff], and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Rock_%28Wyoming%29 Independence Rock]. Some entrepreneurs drove herds of cattle over the trail to sell and help pay for the trip.<ref name="OrTr" />  
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'''Trail life.''' Non-essentials were often abandoned on the trail to lighten the load. Forts and trading posts ([http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Kearny Ft. Kearny], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Laramie_National_Historic_Site Ft. Laramie], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Fetterman Ft. Fetterman], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bridger Ft. Bridger], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hall Ft. Hall], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Boise Ft. Boise], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Nez_Perc%C3%A9s Ft. Nez Percés], and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Vancouver_National_Historic_Site Ft. Vancouver]) along the way usually provided supplies, fresh animal teams, repairs, spare parts, and news of trail conditions. Hunting (including bison), fishing, and trading were also common along the route. Emigrants usually formed into [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagon_train wagon trains] for security. Almost everyone preferred to walk rather than ride in dusty, bumpy wagons. They had to average 11 miles (18 km) to 17 miles (27 km) per day to reach Oregon City in four to six months. To leave too early risked muddy trails and too little grass for livestock. To arrive late risked traveling in winter weather. Thunderstorms and fierce winds were common. In good weather they often slept under the stars. On the prairie [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cow_dung buffalo chips] were gathered for use as cooking fuel. Wash day was about every two weeks. Many travelers enjoyed side trips climbing over trail landmarks like [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimney_Rock_National_Historic_Site Chimney Rock], [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotts_Bluff_National_Monument Scott's Bluff], and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Rock_%28Wyoming%29 Independence Rock]. Some entrepreneurs drove herds of cattle over the trail to sell and help pay for the trip.<ref name="OrTr" />  
 
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<div style="width: 147%; float: left">
 
'''Deaths.''' About five percent of pioneers died on the Oregon-California-Mormon trails. The most common killer was [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholera cholera] along the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platte_River Platte River] in [[Nebraska|Nebraska]]. This disease killed as much as three percent between 1849 and 1855 (6,000 to 12,500 individuals). About 3,000 to 4,500 deaths happened because of [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Indian_Wars#Pacific_Northwest Indian attacks] especially in [[Idaho|Idaho]] and [[Nevada|Nevada]] after U.S. Army troops were withdrawn in 1860 in the run up to the Civil War. Other causes of death included freezing, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scurvy scurvy], being run over, drownings (especially in the 1850s before many ferries), and accidental shootings.<ref name="OrTr" />  
 
'''Deaths.''' About five percent of pioneers died on the Oregon-California-Mormon trails. The most common killer was [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholera cholera] along the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platte_River Platte River] in [[Nebraska|Nebraska]]. This disease killed as much as three percent between 1849 and 1855 (6,000 to 12,500 individuals). About 3,000 to 4,500 deaths happened because of [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Indian_Wars#Pacific_Northwest Indian attacks] especially in [[Idaho|Idaho]] and [[Nevada|Nevada]] after U.S. Army troops were withdrawn in 1860 in the run up to the Civil War. Other causes of death included freezing, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scurvy scurvy], being run over, drownings (especially in the 1850s before many ferries), and accidental shootings.<ref name="OrTr" />  
  
'''Decline of trail use.''' In 1855 the Oregon Trail and California Trail traffic declined dramatically for at least two reasons. First, Oregon's free land incentive ended in 1855. From 1850 to 1854 pioneers could claim 300 acres of land for free. From 1855 to 1862 Oregon pioneers were required to pay for government land. The 1862 Homestead Act created new free-land opportunities in Oregon. Second, the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Railroad Panama Railroad] was completed with steamship links that made transportation from the east coast to the west coast of America more practical than using an overland wagon trail.  
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'''Decline of trail use.''' In 1855 the Oregon Trail (and California Trail) traffic declined dramatically for at least two reasons. First, Oregon's free land incentive ended in 1855. From 1850 to 1854 pioneers could claim 300 acres of land for free. From 1855 to 1862 Oregon pioneers were required to pay for government land. The next free-land opportunities were not created in Oregon until the 1862 Homestead Act was passed. Second, the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Railroad Panama Railroad] was completed with steamship links that made transportation from the east coast to the west coast of America more practical than using an overland wagon trail.<ref name="OrTr" />
  
Another factor that diminished the use of the Oregon Trail was American railroads. The [[First Transcontinental Railroad|transcontinental]] [[Union Pacific Railroad|Union Pacific]] and [[Central Pacific Railroad|Central Pacific]] railroads completed in 1869 to Sacramento, California made that route faster, safer, and less expensive than traveling the Oregon Trail. Railroads to Oregon were developed in the 1870s. Nevertheless, a few emigrants continued to use the Oregon Trail as late as the 1890s.<ref name="OrTr" />  
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Another factor that later diminished the use of the Oregon Trail was American railroads. The [[First Transcontinental Railroad|transcontinental]] [[Union Pacific Railroad|Union Pacific]] and [[Central Pacific Railroad|Central Pacific]] railroads completed in 1869 to Sacramento, California made that route faster, safer, and less expensive than traveling the Oregon Trail. Railroads to Oregon were developed in the 1870s. Nevertheless, a few emigrants continued to use the Oregon Trail as late as the 1890s.<ref name="OrTr" /> [[Image:Oregon Trail.jpg|947px|Oregon Trail.jpg]]
 
