The Oregon Trail
4960 votes 88%

The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail is not just a game, it's a cherished piece of gaming history that transported players to a bygone era of exploration and survival.

If you’ve ever dreamt of traversing the American frontier as a pioneer, making crucial decisions, and hunting for food along the Oregon Trail, then The Oregon Trail is the game for you.

In this historical educational strategy video game, you’ll be transported back to the year 1848, leading a covered wagon party from Independence, Missouri, to the fertile Willamette River and valley in Oregon.

Your leadership skills will be tested as you make choices about supplies, resource management, and your route while overcoming various challenges and setbacks.

Historical Beginnings

The Oregon Trail has a rich historical background. It was initially created as a text-based game in 1971 and later published by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) in 1975.

The game was re-imagined and released in its graphical form in 1985 for the Apple II. The year is 1848, and you’ll assume the role of a wagon leader guiding a group of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon’s Willamette Valley via a covered wagon.

You’ll make pivotal decisions on supplies, resource management, and the route you take while navigating treacherous rivers and facing unpredictable events such as storms and disease.

The Oregon Trail (gallery 02)

Creating an Educational Icon

The game was the brainchild of a dedicated team at MECC led by game designer R. Philip Bouchard. Over a ten-month period from 1984 to 1985, they crafted this educational masterpiece. The Oregon Trail marked a pivotal shift for MECC, transitioning from games and software on mainframe computers to home computers.

It was MECC’s first product primarily aimed at home consumers rather than schools.

The game made history by being one of the first educational video games of its kind, blending entertainment and learning seamlessly.

The Oregon Trail (gallery 03)

The Journey

As you embark on your journey to Oregon, you’ll face a series of challenging decisions. You start by selecting your character’s profession: banker, carpenter, or farmer.

Each choice comes with its own difficulty level and an initial sum of money to begin your journey. Then, you’ll name your character and the four members of your party.

You’ll need to purchase essential supplies like oxen, food, clothing, ammunition, and spare wagon parts from Matt’s General Store.

The journey is divided into sixteen segments, each concluding at a landmark, such as a river crossing or a fort. These landmarks offer various choices, like acquiring supplies, conversing with fellow travelers, or deciding how to cross a river.

You’ll need to make critical choices when navigating rivers, including fording, caulking, or paying for a ferry. The state of the river and weather conditions affect your chances of crossing without any hiccups.

Along the way, the prices for supplies rise, and you’ll need to make the right decisions to ensure your party’s survival.

The Oregon Trail (gallery 05)

Surviving the Trail

The journey between landmarks involves traveling for days over hundreds of miles. You’ll receive updates on the date, weather conditions, the health of your party, available food supplies, distances to the next landmark, and the distance covered.

Embrace the spirit of the pioneers on a treacherous journey to the Wild West.

Random events can occur, like storms causing delays or party members falling ill. The player can control the pace of travel, the amount of daily food rations, rest periods, trade with other parties, and even hunt for food.

The hunting component is presented as a mini-game where you control a character who shoots animals for food. Careful resource management and strategic choices are key to success on the trail. The game concludes when your party either reaches Willamette Valley or when all members succumb to illness or injury.

Your performance is scored based on several factors, creating a sense of competition and replayability.

The Oregon Trail: A Legacy Preserved

The Oregon Trail has left an indelible mark in the world of education and gaming. It gained immense popularity in schools during the 1980s and 1990s, serving as an effective teaching tool.

The game’s enduring legacy has earned it a place in the World Video Game Hall of Fame. Generations of players have experienced the trials and tribulations of the trail, making it a cultural landmark.

Play The Oregon Trail online

The Oregon Trail game is accessible online, without the need for downloads or emulators.

You can relive the experience in your web browser, making it a convenient option for both desktop and mobile devices. Play The Oregon Trail online, in a web browser.

The Oregon Trail (gallery 06)


The Oregon Trail is not just a video game, it’s a piece of educational history.

With its roots dating back to the 1970s, the game has introduced countless players to the trials and tribulations of westward expansion in the 19th century.

The combination of historical context, strategic decision-making, and resource management makes it a compelling and enduring experience.

  1. Good Game. I named everyone after Nordic countries. My best friend named all of her characters after the diseases in the game. Dysentery got Dysentery.

