5: The Oregon Trail
Geography and History- A
Road Well Traveled - Day to Day Life on
the Trail - Vocabulary
The Oregon Trail served as the most practical pathway to the entire
western United States between 1836 and 1869. Pioneers settled in
what became the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada,
Idaho and Utah, for a variety of reasons. This unit serves to show
the students why this journey on the trail was extremely challenging.
Students will read real accounts from journals, follow the route
across a map, understand what was needed to bring for survival,
and write about some of the life threatening situations such as
childbirth, disease, poor sanitation, weather, river crossings,
and accidents. They will appreciate the role the Native American
peoples had upon the journey and how their culture was much different
then their own. They will understand how day-to-day life was hard
work; such as food attainment and preparation, caring for the wagons,
animals, and each other, and walking long distances. Students will
vision how the pioneers quest, courage, and hope for the future,
kept them moving forward.
Desired Academic Results
Essential Academic Learning
Requirements in Social Studies
EALR #1 The student examines
and understands major ideas, eras, themes, developments, turning
points, chronology and cause-effect relationships in U.S., world
and Washington State history.
1.1 Examine historical contributions of various individuals and
1.4 Understands and develop historical perspective: what happened
in the past
and how it affected the present and the future
EALR #2 The student understands the origin and impact of ideas and
technological developments on history.
2.2 Use information and resources (e.g. eyewitness accounts, art
photos, letters) to investigate and understand historic occurrences
EALR #3 The student understands the impact of technology, ideas,
and creativity on history and social change.
3.3 Understand how individual creativity underlies the origin of
technological developments and ideas that impact society
EALR #1 The student uses
maps, charts, and other geographic tools to understand spatial nformation
about people, places, and environments on Earth’s surface.
1.2 Understand how physical processes and human activities can impact
EAR #3 The student observes and analyzes the interaction between
people, the environment and culture.
3.1 Identify and examine a variety of perspectives regarding the
interaction between people and their environment
• The Oregon Trail
played an important part in the settlement of
• Courageous, hardworking people made this difficult journey
The emigration resulted in many changes in U.S. History
What the Students Will
• The Oregon Trail
was a very important pathway to the West.
It was the only practical way to the West.
First emigrants on the Oregon Trail in 1836 traveled in covered
“The Great Migration” started in 1843 and lasted 25
years with more than half a million people using the Oregon Trail.
In 1869 the transcontinental railroad was completed supplying an
improved means of travel through new technology.
• There were several reasons for the travel to the West.
-Free land was available.
-Freedom from slavery attracted many people.
-Good land for farming meant more and better crops.
-Good businesses could be made at forts.
-People wanted to control and populate new parts of the country
-Men and women had hopes and dreams for a growing nation.
-Heartache and hardship made people look for a new start.
-Some families were looking for a place to call home.
-Movement and change was desired by some travelers.
-Emigrants searched for opportunity.
-People were hurrying to obtain gold that had been discovered.
• Preparation for
the trip was hard work.
-Selling all belongings and property from home was hard on the people.
-Packing for a 6-month trip was complicated and difficult.
-Acquiring the appropriate wagon and supplies was necessary.
• Daily hardships were encountered along the way.
-Birth of a baby
-Mountains to cross
-Lack of proper shoes, clothing
• Many travelers
kept diaries during their trips on the Oregon Trail that
are available today in archives, libraries, online.
• Mapping the route of the Oregon Trail lead to better understanding
of distances, times and important geographic locations.
• What is an emigrant?
• Why do people move from one place to another?
• What qualities do people have that endure hardships over
• How did new technology improve travel during the 19th century?
• How did the Oregon
Trail come to be?
• Where was it located?
• What were the different modes of travel used on the Trail?
• What supplies were needed for a trip on the Oregon Trail?
• Why did people choose to travel on the Oregon Trail?
• What obstacles did they encounter along the way?
• What did a traveler’s day look like?
• How did the Native Americans of the area react to the amount
of settlers coming into their regions?
• What are some untruths about their journey?
• Who are some people that traveled on the Trail and what
is their story?
• How did technology in the field of transportation end the
importance of the Oregon Trail?
• Did art have an impact on the Oregon travelers? In what
Assessment: The Evidence
That Will Demonstrate Student Understanding
Performance Tasks and
• After studying several maps of the route of the Oregon Trail,
on an outline of the western part of the United States trace the
path of the Oregon Trail. Label all landmarks and forts. Include
a title and legend for the reader.
• Simulate the Oregon Trail journey through the web site,
The Oregon Trail computer game, or journal writing.
• Dramatize an individual’s accounting on the trail.
based on a true or embellished story.
• The teacher will
observe the correct use of new vocabulary in discussion
and writings within the class. Student will write using common language
of the time.
• The teacher will note a student’s thinking skills
in problem solving activities during simulation activities.
• The teacher will become aware of a student’s level
of understanding when planning for the trip.
• Each student
will use the computer to design a five question multiple choice
test about the Oregon Trail. The teacher will choose twenty of the
best questions for an exam for the class.
• Use a rubric to grade a letter that you have written as
if you are the President of the United States to your Vice President
explaining the problems that people are having on the Oregon Trail.
Take into concern the needs of the Native Americans and the pioneers.
Make suggestions as to how to help the situation. Remember the Six-Traits
of good writing.
Experiences and Instruction
What the Students Will
Need to Know
• How to
read and develop a their own map
• Computer skills such as using Word and the Internet
• How to research life on the Oregon Trail through Internet
sites, books, videos,
on-line encyclopedias, and magazine articles
• Steps to problem solving
What the Students Will
Need to Be Able to Do
• Define terms
on the vocabulary list that is attached
• Read and graphs
• Develop and understand the part technology played in travel
and transportation of
• Write using the Six-Trail Model
• Use a computer
• Read a map
• Use an electronic card catalogue
• Pioneer Family
Museum and Ohop Indian Village
7716 Ohop Valley Road, Eatonville, WA 98328
Voice mail: 360-832-6300
-An one hour and thirty
minute “hands on” living historical guided tour to experience
1880 pioneer homestead, authentic pioneer cabin, activity cabin,
barn, blacksmith shop, and woodworking shop.
• Washington State
1911 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402
-Call for field trip
information and a catalogue field guide. This informative book is
beautifully edited and produced by Stephanie Lile. Washington State
Historical Society. 1997
• Longer Trips
Baker City, Oregon – End of the Trail Museum
Part 1: Geography
and Historical Background
Divide the students into
small groups. Give some groups geographical maps of the United States
and some relief maps. Begin at Independence, MO and have them surmise
what would be the easiest route of the Oregon Trail. Which way would
they travel? Why? Where might be the most difficult areas for travel?
Was water available? How long might the trip take? Check the distances
between points on www.yahoo.com (Go
to maps, then driving directions.) How would sites today be different
from what was seen in the mid-1800’s?
To look at actual maps
of the Oregon Trail, try the following Web site: http://www.teleport.com/~eotic/maplib.html
It shows several maps of the Oregon Trail routes, maps of the
California Trail and maps of where the various Native American tribes
were located at the time. Have students fill in the names of the
Native American tribes along their trail map.
Phone 1-800-962-1643. Request an oversized map entitled 1803-1848
The Pathfinders Map shows the routes west and the names and places
of the Native American tribes that they encountered along the way.
Another choice to visit for teacher's guide, maps, and activites
created by PBS is, http://www.pbs.org/opb/oregontrail/teacher/trailmap.html
A Road Well Traveled
1. Use Website http://www.org/opb/oregontrail/teacher/act1.html
for lesson plans to match various portions of the video. These lessons
are clever and will excite your students. There are many ideas from
which to choose.
2. Travel on a simulated journey of the Oregon Trail via the web.
Decisions must be made regarding situations on the trail. Students
will interact with students from other schools. A problem of the
day may ask them to decide what time of year to travel, what supplies
to bring, how to cross-rivers, and survive dangers. Attach your
computer to a television screen with appropriate cable and the students
will be able to see the screen more easily or connect to a LCD projector.
3. Interview your family.
How did your family come to Washington and when? Did any of them
come on the Oregon Trail? How did they come if not by the Trail?
How would their trip have been different from that of the people
on the Oregon Trail.
4. Read about the wagon
they used. What were they made of? How did they change over the
years of the Oregon Trail? What is the size of a wagon? What other
means of travel were used? What animals were used to pull wagons
and why? What other animals were beneficial to bring? How much did
they cost? What did they pack inside the wagon? How did they cross
rivers and difficult terrain? Look in books, encyclopedias, on-line,
and in the library. There are several fun and interesting Web sites
with great photographs. Write a one-page paper about these “Prairie
Schooners.” Use an Alpha Smart, a computer with word processing,
or handwriting to complete the document. Add a picture of one of
these wagons…drawn or scanned into your report.
Visit the Washington
State Historical Museum to see an actual wagon that belonged
to Ezra Meeker. Who is Ezra Meeker? Tour the museum for other history
about The Oregon Trail such as how the Native Americans and pioneers
reacted to one another.
5. Students write an
advertisement for coming out west with an understanding of the Land
Claim Act and Manifest Destiny, and all the various reasons for
6. Read a journal from
an actual accounting of life on the trail at http://www.teleport.com/~eotic/biomenu/html,
Day to Day Life on the Trail
1. List five belongings
other than food and clothing that would be essential for a sixth
month trip today in the 21st century and a trip on the Oregon Trail.
How do your items differ? Why? Suggestions: maps, notes, first aid,
2. Make an old looking
journal out of brown paper (perhaps make ragged or torn edges on
the paper). Attach binder paper and have the students write an except
from their journals. They can work as individuals or in pairs. They
may be writing from the perspective of the wagon train leader, a
mother or father or child, Native American, or African American
on the trail. Write one unforgettable event or borrow a story from
a real journal. Note: This became the essence of an entire play
for my group. Students read their journals around the campfire;
while others acted out the events. We had props, costumes, a poem
to begin and end the play and sang songs in between several scenes
to add some variety. The songs included Side by Side by
Harry Woods, This Land is Your Land by Woodie Guthrie,
America by Carey and Smith, and America the Beautiful
by Lee Bat.
3. Study quilting in
period. What is a quilt? How are they made? Why were they important
to bring on the Oregon Trail? (They were a keepsake, a way to remember
a part of the past.) Why did they make patchwork or piecemeal quilts?
(They were scraps from worn-out garments.) Study the designs shown
in Mary Cobb’s book The Quilt – Block History of
Pioneer Days. Kids projects are included.
Have the boys and girls
design three quilt blocks that would be similar to those during
Oregon Trails days. Pick one block and make it over the next two
Have a quilter come into
class and talk with the children about the art of quilting and help
you start them with their quilting squares. Piece the squares together
at the end of the unit to make a class quilt.
4. Study four artists
from the Oregon Trail era: Thomas
Bierstadt and Charles
Russell. Have books available with their interpretation of the
move west. Which is the students’ favorite and why? Discuss
color, texture, mood, technique, medium.
5. Visit the Pioneer
Family Museum, a hands-on living farm from the 1880’s. Learn
how everyday life has changed over the past 150 years. On the computer
make a two-column list of important items seen at the museum. List
on one side the item of the past and on the other side the item
that we use for the same task today and how it is different from
the item in the 1840’s. Title your list. Put at least one
graphic on the sheet before you hand it into the teacher.
6. The Donner
Party became a famous story of the Oregon Trail. Why? A newspaper
article from the San Francisco Museum in regards to Sutter going
out to search for the Donner Party.
7. Explain the impact
on the Native Americans during the years that the pioneers traveled.
(They asked for payment to cross their land or water, they were
uprooted.) How did they benefit the travelers? (Trading, route information,
ferry service) Why were the “whites” allowed to claim
the land for their own, but the Native Americans could not? Name
some myths about the Native Americans. (Rarely any violence occured
between them and the pioneers.)
8. Who were the Whitmans
and when did they travel across the Oregon Trail to eastern Washington?
Research what happened to the Whitmans. What was the reason that
they were murdered? Where did diseases originate during the 1800’s,
how were they spread, and what effect did they have on the Indians?
9. Chose a reason why
you would go on the trail and explain
10. What year did the
first party of immigrants make it out west? Explain why the numbers
of people who migrated west was highest in the year 1852. What was
going on in California during this time? What year did the transcontinental
railroad get finished? What impact did the railroad have on the
way people traveled and the numbers who came overland by foot?
11. For a culminating
activity teach some square dancing and make butter. (Note: How did
the travelers make their own butter without actually doing anything.)
Use any square dance music.
Students “hit the dusty trail” (walk around the space)
until a command is given. Students try to accomplish the command
Commands: Swing a Partner (right or left elbow swing)
Do-si-o (arms crossed, pass by left shoulders)
Circle Four (4 walk in Circle the Wagons (the whole group holds
hand in one circle)
Birdie in a Cage (2 hold hands and 1 stands inside)
Wring the Dishrag (2 hold hands facing each other, turn around without
Make up your own…
Ingredients: Heavy whipping cream, salt to taste
1. Take cream out of refrigerator 1 hour beforehand
2. Pour cream into glass jar that has a tight-fit. Fill only half
3. Shake jar until curd (solid) separates completely from whey (liquid)
4. Pour whey into a separate container (this is buttermilk)
5. Pour curd into a strainer and let drain until all liquid is gone
6. Place curd into a bowl and stir in salt
Source: Barchers, Suzanne
L. and Patricia C. Marden. Cooking Up U.S. History,: Recipes
and Research to Share with Children. Englewood, CO: Teacher
Ideas Press, 1991.
BLACKSMITH: Worker who
shapes heated iron by pounding it with a hammer. Blacksmiths were
common on the Oregon Trail because the iron rims of the wagon wheels
were often in need of repair.
CHOLERA: An infectious
disease caught by many emigrants on the Oregon Trail. It spread
rapidly because of unsanitary water. There was no cure and most
died within a day.
CIRCLE THE WAGONS: Not done to fight off Indians, but to pen in
made by mixing ingredients
DYSENTERY: A disease
EMIGRANT: A person who is leaving one country to enter another.
Pioneers in the early years of the Oregon Trail were called emigrants
because most were leaving the United States to enter the unorganized
FORD: To cross a river
on foot or by animal. Often the pioneers forded streams or small
rivers. Many were too deep to ford, so they floated their wagons
across or hired a ferry.
49th PARALLEL: Separated
the British lands from the U.S.
GEORGE WASHINGTON BUSH:
African American settler who could not own land like the whites.
Indians helped his family survive the winter.
HOMESTEAD ACT of 1862:
Free land for those who came west to settle and farm. Little thought
was given to the fact that the Indians already occupied the land
that the U.S. assumed was theirs for the taking.
HEIRLOOM: Item of significance
passed down to one’s children
Refers to a large territory that was originally not controlled by
any other colonial nation. It is today’s Oregon, Washington,
and Idaho, much of British Columbia and small parts of Wyoming and
PASS: A gap in a mountain
range. Many passes are narrow gorges, but South Pass of the Oregon
Trail was a large “saddle” in the mountains many miles
The idea that Americans had the right and were destined to expand
and claim the western territories.
PATTERN BLOCKS: The patchwork
shapes of squares, triangles, and rectangles on a quilt. Originally,
they were small pieces of fabric left over from making clothing
or cut from old, used clothes; which served to fill in the places
of the quilt that were worn-out from use.
PIONEER: An early settler
in a new territory. All the people on the Oregon trail.
QUILT: Warm bed covering
made of three layers- top, back, and padding. The stitching together
of the three is the quilting.
RAFT: A flat log structure
used as transportation on water.
TERRITORY: Land that
belongs to or is under the control of another country.
A term used to describe the part of the United States that lies
to the West and beyond the Mississippi River.
TRAIL: A cleared or marked route.
WAGON TRAIN: A group
of wagons traveling together.
WESTWARD HO! An exclamation
to get moving.
Westward on the Oregon Trail narrated by Marian T.Place. 1962.
Junior Librarian history book.
Cobb, Mary. The Quilt
-Block History of Pioneer Days. Millbrook Press, 1998.
Essential history of quilting and pattern blocks. Kid projects included.
Coerr, Eleanor. The
Josefina Story Quilt. NY Harper and Row, 1986.
Josefina, the hen, is considered a nuisance on the trip west until
her squawking saves her from robbers.
Crutchfield, James. A.
It Happened in Washington. Twodot Helana, Montana, 1995.
A chapter book with a couple pages a piece focused on significant
and interesting events in this state.
Edwards, Roy. Oregon
at Last. Willaims Morrow & Company, 1961.
A thirteen-year-old boy leads his brother and sisters across the
trail in the 1840’s.
Gibson, Jamie. Wagon
Train 911. Harper Trophy, NY, 1996.
Fictional account of all the fifth graders at a school playing the
individuals on wagon trains for 2 whole weeks. Across the curriculum
Hatt, Christine. The
American West. Native American, Pioneers, and Settlers. Peter
Bedrick Books, NY, 1998.
A History Source Book for children.
Holland, Isabelle. Journey Home. NY Scholastic, 1990.
Two orphan sisters in the late 1800’s leave NY on the orphan
trail to the west.
Hopkinson, Deborah. Sweet
Clara and the Freedom Quilt. Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.
True story of a black slave mapping the escape to freedom on a quilt.
Hooks, William H. Pioneer
Cat. A Steppin Stone Book, Random House, NY, 1988.
A cat and her kittens accompany a young girl across the Oregon Trail.
readers, young readers novel.
Knight, Amelia Stewart.
The Way West. Journal of a Pioneer Woman. Aladdin, NY,
True daily entries from the trail with husband and seven children
written in her words “of the times.” Really eye opening
about the true difficulties and dangers of life.
Laughlin, Mildred Knight,
Peggy Tubbs Black, and Margery Kirby Loberg. Social Studies
Readers Theater for Children. Teacher Ideas Press, Englewood,
Levine, Ellen. If
You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon. NY: Scholastic, 1992.
Book recounts from a child’s perspective that travels on the
Miller, Wanda J. US
History through Children’s Literature. Teacher Ideas
Press, Englewood, Co., 1997.
From the Colonial period to WWII, the section on Pioneer Life and
Westward Expansion is great, especially Pages 118-129.
Moss, Marissa. Rachel’s
Journal. Scholastic, Inc., NY, 1998.
A hand written fictional journal based on real diaries of 12-18
year old girls whom traveled the Trail from 1846-68.
Sandler, Martin W. Pioneers,
A library of Congress Book. Harper Collins Publishers, NY, 1994.
Some significant details of the trip that I wasn’t aware of.
Only a small part of the book is actually focused on the Oregon
Trail. Written like a newspaper.
Selwyn, Douglas. Living
History in the Classroom Integrative arts activities for making
Social Studies meaningful. Zephyr Press, Tucson, Ariz., 1993.
A mock trial of the murder case of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman,
Stein, R. Conrad. The
Story of the Homestead Act. Chicago, Children’s Press,
From 1863-90 thousands moved west to claim free land on the praries.
Sterling, Mary Ellen.
Thematic Unit: Westward Ho! Huntington Beach, Ca., Teacher
Created Materials, 1992.
Turner, Ann. Sewing
Quilts. NY: Macmillan, 1994.
A pioneer girl sees pieces of her life sewn into the quilt she,
her sister, and mom make.
Van Leeuwen, Jean.
Bound for Oregon. NY: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1994.
Story of a nine-year-old girl and her family over Oregon Trail in
NY: Dial Books for Young Reader, 1992
Wilder, Laura Ingalls.
Little House on the Prairie. NY: Harper and Row, 1935.
Laura and her family journey by wagon into Indian Territory.
Wilson, Laura. How
I Survived the Oregon Trail. A Beech Tree Paperback Book, NY,
A fictional journal of a ten year old boy with lots of close-up
info and authentic photographs on various artifacts and procedures
of daily life on the trail.
Woodruff, Elvira. Dear
Levi: Letters from the Oregon Trail. NY: Alfred A. Knopt,
Twelve year old Austin writes letters home to his brother Levi in
Penn., and tells Him about the danger, sorrow, and excitement he
encounters on the trail.
Wright, Courtni C. Wagon
Train. Holiday House, NY,1995.
A black family goes west in 1865
Columbia Gorge Discovery
5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles, OR 97058
An amasing museum of exhibits for all ages. Learn about the changes
to the Columbia River.
End of the Trail Museum
Oregon City, Oregon.
Web site has emigrant names and biographies, emigrant families of
the month, and their history library is free for teachers.
Fort Walla Walla Museum
755 Myra Road. Walla Walla, Wa. 99362.
Sixteen historic and replica buildings, as well as several exhibit
buildings with collections.
Oregon Trail Regional
2305 Main Street, Baker City, OR
Across from the city park, this used to be the towns community center
and ballroom. It’s filled with exhibits and collectables from
the1800’s. It houses the model of “No Name City”
from the movie “Paint Your Wagon,” filmed right here
in Baker City. The downtown’s 1889 Geiser Grand Hotel is a
National Historic Landmark.
Pioneer Family Museum
and Ohop Indian Village
7716 Ohop Valley Road, Eatonville, Wa. 98328
Voice mail: 360-832-6300
1 ½ hour “hands on” living history guided tour
to experience 1880 pioneer homestead, authentic pioneer cabin, activity
cabin, barn, blacksmith shop, and woodworking shop.
National Historic Oregon
Tail Interpretive Center.
Flagstaff Hill, Flagstaff Hill, Hwy. 86, PO Box 987, Baker City,
A hill just outside of town from where you can see the well-preserved
segment of the Oregon Trail crossing the steppe between The Rockies,
and Cascades. Self-guided museum with westward migration exhibits,
living history theater, encampments, interpretive trails, wagon
ruts, and mine sites.
Washington State History
1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, Washington 98402
WSHM Field Guide available. Edited and produced by Stephanie Lile.
Washington State Historical Society. 1997.
National Historic Site near Walla Walla, Washington
Pelz, Ruth. Discovering Washington. Gibbs-Smith Publisher,
Salt Lake City, 1997.
(4th grade) Chapter 8: Across the Oregon Trail
Hill, William E. Reading,
Writing, and Riding Along the Oregon-California Trails. Oregon-California
Tails Association. Independence, Missouri, 1993.
Copyable worksheets for upper elementary
Oregon Trail Foundation:
Offers biographies, diaries, and info about historical sites.
Varied selection including history in the states it passed through,
diaries, genealogies, and maps.
The life story of the first woman to travel the Oregon Trail. Includes
links to other resources bout Narcissa and her husband.
Smith, Jedediah S. –
Discover the travels of this explorer of the western US whose travels
opened the way for the Oregon Trail. Includes a portrait.
For a simulation:
Students grades 4-6 are on the simulated wagon train trail west.
Can share in discussions with other schools. Students encounter
a problem of the day and make daily decisions such as: what time
of year to travel, supplies to bring, how to cross-rivers, survive
AskERIC Lesson Plans:
Click #1 Social Studies, Click #2 US History, Click #3 Oregon Trail
Diary (grades 5-12) Information, test questions, long list of events
and actual places and where they take place. Suggestion: Use one
per day for problem and journal.
Encarta Lesson Plans
Some helpful links, one is the study guide from above.
Another is In Search
of the Oregon Trail: www.pbs.org/opb/oregontrail
This one is maintained by Public Broadcasting Service and includes
quiz, timeline, classroom materials, and links.
Links to the Oregon Trail:
http://www.over-land.com/trore.html This site has general information,
routes, landmarks, Donner Party, Whitmans, diaries, memories and
letters, modern sites and main links. One of the best!
Great connection site!
Clackamas County has this Website. It links a reader with several
other interesting sites on the Oregon Trail.
National Historical Trails
Interperative Center.This site has photos of the wagon train re-enacted
in 2002. Included in this site are interactive maps history and
The Oregon Trail
II (CD ROM)
Minneapolis, MN: MECC.
Excellent game for 3-4th grade. New challenges, more decisions,
and a built-in journal for student use.Writing Along the Oregon
Trail. For audio download from Oregon Trail ll CD go to:
US History Video Collection:
Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Schlessinger Video Productions, 1966 (35 minutes)
Presents Louisiana Purchase, The Lewis and Clark expedition, the
War of 1812, Native American resistance, the Trail of Tears, and
the Oregon Trail.
printouts, links for background information on the Oregon Trail
and trivia questions.
World Wide Web to find the answers. On a separate piece of paper
write your answers. (Another idea is to create a folder that the
students save their responses to from this online worksheet.)
on the "All About the Trail" In the 1840's and 1850's,
people walked and rode west on the Oregon Trail. The Oregon
Trail was _______miles long.
- Use the same website
from above and click on "Camping". A group of emigrant
wagons traveling together was called a wagon train. At night the
emigrants pulled the wagons into a _______ to corral* the animals
and to protect themselves and their belongings. (*So they wouldn't
- When they arrive at
the campsite for the night, the children would rush to collect
the best ___________ ___________ to use as fuel for the campfires.
- Use the same website
as above and click on "Power". Most covered wagons were
pulled by____________, which were strong, cheap, and docile and
could live on prairie grasses along the way.
The Prairie schooner was a type of covered wagon used by the emigrants.
The tires were made of ______________ .
Go to the topic and click on "History" then type in
"Goldrush" and click on "Go". Many pioneers
traveled west to homestead or establish their own farms. Some
were seeking their fortunes. In 1849, news of the _____________
inspired thousands to set off for California.
Look at the list of pioneer families on this site and click
on one of the names.
Their Way Out West
1. How did the fur trappers/traders,
missionaries, and early emigrants find their way west?
2. Was there a map available for use by the Oregon Trail travelers?
3. What is a landmark? Describe a trip to a friend’s house
4. What natural feature did the Oregon Trail mostly follow?
5. What would you name the landmarks along the trial? Look at pictures
of the Oregon Trail to help you make this decision.
6. Locate landmarks on a map, mark with a symbol. Use your Oregon
7. Students can take a test about landmarks, and read diary entries
from famous spots along the Oregon Trail at “The Trails Project”
8. In which state can you find Chimney
9. Why did the emigrants carve their names into the landmarks?
10. Was Courthouse Rock and Jailhouse Rock, Nebraska, really what
it said to be?
11. Why did Independence
Rock, Wyoming, get its name?
12. Why is Haystack
Rock, Wyoming, easy to spot?
13. What is a mountain pass? What is South
14. What is the name of the cutoff to Pilot
15. What happened at Massacre
Rock in Southeast Idaho?
16. Name a volcanic peak that is south of the Columbia
River in Oregon?
17. What were the two options of travel when they reached Oregon?
18. After descending Windlass
Hill, Nebraska name this stop along the trail. It provided a
natural spring, shade, beauty, and a makeshift post office.
Answers to “FINDING
THEIR WAY OUT WEST”
1. By natural geographic
formations and rivers, the sun, worn animal trails, and
with help from the Native Americans.
2. First there were the fur trappers such as Joseph Reddeford Walker,
Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, Caleb Green. Next there were the explorers,
Lewis and Clark, Jedediah Smith, Benjamin Bonneville, Zebulon Pike,
Charles Fremont. Then the missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman,
Henry and Eliza Spalding, Jason and Daniel Lee, Father Francis Blanchet,
Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet. There was a guidebook written by J. M.
Shively in 1846 entitled “Route and Distances”. John
Fremont and Charles Pruess are the best known map makers of the
American West from 1842-46. The emigrants often had a leader that
had previously traveled the trail.
3. It is a structure used to orient oneself from one point to another.
Answers telling the route to a friend’s house should describe
landmarks, directions, distances, and routes.
4. Rivers were the most important landmarks. They emigrants needed
water for sustenance.
5. Various answers. (The real names for these landmarks are the
most common names.)
6. Use an Oregon Trail Map.
7. Click on “fun section.”
8. Chimney Rock, Nebraska.
9. To mark the spot, register name and date, or be remembered. Many
died along the way.
10. No. (Courthouse Rock)
11. A pioneer named “4th of July Pass” because their
wagon train arrived on July 4th, 1830.
12. Haystack stands alone on the flat prairie of Wyoming.
13. A mountain pass is a route over a mountain range. South Pass
marked the crossing of the Continental “Great” Divide.
14. Hastings Cutoff or the Mormon Trail.
15. Massacre Rock is near an area where ten pioneers and an unknown
number of natives were killed.
16. Mt. Hood is the peak in Oregon.
17. The Columbia River by raft (dangerous, fast, waterfalls) or
overland by the Barlow Trail. (long, lack of provisions, hot)
18. Ash Hollow, Nebraska
AND THE OREGON TRAIL
Landscape artists of the mid 1800s helped to draw pioneers westward
with their grand views of the west, particularly with paintings
of the Rocky Mountains. One such artist was Albert
Bierstadt, a German American who went west on a surveying expedition.
He was awed by the grandeur of the Rockies and made sketches in
a journal of what he saw and felt as he traveled in present day
Colorado and Wyoming. When he returned to his studio back east he
painted mountain scenes from his memory and sketchbooks. His paintings
are grand panoramas of the west with beautiful snowy peaks surrounding
lush river valleys and Indian encampments. In the days before photography
this was the way the west was visually presented to the public and
it looked gorgeous!
Bierstadt was offered $35,000 for his paintings, a kingly sum in
those days! Less famous artists found their work being used in magazines
to encourage people to head west.
Find a print(s) of Bierstadt’s The
1863, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. If you are in the
Highline School District, it is available from film booking. (206-433-2394)
Have the students gather around so they can see closely. You may
provide a few magnifying glasses since this picture is rich in detail.
Discuss landscape painting with the children. Help them to identify
the background, middleground and foreground. Allow the children
to make observations of what they see in these parts of Bierstadt’s
work. This painting is large in scale; the artist is covering a
lot of territory here! Be sure they notice the great details in
the Indian encampment in the foreground, and the artist’s
own easel in left center. Note the subtle use of color. Compare
and contrast the painting to a photograph. Would this be a place
they would like to head west to see or live in? Why would it attract
Give the children landscape photos to draw. Emphasize filling the
entire paper and drawing in the background, mid ground, and foreground.
See if they can blend and match colors with their photo. Does their
final picture look like the photo? Why or why not?
Another idea would be to have the students imagine they are in the
picture, The Rocky Mountains. Can they write a story of
where they might go and what they would do if they suddenly entered
or prints of Bierstadt’s The Rocky Mountains
-Photos of landscapes, Sunset Magazine and calendar pictures work
Direct link to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Rocky
The Kennedy Center ARTSEDGE link to painting a landscape
A brief biography and a collection of nearly 400 paintings by Bierstadt
Landscape photographs of Glacier National Park