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There will be two databases linked from here, history of each trail, and lists of who died

Recorded deaths along the trail





History books in school told us that the Oregon Trail started in Saint Louis, MO. in 1840 and ended at Oregon City in Oregon Territory.

But earlier trails were used by Louis and Clark in 1806, and even earlier by trappers and mountain men.

Early on the Whitman Party branched north from Vale to establish a mission near Walla Walla in Washington Territory.

In 1849 Gold was discovered in California, and at Ogden, Utah the Oregon Trail branched south to a California Trail, while the main trail continued on to Oregon.

The main trail marked in brown (upper right) branched off to the the Whitman Trail marked in Tan in 1838.

The dark brown trail ended at the Dalles, and from there wagon trains floated down the river on rafts to Fort Vancouver. This was the most dangerous part of the trail west as rafts often overturned.



See the really big map


The red trail across the Oregon desert was followed by the ill fated Meek train that ran out of water and 23 people died before their train gave up and turned north to safety at the Dalles.

Later on the orange trail was established as an easier trail to Eugene. The green trail was easier, but encountered hostile indians.

Here are three trails, 2 out of Missouri and 1 out of Iowa, which merged at Pawnee, Nebraska. 

From Pawnee the trail moved through Wyoming into Utah where it branched to California and to Oregon Territory. Note the short trail to the Salt Lake was later followed by the Mormons.

Later yet the green wagon road was built south to the gold rush, and later extended to Los Angeles. This approximates the I-5 and 99 highways we travel today.


Story of the Whitman Mission Trail portion off of the Oregon Trail.

Story of the building of the Barlow Road

Story of the building of the Free Emigrant Road across the Willamette Ridge

Story of the building of the Applegate Trail

Story of the building of the Meek Trail connecting with The Barlow Road and the Free Emigrant Trail

Story of the Santiam Trail from Linn County to Central Oregon Three Sisters.

Story of the development of the Columbia River level emigrant passage to Fort Vancouver.

Research and Narrative copyright 2003 by don kelly