By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.
a teacher, I have attempted to engage students in learning about the Oregon
Trail in a variety of ways, including playing the Oregon Trail video game. So, I was genuinely excited to read about Rinker
Buck’s journey to travel the epic trail. I found the book to be a quick and easy read
that tells the story of Buck and his brother Nick, and Nick’s Jack
Russell terrier, Olive Oyl making a modern day crossing of the Oregon Trail.
a reader, I was in awe of Buck’s attempt to travel the length of the Oregon
Trail the old-fashioned way—in a covered wagon with a team of mules. Such a journey had not been attempted in more
than a century. The fact that so much of
the trail is still accessible was quite the revelation. As an East Coaster, many of our original trails and pioneer roads are long
gone, replaced by modern roads, cities and suburban sprawl.
gives an overview of the Oregon Trail, which spans two thousand miles and crosses
six states from Missouri to the Pacific coast. Once Buck sets up the history of
the trail, he then begins the narrative of the crossing. Buck and his brother
set out from St. Joseph, Missouri, to travel to Baker City, Oregon, a journey that would last four months.
book can be broken down into three distinct parts, a journal of the trip, an all-around
history of the trail, and the relationship Buck had with his father. As a reader, I most enjoyed the journal and
historical aspects of the book. Believe me, you will have a good idea of what it takes to change a wagon wheel or how precious water can truly be. In the
beginning of the book, Buck talks about wanting to do the crossing alone. However, as the book unfolds, it is hard to imagine
this journey being possible without the aid of his brother Nick. Indeed, the banter between the two is quite
would highly recommend this book. It is very entertaining, as well as
reader will be transported to an earlier time and a chance to “Go West!” Plus, you will learn more about
what many of the Great Pioneers had to endure to make such an arduous journey. If you are like me and love the idea
of taking a great road trip, I would enthusiastically recommend picking up this
book. It is definitely worth a read!