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Oregon Trail landmark part 2

May 13, 2012
Sue Eckhoff - Grundy County Heritage Museum , Reinbeck Courier

We left the emigrants on the Oregon Trail at Independence Rock. From there they would continue on to Fort Bridger that was founded by a mountain man, Jim Bridger in 1842 and soon grew to one of the most important outfitting points for emigrants on the Oregon Trail.

Soda Sprints is a natural bubbling pool of carbonated water, caused by ancient volcano activity. Soda Springs was located along a shortcut in the trail off the main route to Fort Hall. Emigrants used the pools for medicinal purposes, although many pioneers became sick when they drank too much of the alkali water from the springs.

Along the Snake River, pioneers next came to Fort Hall. The earliest pioneers usually abandoned their wagons here and continued on foot, but once a wagon train had successfully gone west from the Fort, from then on the migration increased as pioneers could now travel all the way to Oregon with their wagons and possessions.

Fort Boise was a direct competitor of Fort Hall until it was abandoned due to flooding and Indian attacks. It was later reconstructed near the present town of Boise, Idaho.

The Whitman Mission was the site of one of the worst tragedies along the Oregon Trail. Founded by Marcus and Narcissa Whiteman, missionaries who offered religious instruction and medical services to the Cayuse Indians, but when a measles epidemic broke out many of the Indians died. Suspecting the Whitman's were the cause of the fatal disease, the Whitmans and eleven other whites were killed by the Indians and the mission was burned down.

The Dalles was where the immigrants floated down the Columbia River. The passage with emigrants' and their wagons crowded onto a small wooden raft was perilous to say the least. However in 1845, the Barlow Toll Road opened, which offered them an alternative to the Columbia River route. This route was longer, taking them around Mount Hood, but it was much safer than rafting.

From here it was on to Oregon City, the end of their journey. Oregon City grew rapidly as the economic center of the territory as emigrants arrived at the end of the trail to establish their land claims. The trip would have taken between 4-6 months, depending on weather conditions, and the toll the trail took on people. They would have started in April, and hopefully arrived in their new land before winter.

 
 

 

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