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{| style="text-align: right" class="wikitable FCK__ShowTableBorders" width="126" align="right"
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{| width="126" align="right" style="text-align: right" class="wikitable FCK__ShowTableBorders"
 
|+ ''Oregon Pioneers''<ref>John D. Unruh, ''The Plains Across: the Overland Immigrants and Trans-Mississippi West 1840–1860'' (University of Illinois Press, 1979), 119–20.</ref>  
 
|+ ''Oregon Pioneers''<ref>John D. Unruh, ''The Plains Across: the Overland Immigrants and Trans-Mississippi West 1840–1860'' (University of Illinois Press, 1979), 119–20.</ref>  
 
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| '''80,000'''
 
| '''80,000'''
 
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=== Main Route  ===
 
=== Main Route  ===
  
The Oregon Trail was miles wide with many variations. Emigrants started on their journey from many sundry "jumping off points" in three states. Some took a variety of shortcuts, and others traveled on different sides of the rivers from other emigrants. Travelers often completed their journey in [[Idaho|Idaho]], [[Washington|Washington]] or places other than Oregon City. The Oregon Trail was the trunk trail for several other branch trails. The [[California Trail]] starting 1846, the [[Mormon Trail]] in 1847, and the [[Bozeman Trail]] beginning 1863 branched off from the main Oregon Trail.  
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The Oregon Trail was miles wide with many variations. Emigrants started on their journey from many sundry "jumping off points" in three states. Some took a variety of shortcuts, and others traveled on different sides of the rivers from other emigrants. Travelers often completed their journey in [[Idaho|Idaho]], [[Washington|Washington]] or places other than Oregon City. The Oregon Trail was the trunk trail for several other branch trails. The [[California Trail]] starting 1846, the [[Mormon Trail]] in 1847, and the [[Bozeman Trail]] beginning 1863 branched off from the main Oregon Trail.<ref name="OrTr" />
  
Two of the most popular outfitting or "jumping off points" were [[Independence, Missouri|Independence]] and [[Saint Joseph, Missouri|St. Joseph]] in western [[Missouri|Missouri]]. [[Council Bluffs, Iowa|Council Bluffs, Iowa]], and [[Kansas City, Kansas|Kansas City]], [[Lawrence, Kansas|Lawrence]], and [[Topeka, Kansas|Topeka]] in [[Kansas|Kansas]] were also used. From their starting point emigrants often followed the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_River Missouri River] up to the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platte_River Platte River]. Another option was to follow the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_River Kansas River] and then the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Blue_River_%28Kansas/Nebraska%29 Little Blue River] toward the Platte River.  
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Two of the most popular early outfitting or "jumping off points" were [[Independence, Missouri|Independence]] and [[Saint Joseph, Missouri|St. Joseph]] in western [[Missouri|Missouri]]. Once the river was dredged and steamboats could reach it in the early 1850s, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_Bluffs,_Iowa Council Bluffs, Iowa] became the most popular Oregon Trail starting place.<ref name="EmigTr">Wikipedia contributors, "Emigrant trail" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emigrant_trail (accessed 15 July 2012).</ref> [[Kansas City, Kansas|Kansas City]], [[Lawrence, Kansas|Lawrence]], and [[Topeka, Kansas|Topeka]] in [[Kansas|Kansas]] were also used. From their starting point emigrants often followed the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_River Missouri River] up to the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platte_River Platte River]. Another option was to follow the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_River Kansas River] and then the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Blue_River_%28Kansas/Nebraska%29 Little Blue River] toward the Platte River.<ref name="OrTr" />
  
