How Many People Traveled the Oregon Trail?: And Other Questions about the Trail West

How Many People Traveled the Oregon Trail?: And Other Questions about the Trail West

by Miriam Aronin
     
 

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In the spring of 1843, nearly one thousand people gathered in Independence, Missouri. They came from all over the eastern United States, and many had to sell most of their possessions to afford the trip. Yet their journey was just beginning. The group set out for Oregon Country, a four- to six-month trek across plains, mountains, valleys, and rivers. Not everyone

Overview

In the spring of 1843, nearly one thousand people gathered in Independence, Missouri. They came from all over the eastern United States, and many had to sell most of their possessions to afford the trip. Yet their journey was just beginning. The group set out for Oregon Country, a four- to six-month trek across plains, mountains, valleys, and rivers. Not everyone survived the difficult trip. Still, before the end of the 1800s, many more wagon trains would travel the Oregon Trail to reach what became the western United States.

So why were Americans moving west?
What hardships would they face on the journey?
And who blazed the Oregon Trail?

Discover the facts about this important trail west and how it affected U.S. history.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Leigh Geiger
This engaging tour takes the reader back to the early 19th century when fur traders and missionaries blazed a trail through mostly unknown territory to what would later become Oregon and California. The journey ends in the early 20th century when the transcontinental railroad and other historical developments emptied the trail. Aronin is careful to personalize the journey as she begins the narrative with the story of the Whitmans, a newly married couple setting out on the trail in 1836. Their story is woven into each chapter along with anecdotes about other families who struggled and often perished on the journey. Excerpts from Mrs. Whitman's diary are included as a primary source at the end of the book. Readers will learn not only of travelers' personal hardships, but also of the financial and religious forces behind these expeditions. The fur trade and its proponents, including John Jacob Astor and Jebediah Smith are featured. Stories of religious leaders such as Jason Lee and Brigham Young are also discussed. Excellent drawings, maps, photographs and other illustrations from this period are included on every page. This volume is from the "Six Questions of American History" series so the format includes a question at the end of each chapter to introduce the next topic. However, the author uses the question format much more successfully and frequently throughout the text to help young readers consider historical topics in depth. Although this short volume can only present an overview of this 100-year period, questions such as "How did travelers know about this route?", "What were the British doing in Oregon?", and "How did emigrants get along on the trail?" should spur mid-grade readers on to explore this historical period with additional reading. A selected biography as well as a list of further reading and websites is included. The book concludes with an invitation for readers to put themselves into this historical period and to write their own story. A series of questions are included to set them off on their own imaginary journey. Reviewer: Leigh Geiger, Ph.D.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 5�7—Aronin addresses each question in a four- to eight-page chapter, and topics include trailblazing the route to Oregon, the commercial and missionary impulses that drove early settlement in the region, preparation for and "jumping off" onto the trail, the hardships of life on the journey, large-scale migration to Oregon, and the effects of the transcontinental railroad on settlement in the West. The text is supplemented with primary-source excerpts, four large maps, and a mixture of period and contemporary illustrations and photos. Terms are defined in boxes on each page, and sidebars offer additional information about important people and related topics. This is an attractive and readable overview of the migration to and settlement of Oregon, but it is not as strong as Cheryl Harness's The Tragic Tale of Narcissa Whitman and a Faithful Tale of the Oregon Trail (National Geographic, 2006), which provides more in-depth coverage about early Oregon and the relationships between white settlers and Native peoples. However, the format will help younger or struggling readers identify and understand the most relevant points about the trail and how it affected American claims to and settlement of the Pacific Northwest, making it a good supplemental choice.—Mary Mueller, formerly at Rolla Junior High School, MO

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780761385660
Publisher:
Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/2012
Series:
Six Questions of American History Series
Pages:
48
Sales rank:
1,285,830
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.10(d)
Lexile:
850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Miriam Aronin is a writer and editor living in Chicago. She also likes to knit, dance, and explore historical sites.

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