Since I have just finished an amazing Oregon Trail giveaway to help launch the new book I have coming out very soon…I figured I would keep the Oregon Trail theme going with this post!
Today, we feel anxiety if we walk out of our house without our phones to keep us connected to the rest of the world. We can’t imagine not having constant opportunity to keep in touch with anyone we need at the simple touch of a button. There are no worries of being left without the ability to reach help if we need it. And, if there is an emergency, we are always able to be reached.
We don’t need to worry if we are getting low on bread or milk, or any of the other staples in our cupboards. We can easily run to the store to get what we need.
When hearing what the settlers on the Oregon Trail faced, some of us think, “Oh, it wouldn’t be that hard. I know how to rough it.”
For us, roughing it means driving our cars out to a location for a few days, pitching a tent and setting our coolers out with the food we have brought. It only needs to last a couple of days, so it isn’t a concern about keeping food from spoiling. And, we can bring a lot of the non-perishable food anyway, because we aren’t going to be hauling it any further, so it won’t be too heavy.
Sure, we may have no electricity or running water or any luxuries like that. However, we have most likely filled up enough jugs of clean water to keep us hydrated and clean for the few days we are out “roughing it”. And, if the weather ever got really bad, we always would have the option to climb into our vehicles and turn the heat on if we had to.
If things got really bad, we could drive home and be safe and warm within just a couple of hours at the most.
Now, imagine yourself living through what these emigrants did while on the trail….
You have sold everything, using your money to buy a wagon, livestock to pull it and to make sure you have enough supplies to get your family across the country. You need to have enough food that won’t spoil, but not too much because you don’t want to load your wagon down making it difficult to pull.
There won’t be stores along the way to restock as needed. Of course, there are the forts you will come to over the trail every few weeks, but the cost for supplies at these forts are double what you would pay elsewhere, and you aren’t guaranteed they will have everything you need. You need to make sure you still have some money left at the end of the trail for the new future you have planned.
You don’t want your family to starve, but you also need to take into account the weight. If your wagon is too heavy, along with your personal items you are taking with you, it will be too hard on the livestock pulling the wagon. Things will need to be left behind on the trail if it gets to be too much.
And, having to choose between food to keep your family alive or personal items that may have sentimental value but aren't crucial to survival, you know what will have to be left behind.
You are relying on the creeks and rivers along the way to provide water for drinking and bathing. However, because of the tremendous numbers of people going over the trail during these years, the water is becoming full of bacteria that can cause serious illness, such as cholera, that can kill you.
These pioneer families are completely at the mercy of the land for months.
It isn’t something we could even comprehend now. We have all become accustomed to having access to anything we need. We can push a button on a computer and have things delivered to our homes. We can pick up our phones and tap it to instantly be connected to help if we need it.
As I read the journals and the stories, my heart broke over and over hearing about lives that were lost along the way. I read about treasured heirlooms being left behind on the trail - things they had hoped to have in their new homes to remind them of family left behind.
But, the ones who made it over the trail, and followed the dreams they had for their new lives, truly inspired me. They made it through, and they proved just how tough we can be when we have to be. They were true pioneers, and I hope future generations never take for granted the sacrifices and the hardships these people faced to make things better for their families.
It’s a lesson in strength and persistence everyone could learn from.
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