Livestock needed watering so the Oregon Trail followed rivers across the dry [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Plains prairies]. The Oregon Trail usually followed the south side of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Platte_River North Platte River] west through [[Nebraska|Nebraska]] to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Kearny Fort Kearny] in eastern [[Wyoming]]. At Fort Kearny the [[Bozeman Trail]] branched off northwest toward [[Montana]]. Oregon Trail emigrants followed the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweetwater_River_%28Wyoming%29 Sweetwater River] farther west. A good goal was to reach [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Rock_%28Wyoming%29 Independence Rock] on the Sweetwater River by [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_%28United_States%29 Independence Day]. The trail went over [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Pass South Pass] then worked its way through the mountains. One [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sublette_Cutoff#Sublette-Greenwood_Cutoff shortcut] went from South Pass due west toward [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hall Fort Hall]. The main trail from South Pass headed southwest to cross the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_River_%28Utah%29 Green River] at [http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/trailsdemo/lombard_ferry.htm Lombard Ferry], headed for [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bridger Fort Bridger]. At Fort Bridger the [[Mormon Trail]] branched southwest toward [[Salt Lake City, Utah|Salt Lake City]]. The main Oregon Trail went northwest from Bridger to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hall Fort Hall, Idaho]. From Fort Hall most [[California Trail]] emigrants forked southwest toward [[Nevada|Nevada]], while Oregon Trail followers continued along the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_River Snake River] to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Boise Fort Boise] and the [[Oregon|Oregon]] border. Once in Oregon emigrants made their way through the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mountains_%28Oregon%29 Blue Mountains] either to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Nez_Perc%C3%A9s Fort Nez Percé] ([[Walla Walla, Washington|Walla Walla, Washington]]) on the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_River Columbia River], or to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dalles,_Oregon The Dalles] on the same river. At first a risky raft trip down the Columbia River was the normal route. But the opening of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barlow_Road Barlow Road] in 1846 allowed wagons to get around [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hood Mount Hood] to the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willamette_Valley Willamette Valley] and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_City,_Oregon Oregon City]. Some pioneers continued on to destinations like [[Portland, Oregon|Portland, Oregon]] and [[Tacoma, Washington|Tacoma, Washington]].  
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Livestock needed watering so the Oregon Trail followed rivers across the dry [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Plains prairies]. The Oregon Trail usually followed the south side of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Platte_River North Platte River] west through [[Nebraska|Nebraska]] to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Fetterman Fort Fetterman] (near Douglas, Wyoming). At Fort Fetterman the [[Bozeman Trail]] branched off northwest toward [[Montana]].<ref name="BozTr">Wikipedia contributors, "Bozeman Trail" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bozeman_Trail (accessed 15 July 2012).</ref> Oregon Trail emigrants followed the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweetwater_River_%28Wyoming%29 Sweetwater River] farther west. An important goal was to reach [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Rock_%28Wyoming%29 Independence Rock] on the Sweetwater River by [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_%28United_States%29 Independence Day]. The trail went over [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Pass South Pass] then worked its way through the mountains. One [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sublette_Cutoff#Sublette-Greenwood_Cutoff shortcut] went from South Pass due west toward [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hall Fort Hall]. The main trail from South Pass headed southwest to cross the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_River_%28Utah%29 Green River] at [http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/trailsdemo/lombard_ferry.htm Lombard Ferry], headed for [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bridger Fort Bridger]. At Fort Bridger the [[Mormon Trail]] branched southwest toward [[Salt Lake City, Utah|Salt Lake City]].<ref name="MorTr">Wikipedia contributors, "Mormon Trail" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_Trail (accessed 15 July 2012).</ref> The main Oregon Trail went northwest from Bridger to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hall Fort Hall, Idaho]. From the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raft_River Raft River] southwest of Fort Hall most [[California Trail]] emigrants forked southwest toward [[Nevada|Nevada]]<ref name="CalTr">Wikipedia contributors, "California Trail" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Trail (accessed 15 July 2012).</ref>, while Oregon Trail followers continued along the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_River Snake River] to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Boise Fort Boise] and the [[Oregon|Oregon]] border. Once in Oregon emigrants made their way through the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mountains_%28Oregon%29 Blue Mountains] either to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Nez_Perc%C3%A9s Fort Nez Percé] ([[Walla Walla, Washington|Walla Walla, Washington]]) on the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_River Columbia River], or to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dalles,_Oregon The Dalles] on the same river. At first a risky raft trip down the Columbia River was the normal route. But the opening of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barlow_Road Barlow Road] in 1846 allowed wagons to get around [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hood Mount Hood] to the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willamette_Valley Willamette Valley] and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_City,_Oregon Oregon City]. Some pioneers continued on to destinations like [[Portland, Oregon|Portland, Oregon]] and [[Tacoma, Washington|Tacoma, Washington]].<ref name="OrTr" />
  
The exact route of the '''Oregon Trail''' varied over the years. Most often it passed through:  
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The exact route of the '''Oregon Trail''' varied over the years. Most often it passed through:<ref name="OrTr" />
  
 
:*sometimes [[Missouri]]  
 
:*sometimes [[Missouri]]  
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:*[[Santa Fe Trail]] 1821-1880 from western [[Missouri|Missouri]] to [[Santa Fe, New Mexico]]  
 
:*[[Santa Fe Trail]] 1821-1880 from western [[Missouri|Missouri]] to [[Santa Fe, New Mexico]]  
 
:*[[Oregon_Trail]] 1820s from western [[Missouri|Missouri]] to the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willamette_Valley Willamette Valley] of [[Oregon|Oregon]]  
 
:*[[Oregon_Trail]] 1820s from western [[Missouri|Missouri]] to the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willamette_Valley Willamette Valley] of [[Oregon|Oregon]]  
:*[[California Trail]] 1841 from western [[Missouri|Missouri]] to central [[California|California]] overlapped the Oregon Trail most of the way to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hall Fort Hall, Idaho]  
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:*[[California Trail]] 1841 from western [[Missouri|Missouri]] to central [[California|California]] overlapped the Oregon Trail most of the way to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hall Fort Hall, Idaho]<ref name="CalTr" />
:*[[Mormon Trail]] 1846-1847 from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah overlapped the Oregon Trail from the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Platte_River North Platte River], Nebraska to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bridger Ft. Bridger], Wyoming  
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:*[[Mormon Trail]] 1846-1847 from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah overlapped the Oregon Trail from the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Platte_River North Platte River], Nebraska to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bridger Ft. Bridger], Wyoming<ref name="MorTr" />
 
:*[[Union Pacific Railroad]] 1865 from [[Omaha, Nebraska|Omaha, Nebraska]] and extending its way slowly west to [[Ogden, Utah|Ogden, Utah]] in 1869  
 
:*[[Union Pacific Railroad]] 1865 from [[Omaha, Nebraska|Omaha, Nebraska]] and extending its way slowly west to [[Ogden, Utah|Ogden, Utah]] in 1869  
 
:*[[Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway]] 1872 eventually from [[Chicago, Illinois]] to [[Los Angeles, California]]
 
:*[[Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway]] 1872 eventually from [[Chicago, Illinois]] to [[Los Angeles, California]]
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Several migration pathways had junctions at various places '''''along the middle''''' of the Oregon Trail:  
 
Several migration pathways had junctions at various places '''''along the middle''''' of the Oregon Trail:  
  
