Event highlights the historical trail, family’s 1853 trek across U.S. to reach present-day Camas

The Oregon Trail is bringing people to Vancouver, Wash., again Saturday—this time for an exercise in history. The Oregon-California Trails Association is teaming with the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation for a symposium at the Heathman Lodge.

A diary begun by Amelia Knight when her family left Iowa in 1853 is among documents to be discussed.

Oregon Trail diaries offer an unusual perspective on a significant era in American history, said Steve Fountain, a history professor at Washington State University Vancouver. Their authors seemed to realize they were participating in something historic and wanted to document it.

“A lot of these are written not as private diaries, but as narratives people will want to read,” Fountain said.

Fountain, who kicks off the symposium with a “Layers of History” overview, noted another interesting aspect of the emigrants.

“These are people who are doing middling and better; not poor people,” Fountain said. “People who are doing just fine are risking life and limb and traveling for months getting to a place they’ve never been.”

Find out more

The Columbian