Food Used by Travelers of the Oregon Trail

No doubt about , traveling back in the 1800s and before was not only difficult, but careful consideration had to be given to the provisions carried. There were no gas stations, fast food restaurants, or quick marts, so failure to properly prepare could turn into a survival situation.

Here is an interesting article  from the St. Joseph, Missouri Gazette dated March 19, 1847:



Mr. Editor; Subjoined you will find a list of the principle articles necessary for an outfit to Oregon or California, which may be useful to some of your readers. It has been carefully prepared from correct information derived from intelligent persons who have made the trip.

The wagons should be new, made of thoroughtly seasoned timber, and well ironed and not too heavy; with good tight beds, strong bows, and large double sheets. There should be at least four yoke of good oxen to each wagon – one yoke to be consdiered as extra, and to be used only in cases of emergency. Every family should have at least two good milk cows, as milk is a great luxury on the road.

The amount of provisions should be as follows; to each person except infants:

  • 200 pounds of bread stuff (flour and crackers)
  • 100 pounds of bacon
  • 12 pounds of coffee
  • 12 pounds of sugar

Each family should also take the following articles in proportions to the number as follows:

  • From 1 to 5 pounds tea
  • From 10 to 50 pounds rice
  • From 1/2 to 2 bushels beans
  • From 1/2 to 2 bushels dried fruit
  • From 1/2 to 5 pounds saleratus (baking soda)
  • From 5 to 50 pounds soap

Cheese, dried pumpkins, onions and a small portion of corn meal may be taken by those who desire them. The latter article, however, does not keep well.

No furniture should be taken, and as few cooking utensils as are indispensably needed. Every family ought to have a sufficient supply of clothing for at least one year after their arrival, as everything of that kind is high in those countries. Some few cattle should be driven for beef, but much loose stock will be a great annoyance. Some medicines should also be found in every family, the kind and quantity may be determined by consulting the family physician.

I would suggest to each family the propriety of taking a small sheet-iron cooking stove with fixtures, as the wind and rain often times renders it almost impossible to cook without them, they are light and cost but little. All the foregoing articles may be purchased on good terms in this place.
Kay Conn


here is even more interesting information, including the above, from

hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did. Really illustrates how for granted we take things, what with all the fast food restaurants, fast moving vehicles, etc