Travel and Fates: Set #3

Travel & Fate Card 37
Steamboat Spring
(Soda Springs), Idaho

Mile 1154
August 16

This place is wild! It looks like a moonscape. Hot springs bursting out of the ground with such force that the waters spray several feet into the air. If you hadn't seen it with your own eyes, you'd swear that the sound was that of a passing steamboat. They say this water is so hot you could boil an egg in it in just four minutes. If you had an egg. Then just a few steps away you find springs so cold you can barely touch it. Try to collect some of this water in your drinking barrels for the dry dusty trip ahead.

(Your fate depends on your research skills, read on)

Your fate will be read after you complete this task: Prepare a research paragraph on natural hot springs or geysers that answers these questions. What causes them? Where are they found? Are there any near where you live?

Fate: For those who did the research: You safely leave the next morning early with your water kegs filled to the brim with spring water. For those who did NOT do the research: Because you didn't realize how hot (and sporadic) a bubbling spring can be, you got too close just when it "blew." And the hot water severely burned your hand and lower arm. You must wear a bandage for two days.

(Teacher's note: These springs are covered by a dam today. Evidence of these springs can be seen from the bubbling water near the water's surface.)

Travel & Fate Card 38
Fort Hall
Location south of the snake river, Idaho

Mile 1217
September 4

You thought you'd never get here... Traveling through yesterday's seven miles of soft, deep sand seemed like an eternity. You could barely move at more than 1 or 2 miles an hour! You could have walked it faster than that if you didn't have to keep clearing sand away from the wheels of your wagon. Several of those in your party got seriously stuck. The more they tried to pull their wagons out, the deeper they sank in sand. It took doubleteaming to get several of the wagons out of their sand ruts. But somehow you all got through.

And now you've made it to the first trading post you've seen in over 500 miles. Supplies are costly here. So don't buy more than your really need. (Next supply point is Whitman Mission, about 500 miles ahead on the trail.) If you've run out of money, you may have to turn back here. You're not alone. It's happened to many a party already.

Here's what you can buy if you still have money:
Fox & Beaver Fur Coats $160
Yoke of Oxen $60
Sound Horse $100
Pack Mule $65
Flour (per pint) 25
Sugar 25
Rice 30
Coffee 50

In addition to making decisions about purchases you must also check the bulletin board for weather ahead and inquire about trail conditions.

(Make your purchases, list your activities, then read the fate)

Fate: You learn that an early winter is predicted with higher than usual snowfall. Those of you who bought extra provisions will be well-prepared for the perils ahead. Those of you who went for the fur coat won't have to worry about freezing to death on a mountain pass. Trail information: You also learn that Indians have been known to attack small groups of emigrants. You must all stay together if you are to stand a chance of surviving the passage through hostile Indian territory. As a group you must come up with a plan that will unite you and protect you and your livestock in the case of Indian Attack.

(Will you turn back, trade with the Indians, have a defensive plan, or send a few people ahead to scout for safety?)

Travel & Fate Card 39
Massacre Rocks
Power County, Idaho

Mile 1250
September 8

You see the evidence of recent Indian hostilities. Burned wagons. Oxen sculls and a few graves. You almost had to turn back, but you didn't. There were several violent attacks here in the past few months but things may have calmed down. You hope. You pray.

This area was named because of its two rock masses that leave just enough of a gap between them to allow the passage of emigrant wagons in single file. It's a natural place for an Indian ambush. What will you do? Don't try to cross without a plan. Did you make one at Fort Hall?

(Check to make sure you have a plan, then read the fate.)

Fate: If your plan included any of the following strategies you got through safely:
1.) Scouts sent up ahead to check the trail.
2.) Armed travelers on the driver's bench or even on top of your wagon.
3.) Armed riders on horseback bringing up the rear for protection.
4.) Any other idea that your teacher thinks is really original.

(Teacher's historical note: This site was later named after clashes with the Indians on August 8 & 9th 1862. Aubrey Hines reports this incident in detail on pages 308-9)

Travel & Fate Card 40
Three Island Crossing
Elmore County, Idaho

Mile 1397
September 20

The trail you've been following on the South side of the Snake has turned dry and rough. The banks on the other side, however, are lush and smooth, which is why you all decide to take a chance with this treacherous crossing. The river is swift and deep here. But at least there are three islands in the middle of the river to offer a break to both man and animals. What will you do here to get safely across and avoid losing supplies animals or even lives? Do you have a plan?

(Check to make sure you have a plan, then read the fate.)

1)Those who chain their wagons together, make it across safely against the swift currents. (This is a new strategy)
2)Those who try to cross in a diagonal, find the water is too deep. You lose 1 provision. Subtract something of your choice from your food supply list. (Sorry this time this plan didn't work.)
3)Those who try to build a ferry, lose an ox. It drowns. There wasn't enough wood to build a proper ferry and you were paying more attention to the ferry than to your animals.
4)Those who had no plan, lose a member of their party to the wild Snake River rapids - the body never to be recovered.

