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Removed link[edit]

Removed http://www.pbs.org/opb/oregontrail/teacher/trailmap.html -- PBS lists the page as having been retired --Carnildo 07:41, 29 Jan 2004 (UTC)

About my changes: all but one detail I pulled from published histories I have about the Oregon Trail. The exception is the late of the last wagon train, which is based on family tradition: my (great-) Aunt Margaret came as a child from Missouri to Vancouver, Washington by wagon train (she told this to my father). Best I can determine, this happened after the railroad connected Oregon & Washington to the rest of the country, some time in the 1880s or 1890s. I hope my fellow contributors will overlook this use of unprinted sources.

Travel by wagon & horse was far less expensive than by train, & the Oregon Trail probably was used well into the 20th century, when paved roads at last rendered it unnecessary. -- llywrch 20:11, 29 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Quite likely that it was still used that late, and even later. I've seen paintings, photos, and reports of trains stopping for wagon trains, and vice versa. Further, US Highway 26 follows the trail for part of its length. --Carnildo 07:42, 30 Jan 2004 (UTC)

In "Dangers," I have always thought guns were the friend of the pioneer and Indians were the danger, but here apparently gun accidents are a greater danger than Indians. That sounds like a politicized slant, but I guess it would not be very difficult to locate sources to cite. I just cannot imagine that the Indians who were being genocided out of existence by the U.S. Army would be much help to pioneers, or maybe Dances With Wolves got it wrong.

  • Don't get your time periods confused. Wahkeenah 12:26, 30 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]
    • "Between 1841 and 1869, the Oregon Trail was used by settlers to the Northwest and West Coast areas of what is now the United States." Dunbar was transfered to Ft. Sedgewick before the close of the Civil War (1865), and the white squaw in Dances With Wolves was taken from her home after the Pawnee Indians killed her parents. The actress who portrayed her was older than she would have been, but she was at least 20 years old, which would place the slaughter of her parents sometime before 1850. The film also showed that the Indians killed the white buffalo hunters they caught. Which is wrong, the movie that won Hollywood's highest honor in 1990 or the Wikipedia article that says the Indians helped the pioneers? User: 11:59, 2 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]
      • Well, which source do you trust more? Wahkeenah 13:11, 2 July 2006 (UTC)[reply]
      • Given the choice between a Hollywood drama and an unsourced Wikipedia article, I'll believe the article any day. Wikipedia doesn't have an economic incentive to dramatize things. --Carnildo 08:11, 15 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]


Thanks to the editor who did the cleanup. The article still needs sources and with all the additions and subtractions by various editors, I think the history section needs to have its facts checked. I'm not sure it's entirely chronological at this point, and has left out some key points. I'm not going to slap the {{cleanup}} tag back on this, but I thought I'd make a note here. I hope to get around to it, but I also hope someone beats me to it. The routes section could use a going-over too. Katr67 15:48, 22 November 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The article completely leaves out the Jedediah Smith/William Sublette/David Edward Jackson partnership that was instrumental in opening the trail. http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/grte/chap2.htm Katr67 05:27, 4 December 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Donner Party[edit]

I don't understand all the references to the Donner Party. They were following a branch of the California Trail when they were trapped, not the Oregon Trail. –Shoaler (talk) 10:14, 9 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I guess because they were on the California Trail, which was identical to the Oregon Trail into Wyoming, where the two split. Still, seems a bit of a tangent, or could at least be described better. I'll see what I can do if I ever find more than 2 minutes of time.Pfly 21:18, 9 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]


It seems unusual that there would be only one land route from the settled parts of the United States to the Western territories (where the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails coincide). It would be interesting to explain alternate land routes, and to what extent they were used. Were more northerly or southerly routes avoided because of terrain, or potential attacks from locals? -- Beland 19:59, 23 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Image:1845_trailmap.gif would also seem to indicate that availability of water transport to Independence from the East and South helped make that region a common starting point. -- Beland 20:21, 23 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
There are two major factors that restricted the route:
  1. The only reliable water sources on the Great Plains are the rivers, and there aren't many of them.
  2. There are very few passes through the Rocky Mountains. Prior to the invention of modern earth-moving capabilities, only South Pass was really viable for wagons. Everything else was too steep, snowed-in too much of the year, or did not have reliable rivers on both sides of the pass.
--Carnildo 23:45, 23 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Lewis and Clark's route, practical?[edit]

