Oregon trail


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See also: National Parks and Monuments (table)National Parks and Monuments

National Parks
Name Type1 Location Year authorized Size
acres (hectares)
Description
Acadia NP SE Maine 1919 48,419 (19,603) Mountain and coast scenery.
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Oregon Trail,

overland emigrant route in the United States from the Missouri River to the Columbia River country (all of which was then called Oregon). The pioneers by wagon train did not, however, follow any single narrow route. In open country the different trains might spread out over a large area, only to converge again for river crossings, mountain passes, and other natural constrictions. In time many cutoffs and alternate routes also developed. They originated at various places on the Missouri, although Independence and Westport (now part of Kansas City, Mo.) were favorite starting points, and St. Joseph had some popularity.

The Route

Those starting from Independence followed the same route as the Santa Fe TrailSanta Fe Trail,
important caravan route of the W United States, extending c.780 mi (1,260 km) from Independence, Mo., SW to Santa Fe, N.Mex. Independence and Westport, Mo., were the chief points where wagons, teams, and supplies were obtained.
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 for some 40 mi (64 km), then turned NW to the Platte and generally followed that river to the junction of the North Platte and the South Platte. Crossing the South Platte, the main trail followed the North Platte to Fort Laramie, while the Overland TrailOverland Trail,
any of several trails of westward migration in the United States. The term is sometimes used to mean all the trails westward from the Missouri to the Pacific and sometimes for the central trails only.
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 followed the South Platte. The main trail continued from Fort Laramie to the present Casper, Wyo., and through the mountains by the South Pass to the basin of the Colorado River. The travelers then went SW; the Overland Trail rejoined the route E of Fort Bridger. From Fort Bridger the Mormon Trail continued SW to the Great Salt Lake, while the Oregon Trail went northwest across a divide to Fort HallFort Hall,
trading post on the Snake River, near Pocatello, SE Idaho; est. 1834 by U.S. trader Nathaniel Wyeth. It was sold in 1836 to the Hudson's Bay Company, which occupied the post until 1856. Fort Hall was the main stopping point on the Oregon Trail W of Fort Bridger.
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, on the Snake River. It then went along the Snake River. The California Trail branched off to the southwest, but the Oregon Trail continued to Fort Boise. From that point the travelers had to make the hard climb over the Blue Mts. Once those were crossed, paths diverged somewhat; many went to Fort Walla Walla before proceeding down the south bank of the Columbia River, traversing the Columbia's gorge where it passes through the Cascade Mts. to the Willamette Valley, where the early settlement centered. The end of the trail shifted as settlement spread.

The Wagon Trains

The mountain menmountain men,
fur trappers and traders in the Rocky Mts. during the 1820s and 30s. Their activities opened that region of the United States to general knowledge. Since the days of French domination there had been expeditions to the upper Missouri River, and in the early 19th
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 were chiefly responsible for making the route known, and Thomas FitzpatrickFitzpatrick, Thomas,
c.1799–1854, American trapper, fur trader, and guide, one of the greatest of the mountain men, b. Co. Cavan, Ireland. He emigrated early to the United States, and by 1823 he was engaged in St.
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 and James BridgerBridger, James,
1804–81, American fur trader, one of the most celebrated of the mountain men, b. Virginia. He was working as a blacksmith in St. Louis when he joined the Missouri River expedition of William H. Ashley in 1822.
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 were renowned as guides. Capt. Benjamin de Bonneville first took wagons over South Pass in 1832. The first genuine emigrant train was that led by John Bidwell in 1841, half of which went to California, the rest proceeding from Fort Hall to Oregon. The first train of emigrants to reach Oregon was that led by Elijah WhiteWhite, Elijah,
1806–79, American missionary in the Oregon country. A physician, he left Boston in 1836 to join the Methodist mission established by Jason Lee. After friction with his associates, he left in 1840.
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 in 1842. In 1843 occurred the Great Migration of more than 900 persons and more than 1,000 head of stock. Four trains made the journey in 1844, and by 1845 the emigrants reached a total of over 3,000. Although it took the average train six months to traverse the c.2,000-mi (3,200-km) route, the trail was used for many years. Travel gradually declined with the coming of the railroads, and the trail was abandoned in the 1870s. Many trail sites are now preserved in the Oregon National Historic Trail (see National Parks and MonumentsNational Parks and Monuments

National Parks
Name Type1 Location Year authorized Size
acres (hectares)
Description
Acadia NP SE Maine 1919 48,419 (19,603) Mountain and coast scenery.
..... Click the link for more information.
, table). An interpretive center is in Baker City, Oreg.

Bibliography

The classic work by F. Parkman, The Oregon Trail, actually concerns only the eastern part of the trail. See also Federal Writers' Project, The Oregon Trail (1939, repr. 1972); E. Meeker, Story of the Lost Trail of Oregon (1984); J. E. Brown, Oregon Trail Revisited (1988); D. Dary, The Oregon Trail: An American Saga (2004).

Oregon Trail

long ride on horseback from St. Louis to Portland, Oregon. [Am. Hist.: The Oregon Trail, Magill I, 695–698]
See: Journey

Oregon Trail

wagon-train route used by pioneers, extending from Missouri to the Oregon Territory. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2016]

Oregon trail

an early pioneering route across the central US, from Independence, W Missouri, to the Columbia River country of N Oregon: used chiefly between 1804 and 1860. Length: about 3220 km (2000 miles)
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