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Old 01-24-2008, 07:05 PM   #1
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Oregon Trail 1849-2009 Airstreaming

I follow the Western Boondocking forum, but understand that not everyone reads all of the Boondocking forums. This idea also includes those of you living in the Mid West. If you would add your "gold nuggets" of advice, it would be greatly appreciated.



The Oregon Trail has been well researched, marked with monuments and many people today visit the important stops along the trail on vacations. The trail began in Independence and Westport, Missouri and ended near Dalles, Oregon or Oregon City for the historians. The trail begins in Missouri and crosses the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and finishes in Oregon. A total of 1,819 to 1,930 miles as the "trail flies" and the particular route taken.

I am a geologist. Not an American historian, but rocks and the wagon wheel are bonded to eternity with the ruts cut into the fields and bluffs of the American West. Nancy and I have visited scattered points in Missouri, Wyoming and Idaho in our travels of the Oregon Trail/Mormon Trail/Pony Express/California Trail. I imagine our trailer not much different than the covered wagon, without the livestock pulling and the smell of hot canvas. O.K. lets drop the comparison.

I would find this modern retracing of the Oregon Trail in Airstream trailers a bit of a modern challenge. Although the possibility of Indians looking for their toll to cross their land is diminished some, there still is much adventure left to experience. And traveling among a group of Rockdocking Airstreamers and other trailers could be an excellent excuse to get off the highway and experience the discovering our American heritage.

I propose today, that there are hardy Airstreamers, capable and experienced with black top and dirt roads that would take a 160 year challenge to travel the entire route from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon OR parts thereof in individual states.

Airstreamers not concerned with the dust, boondocking and rockdocking portions of the trip might be interested in putting this together. Each having their own section of the Oregon Trail to research and to guide. Any takers in those states? If not, we will do it in our own time, but there is nothing better than sharing an experience with others of like minds. May those minds be daring or conservative, as a group we would ALL make it.

I would be honored to coordinate those people interested and supply basic information that can help in locating strategic sites to visit and some options to site camps. Even if the camps are along a dirt road, paved RV Park or among the hill sides of the western parts of the route or a Wall Mart parking lot.

List of provisions required or advised would be provided by those who take on a share of the responsibility. Encouraged are rock picks, fly rods and swimming trunks... Kids, dogs and the grandkids. Or is this another one of my numerous personal adventures that no body else gives a hoot about?

I propose 2009, as it is too late to make it a 2008 trip. This could also be an Airstreaming '49er to the Mother Lode of California opportunity as well. I would call this an opportunity for some of you to discover a true Rockdocking adventure. Any takers?
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Old 01-24-2008, 07:19 PM   #2
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great idea!

i regularly a/s along sections of the o.t. the s.f.t. and the l.c.t.

many of the really tiny nearly gone towns n settlements along these routes have historic sites, wagon ruts and so on...

it's pretty simple stuff, but very interesting and so are the people...

and the weather is always an issue!

good luck with the adventure...

2air'

and some bicycling friends did the o.t. a few years ago, it was quite a trip...

adventure cycling now has bike friendly maps and route info available to members on the o.t.

that could be useful on an a/s trip...
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:00 PM   #3
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We too "step" into sections of the trails when we travel from here through Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho. Just haven't yet gotten to Oregon or California by Airstream. We seek out and love to find evidence of the trails and people who pioneered West on them. We also look for the stories of the Native Americans who were already living in these beautiful lands. We visit as many of the Lewis and Clark sites as we can find as we meander. Good proposal! I suspect there are many here who also like to travel in history's footprints. ~G
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:15 PM   #4
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I love to read pioneer stories, and this is my favorite so far:

Amazon.com: One Woman's West: Recollections of the Oregon Trail and Settling of the Northwest Country: Books: Martha Gay Masterson

It's a woman's journal of travelling to Oregon on the trail, and then growing up in the Willamette Valley. It's most interesting because so many of the places she lived are very familiar to me, and some seem to not exist at all anymore. I would love to retrace her steps and see where she lived.

I think retracing the trail would be fascinating, but to be authentic you have to walk it just like they did!
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:59 PM   #5
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Sounds like a great idea... I think once you might post what the route might look like (I would have to look at a map...) and where folks could join up for part or all of the trip you might just have some followers!

