four to six months
Between 1841 and 1869, hundreds of thousands of people traveled westward on the trail . Many of them traveled in large wagon trains using covered wagons to carry their belongings. The Oregon Trail began in Independence, Missouri and ended in Oregon City, Oregon .
What was life like for pioneer children on the Oregon Trail ? Many children made the five month trek west with their families. It’s estimated that 40,000 of the emigrants were children.
But most stretches of the trail can still be traversed by foot, including sections under the auspices of the National Park Service. Some stretches of the trail are in state parks, such as Three Islands State Park in Idaho, where pioneers crossed the Snake River.
Emigrants feared death from a variety of causes along the trail : lack of food or water; Indian attacks; accidents or rattlesnake bites were a few. But the number one killer, by a wide margin, was disease. The most dangerous diseases were those spread by poor sanitary conditions and personal contact.
The 2,000-mile Oregon Trail was used by pioneers headed west from Missouri to find fertile lands. Today , travelers can follow the trail along Route 66 or Routes 2 and 30.
Wagon crashes, particularly at river crossings were among the most common and deadly dangers that pioneers faced. At any given time on the Oregon Trail , there were numerous rivers that required crossing. Crossing the rivers could be very dangerous .
There were many reasons for the westward movement to Oregon and California. Economic problems upset farmers and businessmen. Free land in Oregon and the possibility of finding gold in California lured them westward. Most of the pioneer families either followed the Oregon -California Trail or the Mormon Trail.
The End of the Oregon Trail With the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in Utah in 1869, westward wagon trains decreased significantly as settlers chose the faster and more reliable mode of transportation.
Death was rampant on the Oregon Trail . Approximately one out of every tenth person who began the trip did not make it to their destination. These deaths were mostly in part to disease or accidents. Diseases ranged from a fever to dysentery, but the most deadly disease was cholera.
That fee included a wagon at about $100. Usually four or six animals had to pull the wagon. Oxen were slower, but held up better than horses or mules. They were also cheaper, costing about $25 each compared to $75-$100 for a horse or mule.
Most pioneers used the typical farm wagon with a canvas cover stretched over hooped frames. An emigrant wagon was not comfortable to ride in, since wagons lacked springs and there was little room to sit inside the wagon because most space was taken up with cargo.