Presentation on theme: "Let’s Get To Oregon!. The Oregon Trail was much more than a pathway to the state of Oregon; it was the only practical passage to the entire western United."— Presentation transcript:
The Oregon Trail was much more than a pathway to the state of Oregon; it was the only practical passage to the entire western United States. The places we now know as Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho and Utah would probably not be a part of the United States today were it not for the Oregon Trail. That's because the Trail was the only possible way for settlers to get across the mountains. The journey west on the Oregon Trail was extremely difficult. One in 10 died along the way. The common misperception is that Native Americans were the emigrant's biggest problem en route. Quite the opposite, most native tribes were quite helpful to the emigrants. The real enemies of the pioneers were cholera and poor sanitation.
The first emigrants to go to Oregon in a covered wagon were Marcus and Narcissa Whitman who made the trip in 1836. But the big wave of western migration did not start until 1843, when about a thousand pioneers made the journey. Over the next 25 years more than a half million people went west on the Trail. Some went all the way to Oregon's Willamette Valley in search of farmland-- many more split off for California in search of gold. The glory years of the Oregon Trail finally ended in 1869, when the transcontinental railroad was completed.
Emigrant/author Francis Parkman: "A multitude of shops had sprung up to furnish emigrants with necessaries for the journey. The streets were crowded with men, horses and mules. There was an never-ending hammering and banging from a dozen blacksmiths' sheds, where the heavy wagons were being repaired, and the horses and oxen shod. While I was in the town, a train of emigrant wagons from Illinois passed through--a multitude of healthy children's faces were peeking out from under the covers of the wagons."
Emigrant Lansford Hastings: "In getting supplies for this journey, the emigrant should provide himself with, at least, 200 pounds of flour, 150 pounds of bacon; ten pounds of coffee; twenty pounds of sugar; and ten pounds of salt." A family of four would need over a thousand pounds of food to sustain them on the 2000 mile journey to Oregon. The only practical way to haul that much food was a wagon.
The emigrants used small farm wagons. Although they appear simplistic, farm wagons of the 1840s were technologically-advanced vehicles. Even the width of the wheels was carefully calculated. Wide wheels were more effective in soft, sandy soil. Narrow wheels worked better on hard surfaces. The cotton covers were typically drawn shut at both ends to keep out the never-ending dust. The wagon box measured only four feet by ten feet. Most emigrants loaded them to the brim with food, farm implements and furniture--often over a ton of cargo. If a part of the wagon broke, the travelers were in serious trouble. Without a spare part, they would be forced to abandon their wagon and travel on foot. Most wagons had several handy options: a toolbox on the side, a water barrel, and most importantly, hardwood brakes.
Only a few miles outside of Independence, nearly all the emigrants realized they had grossly overloaded their wagons. Their only choice--start throwing things out. The trail was so littered with this debris, that scavengers from the jumping off towns would collect full wagon loads of flour, bacon--even cast iron stoves.
Highlight and copy the website below and open a new tab. Paste the weblink onto the address bar. http://www.historyglobe.com/ot/otmap1.htm Fill in the chart as you look at the different sites of the Oregon Trail. After you finish the chart, think of what it would be like to ride on the Oregon Trail and write a journal entry for 5 of the sites on the chart. Each entry should be 3-4 sentences and should use actually characteristics of the site.