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Reflections from the Oregon Trail

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FC: Reflections from the Oregon Trail | Ross Ewing

3: I can't believe the journey is finally over. After a 2,000 mile journey, we finally arrived in the Willamette Valley. I wish I could say it's a sight for sore eyes. Undeniably, it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Perhaps it was the desert before it, or the treacherous Cascade mountains preceding it, but regardless of the contrast it's a beautiful place. And yet, the exhaustion remains.

4: I thought I'd be happier when I arrived. I never through the trail would be easy. Plenty of stories regarding cholera, disease, Indian attacks and food shortages made their way back to Missouri. I knew the journey would be hard, and I even thought some of my family wouldn't make it. Thank the Lord they did. While they we had our struggles and trail life was not meant for all, we made it. But at what cost?

5: My supplies are virtually all gone. The vultures that occupied the towns along the way made sure of that as they gouged prices to the point of robbery. My oxen fell consistently along the trail, and the only ones that left died soon after arriving from cold or becoming lame. The last of my savings was just spent securing the land claim I longed for so desperately

6: The dust was the most insufferable part of the journey. Perhaps the travelers who made it back did not think dust a worthy consideration. Perhaps in retelling their stories to eager ears they thought only tales of Indian raids would warrant the respect they craved, and thus neglected to tell the worst part of the journey. As hundreds of wagons crossed the trail, dust clouds seem to stretch for miles. It was an omnipotent force, like the devil himself was flowing through the land. It choked our lungs, dried our throats, dirtied our darkest clothes and made the holiest of men appear the lowliest of beggars. Not even sleep would bring peace to our reddened eyes

9: My children woke up in the middle of the night, coughing up what their lungs have been ingesting for weeks. Jared still complains of sore throat though our bodies have come upon Oregon air. My wife would plead for a break among a clearing trees in the hopes of a fresh spot of air. Barely weeks into the journey I covered my face constantly, fearful that Lucifer would find a way into my weakened lungs and body.

10: My family was spared the tragedy of many. In our train of roughly 100, 6 whole wagons of people were lost. Some were lost to the horror cholera, a true blight upon the land. Their deaths were among the worst, as their bodies expelled moisture to the point of emaciation and finally, death. Others were lost as our wagons attempted to ford the rivers. An unfortunate soul was trampled after he fell out of a wagon. Some simply couldn't keep up the relentless pace, and never woke up from their slumber.

12: As I lay here relieved of my journey that has finally closed, I'm not sure I can say the worst is behind me. The stories of a promised land motivated me through the grueling miles, the constant ailments, the choking dust and regular tragedy around me. Tales of healthfulness abound Oregon's fresh air and streams filled the streets in the early 1850s. One person said pigs roamed around, pre-cooked with forks and knives sticking out of their guts for convenience. A fools tale of course, but captured the spirit of amazement at the time. Others talked of the fertility of the land, where onions grew so large they could not fit in one's pocket, and land barely needed cultivation to grow wondrous crops. Of course, I cared little for these stories as much as I cared for the land.

15: Great Grandmother | But now that I am here, I can't help but wonder for the future. I have my land, and it's a glory to behold. But there is no work around here. The settlements are growing, but jobs are scarce. I'm content to farm, and I will do so. However, my money is spent and I have little in the ways of tools. With all that said, its good to be home

17: Our Ancestors

18: Parents | Grandparents | Great Grandparents

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  • By: Ross E.
  • Joined: over 5 years ago
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  • Title: Reflections from the Oregon Trail
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  • Published: over 5 years ago