The End of the Oregon Trail

raft crossing at the Dalles

The Dalles

The Dalles was named by French-Canadian fur trappers for the French word for gutter. Here emigrants floated down the Columbia River in rafts through the stony river gorge. The passage, with emigrants and their wagons crowded onto a small wooden raft, was often perilous. As N.M. Bogart described in 1843, “When trying to pass some of the Cascades their frail craft would get caught in one of the many whirlpools, the water dashing over them, and drenching them through & through.

Our The Dalles Crossing wasn’t quite so treacherous.IMG_9329

But it was important to watch for unexpected rain squalls.

“rain” from squirt bottles

The final two stops on our Big Day were Fort Vancouver and Oregon City.  Sorry I don’t have any photos.

We took the 90+ fourth graders though the park in three shifts. Three Trail Guides each leading a train of about 10 students.

The first group went out from 9-11 AM. Shift two 11-1 The final train went out from 1-3.(their goal of getting to Oregon City before winter had double meaning as they also had to be back to school to catch the bus home)

When the first class returned to the school all three fourth grade classes met together in one classroom to have an Oregon Trail Lunch of baked beans and cornbread.beans & Cornbread 19th century pioneers milked the cow in the morning, hung a bucket of cream on the wagon, the bumping of the wagon over rough terrain gave them butter by meal time. The children made their own butter for the cornbread by shaking whipping cream until the buttermilk separated from the solids.

The highlight of my day was when I heard one girl say; “I hope I don’t pass so I can do this again next year.”

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4 Responses to The End of the Oregon Trail

  1. Nathalie says:

    It was very fun reading this whole series, thanks for sharing all this creativity and the photos with us. I feel like that little girl, I wish I had been able to go on your Oregon Trail 🙂

  2. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the Oregon Trail series, Nathalie.

  3. Lisa says:

    What a great way for kids to experience history in a hands-on way! I’m sure this will be a great school memory for many students. Thanks for sharing!

  4. One of the mothers who helped remembered doing a similar but less extensive Oregon Trail Big Day that’s what prompted her to volunteer when her son’s class was involved. I hope that repeats itself for many of these children when they have families of their own.

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