14 Oregon Trail Facts for Kids
You may have played a computer game called Oregon Trail before. Believe it or not, the Oregon Trail was a real trail used by settlers moving west across the United States. They traveled this very rough trail via oxen, mule, and covered wagon. Many were looking for land and a place to call their home. But what was the Oregon Trail really like?
1. The first point on the Oregon Trail was Independence, Missouri. Oregon City, Oregon was the place where it ended. It stretched for over 2,000 miles.
2. Americans were not the first people to use the Oregon Trail. Instead, the Native Americans had used these trails for years.
3. Thousands of people moved their whole families and belongings across this trail from the 1840s until the 1860′s.
4. Fur trappers or others familiar with the territory would often lead the journey along the trail for wagon trains.
5. Most families ventured onto the trail with only one 10 foot long by 4 foot wide by 2 feet deep covered wagon made of wood and iron, and either a few oxen or a few mules to pull the heavy wagon. Horses ate too much to make the long journey.
6. A single one of these wagons could weigh over 2,000 pounds!
7. Food was the most important thing that families took with them on the trail. Common foods these people ate included coffee, bacon, beans, rice, flour, and crackers. They might also hunt wild game along the way.
8. A few simple farm tools, cooking utensils of cast iron, and a couple study changes of clothes were about all most families took with them as far as belongings.
9. The trail was very dangerous. But perhaps not for the reasons you think! Dysentery and Natives did not really harm that many travelers. Cholera was a much bigger threat, as was bad weather. So, too, was the terrain around the steep Rocky Mountains.
10. Instead of burning wood, many travelers on the trail burnt buffalo chips, the dried out manure from the American buffalo.
11. To finish the trail typically took about five months.
12. While traveling this trail, most children along for the journey did not attend school.
13. After the transcontinental railroad was built, the Oregon Trail became an outdated way to travel west in the US.
14. In some places out west, you can still see the ruts of the wagon wheels worn into the ground from this mass exodus out west.