Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for...You've Arrived




We're coming to the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge and, I'll admit, my last few posts are going to have to enter the "creative" sphere.  So bear with me.  Today is all about the letter Y, so here's my solution...



You've Arrived:  The Oregon Trail

When the Willamette Valley was being promoted as "the promised land" in the mid-West and East of the US, hordes of people started moving west.  Most travel was done in covered wagons pulled by oxen and loaded with supplies and family heirlooms.  Sadly, most of those heirlooms would be tossed along the trail when the wagons encountered poor weather, swollen rivers, or the Rocky Mountains.  The end destination for these families was Oregon City in the Oregon Territory.

The journey was a harrowing 2,000 miles of rugged terrain.  Originally only able to be traversed on foot or by horseback, thanks to the mountain men and fur traders from the early 1800s, the route was slowly widened and improved to allow for wagon passage.  The heyday for westward travel was between 1846-1869 and some 400,000 people utilized the trail.  In 1869, when the transcontinental railroad was installed, the trail faded into the history books.  Today, I-80 follows most of the same course as the trail and passes through towns originally established during the Oregon Trail. 

My mother's paternal side of the family was one of the many families who came west on the Oregon Trail.  They left Missouri with a caravan of other families and were considered one of the lucky ones who actually made it to the West.  They settled in the Central Willamette Valley and were one of the largest Oregon Trail families in the area.  (Note...this is not a picture of my mother's family...that I know of).

There used to be an interpretive center called The End of the Oregon Trail in Oregon City that was dedicated to the Oregon Trail, complete with giant covered wagons.  Unfortunately it closed due to insufficient funds, though there is a group attempting to bring it back for the educational value it offers the community and those visiting.  I remember driving along I-205 any time we were going to the airport or Washington and looking for those wagons.

In addition, the Oregon Trail Game was what made elementary school awesome for those of us lucky enough to play it.  Oregon Trail days were the best.  Played on an old-school computer with an actual floppy disc (the real floppy ones), you created your team, named your family members, and loaded up your wagon with supplies.  Unfortunately, most people in your make-believe party would die along the way, some from diarrhea or drowning or a broken bone, and you'd lose oxen and supplies to flash floods or raiding Native Americans, but when you made it to the Oregon Territory and claimed your plot of land you were elated!  The graphics were terrible, but the fun was awesome.  They've even revamped the game and it's now available for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii.  I see a purchase in the future :)

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