In the early 1840s, Americans east of the Mississippi were beginning to feel crowded. The forests had all been cleared, and farms and small towns covered the countryside such that most usable land between the Atlantic and the Mississippi River was relegated into what might be described as the 19th century's version of suburban sprawl.
It was during this time, the pre-Gold Rush era, that an ambitious group of some 300 pioneers set off from St. Joseph, Missouri, headed for Oregon's lush Willamette Valley in search of adventure, equality, and opportunity in a new land.
In the summer of 2006, author Twain Braden, his wife Leah Day, and their four children retraced the route of these pioneers, following the Oregon Trail in search of emigrant ghosts - along the original ruts formed by their wagons more than 150 years before. Juxtaposing the story of the Independent Oregon Colony's arduous journey west with his own modern-day trip, Braden presents a moving and illuminating account of how America became what it is today. (avaland)