The Oregon Trail
Directions: You are about to move west along The Oregon Trail. You will be keeping a diary
of your adventures. Your diary will include a total of six entries. Start your diary (In your
notebook) with a new title page. Your new title page should have a Map of your journey
west that marks all the bold entries /stops along the way & a drawing of the wagon you
will travel in. It should be titled “My Trip on the Oregon Trail”.
Start: Create a new identity for yourself. Make up an old-fashioned name, age, occupation,
spouse, and family (you must have a minimum of two children with you and possibly
grandparents, cousins, uncles, or aunts on your trip west.) Having a spouse is required since
most adults were married then.
Use the entry log below to create a total of six diary entries. These entries should
show your understanding of the lives of the pioneers and the hardships they faced on
their move to the West.
Begin your diary with the “Decision to Move”. The Husband has decided to move to
Oregon (with or without the wife's advice). Wife obeys and pregnancy or illness is no
excuse not to go or to postpone the trip.
Your journey begins at Independence, Missouri. Meet at the southeast corner of
Courthouse Square and wait until enough wagons show up to form a wagon train. Tell
what you brought with you (supplies, heirlooms, animals) as well as what the town looks
and feels like.
Your First Night is spent at the--Crossed Blue River. Describe your first day of travel by
wagon plus crossing a river. Camp near the flour mills run by river power, and buy flour
from either Blue Mill or Fitzhugh Mill. Someone on your wagon train is bitten by a
rattlesnake and dies hours later.
At the Crossed Kansas River you have used the Pappan Ferry run by two brothers who
used two canoes with poles to carry the wagons over. They coiled a rope around a tree to
lower the boat into the water. The river was 200 yards wide, rapid and deep current.
Animals swam, and it cost $4/wagon, .25/mule, and .10/man. One of your children falls
off the wagon and is swept away by the current and drowns.
At Fort Kearny you mail letters and buy supplies.
The first steep grade you've encountered is at Ash Hollow. It is so scary that people did
not even talk for the last 2 miles. You lost several hours holding the wagons back with
ropes (to keep them from racing down the canyon), so you decide to camp in the grove of
ash trees at the bottom of the canyon.
At Courthouse Rock you pass a huge rock that looks like a castle or jail. It is all alone on
the prairie and you've been watching it for days. The ground has changed from lush green
to browns and tans. It is so dry that your lips and nose are cracked and parched, but this
evening relief came with a thunderstorm, which lit up the sky with all the lightning. Your
animals became frightened, and you have to calm them down.
You passed a tall rock formation out in the middle of the plains. It’s called Chimney
Rock it is hot and you're bothered by the boils on the back of your unwashed neck.
On the south bank of the Platte River, you pass a high cliff called Scott's Bluff. There is
no wood and you're forced the use buffalo chips to make your fire (it does give a
distinctive taste to the food).
You come to a place called Fort Laramie. This Mexican-style fort made of adobe
seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere. There is water on two sides. You buy
supplies and camp here for the night.
It's the Fourth of July and you spend the next couple of days at Independence Rock
celebrating around this huge granite rock that is 3-4 acres in size and looks like a giant
whale. You celebrate independence with patriotic singing, picnic lunches, and carving
your name on the rock.
You camp near the river because it is a lush area with good water and grass for the
animals. You call it Sweetwater River Crossing. Indians attack this evening, and while
your wagon train fought them off, several friends died.
The next day you cross the Continental Divide through the South Pass, it is gradual but
steep climb. This pass is only 3/4 of a mile in parts, but it marks the beginning of the
You passed this natural phenomenon called Steamboat Springs, but did not want to camp
there. It is an opening in rock where hot mineral water shoots out and emits a noise like a
high pressure steamboat whistle (though not very loud). The water is hot, pungent, and
had a disagreeable metallic taste to it. One of your children burned his/her tongue trying
to drink it.
You've decided to camp in a cedar grove where there are round openings several feet in
diameter. It is called Soda Springs. It has one hole that contains a natural soda water and
you baked several batches of bread with the water, you don't have to use yeast. The other
hole contains water that is like beer. Several men drank too much of it and got giddy.
After travelling all day, you stop at a place called Fort Hall. Although this isn't the nicest
fort you've stopped at, it does sell fresh vegetables, which you've not had since the trip
began. You buy supplies, but they're expensive: sugar - .50/pint; coffee - .50/pint; flour -
.25/pint; rice - .33/pint.
You've been traveling along the Snake River plain and you finally see a lot of trees in this
valley where you decide the camp for the night at Fort Boise.
You're almost there and now you're in a beautifully lush valley with berries everywhere.
You spend several days picking fruit and resting in the Valley of Grande Ronde.
You decide to use the toll road rather than raft down the Columbia River. Even the road,
though, is dangerous as it plunges down cliffs, so you have to slow your wagon by
wrapping rope around trees to gently guide it down the steep incline. You can see Mount
Hood in the distance, and some decide to stay here at Barlow Road.
You've reached your destination and it's as beautiful as you'd heard. Finally you’ve found
What you need when finished:
(I. Title Page with Map of Oregon Trail, Landmarks, Places stayed, & an
illustration of your packed Covered Wagon)
(II. Six Diary Entries that follow the directions given above)