Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mom and the Oxen

If you remember your history lessons from school, you might remember that when people wanted to cross the country in the old days, they went on trails such as the Oregon Trail or the California Trail or the Santa Fe Trail.  And the reason that people had to use these trails was because interstate highways hadn't been invented yet.  And even if interstate highways had been invented, people wouldn't have known how to use them because cars hadn't been invented yet.

Several of these Important Historical Trails started right here in the Kansas City area because this was like the outer limit of civilization in those days.  If you left Missouri and went to Kansas, you weren't even in the United States anymore.  Instead, you were in Indian Territory.  So places like Independence and Westport were the last places where you could buy food and wagons and all the stuff you might need before you got to Oregon or California or Utah or wherever you were going.

And since cars hadn't been invented, people had to travel in wagons pulled by horses or mules or oxen.  Horses and mules ate lots of grain, so if you used them to pull your wagon, you had to take along a bunch of grain, which most people didn't have room for because they also had to take food for themselves and maybe a plow and a bed and some other stuff.  But oxen were cheap, and also they could just eat grass and be happy, so that's why most people used oxen instead of mules or horses.

Maybe you are wondering what an ox is exactly.  Well, Mom told to me that you can make an ox by taking a boy calf and doing a special kind of surgery on him and then training him to pull a wagon.  When oxen pull wagons, they wear these wooden things around their necks called yokes instead of wearing a harness like a horse or a sled dog wears.

Anyway, I am telling you all this stuff so I can explain what Mom did yesterday.  She went to a picnic sort of meeting in a park with a group called the Oregon-California Trails Association.  And also there were some people there from other groups.  First some people got up and talked about Trails and stuff like that, and then a man brought a yoke of oxen for everybody to see and pet.  Here's a picture of these oxen when they were younger.  Their names are Tip and Buck.

Mom saw these exact same oxen before when they were little, but now they are full grown, and they look more like these other two oxen, who are really from Williamsburg, Virginia.  Mom did not take her camera yesterday, which was dumb of her not to do, so I had to look all over the internet to find these photos for my blog.

Anyway, here's a picture of the shelter house where Mom's group had their meeting.  And these two guys came and grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for the people there, and also there were baked beans and pasta salad and potato chips.  But sadly, Mom did not bring any samples home for us dogs.

The park where this meeting was is built on a place where people used to camp when they were traveling on one of the trails I mentioned before.  It was called Lone Elm Campground.  There are lots of nice hiking trails, and Mom did not see any signs saying that dogs are not allowed.  In fact, she did not even see any signs saying that dogs have to be on a leash.  So she might take Barry or Mel there sometime to go hiking, but not until the weather is much cooler!


  1. Great blog really do a WONDERFUL job!! In fact, I so enjoyed today's blog, that I actually brought the park's website up! Can you imagine traveling as the pioneers did way back when? I've always thought the pioneers were some of the toughest (mentally and physically) and ambitious people I've ever read about. Not sure I could do what they did...OK, I know I could NOT do what they did. The neat part is I bet they took their pets with them - not like now, when dogs, cats, etc., have to stay home when their moms/dads go out-of-town. Thanks again.
    Love, AP

  2. Dear Aunt Patty,
    You are right about the pioneers. They were tough people and I think they probably took their dogs with them on the trail. I don't know if they took cats or not because cats might get eaten by coyotes. The pioneers might have taken some chickens, but then they probably ate the chickens. I don't think they ate the dogs, though. At least I hope not!
    Love, Piper

  3. i need to write a biography about the oregon trail and this didnt help me at all!!!!!!!

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      I guess this blog entry was more of a "personal experience" thing than one with lots of information like an encyclopedia would have. I hope you found some good info for your paper. There is a lot of stuff out there about the Oregon Trail.
      Sincerely, Piper