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The first stop on your journey is beautiful Buffalo, New York!

You gladly get off the stage at Buffalo and embark on a Great Lake Steamer.

Lake Erie! Cleveland! Ontario! Detroit! Lake Huron! Lake Michigan!

In Chicago, a city with a whopping 20,000 inhabitants, you disembark the Great Lake steamer only to board another water going vessel, a canal boat. This will take you to Peru, Illinois, a ride of about 100 miles.

You gladly get off the stage at Buffalo and embark on a Great Lake Steamer.

Lake Erie! Cleveland! Ontario! Detroit! Lake Huron! lake Michigan

In Chicago, a city with a whopping 20,000 inhabitants, you disembark the Great Lake steamer only to board another water going vessel, a canal boat. This will take you to Peru, Illinois, a ride of about 100 miles.

After Peru, the next leg of your trip will be aboard a river steam which will take you to St. Louis via the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.

It may seem unbelievable, but you have to change steamers again in St. Louis!

You are glad to discover this will be your last boat ride (not knowing that in a few short weeks you will long for a relaxing boat to ride).

You board another steamer in St. Louis and ride about 390 miles up the Missouri River to Independence, Missouri.

Hurry up and wait! You'll be in Independence in approximately two days!

You don't look long before you find the "Long Island Joint Mining and Stock Company" camp set up just north of Independence.

With a great amount of anticipation you enter camp!! --- It is 2,100 miles to California, but after only a few miles your company, and every other company heading west, realizes that the wagons are too heavy. You begin what will be the start of a continual process, lightening the wagons.

The traffic is very heavy leaving Independence. There must be hundr of wagons, usually pulled by six to eight mules or oxen, on the trail.

The trails become deply rutted, making passage difficult.

Wagon axles break, wheels fall off, wagons sink up to their axles in mud. If they cannot be pulled out, they are abandoned.

  • When you left Independence, you had this gnawing feeling you were leaving too early.
    You were right! Your wagon sank up to its axles in mud!
    You may have visions of gold, but stuck in mud is what you've got!

Forty-five miles down the trail, the trail forks. To the south is the Sante Fe trail; to the north, the Oregon-California trail.

Very few take the southern route.

It isn't long before the first Indians are encountered.

The first Indians encountered are the Shawnee and the Potawatomis. Much to the surprise of most travelers, and disappointment of some, they are very friendly and helpful.

Crossing the Kansas River!

You are now approaching the land of the Pawnee Indians! This is the tribe of Indians that is most feared by the travelers!!

It is necessary to keep a keen watch at all times!!

The plains teem with buffalo! Herds of them stretch as far as the eye can see. Wildlife is extremely abundant.

But the traveling masses do little to preserve their surroundings as they make haste to the West.

While traveling the trail you find that those who have gone before you have left a trail of litter and garbage.

If there was no trail, you would have hardly noticed; you could just follow the trash. It is a sad sight.

Also along the way, you find discouraged travelers heading back home in their wagons.

The first major milestone is Ft. Kearny. It was recently built by the U.S. Army to attempt to keep peace between the Pawnee and Sioux Indians.

Travelers look forward to Ft. Kearny for various reasons.

Some just want a place to mail letters; others are interested in how many others have passed before them; leaders want information on the condition of the trail ahead.


The trail is wide and way to traverse. The Platte River provides an ample supply of water. Between Ft. Kearny and Ft. Laramie the company should average 17 miles per day.

The upwards slope is so gentle that the animals barely feel the grade. Discarding those unnecessary items in Ft. Kearny really paid off!

The captain advises the rest of the company that this will be the easiest part of your trip, so you had better enjoy it!!

Due to the lack of wood to burn for fires, the common fuel substitute is buffalo chips.

They burn well if they are dry. If they are damp, they smoke a lot. If they are wet, they are next to fireproof!

One of the main obstacles between you and Ft. Laramie is the crossing of the South Platte River. What makes this crossing so difficult is that the river bed is like quicksand!!

The trail ahead will take the company by the most prominent landmarks of the trek and, also, of the West!

Along your journey you have encountered a few Indians and they have all been friendly, so far.

But just like pale faces, there are good and bad Indians.

You have just run into some of the bad!

This is just too gruesome to watch!!

These Indians saw the beautiful mules you selected back in Independence and wanted them.
And they got them, at no small price to you!
Every member of your company paid the price.
This is one powwow you would have rather missed!

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