The Oregon Trail holds a unique place in the history of the United States. Thousands of pioneers used the trail to populate the middle and western parts of the country in the 19th century.
In the eighteen hundreds, the east coast of the United States had become overcrowded and expensive. For relief, people looked to the opportunities in the then limitless west. Over the next 100 years, hundreds of thousands of people underook the six month quest to find a better life. Tens of thousands lost along the route.
The Oregon Trail begins in Independence, Missouri and winds its way to the Willamette River Valley in Oregon. Follow the trail from beginning to end and you'll pass through the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho.
Tracking the Oregon Trail can take a month by car, so I am going to highlight certain spots in this and further articles. Arrow Rock, Missouri is as good a place as any to start.
Arrow Rock, Missouri
Although Independence, Missouri is technically the beginning of the Oregon Trail, Arrow Rock is a better place to start. Arrow Rock is a tiny town of maybe 100 people and remains much the way it was during the hey day of the Oregon Trail. You'll get a real taste of the way things were by visiting the tavern and old seminary. One of the odd attractions is the Calaboose.
Arrow Rock has the rather procedural Calaboose Jail. Built of stone, the jail is particular because it is built for only one person. By one person, I mean no lobby, no office, no nothing, just a stone structure with one wooden door.
To get a better understanding of Arrow Rock, make sure to visit the Arrow Rock Historic Site center. For lodging, there are four or five bed and breakfast options in the town. Campers can stay at the Arrow Rock Historic Site camping grounds.
Visiting Arrow Rock is like stepping back into the Wild West. Look to the west and you can get a feel for how the pioneers felt as they started their long journey.