May 25, 1841

Passed the stream without much trouble and made a stretch of about 20 miles when we encamped on the border of a beautiful forest where we found plenty of grass and water. The country over which we passed was similar to that of yesterday.

Wood, water, and grass were the holy trinity of pioneer travelers. They could get along a few days without wood for fuel (and use buffalo chips instead), but they could not do without water and grass for their animals. The journey could not begin until the grass began to grow on the prairie, which is why wagon trains always left in mid-April or early May.

Twenty miles in a day was good traveling. Oxen could only make about two miles an hour, so that’s ten hours on the move. Plenty of time had to be given morning, noon, and evening for the oxen to graze, too.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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