- from Westward Expansion
It’s been a long trip over bumpy land and rushing rivers, but your family has finally reached Independence, Missouri! Many pioneers are gathering in this busy town, buying supplies for their journey west.
Your folks were planning to follow the Oregon Trail, which would take you almost to the Pacific Ocean. But they might take the Santa Fe Trail instead. It also goes west but heads south through warmer territory. Which path would you like best?
How did settlers find their way across plains, through mountains, and over rivers? How did they cope with hardships and emergencies along the way? Some got help from pathfinders, or people who mapped paths through unfamiliar territory.
Many pathfinders were early western settlers who had made a living selling furs. As more people moved in, trappers found fewer wild animals to hunt. But they knew more about the West than most pioneers did. They could help when the trail got rough or the weather was bad. Guiding travelers to choice land became a new way to make a living.