The Oregon Trail was much more than a pathway to the state of Oregon; it was the only practical corridor to the entire western United States. The places we now know as Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho and Utah would not be a part of the United States today were it not for the Oregon Trail. That's because the Trail was the only feasible way for settlers to get through the mountains.
The Oregon Trail generally follows the Platte River to its headwaters; and then crosses the mountains. The Oregon Trail then follows the Snake River until it reached the Columbia that then flows into the Pacific Ocean.
The journey west on the Oregon Trail was exceptionally difficult. One out of ten died along the way; many walked the entire 2,000 miles barefoot. Quite the contrary, most native tribes were quite helpful to the people. The real enemies of the explorers and travelers were cholera, poor sanitation and accidental gunshots.
The biggest problem on the Trail was a mysterious and deadly disease called cholera; which had no cure. Often, an emigrant would go from healthy to dead in just a few hours. Sometimes they received a proper burial or the sick would just be abandoned in their beds or on the side of the trail. Making matters worse, animals regularly dug up the bodies and scattered them on the trail with human bones and body parts. Agnes Stewart said: "We camped at a place where a woman had been buried and the wolves dug her up. Her hair was there with a comb still in it. She had been buried too shallow. It seems a dreadful fate, but what is the difference? One cannot feel after the spirit is flown."
The wagons they traveled on didn't have any safety...