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Fantastic Facts The $100 glass of water While no one actually paid $100 dollars for a glass of water it was amazing to see the price differences in different supplies. For example when you bought supplies from a fort flour was $4 for a barrel but if you had to buy it on the trail it was $1.50 for a pint. While flour went up in price you could buy a whole pound of bacon for 1 cent. Price was determined by what was in demand at the time.
Tired Feet Because most emigrants grossly overloaded their wagons, few could ride inside. Instead most walked--many made the entire 2,000 mile journey on foot. Historian Merrill Mattes: "Able bodied children of any age walked, and some walked clear across the United States; and frequently without shoes."
Buffalo These immense herds sometimes blocked the way of the emigrants--one wagon train had to wait two hours for stampeding buffalo to pass by. The emigrant's first reaction was to temporarily abandon the journey and rush off on a buffalo hunt--not for food, for sport. Click the buffalo to see more pictures
River Crossing River crossings were a constant source of distress for the pioneers. Hundreds drowned trying to cross the Kansas, North Platte and Columbia Rivers--among others. In 1850 alone, 37 people drowned trying to cross one particularly difficult river--the Green.
Jumping Off The Missouri River heads due west from St. Louis; so most emigrants loaded their wagons onto steamships for the upstream journey. It was easy travelling, but it didn't last long. Two-hundred miles from St. Louis, the Missouri takes a cruel turn to the north. So the pioneers unloaded their wagons at any one of several small towns along the Missouri river which they called "jumping off" places.
Weather Great thunderstorms took their toll. A half-dozen emigrants were killed by lightning strikes; many others were injured by hail the size of apples. Pounding rains were especially difficult for the emigrants because there was no shelter on the open plains and the covered wagons eventually leaked.
Second West Expedition The first expedition was funded by the government and the explorers were Lewis and Clark. The second expedition was funded and lead by John Jacob Astor. The Richest man in the world.
Pike and Long Pike and Long were sent to explore the great plains and the Rocky Mountains. They referred to the great plains as the great American desert this discouraged people from traveling their for a while.
Great Plains Today The great American desert is now produces many cash crops and raises livestock. It is also has been developed into many cities.