Finding the Original Oregon Trail 1841–1847 Routes to the Whitman Mission

Pine Creek

Publication: Overland Journal, Vol. 38, No. 4

Author: David J. Welch

Date of Publication: 2020

PDF File: Welch-Finding-the-Original-Oregon-Trail-1841–1847-Routes.pdf


All trails change through time. Shortcuts are found, obstacles avoided. The path to Oregon from the Missouri frontier was continually modified to meet the needs of travelers. In 1978 Congress authorized the designation of national trails, and the Oregon Trail was recognized, and its route detailed in law. However, the recognized route ignored an early portion of the trail from the base of the Blue Mountains near Pendleton, Oregon, north to the Whitman Mission and on to the Columbia River. Instead, it focused on a route from the base of the Blue Mountains to the Pendleton area, then west to The Dalles via Echo. With this article we offer initial results of a field study of the original route from the foot of the Blues toward the Whitman Mission west of today’s Walla Walla, Washington.