The Oregon Trail


US History Age of Jackson and Westward Expansion The Oregon Trail
Students learn about the dangers and challenges of traveling on the Oregon Trail in the 1800s and why settlers, fur traders, and missionaries were willing to make the difficult journey. Then, students will write a journal entry from the point of view of someone traveling on the Oregon Trail.

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Here are the teacher pack items for The Oregon Trail:

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Overview

In this experience, students learn about the dangers and challenges of traveling on the Oregon Trail in the 1800s and why settlers, fur traders, and missionaries were willing to make the difficult journey. Then, students will write a journal entry from the point of view of someone traveling on the Oregon Trail.

Students will be working in small groups for scene 1 and scene 3. Divide students into their small groups before beginning this experience.

Objectives:

  • Explain the appeal of Oregon and the Far West.
  • Summarize how mountain men helped explore the Far West.
  • Describe the role missionaries played in Oregon.
  • Identify the hardships faced on wagon trains to the West.




Oregon Trail


Beginning in the late 1830s and continuing for about 60 years, over 300,000 Americans traveled the 2,200-mile trail that stretched from Independence Missouri to the Pacific Northwest. This trail has become known as the Oregon Trail.

Objectives:

  • Explain the appeal of Oregon and the Far West.
  • Summarize how mountain men helped explore the Far West.
  • Describe the role missionaries played in Oregon.
  • Identify the hardships faced on wagon trains to the West.

The challenging journey along the Oregon Trail would take travelers five to six months to complete and included crossing some of the most difficult terrain in the country. Settlers would load up their covered wagons with food and all their possessions before they left for the long journey.

Imagine you were traveling with your family on a six-month journey across the United States in the 1800s. What would you pack?


Have one person from your group record your answers.

Post your answer

Ask some student groups to share their responses. Students’ responses might include: food, possessions, family members, tools for repairing their wagon, weapons, clothing, cows, horses, etc.

Remind students the wagons settlers traveled in were relatively small—often about 5 feet by 10 feet and that the wagons were pulled by oxen. According to the Oregon Trail Center, a family of four would need to bring “600 lbs. of flour, 120 lbs. of biscuits, 400 lbs. of bacon, 60 lbs. of coffee, 4 lbs. of tea, 100 lbs. of sugar, and 200 lbs. of lard. These would just be the basic staples. Other food stuffs could include sacks of rice and beans, plus dried peaches and apples. Bacon was often hauled in large barrels packed in bran so the hot sun would not melt the fat. Each man took a rifle or shotgun and some added a pistol. A good hunting knife was essential. Farm implements such as a plow, shovel, scythe, rake, hoe; plus carpentry tools - saw, broad axe, mallet, plane. Seeds for corn, wheat and other crops.”


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