The Game

If you fondly remember The Oregon Trail game from the 1980s – or even if you don't, but you would like to know what all the fuss is about – here is the place to get a a quick overview. This brief walkthrough will take you through all the key screens in the game.

Overview of The Oregon Trail Game

Although the earliest version of The Oregon Trail was created in 1971, it was the 1985 Apple II version that first introduced most of the features that people now associate with the game. Below you can do a quick walkthrough to see what this version was like. For information on how to run this version of the game interactively, see the Resources tab.

When you start up the disk, the first screen to appear after the MECC logo is the main menu:

You choose the difficulty level by choosing a profession. This controls how much money you start the game with:

You type in your first name, followed by the names of the four people who will travel to Oregon with you:

After choosing what month of the year to begin your journey to Oregon, you visit Matt’s General Store to buy your oxen and supplies:

The 2000+ mile journey is divided into approximately 16 segments (depending upon the exact route you take). Each segment connects two important landmarks – such as river crossings, forts, geologic formations, and other noteworthy points. As you prepare to leave each landmark, you are told how many miles until the next landmark:

Each time that you arrive at a landmark, you have the opportunity to stop and look around:

Whenever you arrive at a river crossing, you must decide how best to cross it, depending upon the current conditions:

Regardless of which method you choose for crossing the river, you see an animation that illustrates your wagon crossing the river:

If the crossing was unsuccessful, then you suffer losses as a result:

Between landmarks, you can stop at any time to go hunting:

At any time during the journey, either at a landmark or between landmarks, you have a wide range of actions that you can take:

As you travel, members of your party may suffer from diseases:

Members of your party may also experience accidents:

Other events may occur at any time, some of which may slow you down or cause you losses:

On the other hand, some of these events can be fortunate:

At several locations, you reach a fork in the trail, and you must decide whether to take the trail on the left or the trail on the right:

Along the trail, you may meet Native Americans. For example, at the Snake River crossing, the Shoshone are experts at making this dangerous crossing. For a modest fee, they will help you cross the river:

If you break a wagon part, then you can try to fix it – which will cost you a day of effort. Otherwise you must replace the part with a spare that you are carrying. If you are not carrying the right spare part, then you are stuck until you can acquire the part from a passing wagon:

For the very last leg of the journey, you have the choice of floating down the Columbia River, or else paying a toll to take the Barlow Road:

If you choose to raft down the Columbia River, then you must avoid crashing your raft into any of the rocks in the river:

If you succeed in making it all the way to Oregon, then your points are tallied up. If your score is high enough, then your name will be added to the Oregon Top Ten:

The material on this page is excerpted from the book "You Have Died of Dysentery", available on Amazon.

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