Living here in Northern California we had the Yreka trail that branched off of the Oregon Trail. Our little portion is known as the "bloodiest trail"... more deaths occured along the Yreka Trail than any other.... but then they passed right through the Modoc Country (near Tulelake, CA) where the Modoc Indian War happened in the 1870s or so... Interesting stuff. We have a local man who has walked most of the trails and documented them here, a Mr. Richard Silva. Retired guy. Very busy man! He has written several booklets that the local Siskiyou County Museum self-publishes. Here is a website that has a lot of Richard's information: California - Nevada Chapter OCTA Trail Photos/ Southern Route


You might check out this link, has lots of interesting info:
Oregon-California Trails Association

Cool idea. Keep info coming!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi traveling in S Tardis ~ from the Great State of Jefferson
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Old 03-05-2011, 06:26 PM   #6
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what happened? I am missing the punch line... Did any of you attempt this journey? What did you find? Anxious to hear the end of the story, as we are taking a similar journey this summer and are looking at following Oregon Trail vs Lewis and Clark, to go to Mt. Rushmore/Badlands from Missouri.
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Old 03-05-2011, 07:03 PM   #7
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I'd love to take a leisurely trip with pretty scenery, fine dining, romantic nights . . .

Boy, would my wife be pissed!
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Old 11-05-2011, 03:07 PM   #8
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Update Oregon Trail adventure

We drove from Independence, Missouri to eastern Oregon on our adventure. Once you get into Wyoming, the camping options are greatly expanded. We detoured north to Fort Robinson, Nebraska on our way west through Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

Onward to the numerous landmarks in Wyoming along the North Platte River and past the numerous RV parks along the route. Any Wyoming State map will get you started to see the wagon ruts and Register Cliff near Guernsey, Wyoming. Now... once you find yourself leaving civilization of eastern Wyoming and enter the high plains a wonderful camping spot can be visited.

Oregon Buttes. On page 28 of the DeLorme atlas for Wyoming, B3. About ten miles south of South Pass, Wyoming and almost on the Sweetwater County line. Traveling northeast on Highway 28, Oregon Buttes can be seen on your east for some distance. A county maintained road will take you east to a camping area about 5.9 miles, just a mile north of Oregon Buttes. The atlas shows an irregular patchwork of roads, but you will find the main road for two way traffic well maintained. About two miles of gravel you will see the area I have in the photographs. A two rut road leads you to a camping area for seven or more trailers. This is to the south of the main gravel road. The GPS location is N42 degrees, 17.743 minutes, W108 degrees, 52.228 minutes at 7798 feet elevation. No water, no services, but within an hour to the north there is civilization and gasoline at Lander or Farson just to the south. Farson has gasoline and water. Lander is a Wyoming city with all you might require... including ice cream cones for a hot July day.

The area is well known for Indian Artifacts, petrified wood, jade slicks in the prairie and numerous roads in the area to explore the fantastic eroded "badlands" along the Continental Divide. There are numerous Oregon Trail - Mormon Trail and Pony Express route markers. Pacific Spring is just to the north, flows clear, cold and sweet drinking water, although on private property, sometimes the rancher is tending fence with the family to ask... To the northwest ten miles is a camping area in the trees and Lander Creek flows all year. This can be found by turning to the west rather than to the east to explore Oregon Butte. The curators and citizens at South Pass City can tell you all the history you might have an interest. Be it pioneers or gold prospectors. My photos are of the Oregon Butte campsite. The high view is from the top of one of the Oregon Buttes, which has a primitive trail system to the top.

June to August provide warm to hot days and cool evenings. For the true Rockdocker camper, this area is almost ALL BLM and State lands. No fee camping and of course, no facilities for miles. No bear. No moose, elk or elephants to be found. Plenty of antelope. Good luck and all the way to eastern Oregon, there are many open space camping spots to find on your own.
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Old 11-05-2011, 04:50 PM   #9
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Wow, neat trip! I still want to get out there and see some of that someday.
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Old 11-05-2011, 06:34 PM   #10
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Looks like this was a fantastic trip!

We have crossed and seen bits and pieces of the Oregon Trail. Those old ruts in the earth are just amazing to see.

Thanks for sharing.


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Old 11-05-2011, 06:49 PM   #11
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An Oregon Trail "cutoff" found??

I just wanted to add a historical note. At this camp site there is on the southwest side of the hill a road cut. This "cut" is not modern, but appears to be wide enough for a wagon. We did not walk the trail all the way to the base, but suspect that if one of you are of the exploring kind and enjoy some adventure, this could be a one of a number of short cuts for the Oregon Trail through the area. Called cutoffs.

I did take a photograph of the obvious trail. Next time we stop I will search for bits of broken colored glass fragments. The Pacific Spring location is across the county gravel road. It can be located by finding a cattle pond. This spring feeds the cattle pond. I had no fear of taking a glass and filling it from the spring. Around 55 degree water, crystal clear and NO taste. It was flowing fast, even in the hot summer months.
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