That’s the Spirit! The Pioneer Spirit… the very Essence of America!!
Yes! The Pioneer Spirit inspired the westward emigration of approximately 500,000 men, women and children to brave new trails in pursuit of their dreams as they traveled along the Overland Trails between the years of 1840 – 1869.
Yet the root of this great westward migration (the only unforced mass migration recorded in human history) began with the seed of a thought sown in the mind of President Thomas Jefferson whose dream was to discover an overland passage across the continent which would link the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast. The following historic facts are the result of Jefferson’s Dream:
- 1803 – Purchase of the Louisiana Territory doubled the size of the United States and inspired President Jefferson’s dream of an Overland Passage to the Pacific Coast;
- 1804-1806 – Corps of Discovery, commissioned by Jefferson and led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, set out on the first transcontinental expedition to scientifically study the new territory and establish an overland route to the Pacific Coast;
- 1812 – Astorian Robert Stuart first discovered South Pass and blazed the Oregon Trail;
- 1824 – Jedediah Smith’s re-discovery of South Pass opened the Way to the West;
- 1832 – Captain Benjamin Bonneville led the first wagons over the South Pass summit;
- 1842 – John Charles Fremont set the stage for the great Westward Migration by announcing the ease of crossing over South Pass;
- 1840-1869 – Astorians first pioneered the Oregon Trail in 1840, Marcus Whitman led the first Methodist Missionaries to Oregon in 1842 for free land and a better way of life;
- 1841-1869 – James Marshall’s discovery of gold in 1848 at Sutter’s Mill caused the California Gold Rush which greatly increased travel along the California Trail;
- 1846-1868 – Brigham Young established the Mormon Trail and led the first group of Mormons out of Nauvoo, Illinois to the Great Basin of Utah to flee religious persecution;
- 1860-1861 – The Pony Express mail service was established to speedily deliver messages carried by horseback riders in relays from station to station across the vast plains, prairies, mountains and deserts of the West in about 10 days;
- 1861 – Invention of the Telegraph decommissioned the Pony Express mail service after just 18 months of operation;
- 1869 – Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Point, Utah, linked the East to the West by rail.
Despite the passage of approximately 200 years of time, segments of our historic trails remain intact, visible to all those whom dream to walk in the footsteps of our Pioneers. To this day, wagon trains make yearly treks across the Overland Trails introducing students, young and old alike, to the Living History of those that defined our history and heritage. The early Pioneers followed rivers and streams, and followed landmarks and trails, but most of all… they followed their dreams!
In 1999, hired by the National Park Service to travel with a wagon train in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the California Gold Rush, I walked from Nebraska to California, gathered data, kept seven journals, and took more than 2500 photos along the way. The journey changed the direction of my life. Now I aspire to share my story since learning that of the 5,000+ miles of original trails, less than 100 miles remain intact today. Therefore, it is my intent to advocate for the preservation of our historic trails and western heritage for the sake of our progeny, one lesson learned at a time. Because whenever a portion of our trails are lost, we lose a piece of our history and heritage forever.
For information regarding my True Story, Are We There Yet? and Lessons Learned Along the Way, available in print and eBook, as well as Trailslady Tales live presentations to schools and civic organizations, please contact Trailslady. Invite me to your school, trails center or civic organization! It would be an honor to meet you and speak to your group.
Give the sense of Adventure, Self-Discovery and Encouragement to our youth! Aspire to inspire everyone to “Follow their dreams… no matter how far they must roam!”
The world’s greatest thinkers, artists, creators, philosophers, explorers, pioneers, innovators, and history-makers did… and that has made all the difference!!
Now YOU can make a difference too!
The Education Appreciation sale offers “Are We There Yet… eBook for Educators” for just $10 per teacher and/or librarian! Don’t delay… purchase TODAY!
Gift your favorite classroom and/or library by donating “eBook for Educators” for the sake of our posterity !
Gift your youth, family and friends with “eBook for Everyone.”
As an educator myself, it is my sincere desire to inspire each of you, to follow YOUR dreams, no matter how far you must roam!
That’s the Spirit… the Pioneer Spirit… the very Essence of America!!
I did… and that has made all the difference!!
April L. Whitten
Trailslady, Geoarchaeologist, Photographer & Author Wimberley, Texas
Are We There Yet? and Lessons Learned Along the Way… eBook for Everyone is a one-of-a-kind adventure book of tall tales about a contemporary journey by wagon train along our historic trails. This is a TRUE STORY… an idyll for “children of all ages” and illustrated with 110 full-page full-color photographs. Now available, for a limited time only… for just $10!
Download onto your iPad, Kindle Fire, Tablet or PC today!
PPS: When it comes to books, “Go GREEN! Buy ‘E!’”