About

Welcome, I am Bart Smith, a photographer/avid walker.  I have walked and photographed all eleven of America’s  National Scenic Trails culminating is several coffee table books showcasing the remarkable natural heritage along our trails.    More recently I have been walking and photographing our National Historic Trails.  This media journal (using a blog format) documents my 2012 Oregon Trail walk-a-bout via movies and images.  Not a lot of folks walk the Oregon Trail these days.  In fact, I was surprised when a motel proprietor in Nebraska mentioned that another fellow was walking the trail ahead of me. Eventually I caught up with that gentleman, Jan Boog, in Eastern Oregon and we shared the trail for a few days before I  paced  ahead.  Jan, a Dutchman, was carrying his love of history and all his wares on his back whereas I was carrying my love of history but pushing my wares on a baby jogger which provided for a spring in my step.  But between 1840 and 1869 some 400,000 intrepid souls carried their hopes, dreams and entire world belongings along the 2000 mile journey West.  The Oregon Trail era was pivotal to our history.  All those hopes and dreams walking through months of dust represented the largest voluntary human migration ever recorded.  America as we know it was being created.  It was humbling walking in those footsteps and wagon ruts still in evidence along those long beige miles over the Great American Desert.    Even with the stroller it was a rough walk.  My pedestrian journey was mostly along rural road and paved road and I had periodic access to motels and restaurants.  But even with modern amenities, walking all those endless exposed miles instilled in me a profound respect for the hardships the immigrant endured and an empathy for the plight of the Native American heritage.  As you will see, the movies are on the fly but I am hoping they will convey a sense of the history along the trail as well as allow me to share my personal journey west.  A quick apology to Oregonians, I am one of those dastardly nincompoops who never learned how to properly pronounce Oregon.  It should be be pronounced  “Oregen” rather than “Oregoooone”.  On Ward!!

P.S.  All the photographs displayed on this blog were taken by myself and are under copyright of Bart Smith.   If you choose to share any of them on the internet please give me credit.  Thank You.

9 comments

  1. Hello Bart! I don’t know if you’re still monitoring this site, but I wanted to say that I love your blog. I’m a week away from leaving on my own Oregon Trail trek. I’m biking from, it looks like, Springfield IL to Independence to Oregon City.

    And surprise, surprise, I’m also using “Maps of the Oregon Trail” by Franzwa. Plus Google Maps.

    Anyways, I just thought I’d say hello and thought I’d ask: if you were going to do this trip over what would you do differently or absolutely make sure to do?

    I’m taking 3-4 months off so I can do this trip properly, so I’d love any advice you have–given that you are an old hat at this!

    Hope to talk to you soon!

    -Cori N.

    1. Did you go on the OT? 3 of us are leaving in April 2021 and I’m curious as to whether you documented and posted your journey. Thanks.

  2. While planning my own Oregon Trail project I got a Google hit that said “Walking The Oregon Trail”. I thought…..”they CAN’T be serious!” So I clicked on the link. And I was left gob smacked. Simply an amazing trip! Superb photography and the videos were candid yet informative. And using a baby jogger to tote your gear? That’s a genius at work!! Several of the sections in Wyoming were very helpful in route planning for my trip, especially the videos covering Rocky Ridge and South Pass. Thanks so much for those. Looking forward to your next long walk-about! 🙂

  3. I stumbled upon your site while looking for info on the Narrows! Great, another time waster!! Can’t wait to go through everything you have posted! I’m planning a trip myself Summer of 2017, but by car. Hoping to have 1 or 2 of my nephews along for the ride!

  4. Hi, I’ve got some questions for you regarding the Oregon Trail and a Belgian television documentary I’m working on. Can I somehow email you to give you some further information?

    thanks in advance!

  5. I was reading the book, The Oregon Trail, An American Journey and was drawn to your web site with all the videos so I could actually see what the trail looked like. I started with just a few, found them so interesting that I ended up viewing them all. I have to say, I was inspired. I loved the commentary and all the fantastic photography that you do. To actually see all the wheel ruts in the ground really captures the journey so many emigrants took just to start a new life. Now I have to figure out how I can find time to do it myself. After all I’m already 62 and not getting any younger. Thanks again for your observations along the way, too, as it really put so many things into perspective for me. It gave me a feel for what it took to walk that kind of distance, without the aches and pains, of course. Totally enjoyed it!

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