Machete Cooking with Mr. Haertling!

Having a little fun cooking on the Oregon Trail along the Snake River!

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The Pedaling Pioneer is on KOIN news!!

The Pedaling Pioneer has traveled 2,095 miles in two summers and has reached his final destination – Oregon City, Oregon! Make sure to check out the news story on at 6 PT/8 Central or visit the website later to replay.

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Iconic Independence Rock

Raging bulls, striking snakes, and the elements of Wyoming couldn’t keep the pioneers from reaching Independence Rock by their deadline of July 4th and they couldn’t keep they Pedaling Pioneer away either!

Watch the video to hear his tale and climb on top of Independence Rock like energetic pioneers of the past!

Follow this link for more information about this iconic landmark of the Oregon Trail


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A.H. Unthank Signature and Grave

“You have died of cholera.” Those five dreaded words plagued those of us who played the Oregon Trail game in the 1980s and 1990s, but was also one of the diseases which could spread quickly and kill up to two-thirds of a wagon train along the real Oregon Trail.

The story of A.H. Unthank demonstrates just how quickly and unexpectedly cholera could come and kill. Click here to learn about the five most common diseases which affected the emigrants on the Trail.

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The interesting tale of young, Joel Hembree

There were many dangers that met pioneers along their long trek to Oregon. The tale of young, Joel Hembree, although sad was not uncommon. Watch to find out what fate awaited Joel.

Also, follow the link below to read about the many dangers the pioneers had to battle in order to fulfill their Manifest Destiny!

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Leave Your Mark at Register Rock

Rode all day to make sure I got to see this iconic landmark of the trail! Amazing to see the hundreds of the names that were carved into the rock a century and a half ago!

Register Rock

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Gurnsey Ruts

Think you’re in a rut? Check out the famous Gurnsey Ruts in Wyoming! The Oregon Trail was forced away from the river at this point and the wagons crossed a ridge of soft sandstone. The geography of the area dictated that practically every wagon that went west crossed the ridge in exactly the same place, with impressive results – the track was worn to a depth of five feet!

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Oregon Trail Pioneers had fun too!

Moments on the trail when I may have lost my sanity…… 

Sometimes you have to laugh at the Elephant!

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Cooking Over A Buffalo Chip Fire!

The buffalo was an essential part of Native American life, used in everything from religious rituals to teepee construction.  Watch and learn with this great video from the History Channel:

Since we are cooking with buffalo dung, lets learn about how buffalo were nearly brought to extinction with this History Channel video:


ABOVE: Even after the Oregon Trail era, settlers in Nebraska used buffalo and cow dung to cook with—because the dried chips burned so well. Read more about it here:

Read about what it was like at a pioneer campsite from around 6:00pm to 9:00 pm, which is when most crashed for the night:

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Cholera Cemetery Along The Vermillion River!

Traveling the Oregon Trail is not a “Walk In The Park”.

Learn About the Diseases of The Oregon Trail at

Learn how British Dr. John Snow helped to eliminate Cholera in 19th Century London by watching this VIDEO from the History Channel:

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Pedaling Pioneer Races a Train in Kansas!!!!

Care to learn about the Evolution of the Railroad? Watch this Modern Marvels video from the History Channel:

Is this the same type of train the Pedaling Pioneer raced in Kansas?

Too bad the pioneers couldn’t just take the train! Find out how the Transcontinental Railroad eventually connected the west with the rest of the nation:

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Hey Wife! Are Ya Ready?

It’s time to load up for the trip across the west on the Oregon Trail!  It’s hard for this pedaling pioneer to cram everything into one truck…Imagine how the real pioneers felt squeezing everything into a wagon!

Oregon Trail Supplies


Should the Pedaling Pioneer get himself an horse, mule, oxen,…or just a bike?

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Independence Missouri, “The Jumping Off Point” (Day 1)

On March 29th, I started in Independence MO, and rode 50 miles (Through the City!) to Lone Elm Campground (Pioneers 1st or 2nd night on the Trail), with a visit to the National Frontier Trails Center.

Virtually visit Mccoy Park in Independence, MO to to learn all about the Oregon Trail and Independence, MO:

Independence Courthouse, 1855.

Independence Courthouse, 1855.

