Brief History of the Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail pic

Oregon Trail
Image: oregon.com

A computer science graduate of St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, Amita Vadlamudi has led a successful career in the information technology industry. Among Amita Vadlamudi’s many interests outside of computer science is American history.

One significant undertaking in American history that led to the mass settlement of the western United States was the discovery and use of the 2,000-mile Oregon Trial. This stretched from Missouri to Oregon. In 1800, what was known as Oregon Country still belonged to the British Empire. In 1803, the U.S. government secretly funded the Lewis & Clark expedition with a plan for the eventual settlement of Oregon Country, but the route that Lewis & Clark made was too hazardous for travel by wagon.

Fur trader Robert Steward took an opposite approach starting from Fort Astoria in western Oregon to Missouri. What became known as the Oregon trail covered 2,000 miles from Fort Astoria to St. Louis. This was undertaken by Steward in 1810 and took 10 months to accomplish. The bigger accomplishment was that the route allowed for possible family travel by wagon.

In 1843, close to 1,000 people formed a wagon train beginning in Missouri and were able to successfully reach Oregon Country using the South Pass, a 12-mile-wide valley that allowed crossing through the harsh Rocky Mountains. With thousands of people settling in Oregon Country, England ceded it to the U.S. government in 1846. Thousands of people used the trail in search of cheap farmland or for gold mining in California.

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