National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier Idaho

TRAIL BASICS

A Day on the Trail

Eighteen to twenty miles a day over prairie was considered a good days travel

A bugler waking up the pioneers
 

Pioneers were awakened shortly before daybreak by the sound of

a bugle or a shotgun from the guard.

 

After several days on the trail,

certain routines were followed:

4:00 am:
a bugler blows a trumpet or a rifle is fired by the night guards to wake up the camp.

5:00 am: cattle are rounded up after being allowed to graze during the night (except when Indians threatened).

5:30 am: women and children are up and fixing breakfast of usually bacon, corn porridge or “Johnny Cakes” made of flour and water.

6:30 am: women rinse plates and mugs and stow bedding, while the men haul down tents and load them in the wagons.

A pioneer familyl
Pioneer family relax for a photograph
(click for larger version)

7:00 am: after every family has gathered their teams and hitched them to wagons, a trumpeter signals a “Wagons Ho,” to start the wagons down the trail. Average distance covered in a day was usually fifteen miles, but on a good day twenty could be traveled.

7:30 am: men ride ahead on horses with shovels to clear out a path, if needed.

“Nooning Time”: animals and people stop to eat, drink and rest.

1:00 pm: back on the trail.

5:00 pm: when a good campsite with ample water and grass is found, pioneers stop to set up camp for the evening. Wagons are formed into a corral.

6:00 pm: families unpack and make supper.

7:00 pm: mothers do chores, men smoke and talk, young people dance.

8:00 pm: camp settles down for the night, guards go out on duty.

Midnight: night guards are changed.



 

Trail Basics
The Trek West
The Starting Point
The Wagon
Mules, Horses or Oxen
Supplies
A Day on the Trail
Dangers
Indians