Oregon Trail Essay Research Paper Overland pioneer

Oregon Trail Essay, Research Paper

Overland pioneer route to the northwestern

United States. About 3200 km, about 2000 mi long, the

trail extended from Independence, Missouri, to the

Columbia River in Oregon. Part of the route followed the

Platte River for 870 km (540 mi) through what is now

Nebraska to Fort Laramie in present-day Wyoming. The

trail continued along the North Platte and Sweetwater

rivers to South Pass in the Wind River Range of the Rocky

Mountains. From there the main trail went south to Fort

Bridger, Wyoming, before turning into the Bear River valley

and north to Fort Hall in present-day Idaho. In Idaho the

Oregon Trail followed the Snake River to the Salmon Falls

and then went north past Fort Boise (now Boise). The

route entered what is now Oregon, passed through the

Grande Ronde River valley, crossed the Blue Mountains

and followed the Umatilla River to the Columbia River.

Shorter and more direct routes were developed along

some parts of the trail, but they were often more difficult.

Originally, like many other main routes in the United States,

sections of the Oregon Trail had been used by the Native

Americans and trappers. As early as 1742, part of the trail

in Wyoming had been blazed by the Canadian explorer

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye; the

Lewis and Clark Expedition, between 1804 and 1806,

made more of it known. The German-American fur trader

and financier John Jacob Astor, in establishing his trading

posts, dispatched a party overland in 1811 to follow the

trail of these explorers. Later, mountain men such as James

Bridger, who founded Fort Bridger in 1843, contributed

their knowledge of the trail and often acted as guides. The

first emigrant wagon train, headed by the American pioneer

physician Elijah White, reached Oregon in 1842. The trip

took the early pioneers four to six months, a journey

fraught with much hardship resulting from poor equipment,

illness, and attack by the Native Americans, for whom the

growing number of pioneers on the trail was an

ever-constant threat. At first, the termination point of the

Oregon Trail was Oregon City, Oregon; later, settlers

continued south to the fertile and valuable land in the

Willamette Valley.


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