Oregon Trail Vocab Graphic

Test Your Oregon Trail Vocabulary

Writing historical fiction brings me delight on many levels.

The process of discovery is one of the things I enjoy most about writing fiction. Yes, it can be great fun getting to know a cast of characters and discovering their story. But deepening my knowledge and understanding of history also brings me delight.

While doing the research for Prairie Song, Book 1 in my Hearts Seeking Home Series, I discovered some new vocabulary words Are you ready to test your knowledge of the terms from the Oregon Trail?

1.  Who is considered an immigrant?

2.  What is a turnaround?

3.  What is a wheelwright?

4.  What is a jumping off place?

5.  What is pemmican?

6.  What purpose does a hoop serve?

7.  What is a jerk line?

8.  What is a portage?

9.  What is double teaming?

10. Who is considered an emigrant?

Prairie Song Joshua 1

Though it means saying goodbye to the beloved friends and spiritual mentors of her St. Charles, Missouri quilting circle, Anna Goben is certain she needs to enlist her family in the Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company. The loss of her beloved brother in the Civil War has paralyzed her mother and grandfather in a malaise of grief and depression and Anna is convinced that only a fresh start in the west can bring her family back to her. Although the unknown perils of the trail west loom, Anna’s commitment to caring for her loved ones leaves no room for fear—or even loving someone new.

Click here to learn more about the Boone’s Lick Wagon Train Company.

Answer key: 1. Immigrants are people who come to the United States from other countries. 2. Turnarounds are folks who were traveling west by covered wagon and decided to return to the place of origin. 3. A wheelwright is someone who can make and repair wagon wheels. 4. A jumping off place is where folks gathered to provision their wagons and join a wagon train. In Prairie Song, Saint Charles, Missouri, served as the jumping off place. 5. Pemmican is a combination of fat and protein, a staple used on the trail when fresh game wasn’t available. 6. The hoop is the frame for the canvas cover on the wagon. 7. A jerk line is the strap attached to the yoke collar allowing the wagon driver to guide the oxen.  8. To portage is to manually carry the wagon piece-by-piece across a river or any other impassable barrier. 9. It was called double teaming when someone borrowed another company member’s oxen to help their team pull the wagon out of the mud or to climb a steep hill. 10. An emigrant is someone who is moving away from one place to another. Pioneers on the trail are referred to as emigrants because they were leaving their home state for another.

I’m curious . . . how did you do? Any of the trail terms new to you?

Want to learn more about life on the trail west? I’d love it if you’d pick up a copy of Prairie Song, or share it with readers on your gift-giving list. Thank you!


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