In the early 1800′s the Oregon Trail was created by fur trappers and others traveling westward by horse or on foot to the Pacific coast. It took several months to traverse on foot. By the mid 1800′s the Oregon Trail was sufficiently established to be passable by wagon, and countless wagon trains were organized to take people from Missouri to points west. At that time, there were no transcontinental trains, which would have taken a week to get there, and boats were only able to be used for parts of the trip. Even those who could travel by boat often had to deal with the dangers of rapids, whirlpools and other obstacles.
Trading posts along the trail were sometimes the only places to buy food and supplies and animals, or to get wagons repaired. Horses and oxen needed grass and water along the route, and sometimes sickened and died, making the trip even more difficult. Travelers had to begin the cross country trip in the spring, so they could travel during the warmer months but bad weather still created many problems. People on the Oregon Trail had to endure long stretches where no food could be found, or medicines, and many died. Add to that the very real danger of being attacked by hostile Indians, and it is amazing that almost a half million people passed along the Oregon Trail, keeping their spirits up with the hope of finding cheap or free land, building houses, establishing businesses and beginning new lives in the West.
The present difficulties of cross country travel seem tame in comparison. Travelers face modern problems regarding moving– choosing a reputable moving company or arranging to haul everything yourself, the time and trouble of packing, the cost of fuel, and where to stop along the way–whether to stay at a hotel, a camp site or driving straight through with relief drivers. It can still be an adventure to travel across the country, but the trip is often filled with long stretches of uninteresting landscapes, far distances between rest room facilities, and similar inconveniences. If your car needs repairs you can call a towing service or find a mechanic without too much difficulty.