People Died In Ghastly Ways Along The Oregon Trail
Today we drive across America in climate-controlled vehicles, doing 80 miles per hour or so.
Or we fly coast to coast in a matter of a few hours.
But, as you know, the first to make those roads, coast to coast, had no roads at all.
350,000 people pushed along the 2,170-mile-long Oregon Trail between 1841 and 1869.
The last documented crossing was in 1909.
20,000 to 30,000 died in some horrific ways.
Water is necessary.
But water can KILL!
Rivers got high and moved too fast. Many people were swept away.
Wet soil made mud so deep it sucked down wagon wheels and made muck and quicksand that even animals could not get out of.
Tainted or contaminated water made many sick and caused painful deaths.
Blizzards trapped and killed many who tried to travel just a little out of season.
Summer heat baked many travelers to death.
Animals killed many
Their own animals might panic or rebel.
Then there were snakes and bugs that bit.
The smallest killer was disease.
Diseases may have claimed as many as 30,000 victims.
Cholera was a huge problem that could kill its victim within twelve hours of its first symptom.
Measles was particularly bad among children in wagon trains.
Then there was scurvy, smallpox, pneumonia, typhoid fever, colds, food poisoning dysentery, just to name a few.
The Doctor might kill
There were few doctors on the trail.
Most had never seen diseases like these.
Most doctors did not have much to work with.
In many cases, it was the cure that killed people.
They killed each other
Tensions were high.
With no law around, they killed each other, sometimes over the dumbest things.
They could not carry much food.
What they could carry was not always the best for them, though it was filling, it may not satisfy what the body was really needing.
Running out of food was always a big problem.
Bad Avice or Direction
Getting a bad map or bad direction would lead people astray.
Many got lost and died, wandering the West, or stuck in the mountains.
The Donner Party is a prime example.