The article currently contains this statement: "The first land route across what is now the United States that was well-mapped was that taken by Lewis and Clark from 1804 to 1805. They believed they had found a practical route to the west coast." ... did they really think they had found a practical route? I was under the impression they well knew it involved an arduous and difficult crossing of the Rocky Mountains -- certainly not practical in terms of watercraft portaging or wagons. Yes, they found a route, but I'm skeptical they called it "practical". So I'm adding a cn tag. Pfly (talk) 21:57, 16 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Good call. Myself, speaking as a BCer with a jaundiced eye for hype (BC is built on it), the Lewis & Clar k story gets treated way too much like a hagiography of the story of Exodus, likewise the Oregon Trail; a mythology, a pededstal; even in "soft terminology" like you've zeroed in on, there's this subtext, like manifestdestiny, which makes it all seems pre-destined and rightful. The legacy of Lewis & Clark was the blackmailing of Britain, and ultimately the slaughter of Britain's former friends and customers in the region. Sorry, didn't mean to digress/rant. The British interest, please note, were to develop the first sort-of-practical route across the continent, which you and I know to be the Express...and it wasn't practical at all. Until the railways the only practical way to get to the Pacific Northwest was by ship, or (once Cali had rail) by train to SF and then by ship, or overland north by horse (a very tough go even if the inhabitants, or what reminded of them, weren't hostile). The Oregon Country in the mythology of the Trail, as seen in films and extolled in curricuulum materials, is like a national Eden or Canaan, the route chosen by the President of the Union's own emissaries, a saintly native woman making sure they got through, cuddly natives who were nice to them and bad, nasty ungrateful ones that were not but didn't really hurt anyone, etc ad nauseam, like a national comic book (well, the US has lots of those, e.g. iconic lore like Washington and the cherry tree, and crossing the Delaware; and California got the same treatyment (the final scenes of the Grapes of Wrath - paradise fulfilled, still a myth in the Pacific Northwest isn't it?). Iconic, yes, as it's like a religion...as is Canada's mythology about itself, and just as false. All the better passes (and the smaller deserts) were to teh North, in British territory; L&C chronicles put it about that they were avoiding the Blackfoot (kinda cowardly - but would they have tried a northern route if British power hadn't been there behind British claims; were they avoiding the Blackfoot, or were they on the Prez's orders not to cross the HBC? i.e. to stay south of the treatied latitude? I can't think of any similar Canadian exploration/frontier personality who gets treated with the piousness and obsession that Americans hold for L&C, and for the Trail; we just don't have heroes....not that "our" guys were any less heroic; even when we've tried (with Mackenzie and Fraser and Thompson) we just don't have the pizazz and the razzamatazz. The stories do, it's how they get bottled/repeated/treated. And we have our own foibles of language, like your "practical way" observation/edit here, and probllems with national history/myth. And while I might seem to be dumping on the geewhiz rah-rah around the Oregon Trail, there's some regret taht we don't have the same legend behind us, or that we more insist on demystifying our legends and "making them real to us", which means like the next guy in line at Wal-Marts; it's not us that's dull, though. I'ts our p.r./branding/national hypesters; what Fraser and Thompson went through with marginal provisionsand a small party vs the expedition...oh waitaminit this is the Oregon Trail page, sorry ;-) our only non-mechanized equivalent was the small Overlander Party, which I've still got to get researched/strated...and they barelly made it. From then (1860s) to the railway in 1885 nobody with any commnon sense tried to cross the country overland on foot or by horse (see above about San Fran...even our MPs went to Ottawa via the NPR or UPR...). Our Oregon Trail was the CPR, I guess.....and that is our dominant national myth (other than hockey)..
Heh heh.. well I generally agree with you on the overly mythologized thing wrt Lewis and Clark and the Oregon Trail, but note that the Oregon Trail did not follow the route of Lewis and Clark but rather made use of South Pass, which was a practical route for wagons, even if not exactly a stroll in the park. The Oregon Trail route via South Pass was better than anything north of the 49th parallel -- but Lewis and Clark did not find it. The credit for that goes to Robert Stuart and other members of the Pacific Fur Company. American myopia may enter again on this point -- the Pacific Fur Company was a US venture, so it was Americans who found South Pass and blazed the Oregon Trail, right? No -- Stuart and just about all the other PFC people had been with, and soon returned to, the North West Company -- ie, they were Canadians for the most part. But in any case, my problem is with Lewis and Clark's route, which was absurdly hard. I've driven over the Oregon Trail's South Pass and Lewis and Clarks's Lolo Pass -- the first barely seems worthy of the word "pass" it is so flat (granted I had the luxury of an automobile and paved roads), the second is impressively steep, winding, and long, even in a car. Pfly (talk) 07:46, 18 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
