Cover image for The Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail
Fisher, Leonard Everett.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Holiday House, [1990]

Physical Description:
64 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Charts the journey of those who followed the Oregon Trail in the first half of the nineteenth century, describes the obstacles and dangers they encountered, and discusses the Trail's eventual decline with the introduction of the cross-country railroad.
General Note:
Includes index.
Reading Level:
1030 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 7.2 1.0 9518.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.9 4 Quiz: 25850.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F597 .F57 1990 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The story of the gateway to the Pacific Northwest.

Author Notes

Leonard Everett Fisher is a well-known and prolific author and illustrator of children's books. He has also written for adults and created illustrations for magazines. In addition, Fisher was dean of the Whitney School of Art and a visiting professor at a number of schools.

Fisher was born in 1927 in the Bronx, New York, and started to draw as a small child. After graduating from high school, he studied at Brooklyn College and then entered the army where he worked with a mapmaker. He holds a B.F.A. and a M.F.A. from Yale University.

The first book that Fisher illustrated was The Exploits of Xenophon, written by Geoffrey Household and published in 1955. Fisher then illustrated and wrote numerous books himself. He is well known for the Colonial Americans series, for the Nineteenth-Century America series for young adults, and for many other nonfiction works. He has written two works for adults-Masterpieces of American Painting (1985) and Remington and Russell (1986).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-6. In every way but one, Fisher gives a marvelous account of a major chapter in America's westward expansion. Between 1840 and 1870, some 300,000 Americans made the arduous journey between Missouri and the Pacific coast, braving months of hardship and many forms of danger in their desire for a new and better existence. Fisher brings this migration to life with a clear, readable text that makes generous use of the emigrants' own journal entries. The historical background of the Oregon Trail and facts about daily life in a wagon train are interspersed with the settlers' descriptions of such matters as weather, accidents, Indian attacks, and the land itself. The illustrations are many and varied, including maps, photographs, drawings, documents, and paintings (all rendered in black and white). Fisher writes with authority, enthusiasm, and a genuine respect for his subject. The book's drawback is its unbalanced treatment of settler-Indian conflicts. Fisher acknowledges that the native Americans had reason to resent the loss of their lands but dwells at length on Indian atrocities. In Fisher's words and those of the emigrant journals, the Indians are "treacherous" and "marauding . . . spreading death and destruction whenever and wherever they could." Nowhere does he present the Indians' perspective in their own words or detail emigrant and army attacks on them. At a time when historians are reexamining the myth of the West, such treatment is anachronistic as well as distorted. It is an unfortunate flaw in an otherwise fine book. ~--Leone McDermott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fisher, an accomplished master of illustrated histories ( The White House ; Ellis Island ), here focuses on this famous 2000-mile trail which stretched from the Missouri River to the mouth of the Columbia River in the Oregon Territory. For 20 years (the 1840s and '50s) countless ``emigrants'' traveled this arduous route in prairie schooners, seeking new lives in the West and the fulfillment of the nation's manifest destiny to control all of North America. Drawing on a variety of contemporary accounts, Fisher doesn't gloss over the conflicts with Native Americans, death by disease and accident, or the brutal forces of nature: ``Many lost everything, including their lives.'' Carefully selected archival photos and engravings support the brisk narrative, but unfortunately the many notable paintings are (unlike the cover) reproduced in black and white. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-- Not so much an account of travel on the Oregon Trail--Independence to Oregon farmland--as a collection of notes about the Trail: problems, happenings, people who figured in its history. It's more a critical than an anecdotal or straight history, and what's missing is an organizing principle for the information. The splendid full-color reproduction of Albert Bierstadt's painting, ``The Oregon Trail,'' on the wraparound jacket seduces one into a book illustrated with black-and-white photographs of paintings, places, people; but about half of these photographs are undated, and some are not located in a particular place. For example, after explaining about burial of the dead along the emigrant trail, and commenting that ``Every trace of the deceased soon disappeared, including the grave marker,'' the opposing page carries a contradicting photo labeled: ``Trailside graves, Nevada.'' As the Oregon Trail didn't go through Nevada--although some other trails did, and as the photo is of a pretty good looking small cemetery with intact markers, one must wonder when this photograph was taken--and precisely where. A better, but much different, account is When Pioneers Pushed West to Oregon (Gerrard, 1970; o.p.) by Elizabeth R. Montgomery. --George Gleason, Department of English, Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.