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!
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.
What a welcome sign to see!
We did it! I’m sure the pioneers felt the same excitement that I did centuries ago.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Pioneers loved to leave their mark along the trail to communicate with loved ones and mark their progress. Watch the video to find out how Inscription Rock is different than other registers like Register Cliff and Independence Rock in Wyoming or Register Rock in Idaho. It was worth the climbs to see that these marks were still there!
We take modern conveniences like bridges for granted everyday, and visiting Three Island Crossing at Glenns Ferry, Idaho emphasized how lucky we are today. This crossing at Snake River was another reminder of how difficult and dangerous river crossings were for the pioneers. They had to be resourceful in order to cross difficult rivers such as the Snake River at Three Island Crossing.
An aerial view of Three Island Crossing at Glenns Ferry, Idaho.
It may look like a gravel road that is back home in Missouri, but don’t let the camera fool you! It is like riding through 2 – 3 inches of sand…whew! It has taken a lot of focus and hard work to make the hill climbs out in Idaho.
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 http://www.koin.com at 6 PT/8 Central or visit the website later to replay.
By the time the pioneers had reached Massacre Rocks, they have traveled over 1,200 miles. Crossing the desert of Idaho was one of the most difficult parts of the Oregon Trail for them. The Pedaling Pioneer tells the story from 1862 of the Indian attack which led to the naming of Massacre Rocks.
The Pedaling Pioneer had a lot more fun rafting the Snake River than the pioneers would have. Crossing the Snake River was a large obstacle for the pioneers with its swift currents, wide channels, and steep banks.
Click here to learn more about the kind of Snake River crossings the pioneers experienced.
Soda Springs was a stopping point near Fort Hall for the pioneers. The bubbling, naturally carbonated water caused by ancient volcanic activity was used by the pioneers, trappers, traders, and Indians for medicinal and bathing purposes. The Pedaling Pioneer and his wagon train also made the stop to enjoy the hot springs along the Trail.
Ride inside a farm wagon and learn how the different critters on the trail were shod from the exceptional pioneer guides at the Interactive Trail Museum in Montpelier, Idaho. They also have a wonderful website with great information!
The notorious Butch Cassidy had a high profile bank robbery in Montpelier, Idaho. The Pedaling Pioneer, or should I say the Pedaling Policeman, is here to tell the dramatic tale which, of course, includes a bicycle.
By the time the pioneers had entered Idaho, they had traveled over 1,300 miles with approximately 700 miles left on their journey to Oregon City, Oregon. The excitement of the adventure had dissipated into the heat and exhaustion that had settled upon the wagon trains by July and August when they would be crossing into Idaho.
Follow this link to learn about the obstacles and dangers the pioneers found in the next to last state they would cross on their journey to their destination and all the promise that awaited them there.
Deciding to take a cutoff or a conventional path was a gamble for the pioneers. While the cutoffs could reduce the number of days or weeks spent on the Trail, there were dangers to take into consideration.
The Pedaling Pioneer also visits the original Fort Bridger which included a bustling blacksmith shop that Jim Bridger ran and trading post which operated as a vital stop for pioneers to resupply as they neared the second half of their journey.
All the gear grinding for the past 560+ miles since June 1st finally took its toll on my trusty bike, but thankfully we found Barrie’s Bike and Ski Shop in Pocatello, Idaho! Barrie, the owner, and Kai, the skilled mechanic, took care of my bike and now its good as new! These next 540 miles to Oregon City, Oregon should be smooth sailing. Oregon or bust!
The Pedaling Pioneer and one of his trusty companions Cricket with Kai, the miracle worker (or mechanic), at Barrie’s Bike Shop in Pocatello, Idaho.
South Pass was critical to the success of the emigrants crossing the Continental Divide and their survival passing through the mountain ranges of the Rockies. Historians agree that without the discovery of South Pass by a fur trader, Robert Stuart, and his company headed back East in 1812, the story of western migration and the settlement of Oregon and California would have been much different. Although it does not have an iconic silhouette like Chimney Rock and Independence Rock, it is arguably the most important landmark of the Oregon Trail.
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
For the early emigrants, the Ice Slough was a refreshing surprise along the Oregon Trail! After crossing the desert of Wyoming, they could dig 1 to 2 feet into the bog and find “wonderful, beautiful sheets of ice!” underneath the dirt. This natural treasure was not available for all emigrants, though. Unfortunately, because of the thousands of pioneers who had dug holes in the bog, there was little to no ice available for emigrants who passed through in the later stages of the mass migration.
Originally named Platte Bridge Station, Fort Caspar was built near an important river crossing of the North Platte River. Originally, Platte Bridge Station was built to protect mail carriers from Indian attacks. As attacks began to intensify in 1864 and 1865, one particular attack from the Cheyenne and Sioux tribes killed 26 soldiers including Lt. Caspar Collins. The Fort was later named after Lt. Caspar Collins and expanded in order to offer greater protection for the pioneers and the mail carrier system.
Click here to learn more about the history of Fort Caspar.
“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.
The Platte River was a critical part of the Oregon Trail in terms of navigation and fairly flat land to cross, it more importantly acted as a water supply. However, at several points on the Oregon Trail along the Platte River, the emigrants would have to cross the Platte River. Although the Platte was described as “a mile wide and an inch deep”, that wasn’t always the case as seen in the Pedaling Pioneer’s video.
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!
A GoPro, batteries, and tripods…oh my! The Pedaling Pioneer goes over the essentials he needs in order to share his Oregon Trail adventure with you! The essentials needed by the emigrants in the 1800’s were much different and critical for survival: http://www.oregontrailcenter.org/HistoricalTrails/Supplies.htm
Learn about the Pony Express from “This day in History” from the History Channel. On the 3rd of April 1860, the first Pony Express mail, traveling by horse and rider relay teams, simultaneously leaves St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California.
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!
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!