In all the sagas of human migration, none can top the drama of the journey by mid-Western farmers to Oregon and California in the years 1840-49. Sandwiched between the era of the fur trappers and the post-1849 gold fever, this account of the pioneering years in the overland trails highlights and explains a unique experience both in American and world history.
Seeking the promised land, these travellers trekked two thousand miles by covered wagon from Missouri to their destination on the Pacific. Using mountain men as guides, they went into the unknown, braving dangers from hunger, thirst, disease, drowning and Indians. The early overlanders got through only after Herculean efforts, but later in the decade complacency set in, and the result was disaster, especially in the case of the Donner party, marooned in the snows and reduced to cannibalism.