:*[[Bozeman Trail]] 1863 branched from the Oregon Trail at [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Kearny Ft. Kearny], Wyoming heading to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bozeman,_Montana Bozeman], Montana  
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:*[[Bozeman Trail]] 1863 branched from the Oregon Trail at [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Fetterman Ft. Fetterman], near Douglas, Wyoming heading to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bozeman,_Montana Bozeman, Montana]<ref name="BozTr" />
:*[[Cherokee Trail]] (aka Trapper's Trail) 1849 to early 1890s from Salina, [[Oklahoma]] merged with the Oregon Trail at Granger, [[Wyoming]]
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:*[[Cherokee Trail]] (aka Trapper's Trail) 1849 to early 1890s from Salina, [[Oklahoma]] merged with the Oregon Trail near [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bridger Ft. Bridger], Wyoming<ref>Wikipedia contributors, "Cherokee Trail" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee_Trail (accessed 15 July 2012).</ref>
:*[[Mormon Trail]] 1847 from [[Omaha, Nebraska]] branched off the Oregon Trail at [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bridger Ft. Bridger], Wyoming going to [[Salt Lake City, Utah]]  
+
:*[[Mormon Trail]] 1847 from [[Omaha, Nebraska]] branched off the Oregon Trail at [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Bridger Ft. Bridger], Wyoming going to [[Salt Lake City, Utah]]<ref name="MorTr" />
:*[[California Trail]] 1841 from western [[Missouri]] usually split off the Oregon Trail at [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hall Fort Hall, Idaho] toward northern [[California]]  
+
:*[[California Trail]] 1841 from western [[Missouri]] usually split off the Oregon Trail at [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Hall Fort Hall, Idaho] toward northern [[California]]<ref name="CalTr" />
:*[[Meek Cutoff]] 1845 branched from the Oregon Trail at Vale, Oregon going northwest to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dalles,_Oregon The Dalles, Oregon]
+
:*[[Meek Cutoff]] 1845 branched from the Oregon Trail at [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vale,_Oregon Vale, Oregon] going northwest to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dalles,_Oregon The Dalles, Oregon]<ref>Wikipedia contributors, "Meek Cutoff" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meek_Cutoff (accessed 15 July 2012).</ref>
  
 
'''Modern parallels.''' The modern roads that roughly match the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon are listed in an online edition of a National Park Service publication about the Oregon Trail:  
 
'''Modern parallels.''' The modern roads that roughly match the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon are listed in an online edition of a National Park Service publication about the Oregon Trail:  
Line 190: Line 188:
 
No complete list of pioneer settlers who traveled the Oregon Trail is known to exist. However, a variety of sources exist which can be used to identify most of them. Some of these sources may reveal their place of origin.  
 
No complete list of pioneer settlers who traveled the Oregon Trail is known to exist. However, a variety of sources exist which can be used to identify most of them. Some of these sources may reveal their place of origin.  
  
'''Pioneer Databases'''  
+
'''Pioneer Databases.''' Less than one percent of Oregon Trail pioneers are so far listed in:
  
 
*"The Oregon Territory and Its Pioneers" [Internet site] at http://www.oregonpioneers.com/ortrail.htm (accessed 15 July 2011). Includes year-by-year lists of pioneers pre-1839 to 1855.  
 
*"The Oregon Territory and Its Pioneers" [Internet site] at http://www.oregonpioneers.com/ortrail.htm (accessed 15 July 2011). Includes year-by-year lists of pioneers pre-1839 to 1855.  
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*Oregon Pioneer List (OPL) Project master index at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~orpionpr/master.html (accessed 15 July 2011). A few hundred names of pioneers prior to 1901, many with biographical and submitter information.
 
*Oregon Pioneer List (OPL) Project master index at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~orpionpr/master.html (accessed 15 July 2011). A few hundred names of pioneers prior to 1901, many with biographical and submitter information.
  
'''Oregon Land Records.''' From 1850 to 1854 pioneers could claim up to 300 acres of free land in Oregon (Donation Land Claims). Deeds and other land records from '''''any&nbsp;''''' time period are clues to when a pioneer arrived.  
+
<br> '''Oregon Land Records. '''<br>''Provisional-government records.''<br>Oregon's provisional government was established in the spring of 1843. Inhabitants were permitted to stake out claims and survey them by the metes and bounds method. Over 4,000 claims were made. When Congress established the Territory of Oregon in 1848, that system ended. The provisional claims have been abstracted and published by the Genealogical Forum of Oregon.  
 +
 
 +
<br>''Federal land records.''<br>The federal Donation Act of 1850 encouraged settlement of Oregon Territory by granting 320 acres to white male citizens, or those who intended to become citizens, who settled on the land prior to 1 December 1850. Wives were eligible for an additional 320 acres. White male citizens who arrived between 1 December 1850 and 1 December 1853 could apply for 160 acres, with wives receiving an equivalent amount. The act further provided for similar grants to those of mixed Indian-white parentage who were already in the territory; and it required settlers who had staked claims previously to refile them. Amendments in 1853 and 1854 cut the residency-cultivation requirement in half and extended the filing date to April 1855
 +
 
 +
<br>''County level land records.''After federal land was transferred to a settler, subsequent deeds were recorded in county courthouses.<br>
 +
 
 +
<br>
 +
 
 +
"Land Records" in Oregon States Archives at http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/land.html (accessed 15 July 2011). County-by-county list of land records at the State Archives.<br> "Provisional Land Claim Index" in Genealogical Forum of Oregon at http://www.gfo.org/provisional/index.htm/ (accessed 9 November 2013). <br> "Oregon Donation Land Claim Index" in Genealogical Forum of Oregon at http://www.gfo.org/donation/ (accessed 15 July 2011). Lists surname, given name, volume, office, and claim number.  
  
