Fantastic Oregon wine is not this region’s only claim to fame. The Oregon Trail was, of course, the “Gateway to the West” — and, if you’re the right age, a thrilling computer game! But the legendary route holds some surprises, even nearly two centuries later. Did you know:
- The Oregon Trail meandered. This wasn’t an interstate! The original route led pioneers through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon. But as people trekked through the frontier, they spanned out to hunt or find land to graze their animals. Some also went “off road” to cut new trails.
- Pioneers used “prairie schooners.” Most people think of the famed Conestoga wagon when they imagine the Oregon Trail. But these beasts were more like the 18-wheelers of today. They could carry in excess of 6 tons of freight. For faster (and we use that term loosely) travel, pioneers opted for the smaller “schooner,” which could cover 15-20 miles a day.
- Not the bacon! Money-grubbing opportunists often conned pioneers into over-buying for the 5 month trek. As a result, they had to offload supplies en route. Legend has it that during the Gold Rush, pioneers left behind 20,000 pounds of bacon. The horror!
- Disease was the enemy. Disease killed far more people (20,000) than attacks by Native Americans (about 400). “Indians” were far more likely to be allies on the journey, not adversaries.
- The Oregon Trail left an indelible mark. Literally and figuratively. The importance of this route on American history cannot be over-emphasized. Pioneers made their mark – you can still see the ruts from the wagons in all six states.
Pioneers embody the bold spirit of the United States; they struck out, searching for better lives. This thirst for adventure and improvement drives us today.
And if you’re still sad about all that wasted bacon, serve up scrumptious bacon-and goat-cheese stuffed mushrooms with a glass of bold Rainstorm Pinot Noir. Ok, maybe it’s not what the settlers would have eaten, but we think they’d pull up a feed bag and dig in with us!