The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Rinker Buck
The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

The Oregon Trail: a new American Journey by Rinker Buck isn’t the usual tale of "the Donner Party” traveling West in a covered wagon. The author, his brother Nick with his dog Olive Oyl, a Jack Russell terrier, survived the 2000 mile arduous journey in a covered wagon in the twentieth century. The author did extensive research about the Oregon Trail before planning and completing this challenge. The author had the exciting adventure of traveling in a covered wagon with his family (11 children) and parents when he was 7 years old. His father (with a wooden leg), actually pulled the wagon across a bridge when the mule team shied away from the crossing. One item that survived the 1958 wagon ride and was attached to the current wagon was a wooden sign that said, “See America slowly.” Rink and his brother experienced  a multitude of challenges that pioneers in the 1800s endured: learning to harness and drive a mule team; repairing shoddily-built covered wagons (the brakes and wheels being the most crucial parts); driving blindly through rain and sand storms; finding a route across unmarked terrain; experiencing euphoria in altitudes and disappointment in mirages; bypassing the “planned route” because of overflowing river banks or extremely steep, rocky mountains. They did enjoy meeting helpful, interesting people when they camped at public corrals or actually on privately-owned ranches. When the author read pioneer journals during his research, “recycling” was a common occurrence.  Pioneers, as well as the current travelers, had to lighten their loads in order to travel on. This left permission for whomever following a chance to change into clean clothes if needed or take on food that had been too heavy for their mule team to pull. Olive Oyl earned her keep by scaring up rattlesnakes when crossing arid country. Rinker had a way of telling about his journey that let you experience riding on a narrow ridge with a canyon wall inches from your nose and a wheel on the ledge of a 100 foot drop off.



Geralyn B., Technical Services



I've always been interested in the Oregon Trail and this book is a fascinating look at that period of American history. The author and his brother purchased 3 miles drove on the trail as much as they were able. They were gone 5 months. A lot of the trail is now under highways and subdivisions but a lot is still available. Rinker researched for 3 years using diaries, history books, etc., and the book reads like a novel. There are different chapters on mules, types of wagons, the pioneers, the Mormons and their part of the expansion, and the wonderful Americans who helped along the way. It took me two weeks to get through the book because I had to keep researching different things about it. Plus I drove my husband crazy by reading parts of the book to him frequently. I highly recommend putting the hours into this book.


Sue N., Youth Services


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