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Oregon Trail The Oregon Trail was a route followed by American emigrants as they moved westward during the middle nineteenth century. Along this route, the settlers would face many challenges such as Indian attacks, fierce weather, difficult terrain features, and many diseases. Although these tasks proved to be formidable, nearly four hundred thousand people would eventually travel along the trail.
The origin of the Oregon Trail can be traced back to the Native Americans and early trappers. Roaming the frontier, both groups frequently crossed sections of the trail. In 1742, a Canadian explorer named Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, ventured upon sections of the trail in Wyoming. Sixty-two years later, the Lewis and Clark Expedition would return with accounts of the trail, making it more known. Finally, in eighteen-twelve Robert Stuart and a party of explorers traveled along the trail, backwards. Stuart's party discovered South Pass, which would provide a route of travel through the Rocky Mountains. This discovery opened the door to the West for thousands of settlers. Stuart's discovery of the South Pass did not immediately cause a massive migration west. The first group to travel west was the missionaries. Sent by churches in the East, missionaries moved west in order to introduce and convert the Native Americans into Christianity. In nineteen thirty-six Marcus Whitman and his wife, accompanied by Henry and Eliza Spalding headed toward Oregon Country. These missionaries would send back letters explaining the vast opportunities of Oregon. The Depressions of eighteen thirty-seven and eighteen forty-one would be the driving force behind a massive movement west. Many farmers and businesspersons were hard hit by depression and headed west with nothing to lose. Another factor that caused a western migration concerned the claim in which Britain had on the Northwest. The government was concerned with British expansion and encouraged Americans to emigrate west. The great migration began in nineteen forty-three. Large groups of emigrants assembled near the Missouri River and traveled west in caravans. Over one thousand people reached Oregon in nineteen forty-three alone. In the years following, the trail became more popular and within the next twenty-five years more than a half million people traveled west on the Oregon Trail. Some traveled to Oregon's Willamette Valley for rich farmland and others headed to California with dreams of finding gold. The Oregon Trail was about two thousand miles long (thirty-two hundred kilometers). Beginning in Independence, Missouri, and ending near the Colombia River, the trail passed through several states (in this time period only three states existed west of the Mississippi River) including Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon. Along the route settlers were forced to cross many rivers including the Platte, Bear, and Umatilla Rivers. Settlers also had to prepare themselves to cross several mountain ranges. The Rocky Mountains and the Blue Mountains proved to be difficult tasks to cross. Long stretches of prairie and desert had to be crossed before reaching Oregon Country. The journey would take five or six months and would usually begin in the spring. The settlers would usually begin their long journey in St. Louis, Missouri. Here, they would load their wagons onto steamships that would take them up the Missouri River. Stuart commented that the Missouri River was about one-fourth mile wide and it had a very rapid current. The water was extremely muddy and the large number of dead trees floating in the water made navigation difficult. Other pioneers remarked about the strong current on the Missouri. Upon reaching their destination, the settlers would unload their wagons at one of several small towns. Many chose Independence, Missouri. At Independence, the settlers would make camp on a prairie just outside of town. This area would eventually become cramped with hundreds of people waiting to move west. Settlers camped at this area waiting for the grass to grow. One settler commented that if one were to head west too early the grass would be too short for the animal to graze upon. This mistake could be fatal. Sometimes the settlers would wait three to four weeks for it to rain so the grass would grow on the plains. In the down time most settlers bought supplies and double-checked their wagons. Beginning their voyage, the settlers headed west across the Great Plains. Many settlers commented that the soil initially seemed to be fertile, later saying this fertility was not equal throughout the area. Members of Stuart's party reported that the rugged hills were bad for farming but made excellent grazing for cattle. In this area timber was rather abundant as Stuart mentioned the presence of several trees including the Cottonwood, Sycamore, and the Ash. Others mentioned the game in which the land supported, specifically mentioning Elk, Deer, and Turkeys. The pioneers cont
Names mentioned in this term paper
Robert Stuart, Sublette Cutoff, Ash Hollow, Clark, Marcus Whitman, Umatilla Rivers, Scotts Bluff, Pierre Gaultier, Henry, Eliza Spalding,
Organizations included in this term paper
Locations talked about in this essay
Great Platte River, Chimney Rock, the Rocky Mountains, Oregon, Blue Mountains, Missouri River, Independence, Platte River Valley, California, Mississippi River, Alcove Spring, Kansas, Snake River, Northwest, Idaho, Nebraska, Bear River, Oregon mountain, Wyoming, Columbia River, Willamette Valley, St. Louis, Buffalo, Great Plains, East, sandy hills, Britain, the Colombia River, sandy plains, Sycamore, Cascade Mountain, Cottonwood, United States, Cascades,
Health Conditions mentioned in this term paper
Facility talked about in this paper
Oregon Trail, Fort Laramie,
Keywords mentioned in this paper
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