On some page somewhere, maybe Astoria's, I recently changed "first permanent US settlement on the Pacific Coast as it's just untrue, the settlement if it was by anyone was by British-subject Scots and French-Canadians; it's like my similarly-toned edits of various Oregon articles which make it sound like there was noone here but "French fur-traders" with no mention of hte HBC/British presence, with e pretense that the country was "empty", which of course it wasn't (similar glosses are problematic on BC pages/mythologies), or the pretense that Americans had occupied up to 54-40 when in fact there was only one ex-Brit living north of the Columbia at the time of the provisional government etc....bubble-popping I guess, I'm just a big meanie. As for South Pass, that's I-84's route right? Been over that, both summer and winter; still boggles me how high the Great Red Desert is and also that it drains neither east nor west. The northern passes along I-90 . . . what a torture test, huh? And I thought BC's highway 3 was bad for passes and curves. And our passes like the Crowsnest and Yellowhead are really gaps in the mountains more than passes in the usual sense...Skookum1 (talk) 15:22, 18 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Lolo Pass is U.S. Route 12. I-90 is probably an easier pass, though it is hard to tell -- of course the interstate highway is easier than a two lane road. Also, I realized my saying South Pass was better than anything northwards may not be quite right -- the Peace River route through the Rockies may be easier, except for being so far north. Pfly (talk) 16:02, 18 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
The Peace, before its inundation, was tough country and that's why steamboats were used to get through it; the actual pass with the Fraser at Summit Lake, between Mackenzie and Prince George, is really flat. Sounds like you've never driven through the CRowsnst or Yellowhead; real sub tle, dspite the mountains being close on either side. Kicking Horse is pretty straightfoward too except for the canyon descent on its west side; other Cdn Rockies passes are kinda "open" but there were no useful egress on the west from most of them....Skookum1 (talk) 16:22, 18 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Yellowhead Pass, oh yea, I have been through there and had forgotten how easy it was. I went over Crowsnest once, but so long ago I can barely remember what it was like. But anyway, yea I imagine Yellowhead would be easier than South Pass in terms of not being in the middle of a desolate near-waterless desert! Pfly (talk) 19:00, 18 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Oh, and on the Grapes of Wrath thing -- FDR's Grand Coulee Dam and vision of turning the Washington desert into farms was, as I understand, a direct response to the plight of the Dust Bowl refugees -- not that many "Oakies" came to the Columbia Basin Project lands, most went to California. While the Dust Bowl / Grapes of Wrath has become fairly mythologized, there is some truth to it. I should know -- my father was a Grapes of Wrath type Dust Bowl Oakie whose family moved to California. Pfly (talk) 07:54, 18 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Huh. The image I'm thinking of is from the film (never read the book), the oranges on the tree in the yard, the balmy sunshine of lushness of the "new paradise"; lots of other moveis like the The Oregon Trail (film) engage the same imagery, Eden at the end of the long journey across "the land God gave to Cain" etc. My Mom's family moved to SoCal in the 1920s, before the dustbowl; they were lucky, Grand-dad worked for the Red Line/street railway, I think as a conductor; so Mom and her sisters and brother had a system pass; they weren't rich but were already set up in California when all the trouble came down....my aunts had orange trees in their yards, one had an avocado tree (in Lakewood and Downey), and of course one of t hem had a swimming pool (in Englewood, now a no-go neighbourhood like where Grandma lived out her years in Huntington Park). Yes, it's true, I'm half-Californian, sort of, despite being a fire-breathing BCer....my Grandma's sister, though, hitchhiked from Nova Scotia to BC with her three boys in the '30s (one of those cousins became a brigadier general in the RCAF and was the Canadian charge d'affaires/commander of NORAD)...as for Okies, that particular Washington "twang" that's still around, it's sure noticeable when you hear it....a lot of Washingtonians sound like southerners to me...(other than that Warshintun thing) Skookum1 (talk) 15:22, 18 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Actually I've never seen the film and was just thinking about the basic themes of the story. My dad has only a few obvious Oakie-isms now -- Warshington is one, another is that famous play by Shakespeare, May-zhure for May-zhure. :-) Pfly (talk) 16:02, 18 April 2008 (UTC)[reply]

If not a "practical" route, then at least the best one: "William Clark told President Jefferson that they had discovered the best route across the continent, but he could hardly have been more wrong."-http://www.slate.com/id/2150568/ Jtherlow (talk) 00:46, 24 June 2008 (UTC)[reply]


This article mentions US26 as a busy highway that follows much of the Oregon Trail. Wouldn't I-84 be a much better example here? In Oregon and Idaho, this interstate is full of historic Oregon Trail sites left and right, all over the place. This is also a great example of the major road of the past becoming a major road of the present. (talk) 05:10, 17 July 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Article Cleanup[edit]

First of all, I would like to thank everybody who has been working on this article lately, especially User:D'lin. The article has definitely been much improved over a few months ago. I want to discuss a re factoring of the history section - while the history of the Oregon territory is interesting, it is is outside of the scope of this article, since we are more interested in the trail rather then what attracted the travelers in the first place. I think we should make liberal use of the {{see}} template to point readers at the more detailed articles (such as Astorians, Lewis and Clark Expedition, Oregon country, etc). This may reduce the size of the article slightly, but I think it will end up making it more readable and more enjoyable to the average Joe. Following this refactoring, I think we should make a push for GA status, and follow that up with FA (some time before the deadline). Thoughts? CosmicPenguin (Talk) 16:19, 28 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]

It's nice to see people improving this article instead of vandalizing it! I haven't looked closely, but I'm pretty sure this article is very badly in need of citations, so I think we need to concentrate on that. For GA or FA, there needs to be at least one citation per paragraph. But that's not to say that we can just slap a ref at the end of every paragraph and call it good. Personally, I'm fan of citing just about every sentence, as that makes it easier for those adding to the article later. Many editors think that's a bit excessive, but I think we should make an effort to cite much of what is already in here, as the article has been largely unsourced for most of its existence. I think splitting off sub-articles is a great idea too. If I don't get around to it, drop a note at WikiProject Oregon--there are several of us who are into getting things up to GA and FA and I'm sure you will get some help (and god help you, lots of opinions!). Katr67 (talk) 18:15, 28 December 2008 (UTC)[reply]
I finished the initial effort to refactor the history section - I tried to concentrate on facts that directly related to the trail and avoided the grander bits that are more appropriate to articles such as Oregon country. There are some more items that I think that we need to add to the history section- a short summary of the Mormon migration and Lander Road are two that stick in my mind. There are probably more, but these will have to wait for another night. CosmicPenguin (Talk) 05:48, 2 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]
As per WP:BRD, I was bold, User:D'lin reverted, and now we discuss. Like I stated before, I think that the information about the fur traders and other facts pertaining to the oregon country itself are interesting, but not for this article. This article should focus on the trail itself, and less on the factors that lead to the migration over the trail, which should be covered much more extensively in Oregon Country and other places. In particular, I removed Oregon Trail#The North West Co. and Hudson Bay Co. and Oregon Trail#Great American Desert - I don't have a problem with the rest of the history section, but it should be limited to the discovery and use of the trail. Thoughts? CosmicPenguin (Talk) 04:24, 6 January 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Woody Guthrie's song[edit]

There's a good song by Woody called "Oregon trail". You might want to include the mention. Cheers, --CopperKettle 22:27, 10 March 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Oregon Trail and Santa Fe Trail[edit]

I propose that this should be mentioned and a part of this Wiki on the Oregon Trail. The Oregon Trail Split from the Santa Fe Trail two miles West of Gardner. While there are other feeder trails, it seems to be that this was a big part leading out from Independence and Westport from what I have read up on this. The National Park Service has this covered here: http://www.nps.gov/archive/safe/fnl-sft/photos/kspages/sforgjct.htm The1who (talk) 09:58, 6 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Even this Wiki makes mention of it splitting off from Santa Fe near Gardner: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Fe_Trail The1who (talk) 10:39, 6 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Travel Distances[edit]

There seems to be some confusion concerning the distances between South Pass to Raft River and to Cathedral Rocks. Maybe the following will help.

See: Stewart, George R. (1962). The California Trail. Bison Books. pp. 127 to 141. ISBN 0-8032-9143-4. Retrieved 01/31/2010. {{cite book}}: Check date values in: |accessdate= (help); Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)

A- Old Oregon Trail South Pass to Raft River

(1) South Pass to the Little Sandy = 20 miles. (2) Little Sandy to Fort Bridger = 110 miles. (3) Fort Bridger to Smith's Fork = 85 miles. (4) Smiths Fork to Soda Springs = 70 miles. (5) Soda Springs to Fort Hall = 55 miles. (6) Fort Hall to Raft River = 40 miles.

Total: = 380 miles.

B- Old California Trail South Pass to Cathedral Rocks

(1) South Pass to Raft River 380 miles. (2) Raft River to Cassia Creek = 40 miles. (3) Cassia Creek to Cathedral Rocks = 25 miles.

Total: = 445.

C- 1844 Sublette-Greenwood Cutoff

(1) South Pass to Little Sandy = 20 Miles. (2) Little Sandy to Smith's Fork = 110 miles. (3) Smith's Fork to Raft River = 165 miles.

Total: South Pass to Raft River = 295 miles.

(4) South Pass to Raft River = 295 miles. (5) Raft River to Cathedral Rocks = 65 miles.

Total: South Pass to Cathedral Rocks = 360 miles.

D- Hudspeth's Cutoff

(1) South Pass to Soda Springs via Fort Bridger = 285 miles. (2) South Pass to Soda Springs via Sublette's Cutoff = 200 miles. (3) Soda Springs to Cassia Creek = 130 Miles. (4) Cassia Creek to Cathedral Rocks = 25 miles.

