One of the most famous mountain men was Jim Bridger, he joined a fur
trapping expedition when he was 18. He found many routes through the
Rockies, later escorting travellers to start a new life in the west.
Although he couldn't read it was said that he had a photographic memory
for landscape and that he used to create maps of the Territory. In 1943
he built Fort Bridger, which was a staging post on the route to the west.
Once people like Jim had established the routes to the West coast and
the lands of Oregon and California the first settlers set out from the
eastern United States. These people were called 'pioneers' and they were
attracted by the idea of finding themselves a new home or making their
From 1830 onwards" small groups of pioneers set
off from towns in Missouri like St Louis and Independence to cross
the Great Plains. In 1843 the first large group of pioneers left for
Oregon. About 1,000 settlers made the difficult journey along the'
Oregon Trail'. Whole families travelled with their belongings in covered
wagons. The Great Plains were called the Prairie ocean' so sometimes
these wagons were referred to as 'Prairie schooners', because they
looked like boats sailing on the grassland of the Plains. The Oregon
trail was dangerous, progress was slow and many people died on the
way. 10,000 people died on the journey between 1835 and 1855.The pioneers
faced attacks by the Indians, diseases like smallpox and cholera, blizzards
and heavy rainfall. Most of the people who made the journey to California
and Oregon went there to obtain a piece of land for themselves. Other
groups, for example people like the 'Mormons' were escaping religious
persecution or from famine. Between 1845 and 1847 one and a half million
people emigrated from Ireland because of famine. Thousands of them
made their way to the west coast of America.
History of the West - Native
American Peoples Of the Plains - Gold
Fever - Ranches
on the Plains - Cowboys - Homesteaders - The
Railroad - Justice in the Wild West - War
Between The Settlers and The Native American Indians