During the 19th century, hardy pioneers used the Oregon Trail to migrate to the Pacific Northwest. The five- to six-month journey spanned 2,170 miles west through territories that became the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. However, the journey west was not necessarily a smooth one. According to some statistics, about one-tenth of the emigrants perished along the way. After the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, traffic along the Oregon Trail declined. Yet, the trail was used until modern highways were constructed parallel to large portions of the trail during the 1890s. ""The Oregon Trail"" focuses on the period of 1840-1859, when approximately 52,000 pioneers moved to Oregon, and nearly five times that opted to move to California or Utah.
Tim McNeese is associate professor of history at York College in York, Nebraska. He earned an associate's degree from York College, a B.A. in history and political science from Harding University, and an M.A. in history from Missouri State University. A prolific author of books for elementary, middle and high school, and college readers, McNeese has published more than 100 books and educational materials in the past 20 years, on everything from the founding of Jamestown to Spanish painters. His writing has earned him a citation in the library reference work Contemporary Authors. In 2006, McNeese appeared on the History Channel program Risk Takers/History Makers: John Wesley Powell and the Grand Canyon. He was a faculty member at the 2006 Tony Hillerman Mystery Writers Conference in Albuquerque, where he presented on the topic of American Indians of the Southwest.