Total: South pass to Cathedral Rocks via Fort Bridger = 440 miles.

Total: South Pass to Cathedral Rocks via Sublette's Cutoff = 355 miles.

E- Hastings's and Hensley's Cutoffs.

(1) South Pass to Fort Bridger = 130 miles. (2) Hastings's Cutoff to Salt Lake City = 120 miles. (3) Hensley's Cutoff to Cathedral Rocks = 190 miles. (4) Cathedral Rocks to Raft River = 65 miles.

Total: South Pass to Cathedral Rocks = 440 miles.

Total: South Pass to Raft River = 505 miles

F- Lander's Cutoff

(1) South Pass to Fort Hall = 265 miles. [1] (2) Fort Hall to Raft River = 40 miles. (3) Fort Hall to Cathedral Rocks = 65 miles.

Total: South Pass to Raft River = 305 miles.

Total: South pass to Cathedral Rocks = 370 miles.Tinosa (talk) 04:31, 1 February 2010 (UTC)[reply]


I see that there is concern that this article may be too long. I suggest splitting into History of the Oregon Trail and Route of the Oregon Trail, as those sections are the longest and the broadest topics, and leaving a concise summary of those topics in this article. Any other ideas, or is this what should be done? --Jsayre64 (talk) 19:20, 22 March 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Sounds like a good plan! Also probably a good idea to cut the lead § to 4 or 5 short paragraphs. -Pete (talk) 15:48, 23 March 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I'm not sure what details to omit, but I ran a copyedit and overall it removed the number of characters... surprising how many mistakes there were. :-) --Jsayre64 (talk) 16:39, 23 March 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Since this hasn't proved to be much of a discussion, I've been bold and created History of the Oregon Trail. If there are concerns out there, now's the time to state them! :-) Jsayre64 (talk) 23:13, 16 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
it's not too long for such an important topic. But splitting it this way is not helpful--people who only read one of the two articles will be thoroughly confused. Recommend keeping as it was. Rjensen (talk) 23:20, 16 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

The article is at 125 KB, which is in the 'almost certainly should be divided' range. It's also very hard to tell from the article what counts as the Oregon Trail what's just a trip out west. May I suggest that we focus our attention on the path west to the Platte, along the Platte, the North Platte, and the Sweetwater, through the South Pass, to the Green River, Snake River, and then into Oregon? An initial section can discuss Trail Blazers, and discuss Lewis and Clark's exploration of the Snake and the Columbia and talk about the impracticality of their path across the Rockies. The discussion of the Astorians should focus on Fort Astoria and Stuart's trip back. The discussion of the Northwest Company should focus on Forts Nez Perces, Vancouver, and Boise and omit Forts Colville and Victoria. And so on. Stuff that isn't directly relevant to that particular path should be omitted or curtailed. Beamish Son (talk) 03:09, 28 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Cleanup saleratus reference[edit]


The recommended amount of food to take for per adult was 150 pounds (68 kilograms) of flour, 20 pounds (9.1 kilograms) of corn meal, 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of bacon, 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of sugar, 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) of coffee, 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) of dried fruit, 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) of salt, half a pound (0.25 kg) of saleratus (baking powder/baking soda leavening mix), 2 pounds (0.91 kilograms) of tea, 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) of rice, and 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) of beans. These provisions were usually kept in water-tight containers or barrels to minimize spoilage. The usual meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner along the trail was bacon, beans, and coffee, with biscuits or bread.[1] The typical cost of food for four people for six months was about $150.[2] (talk) 23:04, 6 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Done Stickee (talk) 03:08, 7 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ "Provisions for the Trail". End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Retrieved December 23, 2007.
  2. ^ Dary, David The Oregon Trail an American Saga; Alfred p. Knopf New York; 2004; pp 274;ISBN0-375-41399-5

Possible Minor Error[edit]

I believe I detect an error in the sentence "By 1836, when the first migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon train had been cleared to Fort Hall, Idaho." My guess is that the second occurrence of the word "train" should actually be "trail." One would not clear a "wagon train," but one would clear a "wagon trail." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:57, 15 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Why is it so hard to find out how many people moved west?[edit]

I've been searching all over to try to figure out how many people took part in westward expansion, but I can't seem to find statistics on this anywhere. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:16, 30 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]

