Women Report from the Trail
Have you ever experienced something unusual or memorable and felt like you had to write it down? While migrating west along the Oregon Trail, many pioneers wrote about their experiences and observations. Some of these writings were eventually published.
Elizabeth Wood kept a record of her journey from Peoria, Illinois, to Oregon. Wood’s diary entries were published by her hometown newspaper, the Peoria Weekly Republican, in 1852. Here are parts of what she wrote in August 1851, after she and her traveling companions entered Oregon:
August 3: “Here it is quite cold and ‘winter is coming.’ The weeds are as dry and brown as they are in Illinois quite late in the fall. . . . Here the roads were so bad, as we went over the steep hills and clambered over the rocks, I could hardly hold myself in the wagon. Sometimes the dust is so great that the drivers cannot see their teams [of horses] at all though the sun is shining brightly, and it is a great relief to the way-worn traveler to meet with some mountain stream.”
August 9: “After experiencing so many hardships, you doubtless will think I regret taking this long and tiresome trip, and would rather go back than proceed to the end of my journey. But, no, I have a great desire to see Oregon, and besides, there are many things we meet with—the beautiful scenery of plain and mountain, and their inhabitants, the wild animals and the Indians, and natural curiosities in abundance—to compensate us for the hardships and mishaps we encounter. People who do come must. . . put up with storm and cloud as well as calm and sunshine; wade through rivers, climb steep hills, often go hungry, keep cool and good natured always, and possess courage and ingenuity equal to any emergency, and they will be able to endure unto the end. A lazy person should never think of going to Oregon.”
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