They’re in commercials, they’re on YouTube, They’re on your Facebook feed.
As a child of the ’90s, I played A LOT of “Oregon Trail” at school. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized there had been an actual Oregon Trail. Sure, some of the game is pretty basic in what life was like, but it still managed to be a hell of a lot of fun.
Here’s what it was actually like on the Oregon Trail:
- The trail began in Independence, Missouri and ended in Oregon City, Oregon.
- The first mass migration occurred in 1843.
- Between 1830 and 1860 roughly 300,000 people traveled over it.
- It took 5-7 months to complete the journey.
- The whole thing crosses through six states: Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Kansas, and Oregon.
- Wagons could weigh over 1,000 pounds when completely loaded.
- At night, the wagons were circled to provide a corral for their livestock.
- Most people died from axe wounds, shootings, or being run over/trampled. Sickness often weakened travelers – in particular, cholera.
- Native Americans created toll stops over the trail to turn a profit on the settlers. Horses were the most popular form of currency.
- A guide that covered the entire journey was published in 1849.
- Ezra Meeker became known as the “Champion” of the Oregon Trail. He first traveled it in 1852 at the age of 76. He traveled it again two more times, once in 1915 by car and once in 1924 by airplane. He died at the age of 98.
- One day in June of 1850, more than 2,000 people and 550 wagons passed Fort Laramie.
- One in every five women on the trail were in some stage of pregnancy.
- 60% of men on the trail were farmers, 20% were craftsmen and merchants, and around 12% were physicians, lawyers, or some other kind of professional.
- It was named officially the Oregon National Historic Trail in 1978.