Travel & Fate Card 40
Farewell Bend
Baker County Oregon

Mile 1551
September 30

Say good-bye to the Snake River. It's been your friend (and sometimes your enemy!) for many a day now. But you must forge past it towards the Blue Mountains, yet another in a series of ranges you must cut through. Although you are weak and tired you keep your strength by remembering why you began this journey so many months before... You write a sentence in your journal that describes your feelings at this point in the journey. Are you apprehensive? (Look it up.) Are you downhearted? Or, in spite of all you've been through, are you still optimistic and excited about the future? Write about it.

(Read the fate after you write)

Fate: Dark cloud cover forces you to set up camp early tonight. You build a big bonfire and though you rarely allow yourselves time for pleasure, you all decide to take the evening off. For entertainment, you read last nights journal entries aloud to each other. It turns out to be a fascinating and inspiring evening. Those who didn't prepare journal entries must spend the night outside the circle standing guard against Indians and wild animals. This means you lose your seat until the night is done.

(Teacher's note: This fate was intended to have students read and share parts of their journals with each other.)

Travel & Fate Card 41
Ladd Canyon Hill
Union County, Oregon

Mile 1633
October 5

You've reached the area near the base of Blue Mountains safely. Compared to the Rockies, the Blue Mountains seem gentle, serene, and welcoming. They should be welcoming. Because you have only 400 miles left to go! But much of it will be treacherous. In fact, today's precipitous descent into the Grande Ronde Valley won't be no easy pickin's. You've managed these steep descents before. How will you do it? Do you still have the proper equipment? Can you remember what to do?

Decide on a plan for getting down this steep drop. You've had lots of experience with this trip.

(Make a plan, then read your fate.)

Fate: If you decided to use chains, ropes, and pulleys, you get down safely. But it's a long painstaking process and your lose a day of travel. If you decided to keep you animals rigged on the way down, your wagon overturns and somersaults down the canyon. You manage to collect almost all your provisions (which have been scattered high and low). But one of your pack animals breaks a leg and you have to have it put down. However, you do make it down the canyon faster!

Travel & Fate Card 42
Deadman Pass
Umatilla County, Oregon

Mile 1671
October 8

You've traveled through several narrow passes on this adventure. So you know the dangers involved in traveling single file. Animals scare easily. Pets and children get lost easily. And you're a sitting target for hostile Indians. But this one, Deadman's Pass, is the grandfather of all passes - narrower...steeper...and known for frequent Indian sightings and hostilities. As you slowly lumber through this narrow gorge, you wonder how it got it's name....

[For homework tonight, see if you can find out why Deadman's Pass is called Deadman's Pass or make a really intelligent guess.]

(Take a chance and guess, or find out for sure for homework, then read your fate.)

Fate: For those who found out how Deadman's Pass got its name: (This area had been given this name because of three instances of very violent death on the trail...and this was the only route over the mountains.) You are so good at gathering and recording stories along the trail, that you end up selling your journal to an East Coast publishing company who wants to sell it to future travelers. For the rights to print your journal, the publisher is willing to pay you $200!!! Way to go! Yeeeeehaaa! You'll get your money when you finish your journal. For those who didn't find it out: Because you aren't very resourceful and because your animals are getting extremely weary, to lessen their burden, you are forced to leave a valuable piece of furniture or other household item on the trail. Check your supply list of luxury items. You might leave a box of toys, a bureau, your grandma's rocker, a gold leaf mantle mirror or a cook stove. You decide.

Travel & Fate Card 43
Whitman Mission
Walla Walla County, Washington

October 12

Trail Decision #3

This is the last place for supplies before you cross the Cascade Mountains and reach your destination. It's a great time to get rid of things that will be too heavy for the wagon or that you won't really need. (It's best to travel as light as possible over this snow-packed range.) And it's a good time to purchase or trade for fresh animals or maybe even a canoe.

If you wish to get rid of items, post a sign with their prices on your wagon and see if you get any nibbles from other travelers. (Kind of like a wagon train garage sale.) Then use the extra cash to buy what you need.

But H-O-L-D ON! Before you decide what to buy, sell or trade, you must decide how you're going to get over this last and most treacherous of passes. Here are your three choices:

1. Take the Barlow Toll Road.
The Barlow Toll Road costs $100 per wagon. You can take your livestock, too. The toll company has blazed the trail around Mount Hood to facilitate passage (that's why it's so expensive). But it's still a dangerous trip. Especially now - with the first snows starting to fall. The trip over the pass usually takes several weeks. Before you decide you should know this.

