The overland journey from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon or California meant a six-month trip across 2,000 miles of hard country. It was costly—as much as $1,000 for a family of four.
That fee included a wagon at about $100. Usually four or six animals had to pull the wagon. Oxen were slower, but held up better than horses or mules. They were also cheaper, costing about $25 each compared to $75-$100 for a horse or mule.
You would also need food supplies, cooking equipment, water kegs and other sundry items. Most folks viewed a trip to the West as an investment in their futures.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org