:*"Land Records" in ''Oregon States Archives'' at http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/land.html (15 July 2011). County-by-county list of land records at the State Archives.
+
<br>
:*"Oregon Donation Land Claim Index" in ''Genealogical Forum of Oregon'' at http://www.gfo.org/donation/ (accessed 15 July 2011). Lists surname, given name, volume, office, and claim number.
 
  
 
'''Censuses''' also can be used to identify pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail:  
 
'''Censuses''' also can be used to identify pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail:  
  
:*[https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://hr-search-api:8080/searchapi/search/collection/1401638 1850 federal census of Oregon]  
+
:*[https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://hr-search-api:8080/searchapi/search/collection/1438024 1870 federal census of Oregon]  
 
:*[https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://hr-search-api:8080/searchapi/search/collection/1473181 1860 federal census of Oregon]  
 
:*[https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://hr-search-api:8080/searchapi/search/collection/1473181 1860 federal census of Oregon]  
:*[https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://hr-search-api:8080/searchapi/search/collection/1438024 1870 federal census of Oregon]
+
:*[https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://hr-search-api:8080/searchapi/search/collection/1401638 1850 federal census of Oregon]
  
 
:Oregon took territorial and state censuses in years between federal censuses. These censuses often have different questions than federal censuses and additional family information. Pioneer censuses included:
 
:Oregon took territorial and state censuses in years between federal censuses. These censuses often have different questions than federal censuses and additional family information. Pioneer censuses included:
  
{| border="1" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" width="97%" align="right"
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{| width="97%" border="1" align="right" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1"
 
|-
 
|-
| bgcolor="#99cc99" colspan="90" align="center" | '''State and Territorial Censuses of Oregon Prior to 1871'''
+
| bgcolor="#99cc99" align="center" colspan="90" | '''State and Territorial Censuses of Oregon Prior to 1871'''
 
|-
 
|-
 
| bgcolor="#ffffcc" align="left" | '''1870'''  
 
| bgcolor="#ffffcc" align="left" | '''1870'''  
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|-
 
|-
 
| bgcolor="#ffffcc" align="left" | '''1845-46'''  
 
| bgcolor="#ffffcc" align="left" | '''1845-46'''  
| bgcolor="#ffffcc" align="left" | Tualaty county (now Washington State)<ref name="lain" /> <ref name="Lenz" />
+
| bgcolor="#ffffcc" align="left" | Tualaty county (now Washington County)<ref name="lain" /> <ref name="Lenz" />
 
|-
 
|-
 
| align="left" | '''1845'''  
 
| align="left" | '''1845'''  
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'''Local and county histories and biographies''' in Oregon also may help identify additional pioneers. For example:  
 
'''Local and county histories and biographies''' in Oregon also may help identify additional pioneers. For example:  
  
*Vera Martin Lynch, ''Free land for free men&nbsp;: a story of Clackamas County'' ((Portland, Oreg.&nbsp;: Printed by Artline Print), 1973). [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/806270 WorldCat entry]. {{FHL|150790|item|disp=FHL Book 979.541 H2L}}.  
+
*Vera Martin Lynch, ''Free land for free men: a story of Clackamas County'' ((Portland, Oreg.: Printed by Artline Print), 1973). [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/806270 WorldCat entry]. {{FHL|150790|item|disp=FHL Book 979.541 H2L}}.  
 
*Elma Rust, ''Pioneers of Lake Creek Valley, and a few later ones'' (Photocopy of original published: Blachly, Ore.&nbsp;: E. Rust, 1984). [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/11082613 WorldCat entry]. {{FHL|684383|item|disp=FHL Film 2055468 Item 8; Book 979.531 H2r}}.
 
*Elma Rust, ''Pioneers of Lake Creek Valley, and a few later ones'' (Photocopy of original published: Blachly, Ore.&nbsp;: E. Rust, 1984). [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/11082613 WorldCat entry]. {{FHL|684383|item|disp=FHL Film 2055468 Item 8; Book 979.531 H2r}}.
  
Some Oregon Trail pioneers also settled in [[Washington]], [[California]], [[Idaho|Idaho]], or [[Nevada|Nevada]]. Local histories and biographies from those places may also include some pioneers to travelled the Oregon Trail.  
+
Some Oregon Trail pioneers also settled in [[Washington]], [[California]], [[Idaho]], or [[Nevada]]. Local histories and biographies from those places may also include some pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail.  
 +
 
 +
=== Other Wiki Pages  ===
 +
 
 +
*Many of the [[:Category:US Migration Trails and Roads|US Migration Trails and Roads]]
 +
*[[United States Overland Travel 1840 to 1865, Oregon Trail, California Trail (National Institute)]]
 +
 
  
 
=== External Links  ===
 
=== External Links  ===
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*"Oregon - California Trails Association" in ''Calcite Rocky Mountain College (Internet site)'' at http://www.octa-trails.org/ (accessed 8 July 2011). Includes Oregon trail maps, photos, site descriptions, and diary quotations. For an index of overland trail documents see [http://www.paper-trail.org/search.asp www.paper-trail.org/search.asp].  
 
*"Oregon - California Trails Association" in ''Calcite Rocky Mountain College (Internet site)'' at http://www.octa-trails.org/ (accessed 8 July 2011). Includes Oregon trail maps, photos, site descriptions, and diary quotations. For an index of overland trail documents see [http://www.paper-trail.org/search.asp www.paper-trail.org/search.asp].  
 