Warning: There have been reports of parties who've frozen to death, been buried by avalanches and even some who's just mysteriously disappeared.

2. Canoe down the Columbia Gorge
The Columbia Gorge is one of the widest, most rapidly moving rivers in the country. But the canoe trip can save you several weeks of travel. Don't worry - the Indians here have been canoeing it for centuries. They'll charge you $45 to guide you down. And you'll have to rent their canoe at $40. You can only take what you can pack on your back. So you can either give away or sell everything in your wagon. Or you can have one of your party drive it over the Toll Road while the rest of you take the Gorge. You can also pay someone to drive it over the Toll Road and meet you at the other side...if you can find someone you trust. The trip takes several days instead of weeks and is free from the risk of freezing blizzards. (Maybe)

Warning: The Indians make it seem like this is a simple trip. But they've been doing it all their lives. The current in the river is extremely fast...and the water is very cold. There are several rapids, waterfalls, and there is even a 3 mile portage where you must get out and carry everything - including children and canoes.

3. Wintering near Whitman Mission
Many an emigrant has opted to stay the winter near Whitman Mission and continue their trek in the spring. You can rent a leanto on the Mission grounds for $35 a month. (That doesn't include meals.) You can even sleep in your wagon for a few more weeks until freezing temperatures prevail. If you can afford to wait here, you'll lose first chance at some of the prime Wilamette Valley parcels. But you'll probably avoid freezing to death or drowning.

Warning: Staying here can get very expensive. You must pay for lodging and food will probably cost you about $20 a week. There is little to do here all winter, so you may be tempted to spend more than you should to interrupt the boredom. If you're broke by the time winter is over, you won't be able to afford the Barlow Toll. You'll never make it to the beautiful Willamette valley. There are many reports of hostile Indians.

Special student note: Those of you that have extra food or clothing may donate it to this mission for future destitute travelers.

(FINAL FATES will be read after you decide on your route)

(teachers note: This mission has a rich and interesting history. You may wish to read and share with your students the circumstances surrounding this establishment.)

NEXT DAY FATES (Read these after you decide on your final route.)

For those who took the Barlow Toll Road
The Barlow Toll
Gate Wasco County, Oregon
Mile 1857

The day you reach the Barlow Toll Gate, everything is perfect. A welcoming late Indian Summer sun beckons you into the beautiful pass. You kill a few deer which provide fine fixins for over a week. You even find the last of an acre of wild berries ripening behind a sheltered ridge where the ground still thinks it's summer. The trail is wide, dry and well maintained. For a while it seems as if nothing could go wrong.

Until one day the sky suddenly turns black, heavy and close. Within hours you experience something you haven't seen in many months -snow. At first it's fun. The horses perk up. The children frolic in it. And the mother's dig out the woolly wraps. But the snowfall gets heavier and heavier by the hour. It becomes so thick you can barely see the wagon in front of you. And then so thick you can barely see the animal pulling your wagon. This is when you all decide to huddle you wagons and wait out the storm. You wait. And wait. And wait. A fire in the center of the circle keeps provides enough warmth to keep you all from freezing to death. But your animals aren't close enough to it. You hear a giant roar in the middle of the night which you assume is an avalanche. The next morning, when the storm clears some, you send two scouts (pick two from your group) on ahead to assess whether the road is passable.

Fate: You had to burn one of your wagons for firewood so you're forced to double up with other families. You lost half your animals. The ones huddled in the middle were saved, but those on the outsides froze to death. And those two scouts you sent on ahead? Well you heard another one of those roars about two hours after they left the camp. And they never returned... Even when the storm cleared completely and the road became passable again, you never saw a trace of them.

For those who Canoed down the Columbia Gorge Cascades of the Columbia
Hood River County, Oregon
Mile 1860

You make good time from the Whitman Mission to Hood River, Oregon. Unlike the climate on the top side of Mount Hood, this protected valley in the mountain's shadow is warm and moist. The Indians whom you hire as guides are very friendly and very generous. They prepare a delicious meal of venison, corn, and wild tree fruit for you on the eve of your departure. The next morning a warm Indian Summer sun reflects brightly off the glistening Columbia Gorge as you prepare to leave. In fact, The Gorge, with it's carpet of red and gold Indian Paintbrush (a wildflower) along its banks is one of the most breathtaking rivers you've ever seen.

The first day is fun. You've never traveled so fast on anything in your life! And the children are beside themselves with glee! You port your canoes at a riverside camp safely that evening and snack on the left-over venison that your guides have packed for you.

The second day you have to portage (climbing over huge boulders along the riverbank carrying everything!) for over three miles to avoid crashing over a 300-foot waterfall. Your feet are sore. Your muscles are aching. And the children whine incessantly. You arrive at camp in the dark and the rain, too exhausted even to eat.

