In Search of a Dream
From the 1830s to the completion of the transcontinental
railroad in 1869, the Oregon Trail was the way West for
thousands of restless Americans from all walks of life.
Fired with a hope of finding a
better life, more than 250,000
people left their homes, jobs,
farms, and families to begin a
six-month, 2000 mile trek by
covered wagon. Walking most of
the way, emigrants followed a
route over plains, high mountains,
and parched deserts. Only natural
landmarks and evidence of
previous travelers marked the
Death, disease, and disappointment
prevented many who started from
completing the journey. Nearly every
emigrant felt discouraged at some
point in the journey. Grand hopes at the
beginning became more like mirages
as they traveled for weeks through the
desert. Time, distance, and hardships
seasoned these determined pioneers.
They had the abilty and had earned
the right to mold their own destiny in
the new land.
... in a school geography... I saw... a half page
description of Oregon about its heavy forests
towards the North, and its open country towards
the south, abounding in game and wild horses...
That page was thumbed until it was very dark. I
would take it up as I came up out of the coal mine,
and look at that old book.
Emigrant of 1844
The reason my folks came here was health;
but the most of them came here for adventure
and to improve their condition.
Joseph Henry Brown
Emigrant of 1847
I left Missouri for Oregon. What started me
this way was this: ... I thought it was a good
climate... Another inducement was to settle
my family ... of boys ... they were getting to be
men... Land... was hard to get and I thought
that by moving to a new country my boys
could shift for themselves.
Emigrant of 1844
We left the Snake river after passing almost a
month among its deserts, sands, rocks and
Charles Clay Huston
Emigrant of 1852
...country very poor... Nothing but sage and
Cecilia Adams and Parthenia Blank
September 23, 1852
...o dear if we were only in Willamette Valley or
where ever we are going for I am tired of this.
Agnes Stewart Warner
September 9, 1853