National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier Idaho

Pioneers Talk About what they experienced while traveling through the bear lake valley
What real pioneers saw & experienced in the Bear Lake Valley while traveling the original Oregon/California Trail

Pioneer talking around the camp fire
(click for larger version)

 Emigrants found the six mile wide Bear River Valley an oasis after many hard and dry days crossing western Wyoming.  Here was grass, water, wildfowl, trout, elk, deer, wildberries, songbirds and cottonwood trees.

Following are selected comments by original Oregon/California pioneers as the passed through the Bear River section of the Oregon/California trail:

Journal Entries
Margaret A. Frink, 1850
Margaret Frink and her husband Ledyard traveled the Trail in 1850. Her diary is one of the best accounts of the Oregon Trail experience. Margaret was born in 1818 and married her husband in 1839. The Frinks had no children and lived in several eastern states before their decision to follow the gold trail to California in 1850. Upon arriving in Calfornia Margaret and her husband first settled in Sacramento. They lived in several parts of the state and spent the later years of their life in Oakland. Margaret died at the age of 74 in 1900.

Old pioneer journal pages
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Abigail Jane Scott, 1852
Abigail Scott traveled the trail with her family that included nine siblings.  Her father, Tucker Scott, assigned each older child specific duties for the trip.  Abigail was given the task of keeping the family journal.  Abbie was a slight girl who, after weary stretches of travel, would sit on the ground by the tent or near a wagon wheel with her book in her lap, while her father would give her "commands to keep the Diary correct."  Often she was just too weary to write.
Old pioneer journal pages
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J.T. Kerns, 1852
J.T. Kerns, a young farmer heading to Oregon, saw the Bear River Valley as potential farmland.
Old pioneer journal pages
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Polly Coon, 1852
Polly's husband Thomas was already in Oregon when she started west in 1852 with her four year old daughter Cornelia.  Polly kept her thoughts and feelings in her journal as she crossed the plains with a group of her relatives.
Old pioneer journal pages
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Joseph Goldsborough Bruff, 1849
Joseph Goldsborough Bruff, captained the Washington City Company wagon train in 1849. By July, he was completely disgusted, discouraged and disappointed with his company, but was very pleased upon reaching the Bear River - so pleased that he caught several fat black mice and made a mouse pie.
Old pioneer journal pages
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Enoch Conyers, 1852
Enoch Conyers, like so many others was impressed with the Bear River Valley’s fine grass and potential for farm land.
Old pioneer journal pages
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John C. Fremont, August 1843
Government explorer and pathfinder, John C. Fremont viewed emigrants camped along the Bear River and made these comments
Old pioneer journal pages
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Maria Belshaw, July 1853
Maria and George Bleshaw of Indiana, were like thousands of other American families who made the epic overland journey to establish a new life in the Willamette Valley of Western Oregon.

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Old pioneer journal pages
Click here to read her journal excerpt