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If Americans today were to undertake a four-month, 2,000-mile journey on foot without the aid of modern conveniences, many would be in for a harsh jolt. Despite the lingering romance with which many view the emigrant tide on the Oregon Trail, the journey was tough.
Dixon Ford, of Fruit Heights, Utah, devoted much of his life to training and driving oxen using techniques he learned from his Mormon pioneer grandfather. In this article he explains what oxen are, how they were traditionally trained to draw wagons, and how they are properly driven and cared for. Emigrant accounts triumphs and tragedies involving oxen on the overland trails are woven through this narrative.
Last updated: August 17, 2020