Friday, August 3, 2012

Little Village... & The Oregon Trail

Little Village... by megan_n_smith_99
Little Village..., a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

I thought this paper was really interesting. It's handmade paper, though I can't remember what kind. I need to go back and check. I did not make it myself. I did take paper making in college - a class that has prepared me well for facing the real world, let me tell you - but it's been years since I made my own paper and I am not entirely sure I have all the tools I would need (or at least would like). I am happy to buy paper other people made, though. And actually I did love that class even if it did not prepare me to be financially independent. I took 21 credits of art in my 1st year at Green River Community College. At that point an advisor pointed out to me that I was not planning to major in art and should knock it off and start taking math and things. So I did but sometimes I wish I'd just kept going with art. It's still here, though, every day.

This drawing is:
Little Village on the Hill
5 x 13"
Available on Etsy.

I've been reading like a fiend for the last week and a half or so. I got on a pioneer / covered wagon kick. It's hard to imagine living that way - setting out with all your belongings loaded up in a wagon, often without so much as a compass and only a rough map. The later groups found their way more clearly marked - by deep wagon ruts - some of which can still be seen today. (The ones you can see today are cut into sandstone, not sand or earth.) There were many times when people got lost, often when trying for a short cut. Disease was widespread, especially things like cholera, rocky mountain fever, dysentery, and hypothermia. People ran out of food, water, money, wagon parts, and more. They abandoned their belongings along the trail as they realized they needed to reduce the weight of their wagons. Until the 1970s you could still find artifacts, and maybe you still can in some places. Often the pioneers would bury precious belongings, hoping to return and retrieve them later, though I doubt many ever did. The covered wagon period only lasted about 30 years. On May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah, the "Last Spike" was driven in for the transcontinental railroad. After that the traffic on the famous Oregon trail (and others) was greatly reduced. I am sure a lot of people preferred taking the train over walking and driving a team along the 2,000 mile long Oregon trail (and California, and other cut-offs). About 40,000 people did emigrate to the west following the trail. In the beginning the average trip lasted about 160 days but that time decreased towards the end of the period as the road conditions improved a little. But a trip west on the railroad could last as little as a week and cost as little as $65 a person. It cost between $500 and $800 to outfit a wagon for the trail. That cost included constructing a wagon sturdy enough to cover the territory, purchasing oxen to pull it, and the cost of food, tools, and supplies. Also there were ferry fees to be paid at many river crossings. I think I'd have chosen the train too.

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