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Journeys West: reading fiction and informational text; The Oregon Trail 4

CCSSELA: RI.4.1, RI.4.6, RI.4.9


Read the two passages, then answer the practice question.

This is a fictional diary written by an imagined character, but the experiences she describes are based on true historical events

from The Diary of Georgina Travers, Oregon Trail Traveler

June 12, 1843
We're a very long way from the nearest general store. Pa says it’s 2,000 miles from Missouri to Oregon, and it will take us many months to get there. The US government has given us permission to settle in the western lands as part of expanding the country, but I wonder how the Native peoples who live there will feel about it.
June 22, 1843
There aren’t any trees on this part of the trail, so we have to use buffalo chips for our fires. One of my chores today was to collect the chips. This isn’t my favorite chore.
July 3, 1843
Today, we met a Native tribe called the Ute. We traded food and clothes with them for some horses, and I brought out my marbles and showed some of the children how to play. I’m glad the Ute are welcoming to us, since not all tribes want us to settle here or make Oregon our home.
July 23, 1843
Poor Cassie! My sweet little sister is ill. I heard Pa say something about cholera. We had to take Mama’s
out of our wagon and leave it on the side of the trail so Cassie had room to lie down while we traveled. I am scared for Cassie and hope that she will be okay.
August 6, 1843
We rode through some mountains today. The trail was rough, and two wagons in the train tipped over. Thankfully, no one was hurt. But the best news of the day is that Cassie’s fever broke! She’s not out of the woods yet, but we’re encouraged.

What Was the Oregon Trail?

If you wanted to visit Oregon, a state in the northwestern United States, how would you get to your destination? Would you take a plane, a train, or a car? In the 1800s, migrants traveled west overland using the Oregon Trail. They journeyed in covered wagons, usually pulled by oxen, horses, or mules. The 2,000-mile trail began in Missouri and ran through six states, and it took about five months to complete.
These migrant groups were mainly white settlers, and did not seek permission from Native Americans to cross or settle in their lands. Some white settlers also forced enslaved Black Americans to travel with them. In addition, some free Black Americans came to settle the land and start a new life in the Oregon area.
Here are some other things you may not know about the Oregon Trail:
  1. Do you ever pack too much when you go on a trip? Many of the migrants overpacked, too. A heavy wagon was hard for the animals to pull. So many migrants left extra supplies on the vast trail in order to make their wagons lighter.
  2. The Oregon Trail didn’t have many trees. The pioneers used buffalo chips, made from dried buffalo dung, as fuel for their fires. Some children even played games with buffalo chips. They tossed them around like Frisbees!
  3. Some Native American tribes allowed the white migrants they encountered to travel through their lands. They traded food, clothes, and tools with one another. Other tribes, however, did not welcome the intruders and wanted to defend their homes. They resisted the flood of newcomers who chopped down many trees, over-hunted buffalo, and claimed Native lands for their own.
  4. Disease was a big problem for the migrants. Diseases such as cholera caused an estimated 20,000 deaths along the trail. These diseases were also deadly to many Native peoples, who had never been exposed to them before.
  5. The last wagon trains made their journey in the 1880s. However, tracks made by the wagons can still be seen today in six states.

Practice Question

How is the information provided in these two accounts different?
Choose 1 answer: