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Product Details. Product Details Author. The Nile. Shop Now. Enjoy Now. Trips lasted around five to six months, with wagon trains leaving late enough in the year for the grasses on the Plains to feed their draft animals, and early enough hopefully to avoid winter storms in the second range of mountains, the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. The Sierras can experience dramatic weather fluctuations regardless of season when storms from the Pacific collide with the mountains. They resorted to cannibalism before survivors stumbled out of the pass the following spring.

In less extreme cases, snow could scare game away that trekkers relied on for food, as the animals migrated or went into hibernation. At their peak, thousands plied the well-worn trails in a given year. In the mids, congestion backed up the Oregon Trail in the summer. The valley stretched south from their settlement at present-day Portland , or what they first called Oregon City. Some of the New Englanders who moved there wanted to name the new town at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers Boston , but they lost out to people from Portland, Maine in a coin toss the Portland Penny is on display at the Oregon Historical Society.

It was a vast region sparsely populated by Indians who relied mainly on fishing and a smattering of white fur traders and missionaries. Russia colonized as far east as Alaska, but Oregon was too far from Moscow for them to make any reasonable claim.

The Forgotten Awakening: How the Second Great Awakening Spread West of the Rockies

The British and Americans decided on a novel plan, agreeing in to share the Columbia District for thirty years and argue about it later. In the meantime, most of the new settlers who moved into the southern portion of the territory were Americans. Because the Oregon Trail brought together strangers in close proximity, it conveyed diseases.

Measles and smallpox moved up and down the crowded trail, killing hordes of children, especially.

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To this day, tombstones mark portions of the trail. Eventually, these afflictions made their way to the end of the route, affecting Indians in Oregon and complicating the efforts of missionaries there. In Oregon, they competed with Jesuits hoping to convert natives to Catholicism. Each side tried anything they could to convince Indians that the rival form of Christianity would lead them to damnation.

Unable to overcome the language barrier, they showed Indians drawings calendars they called them to describe their respective faiths. The Catholic version was essentially the same drawing upside down. That came back to haunt the missionaries when smallpox and measles spread into the area for real. Naturally, some Indians suspected that they had inflicted them deliberately.

They moved survivors onto reservations. Mormons incorporated typical folk magic traditions of New England. Like his father, Smith was a scryer , meaning that he interpreted omens, signs, or instructions on how to find hidden treasures by peering into seer stones in the bottom of a white stovetop hat through a peep hole.

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He denounced scrying after being sued as an imposter by a Pennsylvania farmer upset over their failure to find silver with the method. Eighteen months later, Smith found the gold plates under a rock, which he translated into English. Others said he used peep stones for the translation. There were no witnesses besides Smith and the translation reads in a similar style to the King James Version of the Bible. According to Mark Twain , portions of the Book of Mormon were plagiarized directly. The groups splintered and fought each other.

God punished the victorious Lamanites by darkening their skin and turning them into the Indians who later greeted white explorers. Christ himself appeared in the Americas shortly after his resurrection 3 Nephi The persecution Mormons suffered at the hands of other Americans helped forge their bonds, as has been the case with other religions in other places, but numerous early followers nonetheless became disenchanted with Smith after he led the group to Kirtland, Ohio.

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Smith led a revamped group to Jackson County, Missouri in , where Mormons encountered some of the harshest persecution ever aimed at an American religious sect. He claimed an angel of God appeared before him with a drawn sword and commanded him to preach polygamy or face destruction.

His wife, Emma Smith, denied that Joseph himself ever had multiple wives. In any event, polygamy gave mainstream Christians more cause to scorn Mormons beyond their holding of communal property and a third testament grafted onto the Judeo-Christian Bible. They shot his brother Hyrum dead through the front door. They shot Joseph and either pushed him out of the second-story window or he fell out.

Some show him martyring himself by leaping out the window while others have a beam of light from heaven protecting his body from mutilation. Mormons found that American religious freedom had its limits and left the U. Take a few minutes to orient yourself with this Animated Map of western trails. Along the way, Mormons ran into famous scout Jim Bridger , who told them that California and Oregon were both opening up to American settlement. That nixed both those options.

Deseret became part of the U. Mormons were tough and resourceful. They overcame a plague of crickets and irrigated the Salt Lake Valley, transforming the desert into fertile farms.