Stops along the way on the Oregon Trail

The history along the Oregon Trail has tried to be collected and saved throughout the years.

Some of the routes and stories have been changed a bit by organizations trying to get their name and works better known for those who are to come along latter.

According to the 1850 census, one-quarter of the Oregon Trail travelers came from Missouri. The actual ruts or swales in the earth are hard to change but the stories about what group actually made that particular route may be disputed. 

Even though the ruts are actually swales (a sunken spot in the earth with gently sloping sides) in most areas, there have been scientific ways to tell where the earth had been tamped (rolled over) hundreds of thousands times. 

Not only does the earth have indentations, the grasses or vegetation grows differently in the compacted soil. 

The compaction is not noticed in areas where the wagons didn’t need to follow through a gap or river crossing. 

The fact is that most of the wagons preferred not to travel directly behind another wagon because of the dust from the leading wagons. 

In many areas the wagons were spread out over a mile-and-a-half path and would gather together at night. This was not like we saw on the TV show. 

The areas where the ruts are visible are indeed undeniable, some being shoulder-high as at the Guernsey Pass in Wyoming. 

One of the first really noticeable ruts or swales was in Ogallala, Nebraska. The swales went right through an interstate rest stop.

As we traveled into Nebraska we started to encounter many interesting stops, two of which were the Great Platt River Archway and the Fort Kearny State Historic Park. 

The Archway is a wonderful interactive, walk-a-long museum where you can listen to an electronic recording of what is being shown to you and take your time enjoying the history of the Oregon Trail.  

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