- from Westward Expansion
It’s been a long trip over bumpy land and rushing rivers, but your family has finally arrived in Independence, Missouri! Many pioneers are gathering in this busy town, buying supplies for the rest of the journey west.
At first your folks planned to follow the Oregon Trail, which would take you almost to the Pacific Ocean. But instead they’re thinking of taking the Santa Fe Trail, which also goes west but heads south through warmer territory. Which path would you like best?
How did settlers navigate across plains, through mountains, and over rivers? How did they deal with hardships and unexpected problems along the way? Some got help from pathfinders, or people who mapped paths through unfamiliar territory.
Many pathfinders were western settlers who had arrived earlier. They’d made a living selling furs, but as more people moved in, there were fewer wild animals to hunt. Still, these trappers knew more about the West than most pioneers did. They could help settlers when the trail got rough or the weather was bad. Guiding travelers to choice land became a new way for fur traders to make a living.