*"The Oregon Trail" at http://www.isu.edu/~trinmich/Allabout.html (accessed 15 July 2011). Historic sites, fantastic facts, archives, discoverers and explorers, "jumping off," route west, power, hardships, camping, buffalo, and Native Americans.  
 
*"The Oregon Trail" at http://www.isu.edu/~trinmich/Allabout.html (accessed 15 July 2011). Historic sites, fantastic facts, archives, discoverers and explorers, "jumping off," route west, power, hardships, camping, buffalo, and Native Americans.  
*"Oregon pioneer history" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_pioneer_history (accessed 15 July 2011). Includes background, territory, government, economy, and transportation.
+
*"Oregon pioneer history" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_pioneer_history (accessed 15 July 2011). Includes background, territory, government, economy, and transportation.
 +
*"Emigrant trail" in ''Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia'' at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emigrant_trail (accessed 15 July 2011). Includes description of trails in general, and partial map.
  
 
=== References  ===
 
=== References  ===
 
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<div style="padding-left: 10px">
 
{{reflist}}  
 
{{reflist}}  
 
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</div>
{{Idaho|Idaho}} {{Iowa|Iowa}} {{Kansas|Kansas}} {{Missouri|Missouri}} {{Oregon|Oregon}} {{Nebraska|Nebraska}} {{Washington|Washington}} {{Wyoming|Wyoming}}
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{{Idaho|Idaho}} {{Iowa|Iowa}} {{Kansas|Kansas}} {{Missouri|Missouri}} {{Oregon|Oregon}} {{Nebraska|Nebraska}} {{Washington|Washington}} {{Wyoming|Wyoming}}  
</div>
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</div>  
 
[[Category:US_Migration_Trails_and_Roads]] [[Category:Iowa]] [[Category:Nebraska]] [[Category:Utah]] [[Category:Wyoming]] [[Category:Kansas]] [[Category:Idaho]] [[Category:Oregon]] [[Category:Washington]] [[Category:Missouri]]
 
[[Category:US_Migration_Trails_and_Roads]] [[Category:Iowa]] [[Category:Nebraska]] [[Category:Utah]] [[Category:Wyoming]] [[Category:Kansas]] [[Category:Idaho]] [[Category:Oregon]] [[Category:Washington]] [[Category:Missouri]]

Revision as of 21:33, 14 July 2014

United States Gotoarrow.png Migration Gotoarrow.png Trails and Roads Gotoarrow.png Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail went from western Missouri across the Great Plains into the Rocky Mountains to Oregon City, Oregon. It was most heavily used in the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s. It was the longest historic overland migration
Scott's Bluff, Nebraska on the Oregon Trail.
trail in North America. The length of the wagon trail from the Missouri River to Willamette Valley was about 2,000 miles (3,200 km). It normally took four to six months to traverse the length of the Oregon Trail with wagons pulled by oxen. About 80,000 pioneers used it to reach Oregon, and about 20,000 to Washington before the transcontinental railroad in 1869.[1]

Background History

Footpath to wagon road. The route of the Oregon Trail was first discovered by fur trappers about 1811. Several expeditions of government men explored and mapped parts of the trail in 1832, 1834, 1846, and 1848. It was originally a footpath or mule pack train trail. In 1830 the first fur trade rendezvous wagons reached the Green River in Wyoming. By 1836 when the first pioneer wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, the wagon trail went as far as Fort Hall. By 1843 the wagon road reached the Dalles (Oregon) where pioneers could raft down the Columbia River. In 1846 the Barlow Road around Mt. Hood finally reached Oregon City.[1]

Oregon boundary dispute. Washington State and British Columbia were at first disputed and jointly occupied by Britain (Canada) and the United States. The British and their Hudson's Bay Company controlled Washington northwest of the Columbia River. But pressure was being exerted against Canada. In 1836 American pioneer groups began migrating over the Oregon Trail into Oregon. Thousands came over the next decade, far more than from Canada. Slogans of the 1844 American presidential campaign clamored for war to take Washington and British Columbia by force. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 gave Washington to the United States and British Columbia to Canada.[2]

Reasons for migrating. Mountain men fur trappers were the earliest to use the Oregon Trail. A few early missionaries came in the 1830s. Larger groups of American settlers began arriving in 1843. The California Trail, Mormon Trail, and Bozeman Trail overlapped much of the Oregon Trail and branched off it starting in 1846. The California Gold Rush of 1849 contributed significantly to west coast migration. Western gold and silver strikes, free farm land, lumber, and ranching all increased traffic on the Oregon Trail. An estimated 80,000 pioneers used the Oregon Trail to Oregon, and 20,000 to Washington by 1869, and about 320,000 more followed part of the Oregon trail to take one of its three main branches.[1]

Preparations. Most emigrants were farmers who already had their own wagons and most of their own supplies. Other travelers usually purchased supplies at "jumping off points" in Missouri, Iowa, or Kansas. Supplies cost as much as $200 per person including a covered wagon, teams of oxen, 150 pounds of food per person, tobacco, cooking gear, extra shoes, two sets of clothes, 25 pounds of soap, washboard and wash tub, tent, a canvas or rubber groundcloth with blankets for sleeping, tools, guns and ammunition. Some also bought a trail guide book.[1]

