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Wagon Trains To The Old West

 

Wagon-train transportation was organized by settlers in the United States for migration to the West in the late 18th century and for much of the 19th century. These wagon trains became a means of long distance transport for people and goods. Some of the most famous wagon trains developed during the 19th century, including the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail, the Smoky Hill Trail, and the Southern Overland Mail Route.


Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail, also known as the Oregon–California Trail, was the route between Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City, Oregon. It was one of the two main emigration routes to the American West. The trail was approximately 2,000 miles long (or 3,200 kilometres) and helped hundreds of thousands of migrants reach the northwest between the 1840s and 1860s. The route traversed difficult terrain that included large areas inhabited by Native Americans.


Santa Fe Trail

The Santa Fe Trail was one of the two main emigration routes of the American West, leading from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The route was opened by William Bechnell and was used as an important commercial route from 1821 to 1880. Native Americans often attacked these wagon caravans between 1864 and 1869, so their drivers began to travel in parallel columns, making it easier to form a circular line of defense. , After the capture of New Mexico by the United States in the Mexican–American War, aided by the trade in manufactured goods and the silver and fur trades enabled by the Trail, Trail use increased and even stagecoaches began in 1849. Mail delivery service was also included by This ended for good until the completion of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880.


The first wagon train to arrive in California

Easterners' first wagon train arrived in California on November 4, 1841, led by 21-year-old John Bidwell. With his partner, John Bartleson, Bidwell organized the voyage and set sail on May 1, 1841, with 69 men who had never been west of St. Louis, Missouri. The trek covered 2,008 miles, covering an average of 12–15 miles a day, over the course of five months. Fortunately, they had some experienced help, including a group of missionaries and mountain man Thomas "Broken Hand" Fitzpatrick.

Once they reached Idaho, the party split, with Bartelson leading a group toward Oregon and Bidwell choosing California. It was not an easy road for Bidwell's group, who were forced to abandon their wagons in the rugged terrain of northern Utah. They faced the wrath of Mother Nature, near starvation, and a lack of water before finally ending their journey on horseback and reaching somewhere close to present-day Tuolumne County.

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