Visit Five key locations on the Oregon National Historic Trail, perhaps the most famous of the Western Expansion Trails, with the America’s Parks YouTube channel. The vlogger and his daughter took a road trip through Western Nebraska and Eastern Wyoming to find natural landmarks and national monuments along the historic trail. Sights include Courthouse and Jail Rock, Chimney Rock, Scott’s Bluff, Register Cliff, and Fort Laramie.
In 1800, America’s western border reached only as far as the Mississippi River. Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 the country nearly doubled in size and pushed its western edge past the Rocky Mountains. Yet the wilderness known as Oregon Country (which included present-day Oregon, Washington and part of Idaho) still belonged to the British, a fact that made many Americans eager to settle the region and claim it for the United States.
American Indians had traversed this country for many years, but for European Americans it was unknown territory. Lewis and Clark’s secretly funded expedition in 1803 was part of a U.S. Government plan to open Oregon Country to settlement. However, the hazardous route blazed by this party was not feasible for families traveling by wagon. An easier trail was needed.
Robert Stuart of the Astorians (a group of fur traders who established Fort Astoria on the Columbia River in western Oregon) became the first white man to use what later became known as the Oregon Trail. Stuart’s 2,000-mile journey from Fort Astoria to St. Louis in 1810 took 10 months to complete; still, it was a much less rugged trail than Lewis and Clark’s route.