The Legacy of the Oregon Trail

Table of Content

The actual journey was not what Jesse Fremont had stated however. The trail was used beginning with the fur-traders and explorers who used it in the early 1820s and ended when the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869. Most of the travelers were settlers who went through the paths of Independence, Missouri ending in Oregon’s Willamette Valley (Tindall, Shi 502). They were hoping to find new opportunities in the west and had started the trip with high hopes, traveling the trail in ox-drawn wagons (Tindall, Shi 502).

The journey however, was extremely difficult. Traveling the 2,000 mile trail, many of them walked along it barefooted. Rivers were hard to cross and the weather didn’t help either. The biggest problem however, was a disease called Cholera which claimed the lives of many travelers, averaging one grave every 80 yards along the trail (Tindall, Shi 503). Along the way however, they still adopted the same lifestyle as they had back in the east.

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The women took the chores of being a housewife doing things such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of their children while the men took the jobs of steering the wagon, taking care of the animals and doing heavy labor (Tindall, Shi 503). It was the demands of the Oregon Trail that started to test the travelers with new tasks. Women were then starting to do things such as gathering buffalo dung as fuel, pitching in help to get wagons out of the mud, and etc. , mostly things that were very “unladylike” back in the day (Tindall, Shi 503).

At the end of the trail, many of the settlers went about their own ways and started to establish stable communities (Tindall, Shi 503). The Oregon Trail played an important part in American history because it was the first path to western land. This route enabled the United States to fulfill its idea of Manifest Destiny, which was the expansion of United States territory from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Lands in which the trail went through eventually became six of the U. S. States including Missouri, Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, Kansas and Nebraska (Wikipedia).

It also led settlers into land that would also become U. S. territory including California, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Washington and Montana. If it wasn’t for the Oregon Trail, the U. S. may have never fulfilled the idea of Manifest Destiny and much of the west would probably still be unknown. The Oregon Trail was probably one of the most significant things to happen in American history. Because of this trail, it changed a women’s way of life in ways that they were now beginning to do things that they wouldn’t have done in times before the trail.

This trail also gave Americans many hopes in finding a better future. Because of the impact of the Oregon Trail, I think in the future many people will see that anything is possible if we actually set our minds to During the period of time in which the western part of the United States was still undiscovered by settlers, President Jefferson decided to send his old friend Meriwether Lewis, who chose William Clark as co-leader, on a secret expedition to find a route to the Pacific Ocean (Discoverers of the Oregon Trail).

When they returned from their expedition, their documentations proved that it would be difficult to travel to the Pacific Ocean by wagon. Years later, sent to find a overland route to the Pacific Ocean by John Jacob Astor who wanted to establish a fur-trade at the mouth of the Columbia River, a man named Robert Stuart found a twenty mile gap in the Rocky Mountains, in which wagons could pass through, when he led a mission back to St. Louis (Discoverers of the Oregon Trail).

The finding of this gap played a crucial role in settlers migrating to the west but it was Jesse Benton Fremont who sparked it. Being intelligent as she was, she wrote of the easiness and enjoyable route to the west which created a stir of excitement and encouragement for pioneers to head west (Discoverers of the Oregon Trail).

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The Legacy of the Oregon Trail. (2018, May 11). Retrieved from

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