By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (May 16, 2024) – In this edition of Fun with Maps we learn of about some trailblazers from nearly two centuries past.

The Great Medicine Road

On May 16, 1843, the first major wagon train set out from Elk Grove, Missouri to cross the United States on the pathway known as the Oregon Trail.

The “first” party consisted of over 100 pioneers who blazed the 2000-mile trail and began the westward migration of 1843.  The Oregon Trail accounted for the largest westward migration, over 5 times the California and Mormon Trails, until the gold rush and introduction of railroads.

Today Interstates 80 and 84 cover much of the original trail.

Ezra Meeker is known as the “Champion of the Oregon Trail”.  He wanted to preserve the route and in 1906 traveled in a wagon pulled by oxen (accompanied by his dog) from his home in Washington state to Washington, DC to ask Congress to help re-mark the trail.  In 1915 he drove the entire route in a car and in 1924 flew over it in an airplane.

This Johnson map from 1866 of the upper Midwest to Idaho shows the path of the Oregon Trail, which was one of the Emigrant Trails, through Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho..

Nebraska to Idaho – Oregon Trail – circa 1866 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.