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Transcript of Oregon Trail
In fact, states such as Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Nevada and Idaho would not exist today if it were not for the Oregon Trail The first emigrants to go on the Oregon Trail was Marcus and Narcissa Whitman in 1836. Over the next 25 years more than a half a million people went on the trail. This ended in 1869 when the transcontinental railroad was completed.
In 1804, Mariweather Lewis and William Clark ventured out west to find an easy water route to the Pacific Ocean, and to gather scientific information about the region. In 1805, Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific.They thought they found an easy route across North America; however, it was too difficult for wagons. No pioneer ever followed in their footsteps but their expedition was still considered a success because their detailed maps and notes provided a lot of scientific information. The Oregon Trail bisected two Native American Tribes-the Cheyenne to the North and the Pawnee to the South. Surprisingly, very few emigrants were killed by Native Americans. Most of the encounters with Native Americans were simple business transactions. The emigrants offered clothes, tobacco, or rifles in exchange for food or horses. There were also instances of Native American kindness such as helping pull out stuck wagons, rescuing drowning emigrants or rounding up lost cattle. River crossing was very difficult for the emigrants. Many people drowned trying to cross the Kansas, North Platte, and Columbia Rivers Since most emigrants overloaded their wagons, most of them walked. Many made the entire 2,000 mile journey on foot. There were no safety features on the wagon so if someone fell under the wagon wheel, they instantly died. This tragedy was very common for children. Weather also caused many deaths. Many were killed by lightning strikes or injured by hail. Heavy rain was also difficult for the emigrants because there was no shelter in the open plains. One of the biggest problems was the deadly disease cholera which had no cure. Often the sick were abandoned on the side of the trail to die alone. The first emigrants to Oregon came by ship but it was too expensive and it took a year compared to 4-6 months by wagon. The Oregon Trail follows the Platte river to its headwaters and then crosses the mountains. It then follows the Snake River until it reaches the Columbia which flows into the Pacific. The Oregon Trail was one of the most important events in U.S. History