In the 19th century, Americans from the eastern states of USA were quickly spreading into the western regions of USA. This was generally called the Westward Expansion of the United States of America. However, at the time there were no proper roads in the West, no towns or cities or shops. As a result, journeying into the west was a very hard job.
The Oregon Trail was a route which was used by the people when traveling from the east to the west of America. This Trail remained a very popular route from 1840 to 1870. After 1870, the trans-pacific railway started functioning and it became easier to travel into the west.
The Oregon Trail began in Independence, Missouri and its end was reached in the Oregon City, located in the state of Oregon. This route stretched over 2000 miles. From Missouri, the Oregon Trail reached the Platte River and then passed across the Rocky Mountains as well as the Sierra Nevada Mountains. From here, it reached and crossed Wyoming before finally reaching Oregon City. On its way, the Trail passed across 6 states including Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon.
It was no small task to travel 2000 miles in those days. The only means of transportation were wagons which weren’t very comfortable. The most common type of wagon used on journeying along the Oregon Trail was called the covered wagon. This wagon was usually 10 feet long and 4 feet wide.
The travelers who went to the West usually had their families with them. And their covered wagon would carry not just family members but also food items such as coffee, bread, biscuits and bacon. The wagons also carried tools and weapons to protect the families on their journey and to help them settle once they reached their destination.
It was a very hard journey. People had to face a lot of dangers and problems while making such a long journey. For example, most of the people started their journey in spring. This way, they had enough grass on the way to feed their animals and usually reached their destination before the winters began.
In all, a wagon train which comprised of many wagons traveling together took almost 5 months to reach from Missouri to Oregon. On the way, they had to carefully consume their food and sometimes hunt in order to make sure they didn’t go hungry. And then there were other dangers on the way.
The most dangerous part of the journey on the Oregon Trail was the hard terrain. Wagons had to cross mountains and valleys and rivers. Sometimes, wagons drowned in the river or suffered other accidents. The long journey could make some people ill while diseases such as cholera or scurvy were common ailments among the travelers. Snakebites were also a major danger. The Native Americans usually helped the travelers but when more and more settlers kept coming to their lands, they started attacking some of these travelers.