The Oregon Trail game was inducted into the video game hall of fame in 2016. Post-release in 1974, the game sold 65 million copies, solidifying its position as the best educational game of all time.
There are several versions of this game, including a new mobile title by Gameloft. You can also play the non-GamStop casino sites with Rainbow Riches game online with a quick search on Google
However, there’s a lot that the game doesn’t get right for the sake of entertainment. In this post, we discuss seven things you may not know about the real Oregon Trail.
#1 The Oregon Trail Wasn’t a Set Path
Most emigrants travelling to Oregon passed by landmarks in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Idaho. However, the people travelling westward weren’t bound by this path because it was never just one wagon heading west.
The pioneers banded together during the westward movement, meaning there were several wagons heading west. The people often stopped and spread out to hunt. They would also look for spots for their cattle to graze. Some split up and found their way by travelling different paths.
Over the years, clever settlers made new paths and cutoffs that allowed other settlers to reach Oregon quicker. Wyoming specifically had an extensive network of pathways allowing people to reach Oregon.
#2 The Conestoga Wagon Wasn’t Used Much on the Trail
A lot of the popular depictions of the Oregon Trail have the iconic boat-shaped Conestoga wagons in them. You can also find this wagon in many of the Oregon Trail games.
While the wagon was an essential part of trade and travel in the East at the time, the wagon was too large and inflexible to handle the rugged terrain of the trail.
For this reason, most pioneers avoided the Conestoga wagon and instead used “prairie schooners.” These wagons had a wooden bed that was roughly four feet wide and ten feet long. The pioneers would typically employ mules and oxen to pull and travel between fifteen and twenty miles per day.
Prairie schooners were versatile. In addition to carrying tons of cargo and passengers, the wagon could be floated across rivers when caulked with tar.
However, the beds on the wagon were small, and there was no suspension, which made the ride notoriously bumpy. For this reason, some pioneers chose to ride horses or walk along with the wagon on foot.
#3 The Trail Was Untidy Because of the Discarded Supplies
The government was offering free land to pioneers that moved to Oregon, and it didn’t take long for traffic on the trail to increase. With the increase in traffic came an industry of trading posts, most of which scared families into buying more supplies than they needed.
The overload of supplies resulted in several sections of the trail turning into heaps of litter, which included discarded barrels of food, broken wagon parts, dead draft animals, clothes, books, and even furniture.
#4 Indian Attacks Weren’t a Real Threat to the Pioneers
While you may have seen Indians attacking people in Hollywood Westerns, westbound settlers were rarely attacked by the indigenous people. Indians were trading partners and allies to the pioneers and were never a threat.
While pioneers did circle their wagons in the night, it wasn’t to protect from ambush but rather to keep their animals from escaping.
The most pressing threats to the pioneer families were diseases such as cholera, which killed thousands of people on their journey to Oregon.
#5 The Pioneers Made Graffiti
Carving out names, hometowns, and dates of passage on stone landmarks became a tradition amongst the westbound settlers. They would also paint mottos and messages on the rocks.
Independence Rock became the most notable guest book for the settlers, with thousands of rock markings. The stone is 128-feet tall, filled almost entirely with markings.
Many travellers that were in a hurry even hired stonecutters to carve the message they asked for on the rock. Register Cliff and Names Hill in Wyoming are two other prominent landmarks where the settlers made sure to leave their mark.
#6 You Can Find Wheel Ruts from the Wagons on the Trail Even Today
The last wagon trains crossed the Oregon Trail in the 1880s, but you can still find wagon ruts in all six states of the trail. The decades of travel wore down the grasslands to the point that nothing will grow on them even today.
#7 Many Pioneers Did Not Settle in Oregon
The government estimates that about 400,000 emigrants travelled on the Oregon Trail. However, only 80,000 of those travellers ended their journey in Oregon.
Many families splintered off the route and settled in Idaho and Wyoming. Many even went off the path and took on another trail to Utah and California.