|Imagine going on a 2000 mile trip from Independence, Missouri to the Oregon coast. How long would it take you to travel those 2000 miles by car? Probably 4 days. What do you suppose it would cost for that 4 day trip? Then imagine taking your family, your most precious possessions with you plus all the food and camping gear you would need to make that trip and that more than likely you would never see the family and friends you left behind. Could you do it? Over 150 years ago...back in the 1840's and 50's over 300,000 people made that trip by covered wagon with a team of oxen and knowing they would be on the trail for 5 to 6 months! And the women and children WALKED almost every mile of that 2000. The only time they rode in the wagon was when they were ill or too tired to walk. The wagons were loaded with supplies and food for the trip (no more than 2000 pounds) so there was very little room for people to ride and the wagons were so rough with no springs, most would rather walk than ride anyway and the oxen certainly didn't need the extra weight to pack. There was no one kind of wagon used but most preferred a boat shaped wagon that got the nickname of "The Prairie Schooner." The provisions for the trip back in the 1840's and 50's cost $500.00 per person (I assume it was less per child) although of the 300,000 who made the trek they estimate that only about 40,000 of them were children. Just imagine the weather they endured from hot, hot days to cold, rainy nights camping in the open air with very little protection and doing that day after day for about 180 days straight! The sameness of walking on the prairie for days on end with nothing to break the monotonous scenery or mountains ahead knowing you somehow had to cross them, water and food shortages, rattlesnakes, coyotes, mosquitoes, flies and many other critters to deal with along the way. Estimates are over 30,000 people died along the way from illness, accidents, hunger and disease, that's a grave every 80 yards along that 2000 mile trek. Spending several hours at the Oregon Interpretive Center these are just a few of the things we learned. The Oregon Trail passed just north of what is now Baker City. We were able to see the inside of the wagons they used, a couple of them dating back to the 1800's that have been preserved, the provisions they took on the trip, the ordeals they faced day in and day out. Looking out over the hills surrounding the Center, we could still see the wagon trail ruts and even got to walk in them. While at first, when the emigrants came upon Native American tribes, they were frightened, but they soon discovered that most were very friendly in those days and they would trade goods, hold ceremonies, dances and gamble together. Most wagon trains consisted of at least 12 wagons, a wagon master who had experience in leading the wagons out west and a scout who would scout out food, water and safe crossings over rivers and mountains. Just being there and seeing what it must have been like sure makes you wonder how so many left everything and everyone behind to move west and start a new life. Those emigrants were tougher most. Certainly makes you wonder how different our lives would be today had so many brave souls not been willing to endure all those hardships so many years ago.