AudioBooks by Rick Steber
The spot was originally established as a supply stop and eventually became a Pony Express station. A toll bridge built specifically for the pioneers crossed a creek here—before the bridge, travelers had to lower their wagons into the creek and hoist them out.
The tracks at Guernsey are among the most impressive remnants of Oregon Trail history. Almost every pioneer had to pass through the same spot here, going over soft sandstone. Over time, each wagon wore down the rock a bit more The ruts eventually became five feet deep, and visitors can walk through them for a real pioneer experience.
South of Guernsey is Register Cliff , where many pioneers carved their names into the rock to document their passage. DeSmet in The longest, steepest climb on the Oregon Trail, the hill had an even more dangerous descent.
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Tracks are still visible going up the hill, and are also visible on the way back down, into Bear River Valley. Just below the modern-day National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center on Flagstaff Hill—where pioneers got their first glimpse of the Baker Valley—seven miles of wagon ruts are visible across the ground. This site has what might be the first passing lanes in the west; some of the ruts run parallel to one another , implying that some wagons passed others going slower in order to get to Powder River first.
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Science Age of Humans. Future of Space Exploration. Human Behavior. Our Planet. Earth Optimism Summit. Ingenuity Ingenuity Festival. The Innovative Spirit. Travel Taiwan. American South. Travel With Us. At the Smithsonian Visit. New Research. Curators' Corner. Ask Smithsonian. Photos Submit to Our Contest. Photo of the Day. The way of life they had known for countless centuries was doomed.
The men who ride the open range of the far West are known under a variety of names: vaquero, range rider, mustanger and buckaroo, but the name most commonly known is cowboy. The nature of a cowboy's work demands independence and toughness. He is a man of action; yet the long, lonely hours spent in the saddle provide ample time to develop a unique outlook on life.
Simply put, a cowboy's tenet is, 'What cannot be cured is endured. It is far better to joke about the droughts, windstorms, blizzards, outlaw mustangs and loco cattle than to complain. The cowboy would never have existed without his horse. Like the cowboy, the horse is referred to by an assortment of names: mustang, bronco, cayuse and, sometimes, jughead, broomtail, nag, hay burner, plug and other even less complimentary epithets.
The ancestors of the western horse date back to the animals brought to America by Cortez and the conquistadores. As the Spanish mounts escaped, were lost or stolen, the horse began its phenomenal spread across western North America.
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The high desert was first settled by daring stockmen who drove in foundation herds, numbering in the thousands. The cattle thrived on the native grasses and when the steers were ready for market, cowboys on horseback drove them to railroad towns in the Midwest.
With the invention of barbed wire in and an influx of homesteaders who claimed waterholes and divided up the range, the heyday of the big outfits and their cowboys passed into history.
Tales of the Wild West: Oregon Trail Vol. 1 by Rick Steber (1986, Paperback)
But as long as there is open sky, rimrock, bunch grass, sagebrush and juniper, cowboys will still ride the range. Early-day women of the West are depicted in fading photographs: a gaunt, bonneted figure in a long dress walking beside a wagon, baby cradled in her arms, children scattered behind, a woman, looking older than her years, stirring lye soap over an open fire, a dancehall girl on stage, miners watching her every move Letters and diaries tell the details of these women's existence, the sorrow of being uprooted from family and friends, the yearning for companionship of other women, bearing children without the benefit of a doctor and trying to rear them in an uncivilized land.
One turn-of-the-century, Western historian noted, 'With the coming of woman came also the graces of life, better social order and conditions, and increased regard for the amenities of life. Eastern women were relegated to conduct themselves within strictly-established social boundaries. Western women were allowed more freedom to stretch their wings and explore the realm of their existence. And in the process they tamed the wild West. The first white children to come west were sons and daughters of the pioneers.
They trudged barefooted beside the wagons, across the dusty plains, through the heat and the prickly pear cactus and over the mountains of sharp volcanic rocks. Some never made it and piles of stones and improvised crosses marked their graves.
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Those who survived found a wonderful playground out west. A playground of bright-colored rocks, slow-moving streams, wide-open spaces and deep, dark forests. Mothers watched over their young because if a child wandered away, he or she might be carried off by a wild animal or stolen by lndians. Children of the frontier were seasoned to a hard life.
They had to be strong and resilient and were forced to grow up quickly. By the time a boy was eight or nine he knew how to handle a rifle and hunted wild game for meat. He helped his father clear land, split rails, build fence and farm with a team of horses. Girls worked beside their mothers, picking wild berries, making lye soap, rendering hogs, washing on a scrub board, cooking over a woodstove The list of time-consuming chores went on and on.
By the time a girl was fourteen or fifteen she was ready to marry and start a family of her own and the circle of life continued. Logging in North America began with the arrival of European colonists in the s. In a few short decades there were water-powered sawmills scattered up and down the eastern seaboard with the main concentration in northern New England. The lumber was used to build ships, furniture, kegs and barrels, buggies and wagons.
As the loggers cleared areas in the forest, others arrived to farm the ground. It took years for the timber to be logged from the eastern seaboard. The loggers and lumbermen moved inland to the Great Lakes region and when they had high graded the timber there, they continued west to northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Lumberman Samuel Wilkeson wrote in , on viewing the Western forests for the first time, 'Oh!
Related Oregon Trail (Tales of the Wild West Book 1)
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