- Easier - The
Oregon Trail was the best land route for travel to
the western United States. It was the only
practical way for settlers in wagons with their
tools, livestock, and supplies to cross the
mountains. Many believe that without the trail,
most of the American west would today be part of
Canada or Mexico.
- For twenty-five years, 1841-1866, people
'pulled-up-stakes' and headed west. Estimates range
from 250,000 to 650,000 persons made the trip.
About 1/3 immigrated to Oregon, another 1/3 were
bound for California, and 1/3 went to Utah,
Colorado, and Montana.
- Harder - The
Oregon Trail, the longest of the overland routes
used in the westward expansion of the United
States, was first traced by explorers and fur
traders. Settlers began following the trail in
1841. The first large group of about 900 immigrants
used the trail in the "Great Migration" of 1843. In
that year, a provisional government was organized
in Oregon. The Oregon Country's northern boundary
was set in 1846, and the Territory of Oregon was
formed in 1848 as over 12,000 people made the
journey in that decade.
- Families usually began their journey at
Independence, Missouri near the Missouri River. The
journey in a covered wagon took six months,
following a winding 2,000 mile trail (3,200
kilometers) through prairies, deserts, and across
mountains to the Pacific Northwest.
The journey was a severe test of strength
and endurance. Settlers often had to cross flooded
rivers. Indians attacked the wagon trains; however,
of the 10,000 deaths that occurred from 1835 to
1855, only 4 percent resulted from Indian attacks.
Cholera, smallpox, and firearms accidents were the
chief causes of death on the trail. Food, water,
and wood were always scarce, and the travelers
often encountered contaminated water holes. During
summer, the trail was crowded with wagon trains,
army units, missionaries, hunting parties, traders,
and even sightseeing tours. Some travelers
complained that they sometimes had to stop early in
the day in order to find a good campsite ahead of
the crowd. Others spoke of the need to wear masks
for protection against the dust kicked up by the
Information for Immigration to the Oregon
- Here you can find out about the recommended
supplies, choices to make in wagons, costs, routes
We There Yet? The Oregon Trail
- Learn about the trail then and now with Robert
Gray Middle School.
to The Oregon Trail (Part of the Overland Trail
- Here you find information about the Donner
Party, the Whitmans, and other people on the Oregon
Trail along with diaries, memoirs, letters and
about the Oregon Trail
- Site developed by Mike Trinklein and Steve
Boettcher creators of the award winning documentary
The Oregon Trail
- Provides a general history of the Oregon
- After visiting some of the sites
below, complete one of these Oregon Trail
- Construct a Covered Wagon.
Were Their Wagons Like?, Wagons
on the Trails West, and Prairie
Schooners, then select and construct a
model wagon. Which would you rather have
Horse, Mule or Oxen? Why? How long
would it take you to reach Oregon? Stock
your wagon with provisions enough for your
family to reach Oregon. You might be able
to get a few things at some of the forts
on the route, but supplies there would be
expensive. You can also count on a little
food gained by hunting, but you don't have
time to hunt for fresh meat daily. Make an
itemized list of the wagon, livestock, and
needed supplies and find there cost in the
1840s. Are you overloaded, do you need
another wagon or do you need to lighten
the load? Display your 'prairie schooner'
- Compare an Oregon Trail Journey to
Lewis and Clark's Expedition. First
examine the routes for the Oregon Trail at
Sites on the Trail, Oregon
Trail Map or the more detailed maps at
Overview Map. Select the best Oregon
Trail route and then compare it to the
path followed by Lewis and Clark
What was similar, how were they different?
Compare and contrast the modes of
transportation used, the timeline for the
journeys, and the hardships on the trails.
For links to other Lewis and Clark sites
- Complete An Oregon Trail
WebQuest. Visit one of these sites and
complete an Oregon Trail quest.
- 1) Donner Online (Intermediate
grades through high school)
- 2) Journey on the Oregon Trail
(Intermediate grades and middle
- 3) Front Page News: The Oregon
Trail and the California Gold Rush
(5th grade) http://www.indiana.edu/~w210/w210wqs98.html
- 4) Going West (5th grade)
- 5) Wagons Ho! (3rd grade) http://www.dg58.dupage.k12.il.us/Webquest/CarolCuda/default.htm
- 6) Westward Ho! (Annual webquest,
join them in January)http://www.cyberbee.com/wwho/
- 7) Westward Ho!! (Grade 3-5)
- Plan An Oregon Trail Trip. Plan
a family trip across the Great Plains that
follows as closely as possible one of the
Oregon Trail routes. Decide what modes of
transportation you are going to use and
all provisions needed. Identify the stops
that you will make; make sure to include
the significant landmarks that early
pioneers noted on their journey. Map out
your route. Itemize costs for all items
and find out the total cost of your
- Website By Kids For Kids
(ThinkQuest Junior Site)
- Learn about a pioneer's journey to the frontier
and what it was like to travel along the Oregon
trail; everyday life, tools, pastimes, toys and
the Plains in '64: By Prairie Schooner to
Oregon by Anna Dell Clinkinbeard.
- Read the story of an 1864 family crossing the
plains in a covered wagon.
Applegate Trail (Southern Route)
- Learn about this alternate route that was
blazed in 1846 in hopes of providing a safer
journey to Oregon.
of the Oregon Trail Interpretive
- Contains immigrant biographies and diaries,
diagrams of wagons and contents, articles about the
trail, and information about African-American
- Not to Be Missed Section:
- 2) Oregon Trail History http://www.endoftheoregontrail.org/histhome.html
- 3) The End of the Oregon Trail Historic sites
on the Oregon Trail by Jacqueline
- Read an article from The Overland
Journal which discusses food on the Oregon
Search of the Oregon Trail
- At this PBS companion site, you can investigate
the facts and myths about the Oregon Trail.
Mission National Historic Site
- Learn about the Whitman Mission, the Oregon
Trail, and pioneer life.
- 1)Frontier Photographer and Artist http://www.harappa.com/whj2.html
- 2) Research links http://virtualmuseumofart.com/hallofphotography/WILLIAMJACKSON.ORG/
- The Oregon Trail emigrants who chose to follow
Stephen Meeks thought his shortcut would save weeks
of hard travel. Instead, it brought them even
of the West
- Read the letters and journals of Narcissa
- Read 'Across the Plains in 1844' by Catherine
Sager Pringle (c. 1860).
Prairie Traveler: A Hand-Book for Overland
- This book was written by Randolph B. Marcy,
Captain U. S. Army, and first published by
authority of the War Department in 1859.
- Teacher Sites
Search of the Oregon Trail
- This Teachers Guide provides background
material and suggested classroom activities
(designed to complement the PBS video); including a
map, timeline, and links to other sites.
Reed's Doll: The Story of the Donner
- Here is the cyber teaching guide based on the
story by Rachel Laurgaard. The account is told
through the eyes of a tiny doll which eight-year
old Patty Reed kept hidden in her apron pocket.
This unit was designed for teaching the Westward
Movement and California history
- Here is a group of lesson plans (Middle school)
designed to give a better understanding of the
geographical region of the Great Basin while
gaining an insight on what a trip West in a covered
wagon might have been like.
Trail-Wagons West! (Lesson plan: Social
Studies, Grades 4-8 )
- More WebQuests
Overland Journey WebQuest
- What's the truth about traveling west?
- Created by
,Updated,4/00; Updated by