Wagon Trains To The Old West

By | November 4, 2021

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The Oregon Trail: illustration depicting the first covered wagon caravan, led by Smith-Jackson-Sublette, consisting of 10 wagons drawn by five mules each, heading for Wind River Valley near the present Lander, Wyoming. Undated drawing by William H. Jackso

Wagon-train transportation was organized by settlers in the United States for emigration to the West during the late 18th century and most of the 19th century. These wagon trains became the mode of long-distance transportation for people and goods. During the 19th century is when some of the most famous wagon trains developed, including the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail, the Smoky Hill Trail, and the Southern Overland Mail route.

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The route of the Oregon Trail shown on a map of the western United States from Independence, Missouri (on the eastern end) to Oregon City, Oregon (on the western end). (Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons)

The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail, also known as the Oregon–California Trail, was a trail between Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. This was one of two main emigrant routes to the American West. This trail was approximately 2,000 miles long (or 3,200 kilometers) and helped hundreds of thousands of emigrants to reach the Northwest between the 1840s and the 1860s. This trail crossed difficult terrain that included large territories settled by Native Americans.