Westward Expansion

Oregon Trail

Did you know that without the Oregon Trail much of the American West, including States like California, Nevada, Idaho, and Washington, would likely be a part of Canada or Mexico today? From the time when colonies were first established in America, the northeastern coast of the nation became heavily populated. Around 1843 people began to look to the West not only for more room to live but also for new opportunities and exploration. As the only way for settlers to get across the mountains, the Oregon Trail served as the pathway to the West.

As travelers journeyed westward, they experienced a whole new world! However, the path was very difficult with death, disease, and destruction taking their toll on those taking part in the 'great migration.' Over a 25 year period more than a half million people went west on the Trail. Some went in search of farmland while others traveled in search of gold. The glory years of the Oregon Trail finally ended in 1869, when the transcontinental railroad was completed.