It might be hard to understand with the point-of-view and experience of modern times, but in those days there were no passports, birth certificates, employment permits, driver licenses, or any other such nonsense. If you wanted to migrate westward, you cleaned up your affairs—settling accounts with your local general store, neighbors, employer—(or not) and then traveled west. The migration numbers we do have come from a patchwork of spotty records at tolls (bridges, fords, roads), notes made by random individuals traveling in large wagon trains, or happening to observe them passing by. There was a major dynamic with wagon trains merging and diverging with a hand full of origins and dozens of destinations. No one was tasked with keeping records, and the most thorough numbers we have could be inaccurate by more than 50%. —EncMstr (talk) 18:22, 30 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
we do have the census every 10 years and it (1850 and after) says how many people live in the west and what state they were born in. It does NOT say how many died after moving west, or how many moved west then returned to the east. That is the census gives net flows. In 1850 California had 165,000 people and Oregon had 13,000. In 1860 the totals were 380,000 (Calif), 52,000 (Oregon) and 12,000 Washington. By 1870 Calif had 560,000, Oregon 91,000 and Washington 24,000. Rjensen (talk) 19:47, 30 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
Yes indeed. But how many were births and did not migrate? How many had homesteaded in the wilds and were not counted? It was not until 1850 that women and children were rigorously counted: before then the census counted male landowners. So correlating against the 1840 census would be challenging. Also, Native Americans who renounced their tribe tended to be counted, though there would not have been very many. —EncMstr (talk) 20:00, 30 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Front page discrepancy TODAY.[edit]

 Fixed Main page updated and purged. —EncMstr (talk) 17:35, 16 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]

A factoid of this article made the front page on Wikipedia today. Too bad there is a glaring error. These kinds of errors are what gives Wikipedia a bad name. :( The factoid states

"1843 – The first major wagon train heading for the Pacific Northwest set out on the Oregon Trail (reenactment pictured) with a thousand pioneers from Elm Grove, Missouri."

I'm not here to debate the "major" part, but where it says "a thousand pioneers" has just GOT to be wrong. This article claims a significantly lower number as

"... with more than 100 pioneers."

I don't know how to change things on the front page, but I really hope we don't see this as trivia now at other sites because they read it here. I may x-post (yes, that's bad but hopefully someone can fix it today or now) this to the 1843 page. MagnoliaSouth (talk) 15:24, 16 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Where is/was Elm Grove, Missouri?[edit]

Elm Grove, Missouri redirects to this page, so the link on this page is circular.

Other than as the starting point for this one wagon train, I can find no reference to the location or existence of Elm Grove, Missouri.Kurtreedk (talk) 20:07, 16 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]

The previous version of the article, now a redirect says:
Elm Grove, Missouri is cited in historical accounts as the site of the start of the first Oregon Trail expedition. However it is more likely that the starting point was just across the Kansas border from Missouri at Elm Grove, Kansas in Olathe, Kansas.
Unfortunately, there are no citations. I poked around in GNIS, but could not find anything helpful. —EncMstr (talk) 20:34, 16 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]


To identify the overlinks, I used a script based on the guidelines at WP:OVERLINK. The script detected many duplicate links of various kinds, and I removed them a few at a time, section by section. I thought I should explain here what I did and how. The script is at User:Ucucha/duplinks and can be used to find duplicate links in any article. Finetooth (talk) 19:20, 11 January 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Reference 17[edit]

Reference 17 is an explanation - not a reference -- (talk) 22:02, 26 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]

yes and it's a good use of notes. Rjensen (talk) 22:57, 26 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Colorado section[edit]

The last sentence of the Colorado section is grammatically/syntactically incorrect, but I can't change it since I don't know what the (original) writer of the article meant by it. Does anyone else know? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:02, 24 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]


The use of the word "Indian" throughout this article is both unaccurate and unhelpful, in a scholarly sense. As is commonly known, a great deal of specific information is available on the domains and ranges of the dozens of tribes of North America, as are referenced in Wikipedia's own Native American's entry at Native Americans in the United States.

Using the correct names (and the cultural attributes) of these people would add measurably to the richness and accuracy of this entry.

As a start to cracking the wall of uniformity and error, I began a transition to identifying the specific tribes or nations encountered along the trail by replacing the generic and inaccurate word "Indian" with the phrase "indigenous people."

My work was immediately "reverted" by Richard Jensen (rjensen), in the style of someone fixing vandalism. Mr Jensen did not send me an explanation (a courtesy well within the Wiki protocol, methinks) and has not responded to my inquiry about his action.

I would like to work on the Oregon Trail entry; it can be much improved both by specifying the names of the cultural groups (in much the way the trappers, miners, farmers, ranchers, Mormons, etc., are already identified in the entry), by adding new information (the Whitmans were murdered at their Walla Walla mission by members of the Cayuse (Whitman Mission National Historic Site), and by establishing more documentation (references) outside of Wikipedia.

I hestitate to do this work as rjensen appears to be standing ready to "revert" edits under cloak of darkness. I'd appreciate advice on how to handle this situation. The Oregon Trail entry deserves better. Hlwelborn (talk) 21:34, 25 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

I encourage you to reword the article appropriately. User rjensen (talk · contribs) recently has been intensively doing citation repair and enhancement, though his revert of your inquiring on his talk page has the peculiar edit summary of Bad taste. Maybe it was a misunderstanding? I'll re-solicit his input here too. —EncMstr (talk) 21:54, 25 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
some advice: first a little more courtesy -- no more ugliness like "rjensen appears to be standing ready to "revert" edits under cloak of darkness." Second we depend on experience here and Hlwelborn with only 15 edits in his career is too new to appreciate how wikipedia works. Third, we follow the reliable secondary sources here; regardingthe Oregon trail they rarely use terms like "indigenous peoples." They usually use "Indians" or name the tribe involved. Fourth we don't change quotations as Hlwelborn did (he changed Trapper Jim Beckwourth described the scene as one of "Mirth, songs, dancing, shouting, trading, running, jumping, singing, racing, target-shooting, yarns, frolic, with all sorts of extravagances that white men or Indians could invent." to "sorts of extravagances that white men or indigenous people could invent." -- that is a bad mistake, letting personal POV overcome historical accuracy.) Fifth, when dealing with the people on the trail we stick to their language and do not impose 21st century terms they would never have used (he changed "Fear of Indian attack" to indigeous peoples). Sixth, as for "Using the correct names" he did not attempt to do so. Seventh, as for Hlwelborn's personal views about the word "Indian" he has his private POV but those views are not widely held. "Indian" is a well-respected standard term in serious reference works. For example look at the recent book titles from major university presses: Indian Blues: American Indians and the Politics of Music, 1879-1934 John W. Troutman (U of Oklahoma Press, 2012); The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America by Linford D. Fisher (Oxford University Press, 2012); Indian Tribes of Oklahoma: A Guide (Civilization of the American Indian Series, U of Oklahoma Press), by Professor Blue Clark, who holds the David Pendleton Chair in American Indian Studies and is Professor of History and Law at Oklahoma City University; Native Apostles: Black and Indian Missionaries in the British Atlantic World by Edward E. Andrews (Harvard University Press 2013); French and Indians in the Heart of North America, 1630-1815 ed. by Robert Englebert & Guillaume Teasdale (Michigan State University Press 2013). Rjensen (talk) 22:06, 25 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Recommended food for one person[edit]

In writing a family history that includes my great grandparents coming to Idaho partly on the Oregon Trail, I have found some information that I think may be incorrect, as follows:

The Wikipedia quoted “recommended” supply of food for an adult setting out on the Oregon Trail is shown in the table. This recommendation had to have been made by the merchant selling the supplies. The 313 lbs. sum of the recommended weighs does not include the weight of the containers. The containers would have had to be either wood or iron so the containers would add maybe 20% to the net weight of the food. That would bring the weight to 376 lb. for each adult. That’s more than three times the weight of a combat solder’s pack and weapon. Given that a pack horse’s load must be limited to about 30% of the horse’s weight, the horse to carry that pack of food would have to weigh more than 6000 lb. The Budweiser Clydesdales weigh about 2000 to 2200 lb. apiece.

Elsewhere in the article is a statement that a man could join a wagon train for no cost by helping with herding animals etc. I believe that my great grandfather and his three brothers did just that. I find it hard to believe that they would have been accepted if another wagon would have been required to haul the food they would consume on the trip.

Another indication that the weights are too high is that in a 100 day trip each person was expected to eat more than three pounds of these dry commodities. With water to cook added, that weight would be more in the seven lb. range, which I don't think is realistic.

I have no better information to provide but what's there would seem to need a credibility check. Antiquerookie (talk) 06:15, 14 July 2014 (UTC)[reply]

One sided[edit]

Does anyone else think it's extremely problematic that the only mentions in this article of Native Americans/indigenous folks (see below) are when they have killed settlers?

It's completely one-sided and white-/Western-centric not to include how the westward expansion affected traditions, lands and lives of Native Americans. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tayloraapplegate (talkcontribs) 19:45, 25 December 2014 (UTC)[reply]

An analysis of the impact of the Oregon Trail on natives would be a welcome addition. Alas, I don't know of any sources for adding such content. If you do, please be bold and improve the article! —EncMstr (talk) 23:20, 25 December 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Kit Carson quote is actually from Joaquin Miller[edit]

