Oregon Trail Research Article from The Way People Live

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Writers Wallace Stegner and Irene D. Paden have each compared the Oregon Trail to a rope that is raveled at both ends because, although the trail basically followed a single path across most of the Great Plains, it parted into several distinct strands at both the eastern and the western ends.

It is a vivid metaphor, but not exactly an accurate one. Over the two decades or so when the trail saw its heaviest use, the long center section became divided into separate strands, too. That meant travelers who headed west in the later years were faced with a succession of sometimes difficult decisions to make about which route to follow.

In its infancy, the trail was reasonably simple and straightforward. The route it followed was dictated mainly by geography. In their westward movement, American pioneers had always followed rivers, and the...

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This section contains 3,904 words
(approx. 14 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Oregon Trail Encyclopedia Article
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Oregon Trail from Lucent. ©2002-2006 by Lucent Books, an imprint of The Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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