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Word Count: 426
The Oregon Trail in its earliest years started in the small town of Independence Missouri near Kansas City From there it stretches across 2000 miles to Oregon City in the Willamette Valley just south of where Portland Oregon is today Some families that just had the habit of moving west every five or ten years to follow the frontier Others were in search of opportunity there were hard times back East but in the 1840s married settlers could claim a square mile of Oregon 640 acres at no cost Oregon had a reputation not only for having good farmland and vast forests of huge ancient trees but also for being free of disease This made the country even more attractive since epidemics were common in the east and little was known about the cause of diseases and infection When American settlers began arriving Indians often guided them through the mountains or let them stake a claim on tribal lands in exchange for gunpowder food clothes or horses Unfortunately the traders and settlers also brought new diseases to the Indians diseases like smallpox and measles which killed whole tribes A single sick sailor on a trading ship killed almost the entire 800 member Multnomah tribe The Oregon Trail is not the only road there are too many trails shortcuts and military roads to even list The trip was exhausting boring dangerous frightening and exciting It was exhausting because the emigrants had to walk almost the entire way though a few of them rode horses They didnt ride in their wagons because they wanted to spare the oxen pulling the wagons or needed the room for supplies Even without the weight of people in the wagon the trip was so long that even the sturdiest ox could die from exhaustion or thirst At least 80000 emigrants followed the Oregon Trail to settle in Oregon Washington and Idaho that estimate has been creeping upwards to as
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