The Oregon Trail: An American Saga

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Oxford University Press, 2005 - History - 414 pages
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In today's world of jet airplanes and smooth highways, it is nearly impossible to imagine the hardships faced by the thousands of people who headed west along the great Oregon Trail. In this detailed and engaging account, historian David Dary recounts the full saga of the trail's history, from its creation in the early 1800's, to its peak during the '49 Gold Rush, its rapid decline following the completion of the transcontinental railroad, and finally, its revival as a modern day historical treasure.

Dary introduces us to the pioneers: trailblazers, fur-traders, and missionaries, who made the first journeys to Oregon County, an internationally disputed territory comprising present-day Washington, Oregon, and California. We learn of the road's steadily increasing popularity, as economic problems or the promise of adventure and wealth lead thousands of homesteaders, gold-rushers, and entrepreneurs to pile their hopes and dreams into wagons and head west. Using journals and letters, as well as company and expedition reports, public records and newspaper stories, Dary takes us inside the day to day experiences of the travelers, as they risked ruin at every step from disease, weather, and human deceit. Trail.

Through Dary's expert and comprehensive history, we learn how the events of the day turned a small trickle of pioneering men and women into the greatest mass migration in American history.
 

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THE OREGON TRAIL: An American Saga

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Dary follows the Oregon Trail, pre-history to post-history, with many nooks and crannies in between.From the early 1840s until the coming of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, the Oregon Trail was ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

What comes through in this book is the author's fascination with the romance of the settler's wagon train; the core of the narrative being the first-person accounts of people who went through the ... Read full review

Contents

The Exploration of Oregon
3
Astoria
20
Discovering the Oregon Trail
34
John Mcloughlin and the Missionaries
47
The American Occupation of Oregon
66
The Emigrants of 1843
84
Selfrule and More Emigrants
109
Fiftyfour Forty or Fight
128
The Changing Road
243
More Change and Civil War
264
Decline of the Trail
288
Rebirth of the Trail
310
Acknowledgments
333
Historic Landmarks
335
Cutoffs and Other Roads
349
Glossary
355

The Year of Decision
147
New Zion More Emigrants and a Massacre
168
A Lull Before the Rush
187
The Gold Rush of 1849
200
The Hectic Year of 1850
221
Notes
361
Bibliography
379
Index
393
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About the author (2005)


David Dary is Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of ten previous books on the West, including Cowboy Culture and The Santa Fe Trail. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement from the Western Writers of America.

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