The Oregon Trail and the Pioneers that That Made It Essay example

The Oregon Trail and the Pioneers that That Made It Essay example

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The places we know today as Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho and Utah would not be a part of the United States if it were not for the Oregon Trail. The 2,170 mile route from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon enabled the migrating of the early pioneers to the western United States. In a span of 25 years, there were over half a million people who made the trip.

The first travelers across the Oregon Trail were Marcus and Narcissa Whitman along with Henry and Eliza Spalding in 1836. However the first mass migration did not occur until 1843 when approximately 1000 pioneers made the journey at one time. From 1843 to 1869 approximately 500,000 people went west on the Trail. This eventually ended in 1869, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed.

The first emigrants to arrive in Oregon came by ship before the Oregon Trail was established. Ships continued to travel to Oregon even after the overland migrations began, but they were not popular among the pioneers. The fare was expensive, the location of the ports were inconvenient and the journey often took up to full year versus four to six months by wagon. The Oregon Trail was more a network of trails rather than a single one. Numerous other trails followed it, including the Mormon Trail, California Trail and Bozeman Trail.
Some went all the way to Oregon’s Willamette Valley to farm and others split off in southern Idaho to follow the California Trail in search for gold. Once in their desired location, settlers would start a new life by building farms or working in gold mines. Whether the treacherous journey across the county was worth the trouble or not, only the early pioneers would know.

In the early Spring, pioneers would gather in the pra...


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...ty-eight men followed Lt. Gratten to make the Indians pay for their mistake. When the Sioux realized their mistake a horse was offered in return. Gratten ordered his men to fire on the tribe who were told by their chief to withhold retaliation. However, when Gratten shot the chief it lead to war with the Sioux Indians that lasted for decades.

Weather was another major danger that faced the settlers on their journey. Traveling in the summer months meant thunderstorms, lightening and hail. Death by lightning or hail the size of apples was not uncommon. All in all, one in ten did not survive the long trip across the country.

The Oregon Trail migration is one of the most important events in American History. Today, one can drive a similar route from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon, visit 125 historic sites and see over 300 miles of existing wagon ruts.

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