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1 : In 1850 alone, 37 people drowned trying to cross one particularly difficult river--the Green, Perhaps the biggest problem on the Trail was a mysterious and deadly disease--called cholera for which there was no cure. Often, an emigrant would go from healthy to dead in just a few hours. Sometimes they received a proper burial, but often, the sick would be abandoned, in their beds, on the side of the trail, Horses were quickly rejected because they could not live off prairie grasses along the way. As a result, most of the emigrants decided on oxen. They were strong; could live off grass or sage; and were less-expensive.
2: The Missouri River heads due west from St. Louis; so most emigrants loaded their wagons onto steamships for the upstream journey. It was easy traveling, but it didn't last long. Two-hundred miles from St. Louis, the Missouri takes a cruel turn to the north. So the pioneers unloaded their wagons at any one of several small towns along the Missouri river which they called "jumping off" places., By mid April, the prairie outside Independence was packed with emigrant campers-- often over three square miles worth. It was so crowded, one emigrant spent four days just trying to find his friends. This entire mass of humanity was waiting for the grass to grow. Heading west too early meant the grass wouldn't be long enough for the animals to graze along the way--a mistake that could be fatal. ,, A family of four would need over a thousand pounds of food to sustain them on the 2000 mile journey to Oregon. The only practical way to haul that much food was a wagon.