Growing up in Oregon we learned at a young age about the importance of our home State in our nation's history. In particular, a town just outside of Portland named Oregon City since it is home to the Official End of the Oregon Trail, one of the most grueling journeys across our country by the families and animals of the 1840s. They sought a more prosperous life and fertile soil and they sacrificed enormously for it out of the sheer hope that the tales they had heard of a bountiful West, were true.
Trying to get a class of 4th graders in the 1990s to understand the sacrifices made by these settlers and why it was so important was pretty challenging as you can imagine. So the brilliant teachers had us attempt to recreate the Oregon Trail by transforming little red garden wagons into fully tented trail wagons, allowing us to pick a select few pieces of tools or keepsakes that we could fit in the wagon and having us randomly select a myriad of hardships that we would face along the trail. Then we went to the nearby forest and walked with our little wagons in tow and “experienced” our miniature version of the Oregon Trail.
It was an experience that I still think about today and value greatly. However, it was quite an endeavor for the teachers and parents to pull it off. Luckily, if you would like your kids to experience their own version or just want to learn about the expansive history that surrounds the Oregon Trail, Mt. Hood Territory is home to several heritage sites that have everything dialed in for a fully immersive and interactive history lesson. Places like The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Oregon City and Philip Foster Farm in Eagle Creek showcase the history year-round with period dressed volunteers and hands-on exhibits and events.
This year marks the 175th Anniversary of the Oregon Trail and in commemoration of that, Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory has partnered with cities, regions and social media influencers to tell the stories of the Modern Pioneer on an expedition across the entire Oregon Trail in 2018. This allows for the opportunity to pay homage to the past while showcasing the stories of the present-day leaders continuing on the intent of the original settlers so that you can see all the beautiful sites and opportunities available today. Follow along with us!