>>Western scout Kit Carson reputedly said, “The cowards never started and the weak died on the way.”<< I don't write for Wikipedia, but someone should change this immediately. I've researched the quote and it's from Joaquin Miller, not Kit Carson. http://barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/cowards_never_start_the_weak_never_finish_winners_never_quit/ Barry (talk) 16:24, 9 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks for the suggestion, Barry. I made a slight change -- I did not use very confident language, because I haven't dug into it as much as you, and I'm not sure it wasn't said by Carson. Hopefully this is at least a small improvement; perhaps others will be able to state it more strongly, with better referencing. -Pete (talk) 18:11, 9 March 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Surprised not to find a brief section under Legacy on Literature[edit]

Perhaps I might bring the benefit of being an outsider? I am not a US citizen or descendant! But I was surprised not to find a brief section on Oregon Trail Literature - under Legacy for example. It seems it is taught in the USA - quite rightly, I suppose, in view of its historic importance. See for e.g. "Recommended Oregon Trail Books for Students- An Annotated Bibliography," which I quickly found using a well-known search engine. I would not presume to draft the proposed section, however - sorry but not in my realm of experience. Okan 12:05, 23 November 2016 (UTC)[reply]

An Annotated Bibliography

Oregon Trail in Idaho[edit]

I don't see any mention of the Oregon Trail in Idaho following the geologic remains of the Yellowstone Hotspot, which had "flattened" out the landscape allowing a large portion of the trail to go over non-mountainous terrain. Just a neat historical comment that the six or so eruptions of the Yellowstone supervolcano over the past 16 million years "paved" the way for the settlers of the 1800's to transverse a relatively "easy" path.

Ted from Florida (talk) 21:57, 10 February 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Iowa Section under Routes[edit]

I've begun looking at the trail articles a bit closer as I'm looking to added a linking system; i.e., Before xxx , After xxx; in the articles along each trail. Two items I have a concern about.


The Oregon trail, this article, did not go through Iowa. Everything I've read shows that it started in Missouri (KC) then through Kansas to Nebraska. If a trail user entered the trail from Omaha or Nebraska City, they came independently up the Missouri River or overland. Anyways there is no Iowa linkage linkage on the Nat'l Historic Trail designation. The section reads solely as a history of Iowa, no trail mention. I recommend the section be removed.

I agree that the section can be 99% removed with the rest rewritten per your analysis. But if you completely remove it, there will be an inconsistency with the second map in the infobox which shows a branch of the trail starting in Council Bluffs, which is in Iowa. The Oregon Trail: An American Saga (listed in the bibliography of this article) has multiple mentions of settlers choosing various starting points along the Missouri, including Council Bluffs. In addition, other sources such as the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center shows a map called "The Oregon Trail" which again shows a branch of the Oregon Trail starting in Council Bluffs. That map is interesting because it calls the trail that this article deals with the "Old Oregon Trail". It also shows trails which we wouldn't normally call the "Oregon Trail" today. This is all probably going to come down to a question of whether or not there was just one single canonical trail, as this article claims, or multiple variations in common use at the time of settlement. Orange Suede Sofa (talk) 02:17, 9 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Mormon emigration[edit]

Now, here is an Iowa link, the Mormon Pioneer Trail, does cross Iowa and there is an extensive section 'Mormon emigration' in the History Section. It's linked to the main article on Mormon emigration. The first paragraph is a recap of Mormon trail history, outside the preview of this article. It should be capsulized. The second paragraph implies that the Mormons traveled the California and Oregon Trail, where as the trails overlapped through Wyoming, the Mormons were not using these other trails, they had their own guides, supply processes, camping spots and it's only from Fort Laramie in Wyoming to Fort Bridger (Wyoming) that the routes overlapped. This material is well covered in the Mormon Trail article and should be reduced dramatically here. The last paragraph does add information about the non-Mormon users of the Oregon & California Trail.

  • I'm working on the points of interest along all three trails, but will return in several months to begin renovations of this article in these two sections. Comments are welcome changes by other editors welcome. --Chris Light (talk) 19:45, 8 September 2020 (UTC)[reply]

"The 6 non-parishable foods of the Oregon Trail" listed at Redirects for discussion[edit]

An editor has identified a potential problem with the redirect The 6 non-parishable foods of the Oregon Trail and has thus listed it for discussion. This discussion will occur at Wikipedia:Redirects for discussion/Log/2022 September 25#The 6 non-parishable foods of the Oregon Trail until a consensus is reached, and readers of this page are welcome to contribute to the discussion. HouseBlastertalk 22:38, 25 September 2022 (UTC)[reply]

"The Oregon Trail (video game" listed at Redirects for discussion[edit]

An editor has identified a potential problem with the redirect The Oregon Trail (video game and has thus listed it for discussion. This discussion will occur at Wikipedia:Redirects for discussion/Log/2022 October 27#The Oregon Trail (video game until a consensus is reached, and readers of this page are welcome to contribute to the discussion. Steel1943 (talk) 19:14, 27 October 2022 (UTC)[reply]