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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Wagons Ho! Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'...

Today's History Lesson

In the 21st century, on the average not much thought is given to how one might travel from one place to another. Automobiles are commonplace with many households making claim to more than one. Then, there are the boats, buses, trains and planes, as well as the recreational vehicles. Travel has not always been so convenient. In fact, picture no more than feet, horse and wagon.

This Day in History: May 22, 1843

The first major wagon train carrying 1,000 pioneers to the northwest departs from Elm Grove, Missouri, on the Oregon Trail. This trek has been dubbed "The Great Migration of 1843" or the "Wagon Train of 1843".

The date: May 22, 1843
The Journey: Over 2,000 miles
The Oregon Trail was much more than a pathway to the state of Oregon; it was the only practical corridor to the entire western United States. The places we now know as Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho and Utah would probably not be a part of the United States today were it not for the Oregon Trail. That's because the Trail was the only feasible way for settlers to get across the mountains.
Source: The Oregon Trail
The route of the Oregon Trail shown on a map of the western United States
from Independence, Missouri (on the eastern end) to Oregon City, Oregon (on the western end)
The push Westward did not include automobiles, RVs, campers, or any other 'luxuries' we take for granted today. No motels. No high-rise hotels. No electricity. No indoor anything anywhere except for the back of a wagon or a tent pitched along the way. No running water except running back and forth to a nearby creek. The terrain was rugged and hard times on the Oregon Trail left men, women and children buried in shallow graves along the way.

Leaving from Missouri, the most popular "jumping off" point for settlers heading west, the journey will take usually five to six months...not by car, rail, or plane but simply covered wagon! As with any trip, there are many things to consider before the journey in preparation, during the journey to just simply stay alive and at the end of the journey as continued hardships are faced with a new life ahead. 

Modern-day reenactment of a prairie schooner wagon and horse team
crossing the plains in western North America.
As preparations are being made, it must be clearly understood from the moment the decision is made to "Go West, young man, go West" that a family's 'belongings' must fit into just one wagon. 
The typical box of a prairie schooner, the sides of which were lower than those of the Conestoga, was about 4 feet (1.2 metres) wide, 9 to 11 feet (2.7 to 3.4 metres) long, and 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 metre) deep. With the bonnet, the wagon stood about 10 feet (3 metres) tall, and the total length of the wagon from front tongue and yoke to rear measured some 23 feet (7 metres). The box sat on two sets of wheels of different sizes: the rear wheels were about 50 inches (125 cm) in diameter, and the front wheels (made smaller to facilitate turning) were about 44 inches (112 cm). The wheels were made of wood, with iron bands fastened to the outside of the rims; at times, when the wood would shrink, these “tires” would separate from the rim.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
During the journey, "Lightening the load" was important in order to maintain the health and strength of the animals pulling the wagons. Sometimes, travelers were forced to make difficult decisions and discard furniture or other items in order to lighten the load enough for the wagon to travel safely uphill over mountain passes.
Source: The Wagon Train

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