Between the 1840’s and 1870’s, thousands of Americans migrated west toward California and Oregon.
There were several reasons for this mass migration. The discovery of Gold in California, the opening of the west thanks to the discovery of South Pass and favorable reports concerning the climate and soils of the west all prompted people to leave their homes in the east and head for California and Oregon.
The trip was a long and difficult one. Nearly 2,000 miles of trails needed to be traveled to get west. The trip could take as long as 6 months and there were no trains past Missouri, which is where most parties headed out from.
All kinds of hazards awaited travelers. Wild animals, native Americans, heavy fog, sicknesses, and getting lost were just some of the challenges that migrants had to deal with. Since large portions of the trail weren’t marked, parties relied on haphazardly drawn maps or physical landmarks.