Along the Oregon Trail

Meacham, Oregon (Sept. 21-23, 2015)

I hope everyone is enjoying our new blog. We are neophytes to blogging and are learning as we go. It is our way to let you enjoy the journey with us and to let everyone know where we are located.

We just left Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area in Meacham, Oregon. We were at an elevation of about 4,000 feet and near the summit of the Blue Mountains in a mature forest area. Today is in the low 60’s and a the beginning of the first night I had to get up to put another blanket on the bed, it gets cold at night!

20150921_EmigrantSpringsOR16Spot B5 at Emigrant Springs State Park

Spot B5 at Emigrant Springs State Park

Emigrant Springs has year-round day use areas, seasonal camping with full hookups, rustic log cabins, group camping, and horse camping. I can’t help but think how fun it would be to have family with us that were camping with their horses. Each horse camping site has its own corral, a hitching post, and a small area for human camping. There are riding trails throughout the area. Horseback riding is something that is on our bucket list – everywhere we go out West revolves around horses. (My sister Sandra and most of Don’s family all ride and make it look like such fun!)

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The other campers here were very friendly, stopping by to talk. The man next door to our site grew up in Texas (Beaumont) but has lived in Oregon for many years and lite-up when I said “ya’ll”. The second day we saw him, he had on a Texas A&M t-shirt. (We know how it feels to be homesick.)

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We were about 25 miles away from either Pendleton one way or La Grande the other, but we were only staying here a few days so we stayed in and around the park. The entire park is near the interstate and you could hear vehicles passing but it quickly becomes white noise.

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Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area has an interpretive shelter and covered wagon display about the Oregon Trail. This park is where travelers on the Oregon Trail replenished their water supplies from a spring. Long before emigration, however, Native Americans also made this area a favorite site to camp.

Interesting Facts About the Oregon Trail (Can you tell the former teacher is doing this part of the blog?)

  • Between 1843 and 1869, hundreds of thousands of people traveled west on the Oregon trail. It was about 2,000 miles long, beginning in Independence, Missouri and ending in Oregon City, Oregon, going through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.
  • It took about five months for a wagon train to make the journey. There were reports of the trail being littered with heavy items (books, stoves, beds, etc.) which had been cast off from previous wagon trains. And even though later emigrants had a well-worn trail, they too often had to also clear the trail of rocks, fallen trees, and other debris.

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  • The typical covered wagon (often called a “Prairie Schooner”) was about 10 feet long and four feet wide and was pulled by oxen or mules. A fully loaded wagon could weigh as much as 2,500 pounds. Most pioneers walked alongside the wagon.
Supplies needed for the OregonTrail Journey

Supplies needed for the OregonTrail Journey

  • Dangers along the trail included cholera, and problems due bad weather and accidents from trying to move heavy wagons over the mountains. Early pioneers also reported “Panthers and wolves made the night hideous with their screaming” and at times the “timber so thick…that you couldn’t see a man 10 steps ahead”. Water was scarce along the steep, forested mountain slopes. The Native Americans (Nez Perce tribe) were not a danger and helped many of the pioneers. However, cultural differences between the two groups made for some stressful encounters.
  • In 1849, a guide was published describing the overland journey to California.

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  • The trail was popular until the transcontinental railroad connected the east to the west in 1869.
  • In 1978, the U.S. Congress officially named the trail the Oregon National Historic Trail and in some areas you can still see the ruts made from the wagon wheels.

Two miles to the west from the park on the Umatilla Reservation was a scenic overlook called Squaw Creek Overlook, a controversial name with the aboriginal people. The short, but steep, road to the overlook is gravel but worth it to look down for miles and miles into the Umatilla National Forest. The view was particularly impressive since the trees were beginning to change color.

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That’s it for now … Till we meet again,

Norma & Don

Two Happy Campers

Next location: A Harvest Host site called Kelley (Fruit) Orchard in Weiser, Idaho. We are looking forward to getting some very fresh fruit.  (Don and I both have cell service here if you need to get in touch with us.)

Staying Along the Oregon

2 thoughts on “Along the Oregon Trail

  1. Great Pictures and Love that you two are doing this. Much Deserved. Keep the pics and the fun facts coming. Carolyn Squier

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