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How Many People Traveled the Oregon Trail?: And Other Questions About the Trail West (Six Questions of American History) Paperback – March 1, 2012
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Miriam Aronin is a writer and editor living in Chicago. She also likes to knit, dance, and explore historical sites.
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Trails began to be blazed, including one by Robert Stuart who had actually "blazed the Oregon Trail backward." Other brave souls such as Jedediah Smith grew familiar with Stuart's trail and later organized wagon train expeditions heading west to Oregon via the South. Some went to claim the riches of the land, while others like Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa, went to work as missionaries. The jumping off start, or beginning of their journey, for those heading west began in places along the Missouri River. In 1843 almost one thousand emigrants
were in Independence, Missouri "preparing to leave on the Oregon Trail."
The travelers prepared by selling their worldly goods and buying supplies they needed for the long "four- to six-month trek across plains, mountains, valleys, and rivers." Their wagons were constructed in a way that would make the trip in a safe, easy manner. The pioneers had to carefully select what they needed, including things such as spinning wheels and silverware. You will also learn about the animals that pulled the wagons, why they had to walk, how far they could travel in a day, how they crossed rivers, what they feared, the landmarks they were looking for, you'll read about families who ran into trouble, and you'll learn many other interesting details of how people traveled the Oregon Trail heading west.
This is a fascinating overview of the Oregon Trail, the people who blazed it, and those who traveled it. Prefacing each section, save the introduction and the first chapter, is a question that gives a hint of what the chapter will be about. For example, before the chapter discussing "New Homes," the question asks: "Where did the emigrants settle?" This book adds a lot of interesting characters, many of whom don't often show up in school textbooks. I liked meeting the missionaries and learning about explorers who are usually eclipsed when we read about Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Difficult or unusual words such as "expedition" or "cholera" are circled and explained in the margins, thus eliminating the need for a glossary. The book is generously illustrated with maps, archival art reproductions, and numerous informative sidebars. In the back of the book is an index, a timeline (1805 to 1906), source notes, a selected bibliography, and an additional recommended book and website resources to explore. There are free downloadable educational materials on the publisher's website.
This book courtesy of the publisher.