Test your knowledge of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with our interactive trivia game. Located in our “Blazing the Way West” exhibit, this game is perfect for students ages 8 through 17.
“Pack Your Wagon” and “Pack Your Saddle” are interactive “hands-on” activities for all ages. At “Pack Your Wagon,” you can pack a scaled-down version of a pioneer wagon with items suggested for a five month journey on the trail. At “Pack Your Saddle”, you can learn how to tie bundles and boxes to a pack saddle similar to those used on the Santa Fe Trail.
Many families traveled the trails together. Many children recorded their experiences in journals, diaries, or letters or later recounted their adventures to a younger generation in the form of reminiscences. Here is a selection of what they wrote:
“Bloomington, Indiana, Tuesday, March 20, 1849 – Our family, consisting of father, mother, two brothers, and one sister, left this morning for that far and much talked of country, California…
“Our train numbered 50 wagons. The last hours were spent bidding goodbye to old friends. My mother is heartbroken over this separation of relatives and friends. Giving up old associations for what?
“Good health perhaps. My father is going in search of good health, not gold. The last goodbye has been said – the last glimpse of our old home on the hill, and the wave of hand at the old Academy, with a goodbye to kind teachers and schoolmates, and we are off.”
“I remember when we were camped on the Platte, the whole sky became black as ink. A terrific wind came up, which blew the covers off the wagons and blew down the tents. When the storm burst upon us, it frightened the cattle, so that it took all the efforts of the men to keep them from stampeding…. “The rain came down in bucketfuls, drenching us to the skin. There wasn’t a tent in the camp that held against the terrific wind. The men had to chain the wagons together to keep them from being blown in the river … Finally, in spite of efforts of the men, the cattle stampeded.”
“Buffalo and small game were plentiful, and the men had great sport hunting. We had an abundance of buffalo meat and venison. Sometimes buffaloes were found among our cattle of mornings, quietly grazing with them.”
“We came up the south side of the Kansas River and camped below and near an Indian town of the Kansa Tribe … It was said those Indians grew corn, beans, and pumpkins.
“I admired several of the Indian men I saw there. They were more than six feet tall, straight, and moved with a proud step; wore blankets drawn around their shoulders, and leggings. Their hair was shorn to the scalp, except something like a rooster’s comb on top of the head, colored red…
“In crossing the river the Indians assisted our people in swimming our cattle and horses… Those Indians were friendly and accommodating.”
“Eliza soon discovered that cooking over a campfire was far different from cooking on a stove or range… I remember that she had the cream all ready for the churn as we drove into the South Fork of the Platte, and while we were fording the grand old stream, she went on with her work and made several pounds of butter.”
“Chimney Rock … was near the line of march and we could see it, it seemed to me, for several days before we passed near it.
“At first we could only see a pinnacle afar off, looking much like a chimney flue or church steeple … Nearer, we could see the chimney-like pinnacles were on top of a mountain or high hill… It seemed to me to touch the sky.
“We went into camp not far from it, as we supposed. Some of the young men that evening visited the rock and returned quite late at night. They declared it was ten miles away.”
“I remember with what terror I saw the Indians come out of Fort Laramie. They looked so naked and wild. The men got out their guns, but all the Indians wanted was to see us and to see if we would give them anything.
“Mother was baking some bread when some of these savage-looking Indians came into our camp. While she looked up to watch them, one of them came near the fire. When mother looked back to see how her bread was coming along, the bread was gone. The Indian had stolen the bread. Mother hoped it had burned him well, but if it did, he made no sign.”