The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail Follows a route almost identical to the modern day Interstate 84.

For a period of twenty years from the 1840’s through to the  1860’s Some 53,000 people. made the arduous 2000- mile journey from Independence, Missouri through Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho to the tip of Oregon.

The journey took  six months. Contrary to popular belief, the majority making the trek were of prosperous background, looking to establish businesses. They had to afford two wagons and enough livestock and provisions for the duration.

Legend has it that there was a fork in the road. On one sign was painted a gold nugget; the other said ‘to Oregon’. Thus only those who could read went the latter way.

Today you can recreate the trail followed by the travellers. There are varying routes- one goes over Mount Hood and is known as The Barlow Trail. The  other follows along the Columbia River – and has to be rafted.

The former was so steep in some places that wagon wheels had to be removed and the carts hoisted down the mountain face at a charge of $5, and $1 per person. The Barlow Trail remained the only route to Mt Hood until 1919. There is also the original route that follows the trail from Missouri mile by mile. Along the way there are five ‘interpretive centres’ that feature exhibits from the Trail. One is owned by a tribe on the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton.