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OREGON TRAIL The Great Plains The Oregon Trail was an emigrant route in the United States from the Missouri River to the Columbia River country This was the way to travel back in the 1840s through the 1860s In 1843 the Great Emigration began and the west would never be the same after the out set of the travelers The pioneers traveled by wagon train They did not however follow any single narrow route In open country the different trains might spread out over a large area only to meet again for river crossings and mountain passes In time many different routes also came to be They originated at various places on the Missouri but Independence was the main starting point to travel west Those starting from Independence followed the same route known as the Santa Fe Trail for some 40 miles then traveled to the Platte and generally followed that river to the North Platte and then the South Platte Crossing the South Platte the main trail followed the North Platte to Fort Laramie then to the present Casper Wyo and through the mountains by the South Pass to the Colorado River The travelers then went to Fort Bridger from which the Mormon Trail continued to the Great Salt Lake while the Oregon Trail went northwest across a divide to Fort Hall on the Snake River The California Trail branched off to the southwest but the Oregon Trail continued to Fort Boise From that point the travelers had to make the hard climb over the Blue Mountains Once those were crossed paths diverged somewhat many went to Fort Walla Walla before proceeding down the south bank of the Columbia River traversing the Columbias gorge where it passes through the Cascade Mountains to the Willamette Valley where the early settlement centered The end of the trail shifted as settlement spread The mountain men were chiefly responsible for making the route known and Thomas Fitzpatrick
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