Trail life. Non-essentials were often abandoned on the trail to lighten the load. Forts and trading posts (Ft. Kearny, Ft. Laramie, Ft. Fetterman, Ft. Bridger, Ft. Hall, Ft. Boise, Ft. Nez Percés, and Ft. Vancouver) along the way usually provided supplies, fresh animal teams, repairs, spare parts, and news of trail conditions. Hunting (including bison), fishing, and trading were also common along the route. Emigrants usually formed into wagon trains for security. Almost everyone preferred to walk rather than ride in dusty, bumpy wagons. They had to average 11 miles (18 km) to 17 miles (27 km) per day to reach Oregon City in four to six months. To leave too early risked muddy trails and too little grass for livestock. To arrive late risked traveling in winter weather. Thunderstorms and fierce winds were common. In good weather they often slept under the stars. On the prairie buffalo chips were gathered for use as cooking fuel. Wash day was about every two weeks. Many travelers enjoyed side trips climbing over trail landmarks like Chimney Rock, Scott's Bluff, and Independence Rock. Some entrepreneurs drove herds of cattle over the trail to sell and help pay for the trip.[1]

Deaths. About five percent of pioneers died on the Oregon-California-Mormon trails. The most common killer was cholera along the Platte River in Nebraska. This disease killed as much as three percent between 1849 and 1855 (6,000 to 12,500 individuals). About 3,000 to 4,500 deaths happened because of Indian attacks especially in Idaho and Nevada after U.S. Army troops were withdrawn in 1860 in the run up to the Civil War. Other causes of death included freezing, scurvy, being run over, drownings (especially in the 1850s before many ferries), and accidental shootings.[1]

Decline of trail use. In 1855 the Oregon Trail (and California Trail) traffic declined dramatically for at least two reasons. First, Oregon's free land incentive ended in 1855. From 1850 to 1854 pioneers could claim 300 acres of land for free. From 1855 to 1862 Oregon pioneers were required to pay for government land. The next free-land opportunities were not created in Oregon until the 1862 Homestead Act was passed. Second, the Panama Railroad was completed with steamship links that made transportation from the east coast to the west coast of America more practical than using an overland wagon trail.[1]

Another factor that later diminished the use of the Oregon Trail was American railroads. The transcontinental Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads completed in 1869 to Sacramento, California made that route faster, safer, and less expensive than traveling the Oregon Trail. Railroads to Oregon were developed in the 1870s. Nevertheless, a few emigrants continued to use the Oregon Trail as late as the 1890s.[1] Oregon Trail.jpg

Oregon Pioneers[3]
Year Oregon
pre 1840 20
1840 13
1841 24
1842 125
1843 875
1844 1,475
1845 2,500
1846 1,200
1847 4,000
1848 1,300
1849 450
1850 6,000
1851 3,600
1852 10,000
1853 7,500
1854 6,000
1855 500
1856 1,000
1857 1,500
1858 1,500
1859 2,000
1860 1,500
1861 2,000?
1862 2,000?
1863 2,000?
1864 2,000?
1865 4,700?
1866 4,700?
1867 4,700?
1868 4,800?
Total 80,000

Main Route

The Oregon Trail was miles wide with many variations. Emigrants started on their journey from many sundry "jumping off points" in three states. Some took a variety of shortcuts, and others traveled on different sides of the rivers from other emigrants. Travelers often completed their journey in Idaho, Washington or places other than Oregon City. The Oregon Trail was the trunk trail for several other branch trails. The California Trail starting 1846, the Mormon Trail in 1847, and the Bozeman Trail beginning 1863 branched off from the main Oregon Trail.[1]

Two of the most popular early outfitting or "jumping off points" were Independence and St. Joseph in western Missouri. Once the river was dredged and steamboats could reach it in the early 1850s, Council Bluffs, Iowa became the most popular Oregon Trail starting place.[4] Kansas City, Lawrence, and Topeka in Kansas were also used. From their starting point emigrants often followed the Missouri River up to the Platte River. Another option was to follow the Kansas River and then the Little Blue River toward the Platte River.[1]

Livestock needed watering so the Oregon Trail followed rivers across the dry prairies. The Oregon Trail usually followed the south side of the North Platte River west through Nebraska to Fort Fetterman (near Douglas, Wyoming). At Fort Fetterman the Bozeman Trail branched off northwest toward Montana.[5] Oregon Trail emigrants followed the Sweetwater River farther west. An important goal was to reach Independence Rock on the Sweetwater River by Independence Day. The trail went over South Pass then worked its way through the mountains. One shortcut went from South Pass due west toward Fort Hall. The main trail from South Pass headed southwest to cross the Green River at Lombard Ferry, headed for Fort Bridger. At Fort Bridger the Mormon Trail branched southwest toward Salt Lake City.[6] The main Oregon Trail went northwest from Bridger to Fort Hall, Idaho. From the Raft River southwest of Fort Hall most California Trail emigrants forked southwest toward Nevada[7], while Oregon Trail followers continued along the Snake River to Fort Boise and the Oregon border. Once in Oregon emigrants made their way through the Blue Mountains either to Fort Nez Percé (Walla Walla, Washington) on the Columbia River, or to The Dalles on the same river. At first a risky raft trip down the Columbia River was the normal route. But the opening of the Barlow Road in 1846 allowed wagons to get around Mount Hood to the Willamette Valley and Oregon City. Some pioneers continued on to destinations like Portland, Oregon and Tacoma, Washington.[1]

The exact route of the Oregon Trail varied over the years. Most often it passed through:[1]

The Oregon-California Trails Association provides a Virtual Trail map with images, and brief histories of points along the trail.

