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The Oregon Trails

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1800-1860's was a vital period of time for the United States of America as it was the time when the movement westward in the States happened. Within these years three significant events – each benefitting the next. The establishment of the Oregon Trail, the California Gold Rush, and the Homestead Act of 1862.

The Oregon Trails were a practical, inexpensive way for migrants to move across to the West with wagons, even across the mountains. These elements were very important as it was a powerful pull factor that encouraged whites to go west. The government profoundly encouraged people to move west as they wanted to establish it as American property, instead of sharing it with the British. In 1841, they funded a $30,000 for an expedition to map the Oregon Trail. The expedition was led by Fremont and his reports made the journey sound achievable and intriguing, showing that the risks were manageable and not anything to worry about. So due to curiosity and government propaganda, the number of white settlers using the trail grew until in 1869 the trail was replaced by the first Transcontinental Railroad. By that time 400,000 people had migrated using the Oregon Trail.

The next big push of people moving to the west was the California Gold Rush. Before the Gold Rush of 1849, California was sparsely populated. It was a 'useless' territory to the United States mostly populated by the people of Mexico. However, this all changed when on January 24, 1848, a small-time sawmill operator, named James W. Marshall found a gold nugget in the American River. Everyone and anyone who could walk or ride abandoned their homes and went to the Sierras. Not only did the Gold Rush lead to California’s extraordinary increase in population, but it also rekindled the idea of the American Dream. Thousands of people flooded into the state by the lure of quick and infinite riches, taking everything they had and jumping onto the nearest wagon to California.



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