  2. Amazing game we play during social studies in school, Its beter than spending 30 minutes of my life learning about how world war 2 started LOL BEST GAME EVER, FOR ONCE I DON’T ALMOST DIE BECAUSE I’M BOARD (:

  3. I love this game! We’re learning about the Oregon trail and Canals in History so this game really goes into depths of how people got there! Me and my friend will start at the same time to see who can get there first. When I get told I have free time I go straight to Oregon trail. Also I personally like to start in March because I got told by my other friend that’s the best time to start! Pro tip: Don’t ever forge the river unless it’s lower than 2.5 ft because you will lose A lot of supplies and possibly people. I’ll put in my friends to see what will happens sometimes just for fun!

  4. IGreat game except I always die from Cholera. My friend said for everytime I get Cholera I owe her a dollar (because im scared of Cholera) I now owe her 30$

  5. This game is actually pretty cool. The only reason I know about it is because I needed to finish the game for an assignment lol.

  6. I haven’t played this game in decades. I wanted to relive the experience. I went as a Carpenter and got 3rd in top ten. Left in March. I have a good memory. I put the name as Nathan W. Bond who was my ancestor who actually travelled the Oregon Trail in 1953. He Homesteaded around 600 acres in Linn County on the banks of Santiam River.

  7. pro tip: do not try to ford the first river. this mistake WILL kill bill gates and captain falcon.

  8. i think that 90% of the uses of the words ‘dysentery’ and ‘typhoid’ is just this game alone.

  9. it was very easy to get to the end but the when I got to the top ten leaderboard it did not load me in to it.

    1. My teacher requires us to win this game for homework lol
      We’re learning about the oregon trail in a big unit before state testing so this is his way of letting us have fun and chill lol

  10. Made it top 100 super good I’m so smart and made it in 99th place made me so happy and left my family behind we all died

  11. I love this game but I still can’t figure out how to save it, I skipped the tutorial thing of how to figure out how to save it but now I can’t figure out how. I could probably look it up but I’m too lazy, LOL

  12. SCOTLAND FOREVER!!!!!!! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

    1. bestle i sugjest the banker buy max foood 5 pairs of clothes 4 oxen and three of each weal part and maybe like 17 boxes of amo

    2. if you can’t figure out how to get past the naming part you have to type yes or no if your names are correct.

    1. There is no way to save while on the trail. So at the end of each route it will save the game, and you will start from the last saved check point.

  13. this is a great game to play and is really fun game to play but it is really not the game for me if i wanted to play a game this is not the game that I will get on and play because this game is just not fun to me and is not the game that I will have fun on in my free time

    1. First, save the game directly within the game, in the game menu. Then click on the floppy disk icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. This action will save the game state in the browser’s memory.

      When you reload the game, the saved state will be automatically loaded, allowing you to resume from your saved position.

    2. First, save the game directly within the game, in the game menu. Then click on the floppy disk icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. This action will save the game state in the browser’s memory.

      When you reload the game, the saved state will be automatically loaded, allowing you to resume from your saved position.

  14. How to win: Go in March, Be a Banker, Buy 5 yoke, 2000 lbs food, 5 sets of clothes, 50 boxes of ammo, 3 of each part, and ferry or float every river, and change pace to grueling.

    How to lose: Be a banker, Go in June, buy 10 yoke, 3 of each part, change pace to grueling, change meals to bare bones, and ford every river.

  15. This game is AWESOME. The sheer excitement of wondering whether you will make it across the river is terrifying and amazing. This game is a national treasure and will hold a place in the hearts of gamers forever. The mechanics for the time were breathtaking and still are. No remaster or reboot of the game can ever compare to the original. This game is truly an absolute masterpiece of human creation. you can also play it in class and the teachers don’t care, since it’s about history. It is a true and amazing wonder of the world.

    1. I enjoy putting my friend’s names into it, and then seeing how long it takes until they die XD. Dark, I know.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the historical setting of The Oregon Trail?

The Oregon Trail is set in the year 1848, during the period of westward expansion in the United States.

How was The Oregon Trail originally developed?

The game was initially created as a text-based game in 1971 and later re-imagined in graphical form by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) in 1985.

What are the primary objectives in The Oregon Trail?

In the game, players must lead a group of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon's Willamette Valley, making decisions about supplies, resource management, and the route while facing various challenges.

Is The Oregon Trail still relevant today?

Yes, The Oregon Trail remains relevant as a historically significant educational video game that can be played online, making it accessible to new generations.

How can I play The Oregon Trail today?

You can play The Oregon Trail online in your web browser, making it accessible on both desktop and mobile devices.