Connecting migration routes. The Oregon Trail linked to other migration routes at each end, and at junctions in the middle. The migration pathways connected near the east end included:

The migration pathways connected near the west end of the Oregon Trail included:

Several migration pathways had junctions at various places along the middle of the Oregon Trail:

Modern parallels. The modern roads that roughly match the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon are listed in an online edition of a National Park Service publication about the Oregon Trail:

Settlers and Records

Pioneers who used the Oregon Trail were mostly Americans from the Midwest or Mid-South. Most settled in Oregon, especially in the Willamette Valley, but about 20 percent moved on to Washington (state) before 1870. Others went to California.

No complete list of pioneer settlers who traveled the Oregon Trail is known to exist. However, a variety of sources exist which can be used to identify most of them. Some of these sources may reveal their place of origin.

Pioneer Databases. Less than one percent of Oregon Trail pioneers are so far listed in:


Oregon Land Records.
Provisional-government records.
Oregon's provisional government was established in the spring of 1843. Inhabitants were permitted to stake out claims and survey them by the metes and bounds method. Over 4,000 claims were made. When Congress established the Territory of Oregon in 1848, that system ended. The provisional claims have been abstracted and published by the Genealogical Forum of Oregon.


Federal land records.
The federal Donation Act of 1850 encouraged settlement of Oregon Territory by granting 320 acres to white male citizens, or those who intended to become citizens, who settled on the land prior to 1 December 1850. Wives were eligible for an additional 320 acres. White male citizens who arrived between 1 December 1850 and 1 December 1853 could apply for 160 acres, with wives receiving an equivalent amount. The act further provided for similar grants to those of mixed Indian-white parentage who were already in the territory; and it required settlers who had staked claims previously to refile them. Amendments in 1853 and 1854 cut the residency-cultivation requirement in half and extended the filing date to April 1855


County level land records.After federal land was transferred to a settler, subsequent deeds were recorded in county courthouses.


"Land Records" in Oregon States Archives at http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/land.html (accessed 15 July 2011). County-by-county list of land records at the State Archives.
"Provisional Land Claim Index" in Genealogical Forum of Oregon at http://www.gfo.org/provisional/index.htm/ (accessed 9 November 2013).
"Oregon Donation Land Claim Index" in Genealogical Forum of Oregon at http://www.gfo.org/donation/ (accessed 15 July 2011). Lists surname, given name, volume, office, and claim number.


Censuses also can be used to identify pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail:

Oregon took territorial and state censuses in years between federal censuses. These censuses often have different questions than federal censuses and additional family information. Pioneer censuses included:
State and Territorial Censuses of Oregon Prior to 1871
1870 State census Umatilla county[10] [11]
1865 State census Benton, Columbia, Marion and Umatilla counties [10][11]
1859 Territorial census Clatsop, Umpqua (now Douglas) counties[10] [11]
1858 Territorial census Benton, Clatsop, Coos, Curry, Umpqua (now Douglas) counties[10] [11][12]
1857 Territorial census Benton, Clackamas, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Tillamook, Umpqua (now Douglas), Washington counties[10] [11]
1856 Territorial census Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Curry, Polk, and Washington counties[10] [11]
1855 Territorial census Coos and Jackson counties[10] [11]
1854 Territorial census Benton, Clatsop, and Jackson counties[10] [11]
1853 Territorial census Benton, Marion, Polk, Umpqua (now Douglas), Washington and counties[10] [11]
1849 Apportionment Census of Males over 21 --Benton, Champoeg, Clackamas, Clatsop, Lewis (Washington State), Linn, Polk, Tualatin, Vancouver (Washington State), and Yamhill counties[10] [11]
1845-46 Tualaty county (now Washington County)[10] [11]
1845 Champoeg (now Marion), Clackamas, Clatsop, and Yamhill[10] [11]
1842 Elijah White Census (persons living south of the Columbia River)[10] [11]

Local and county histories and biographies in Oregon also may help identify additional pioneers. For example:

Some Oregon Trail pioneers also settled in Washington, California, Idaho, or Nevada. Local histories and biographies from those places may also include some pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail.

Other Wiki Pages


External Links

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Wikipedia contributors, "Oregon Trail" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Trail (accessed 12 July 2012).
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Oregon boundary dispute" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_boundary_dispute (accessed 12 July 2012).
  3. John D. Unruh, The Plains Across: the Overland Immigrants and Trans-Mississippi West 1840–1860 (University of Illinois Press, 1979), 119–20.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Emigrant trail" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emigrant_trail (accessed 15 July 2012).
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wikipedia contributors, "Bozeman Trail" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bozeman_Trail (accessed 15 July 2012).
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Wikipedia contributors, "Mormon Trail" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_Trail (accessed 15 July 2012).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Wikipedia contributors, "California Trail" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Trail (accessed 15 July 2012).
  8. Wikipedia contributors, "Cherokee Trail" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee_Trail (accessed 15 July 2012).
  9. Wikipedia contributors, "Meek Cutoff" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meek_Cutoff (accessed 15 July 2012).
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 Ann S. Lainhart, State Census Records (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992), 97-98. WorldCat entry. FHL Book 973 X2Lai.
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 Connie Miller Lenzen, Research in Oregon Research in Oregon] (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Association, 2007), 16-17. WorldCat entry. FHL Book 979.5 D27L 1992.
  12. Ronald Vern Jackson, Scott D. Rosenkilde, W. David Samuelsen, Oregon Census Records 1851-1859 (North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Systems, 1984) WorldCat entry. FHL Book 979.5 X22o 1851-1859.