Oregon Trail WebQuest
An Internet WebQuest on Oregon Trail

created by Mrs. Meeker
Castle Rock Library

Introduction | The Task | The Process & Resources | Conclusion | HyperText Dictionary


Your family has decided to leave the factory life behind. You have sold all of your belongings and are at one of jumping off spots on the Oregon Trail. The Oregon Trail is the only practical passage to the entire western United States. There is only one natural break in the Rocky Mountains that allows wagons through. You know that your family is taking risks. One in ten die along the trail. Your wagon is for supplies; so your family will walk the 2000 miles. The free land and a new life in Oregon makes this trip worth it for your family.

The Quest

Your family knows that they have to have a guide, supplies, and medical help along the trip. Your job is to make a map of one of the states on the Oregon Trail. You will have pictures of the major landmarks, forts, etc. Along the way you will keep a journal of the hardships and dangers you encournter.

The Process and Resources

Your job is to create a map of one state on the Oregon Trail. You are going show us the sites, landmarks, forts, and other interesting items. You will tell us about the medicine and life on the trail through journals.

Phase 1 - Background: Something for Everyone

As a group find the answers to the following:
1. How long was the trip?
2. How many months did it take to get to Oregon?
3. How many miles could you go on a normal day?
4. How many days did it take to cross a river?
5. How did people get buried alive?
6. Where did pioneers have to pay $100.00 for a drink of water?
7. How did a cow start a war?
8. Who was Ezra Meeker? Was he a hero or a nut? why?
9. What game was played with buffalo dung?
10. What is a jumping off spot?
11. Why did they choose Oxen to pull the wagons?
12. Why were buffalo important to the pioneers?

Phase 2 - Looking Deeper from Different Perspectives

As a group of 3 or 4 you will complete the following tasks:
You will make a map of your state. Draw the trail in in pencil. You will research landmarks, forts, and other interesting places along the trail and have pictures of them. The Wagon Boss will be supplying your wagon to get you prepared for the trip. He have $500 to spend. The doctor needs to know what illnesses and hardships will be experienced on the trail and how to treat them. As a group you will hand in a map with pictures and explanations of each, a list of supplies and costs, and a medical journal.


As the guide it is your responsibility to know the trail, hardships, best places to cross rivers, etc. The families you are leading are depending on you for accurate information. You need to know where they can get supplies.
Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to guide:

1. What are the major landmarks and routes for the Oregon trail in your state?
2. Make a map of your state. Label any cities, forts, rivers, and major physical features.
3. Draw the Oregon Trail in in pencil.
a. What were the major hardships for the pioneers in your state? How would you deal with them?
b. How many miles of the trail was in your state?
c. How many days do you predict it would take to cross your state?
d. Are there any major Indian tribes? What and where?
e. Where can you get supplies?


As the photographer it is your responsibility to know where the major landmarks are. This is the only way you know if your are still on the right trail. A mistake can cost you everything. Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to Photographer:

1. What are the major landmarks in your state? You need to write a short description of them.
2. What does the physical region look like? Is is plains, mountains, etc.
3. What forts are along your section of the trail? Are they still there today?
4. What animals do you encounter? Weather?
a. You need to have at least 4 pictures for your section of the trail. If there is a major landmark that must be included.
b. You need to have some pictures of animals you will encounter; so your family will be prepared.
c. Each picture needs a 2-3 sentence description with it. The picture and description will be attached to your map; so be sure to consult with your guide; so they aren't too big or too small.


As the doctor you are responsible for knowing what illnesses there are and how to treat them. You also need to be ready to help during an accident. Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to Doctor:

1. What are the common illnesses along the trail? How do you treat them?
2. When were germs discovered?
3. What did the people of the 1800's belive caused illnesses?
4. What were the most common illnesses on the Oregon Trail?
5. Read about the hardships on the trail. What were some of the leading causes of death?
6. What were the common surgercial instruments?
7. What was the most feared disease?
You need to create a book listing the illnesses and treatments. You need to include how to help people who are hurt along the trail.

Wagon Boss

As the wagon boss, your job is to buy supplies for the entrie trip. You will have $1000.00 to spend. You need to decide what animals you will use, what supplies you will take, and when you will leave. You also need to know where you can purchase supplies. Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to Wagon Boss:

1. How many months do you need to plan for?
2. What were some of the supplies they had to bring that would not be used until they reached Oregon?
3. What type of wagon will you choose?
4. What animal will you choose to pull your wagon? why?
what are some of the other choices and why did you not choose them?
5. How many pounds can you carry in your wagon?
6. WHat are the dimensions of your wagon?
7. How long did you stay at the jumping off spots? why?
8. WHat determines the success or failure of your journey?
9. What did the emigrants discard along the trail? why?
10. What was the drink that saved thousands of lives on the trail? why?
11. Where can you buy supplies along the trail? Is there a place in your state?
Your job is to create a supply list. You need to include the weights and cost of items. Remember you must by a wagon and team. You will need items to repair your wagon, food, and supplies for the end of your trip. Remember you need seeds, building supplies, etc. for Oregon.

Phase 3 - Debating, Discussing, and Reaching Consensus

You need to put all of your parts together. You need to get your state colored and labeled. You need to get your pictures organized and placed correctly along the trail with their descriptions. The medical journal needs to be complete. Find a place along the trail where an accident or illness could occur. Place an X on the trail and write a short description of what happened and how it was fixed. The Wagon boss needs to compile a list of supplies. As a group you need to OK the supplies he/she has purchased.

Phase 4 - Real World Feedback

You and your teammates have learned a lot by dividing up into different roles. Now's the time to put your learning into a letter you'll send out for real world feedback. Together you will write a letter that contains opinions, information, and perspectives that you've gained. Here's the process:

1. Begin your letter with a statement of who you are and why you are writing your message to this particular person or organization.

2. Give background information that shows you understand the topic.


3. Each person in your group should write a paragraph that gives two good reasons supporting the group's opinion. Make sure to be specific in both the information (like where you got it from on the Web) and the reasoning (why the information proves your group's point).

4. Have each person on the team proofread the message. Use correct letter format and make sure you have correctly addressed the email message. Use the link below to make contact. Send your message and make sure your teacher gets a copy.

Your Contact is: the designated contact


Would it have been worth the trip to Oregon for your family? Were the end rewards what you expected? Do you think you would have survived the journey? What is the most important element to the success of your journey--did you need a good guide, a doctor, supplies, hardships? You need to answer these questions in a paragraph and hand it in.

 created by Filamentality Content by Mrs. Meeker, meekers@billings.k12.mt.us
Last revised Fri Mar 26 9:37:25 US/Pacific 2004