The Oregon Trail - A Brief History

The Oregon Trail is a 2,170-mile route that connected the valleys of Oregon to the Missouri River. The eastern part of the trail crossed almost all of Wyoming and Nebraska. The Lewis and Clark Expedition paved the way. After they left, emigrants followed. The Oregon Trail is still an important route today because it provides a glimpse into the history of America's frontier.Lewis and Clark paved the way
In the fall of 1805, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began a journey from Missouri to the Oregon Territory. As explorers and personal friends of Thomas Jefferson, they were given the task of leading a group of men into the unknown. The purpose of the journey was to bring knowledge about the region to the east.During their outbound trip, the Expedition took different routes to explore new lands. They also learned about shortcuts through the Indian tribes. On their return trip, the two men decided to explore more new lands. Clark led his group down the Yellowstone River, and Lewis and his companions traveled to Travellers Rest via Lolo Creek, a route about 300 miles shorter than the original westward path.Lewis and Clark's wagon train
The story of the Oregon Trail is a fascinating one, as many easterners made their way to the West in search of the promised land. The men who led these wagon trains were legendary characters in history. Listed below are some interesting sites and information about the trail. You may be surprised by the number of weddings that took place along the way!The course of the Oregon Trail was determined by topography and climate. Because of the terrain, the trail followed three great rivers, the Snake River and the Columbia River. It also required safe passages over mountain ranges, including the South Pass.Lewis and Clark's emigrants
The route taken by Lewis and Clark's expedition to the Pacific Coast was a major part of the journey. The expedition explored the Snake River valley and the eastern river valleys, identifying interconnecting valleys that would be important for the Oregon Trail. A portion of this route remained undiscovered for decades, but in 1805, William Ashley and his group rediscover it.In 1803, the American West was still wild country. No cities, railroads, or cattle ranches had been built. Although people in the eastern United States had heard stories of the great land, no Euro-American had yet set foot in it. Nonetheless, President Thomas Jefferson organized a secret expedition to the Pacific. It would be a treacherous journey and the emigrants would have to overcome a hostile environment. Congress would meet secretly to approve the expedition and the emigrants would embark on a journey that would bring them to the Pacific.Lewis and Clark's retraced the route in reverse
In 1805, Meriwether Lewis, secretary to President Jefferson, and his friend William Clark embark on a journey to explore the western United States. They were directed by President Thomas Jefferson to find a waterway that would be equal to the Mississippi River and help them transport goods. The expedition was named the Corps of Discovery.After the expedition's departure from Fort Clatsop, the explorers headed north and west along the Missouri River. They stopped to visit Daniel Boone near St. Louis and reached Mandan villages in October. They set up winter quarters at Fort Mandan, and obtain invaluable information from the Indians they encountered. One notable Indian they met was Sacagawea, a Shonone Indian raised by the Hidatsa.Improvements to the Oregon Trail
Improvements to the Oregon Trail were essential in making it faster and easier for emigrants to reach the Willamette Valley. At its peak, the Oregon Trail carried as many as 400,000 people each year. These travelers included families, farmers, ranchers, miners, and businessmen. Many of them also set up stores to sell provisions to other travelers.Improvements to the Oregon Trail were made every year to make traveling safer. These improvements included bridges and ferries to help travelers cross rivers. They also made the trail more defined and evenly laid out. The improvements also made the journey faster and safer.

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