A major one-volume history of the Oregon Trail from its earliest beginnings to the present, by a prize-winning historian of the American West.
Starting with an overview of Oregon Country in the early 1800s, a vast area then the object of international rivalry among Spain, Britain, Russia, and the United States, David Dary gives us the whole sweeping story of those who came to explore, to exploit, and, finally, to settle there.
Using diaries, journals, company and expedition reports, and newspaper accounts, David Dary takes us inside the experience of the continuing waves of people who traveled the Oregon Trail or took its cutoffs to Utah, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, and California. He introduces us to the fur traders who set up the first “forts” as centers to ply their trade; the missionaries bent on converting the Indians to Christianity; the mountain men and voyageurs who settled down at last in the fertile Willamette Valley; the farmers and their families propelled west by economic bad times in the East; and, of course, the gold-seekers, Pony Express riders, journalists, artists, and entrepreneurs who all added their unique presence to the land they traversed.
We meet well-known figures–John Jacob Astor, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, John Frémont, the Donners, and Red Cloud, among others–as well as dozens of little-known men, women, and children who jotted down what they were seeing and feeling in journals, letters, or perhaps even on a rock or a gravestone.
Throughout, Dary keeps us informed of developments in the East and their influence on events in the West, among them the building of the transcontinental railroad and the efforts of the far western settlements to become U.S. territories and eventually states.
Above all, The Oregon Trail offers a panoramic look at the romance, colorful stories, hardships, and joys of the pioneers who made up this tremendous and historic migration.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: The Oregon Trail|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||The Oregon Trail|
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The Oregon Trail
Before the first Europeans arrived, people had lived in Oregon for more than 10,000 years. Anthropologists believe as many as 180,000 natives in about 125 tribes once made modern Oregon their home. Of these the best known today are the Chinooks who lived along the lower Columbia River and on the narrow coastal plains between the rugged Cascade Mountains and the Pacific Ocean from Shoalwater Bay north of the Columbia to Tillamook Head, about fifty miles south of the river's mouth. They also ranged inland from the mouth of the Columbia to a large rapids first called The Dalles by French-Canadian trappers, who gave it a French name meaning "rapids of a river going through a narrow gorge."
The Chinooks, named for the warm, moist southwest wind blowing in from the Pacific Ocean, included the Cooniac, Cascade, Clatsop, Clackamas, Multnomah, and Wasco tribes, which all spoke the same language. Many lived in multifamily cedar-plank houses forty to sixty feet long and twenty feet wide that were roofed with bark or boards. Trading with other tribes was their pleasure. Their livelihood came from fishing, hunting, and gathering nuts, berries, and plant food. They hunted game with bows and arrows, and they were skilled boat builders, shaping their canoes from single cedar logs. Their smallest canoe carried only one person and the largest as many as sixty. Using a homemade twine seine made from nettles, the crew of a large canoe could catch two tons of salmon on a single outgoing tide on the Columbia River.
The Chinook women wore skirts of deerskin thongs fastened to a braided belt. In the winter both men and women wore furs for warmth. They flattened the temples of their chi