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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

The Real Oregon Trail: Beyond Dysentery and the Apple II Game

00:00 58:06
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If you were a middle schooler in the United States anytime after 1985 and had a study hall with an Apple II, there is a very high chance you played Oregon Trail. After setting out from Independence, Missouri, you led your pixelated wagon across the frontier, hunting bears, fording rivers, and more likely than not, dying of dysentery.

The real Oregon Trail sprang up in the 1830s, when America was going through the worst economic slump it would see until the Great Depression. A mixture of financial urgency and a sense of destiny--Manifest Destiny--convinced tens of thousands of Americans to trek over 2,000 miles from Missouri’s western edge to Oregon Country.

But how can families cross the desert? Or the Rocky Mountains? Or descend the Columbia River? And what about the British HBC’s hold on Oregon Country? Many tried this dangerous path, including fur traders, missionaries, explorers, and early wagon trains that dared to blaze this trail before its heyday of the 1840s-1860s.

Joined with us today to talk about the Oregon Trail is history professor and podcast Greg Jackson. He's the host of the show History That Doesn't Suck
June 27, 2019
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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