On the third day the rapids become more furious. One of your canoes crashes against the rocks spilling its passengers into the cold, churning waters and splintering the canoe into thousands of pieces. Unfortunately, your guides hadn't prepared for such an accident and you now have two too many people to cram into the remaining canoes. You must choose two from your party who will set up temporary camp and stay behind. Once the rest of you reach your destination, one of the Indians will portage back and escort the two who've been left. You pick a prominent point along the river to set up this camp so that the Indians will have no trouble finding the two. According to the Indians, the two of you who stay shouldn't have to wait more than a week.

Fate: Although the broiling river gobbled most of the few possessions you weren't carrying on your back, you arrive at the end of the canoe trip tired, hungry and relieved to be alive. As soon as you port, one of your guides immediately heads back up river with their best canoe to collect the two who were left behind. The last you heard, the guide did find the campsite, where the embers in the stone-built fireplace were still warm. But the two emigrants themselves had completely disappeared. Some say there was talk of bear tracks in the sand around the campsite. But stories often get tangled when translated from Indian Speak.

For those who wintered at Whitman Mission
Whitman Mission
Milestone 1709

After so many days, weeks and months of being on the move, it feels good to stay put for a change. It's a beautiful fall here and you notice things you haven't had time to notice before... The way the wind plays with the golden leaves as she tries to wrench them from their branches; the smell of clean fresh clothes dried in the breeze; the joy of a couple of hours stolen just for reading; how much your children have grown since the day you left Missouri...

Winter doesn't seem to be in too much of a hurry. The warm Indian Summer days almost make you wonder if maybe you shouldn't have been so afraid of getting caught in a blizzard up near the top of Mount Hood. But they say the weather can change in a space smaller than a minute. So you finally rent one of those leantos in spite of a price you consider highway robbery. And you don't do it a day too soon.

Snow starts to fall...and fall...and fall. It seems as though it falls every day for a month. You have to take your wagon apart, using the wood to insulate your leanto against the penetrating snow. You eventually eat up every last bit of grain and rice and flour you'd saved. And finally, you had to start killing your animals to survive.

One day, when the weather was starting to take a turn for the better, you decided to go and forage for roots, nuts and berries - anything to keep you going until the warmth of spring brought new hope. So you choose two members, dress them in layers of everyone's warmest duds, and send them out to look for whatever food they can find. It's bright and shimmering the morning they leave, with not a cloud in the sky. Everyone has gained new energy by just thinking of what edible morsels they may find. The women scrub and ready their pans, starting to melt snow on the hearth for what will hopefully be a hearty root stew.

Fate: As the sun begins to descend and dinnertime draws near, there is still no sight of the two food foragers. You all stay up all night, never giving up hope, until the sun once again peers over the vast snowy plain. But there's still neither hide nor hair of them. By the time the sun starts to warm your bones some, you gather together a search party who follows yesterday's tracks into the wilderness. And just when you are all about to give up, you hear a whoop and a holler and look up to see them bounding over a yonder ridge!!! And they're carrying bulky sacks!!! Turns out they found a bountiful foraging ground. But it just happened to belong to the Indians. In order to escape, they had to run in the wrong direction, putting them too far from home to make it back in the blackness. Besides, the Indians are great night hunters and they didn't want to be hunted. So they hid out in a hollow tree until morning and then cautiously began to head for home.

The root stew was just the thing to give you all the strength to wait it out until spring. You all make it through the winter alive which is very unusual for Whitman Mission, because it was often the target of some very bloody Indian massacres. You head for the Barlow Toll Road early in March.

Willamette Valley

Mile 00
Summer of '53

You plan a reunion of your entire wagon train to be held in the Black Woods on the edge of the Willamette Valley in late July. The ones who made it over the pass in winter and are now settled in will all be there. Everyone who canoed down the Colombian Gorge will be there with their exciting stories to tell. And those who've just arrived after waiting out the winter near Whitman Mission will be there ready to find out where the best land and best communities are.

Now that you have made it to the promised land, you are ready to start a new life. Who are you? Where have you chosen to live? How will you support your family? Will your children go to school? Is the valley everything you dreamed it would be?

Write up a short description of your new life here in Oregon to share with the other wagon train members at the reunion. And don't forget to bring your journal.

Fate: You all enjoy the reunion immensely - although your hearts are sad as you have a short memorial for those you've lost along the way. You each get up and describe your new position and life here in the Willamette Valley. You display your journals on one of the picnic tables for all to share. There's even someone with a camera present who takes a portrait of your entire group, preserving the occasion for the annuls of history.

Congratulations! And welcome to your new life!

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Travel & Fates

Map of Oregon Territory Classroom Teacher, The Wagonmaster
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Last Updated: 12/24/12