What Are Some Characteristics of the Oregon Trail?

The Oregon Trail stretched over 2,000 miles from Missouri to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. It spanned six different states including Kansas, Missouri and Idaho, as well as Nebraska, Wyoming and Oregon. The eastern part of the trail covered parts of Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming, while its western half covered Oregon and Idaho. The trail stretched through an uneven terrain of deserts, mountains and endless prairies.

The Oregon Trail was one of the main emigrant routes to the American West in the mid-18th century. The first people to build and use the trail were missionaries, fur traders and trappers between 1811 and 1840. They traveled along the trail by foot, horseback and migrant wagon trains.

The trail had various starting points and converged near Nebraska. Branches from the trail provided connections to destinations in California and the Great Salt Lake region. Travelers on the California, Bozeman and Mormon Trails also used the Oregon Trail.

The trip from Missouri to Oregon took four to six months by wagon traveling 15 miles each day. During the migration season, there would be a massive traffic jam on the trail as the settlers left for the west. Many accidents occurred along the way, including being run over by wagons, accidental gunshots and cholera outbreaks.