Life On The Oregon Trail

The Harsh Journey

The Obstacles

There were many obstacles on the trail, like Indians, prairie fires, storms, blizzards, and breaking wagons, along with lack of water.
Prairie fires either started because of lightning striking the dry grass during a lightning storm, or from campfires that weren't watched. Some times they were started from careless pioneers who burned the grass to make room for their crops.
Storms were bad for the pioneers because the wagons were hit by lightning a lot. Heavy rain made the rivers overflow. It flooded the land. It was hard to travel in the mud. It was hard to cross a river that was overflowing. Strong winds could blow over a wagon. Storms would frighten the farm animals that were brought along, and sometimes the animals would run away.
Hot, dry weather caused the wagon wheels to crack or shrink. Iron rims would loosen and fall off. If you had a blacksmith with you, you would be lucky. Blacksmiths could make repairs so the wagons could keep on moving.

Times a Moving

From about 1760 to about 1850, the pioneers moved westward in two large migrations. During the first migration, pioneers from the East Coast and from Europe advanced as far west as the Mississippi Valley. During the second emigration, which began in the 1840's, settlers from the East and Midwest migrated to Oregon Territory and California.
The first pioneers crossed the Appalachian Mountains along steep, narrow trails originally opened by Indians. In time, the trails became wide enough for wagons. Boats carried pioneers on the rivers.
The pioneers followed several main routes on their way west. One route went through Cumberland Gap, a natural pass in the Appalachian Mountains.

Train Politics

Pioneers worked hard to make sure that their traveling was success.
A group of covered wagons traveling together was called a wagon train because from a distance, it looked like a slow moving train.
In every wagon train there was a wagon master who made many decisions. The wagon master often lead the train on horse back.
Every night the wagon master and six to ten others would meet and discuss the problem or conflicts on the trail.