Trail Facts

Questions & Answers About the Oregon Trail

The trail facts which appear on our website are the work of Dr. Robert Munkres, our resident historical expert, who compiled them from various sources.

These trail facts may be downloaded for personal reading convenience or to be used in the classroom. For all other uses you must first obtain permission.

      How many emigrants followed the trails to California, the Pacific Northwest, and Utah?

      Probably about 500,000. Perhaps 1 out of every 250 emigrants left some kind of written account. [Merrill Mattes, Platte River Narratives, p, 5.]

      How long was the journey from the Missouri

      Read about how the journey along the trail was for the emigrants, what they they did to get ready and experienced.

        How severe was the threat of Indian attack during the first half of the journey west?

        Read about the experiences on the trail the emigrants had when they crossed paths with Indians.

          Most accounts describing life on the trail indicate that accidents were an ever-present possibility.

          Read some of these questions about what happen on the trail as the emigrants traveled.

          Timber was noticeably absent on the Platte-Sweetwater route.

          Read about the the emigrants went through on the trail to survive to make a fire, where the crossed rivers (how many times), and the kind of provisions were brought on the wagons,
          • Timber was noticeably absent on the Platte-Sweetwater route.  
            Read about other questions and ponder: Just how effective as fuel were the buffalo chips most emigrants used as a substitute? Emigrants traveling the south side of the Platte River through central Nebraska had to ford to the South Platte somewhere beyond the forks of the Platte. In terms of present towns, where did they cross? What kind of a load did the average wagon carry? What kind of provisions, daily menu and fuel predominated on the trail?

            How frequently did crime occur on the trail? What kinds of crime?

            Read about what happen on the trail to the emigrants when it came to dealing with crimes.

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