When Oregon City was the only incorporated city west of the Rocky Mountains it had the only land office where homesteaders could go to file a land claim. Many started in Independence, MO in April hoping to get to Oregon City within six months before the treacherous Rocky Mountain passes were snowed in.
Today, in Oregon City, not far from the falls on the Willamette River, three covered wagons, fifty feet high, commemorate the brave souls who went west in the wagon trains. Tickets to go through the wagons are available in the gift shop. Adults $6.50; seniors $5.50; and children over 5 $4.
We proceeded to the far wagon. While we sat on wooden crates under the canopy of the first wagon our guide explained what it was like to cross the Oregon Trail as she pointed to the huge map on the wall. Then we went into a room in the first wagon that was set up to look like the inside of a supply store in Independence, MO. We learned how to choose a wagon and what animals were needed to pull it. We were told how much food to take for each person, the cost and how to load it on a wagon 3 ½' wide, 2 ½' deep and 10' long. Our guide recommended we buy a book that the pioneers used, reprints for sale in the gift shop, called "The Prairie Traveler", by Randolph B. Marcy, written in 1848 (Applewood Books, Bedford, MA). Excellent information even for today's traveler.
The next room was a theater. The movie depicted personal experiences from those who made the trip. The Barlow Road in Oregon City, was an unbelievable ordeal. The wagon and animals had to be lowered by rope down the side of a mountain. The next section of the museum had a hands-on display of toys and crafts people used in a covered wagon while out on the trail. Another room had more pictures, maps and items used by the homesteaders. We had our pictures taken looking like homesteaders as we stood behind a board and look through holes.
To find the End Of The Trail Museum take exit 10 off I-205 in Oregon City. Follow the signs and you can't miss the covered wagons. It is open Mon-Sat 9-5 and Sun 10-5.