Learn what many pioneers experienced just before heading out on the trail:


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Oregon Trail Quiz Question #1

Pioneers on the Oregon Trail built fires to cook food, ward off wildlife, and keep warm on cold nights on the prairie. Which of these did they use to fuel their fires?





Cow Patty #1

Buffalo Poo?

(Students, do not try this at HOME! I am a trained professional in the handling of Poo.)

Due to the unsanitary handling of feces, this video has been banned for younger audiences!

Categories: Countdown to the Trail | 10 Comments

Countdown to the Oregon Trail!

The Oregon Trail is out there waiting…and we can’t wait to show it to you!

From May 29th-June 20th, incoming 6th and 7th grade students at Jackson Middle School in Jackson, Missouri, will go on a virtual adventure with World Geography teacher Brad Haertling as he bikes the Oregon Trail!  Communicating and learning via posts on this website, students will make the trip with Brad and build on that experience with activities in the physical classroom.

But just because YOU aren’t in summer school doesn’t mean you can’t come along!  Follow our blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for fun facts and stories leading up to Brad’s departure from Independence, Missouri on May 29th.  Then, ride along as we travel the trail!

Follow this link to get a basic introduction to the Oregon Trail, “One of the ten most important events in American History?”:

Categories: Countdown to the Trail | 3 Comments

The Interpretive Center at Oregon City

A big thank you to Jeff at the wonderful Interpretive Center in Oregon City at the end of my journey! Although Oregon City was the destination for the pioneers, it really was just the beginning of their adventure out west. The pioneers had conquered the physical and mental challenges that the Oregon Trail presented, but settling in Oregon presented a new set of challenges.

Now at the end of this adventure, I want to thank all of those who have followed me along my journey over the past two summers and all of those who provided support! It would not have been possible without family, friends, sponsors, and the students – thank you!


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The Promised Land – Oregon City!!

I finally made it to the Promised Land – Oregon City, Oregon! What a wonderful site to behold. There was a wonderful Interpretive Center that I had a chance to visit which allowed me to fully understand the finality of the journey for the pioneers, but also, the challenges of settling that still lay ahead.

Oregon City Sign

What a welcome sign to see!

jumping oregon city

We did it! I’m sure the pioneers felt the same excitement that I did centuries ago.

standing oregon city sign

I couldn’t have done this alone. Thank you to Jackson R-2, the Jackson R-2 Foundation, and all of the family, friends, students, and sponsors who came along for the journey and made it possible!

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Willamette Valley: Then and Now

The Falls of Willamette River in Willamette Valley were the main draw for the pioneers and the reason they ended their journey in Oregon City. The Falls were attractive to the Native Americans who lived in the Northwest as a main resource for food and trade; it was the center of settlement for the emigrants as they transitioned out west, and is still a center of industry in Oregon today.

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Beautiful Mt. Hood

Beautiful but challenging Mt. Hood – the final major obstacle that the pioneers had to face before they reached Willamette Valley and Oregon City.


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Baker City and Flagstaff Hill

Flagstaff Hill was the first glimpse that the emigrants had of the Promised Land as their journey began through Oregon. The Pedaling Pioneer had the opportunity to visit the expansive Interpretive Center as well as travel through some preserved ruts.

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Flat Tires by the Columbia River and Reaching Flagstaff Hill

The Columbia River was a difficult river crossing for the pioneers, but was one of the last major crossings they would have along the Oregon Trail.

Crossing the Columbia River posed its own challenges for the Pedaling Pioneer – the dreaded flat!

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Modern Day Danger in the Blue Mountains

It was difficult for the Pedaling Pioneer to climb the Blue Mountains with modern day dangers (semi-trucks, construction, oh my!) and the pioneers had their own struggles. Read some of the first impressions that the pioneers had as they crossed the Blue Mountains in Oregon.

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The Road to Ft. Boise and Finally…Oregon!

The journey to Boise was tough with some flats along the way, but not as difficult as the journey to Boise was for the Ward Party. And…I finally get to cross the state line I’ve been waiting to see for over 1,000 miles. Oregon!


Fort Boise

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The Pedaling Pioneer is Made Possible By…

A big shout-out to T. Wayne Lewis Dentistry and Jackson R-2 Foundation for their support of this project!

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