Last updated: April 12, 2016
Oregon Trail Stories: True Accounts of Life in a Covered Wagon. Guilford CT: TwoDot/Morris Book Publishers, 2004.
In the mid-1800s, thousands of pioneers braved the long and arduous journey across the Great Plains for a chance to build a new life in the West.These emigrants traveled more than 2,000 treacherous miles to the Pacific Ocean over the Oregon Trail in what became the largest mass migration in American history.
Along the way they wrote letters and kept diaries, and some published memoirs of their trip years after their journey.
Oregon Trail Stories offers a selection of these intriguing narratives told in the pioneers' own words. From the diary of a member of the Donner party to an excerpt from the memoirs of a girl orphaned as her family made their way West, these documents speak to the difficulties of facing an uncertain future and the hardships of the trail.
William Swain, an emigrant making his way to the West, writes his wife back East with positive news but warns the journey is not for the weak: "I am hearty and well, far more than when I left home. That failing of short of breath which troubled me at home has entirely left me. I am also more fleshy. Notwithstanding these facts, I would advise no man to come this way to California."
Today almost all traces of the Oregon Trail have been obliterated by settlement, but these stories of courage, stamina, and adventure in the wide-open West survive. They offer readers a fascinating, first-hand account of life on the trail during America's long-gone frontier days.