Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A history lesson

When travelling, I like to imagine what the country looked like as settlers arrived and started moving into unknown (to them) territory. I always marvel at the physical obstacles they tackled, never mind the nerve and determination to move your family out of their homes to who knew what!

I wonder how settlers moved across the rugged valleys of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Did they follow the river bottoms upstream or go up and down those steep hills?  How did the soldiers in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars travel so far and then fight their battles?

Did the families that left Missouri to go west always make it to their planned destination? I imagine them making it over the plains and seeing the Rockies get closer and saying, Hell, no! This is as far as we go.

And Utah! Really? We read on one of the informational historical markers that the Mormons moved west looking for land "no one else wanted",  and that one woman who moved to one valley there wrote " Damn the man who would bring a woman to this God forsaken place".

Driving east across Oregon we crossed the Willamette Valley, the grass seed capitol of the world. Or so their signs said. (We have also seen the self-proclaimed garlic and lily capitals on our way) Fields of grasses going to seed, pastures with flocks of sheep and the occasional guard llama, and broad expanses of flat land nestled between mountains. John and I agreed that we could be comfortable in that setting, although as John said "I would have to fly in and fly out, not drive!"

Seeing a sign for a historical museum in Brownsville, we went to check it out and were very glad we did. The town's most recent claim to fame is that it was where the movie Stand By Me was filmed, but what we found interesting was the covered wagon they had on display. One of three known to have actually crossed the Oregon trail, it was so small compared to the huge Conestoga wagons we see in the movies. This wagon's bed was barely eight feet long, and displays many items brought with settlers in that area.
 Mr Drinkard had been a Confederate soldier and a prisoner of war, who was released under the conditions that he would not fight again, or return to his home state. His wife sold their home,packed up the family and met him in Missouri to start the six month trek.

There are arrowheads and knives from local tribes, farming tools, and other implements used in the late 19th and early 20th century.Those arrowheads above are tiny, most of them an inch or two long.

It was a side trip well worth the time, and we've enjoyed 'taking the road less traveled' on our trip.

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