Wagons Ho! for the Oregon-California Trail
Guided tour—Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historic Site, Hanover
As a pioneer, what would you have packed for your long trip on the California-Oregon Trail? This is your students' chance to find out first hand. Students on the Wagons Ho! for the Oregon-California Trail are assigned to actual families who traveled the trail. They must calculate what to pack for their journey and then load their wagons with supplies. Red wagons with canvas tops and model-size boxes and bags simulate the experience.
At the Hollenberg Pony Express Station students will explore the visitor center, load their wagons, and then hit the (nature) trail. Along the way they will visit the historic Hollenberg Station, stop at the campground, and then return to the visitor center. They will learn about life on the California-Oregon Trail through primary source cards. They will gain or lose points based upon their group's skill in packing and preparedness. Will all groups make it? Only those families with the required amount of points can claim victory and begin their new life out West.
This tour meets grade specific standards and provides pre- and post-visit material to help teachers fulfill those indicators. Included in the pre-visit materials is a lesson to help the students learn about the six families who actually traveled the trail. Also included are two Read Kansas! lessons--I-6 "Trade and Travel on Overland Trails" and I-7 "Life on the Trails". These lessons compare the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail and also give the students an opportunity to read primary source materials about two children who traveled the trails.
Note: This tour is designed to take place at Hollenberg Pony Express Station and the nature trail. The tour cannot be conducted during inclement weather.
This guided tour received the Oregon California Trails Association (OCTA) award for outstanding educational programs.
Kansas standards addressed:
History: Benchmark 1, Indicator 4: The student describes how communication and transportation systems connect Kansas to other regions, past and present (e.g., trails, Pony Express, telegraph, steamboats, railroad lines, highway systems, air transportation, Internet).
History: Benchmark 1, Indicator 5: The student compares and contrasts the purposes of the Santa Fe and Oregon-California Trails (e.g., commercial vs. migration).
History: Benchmark 1, Indicator 6: The student describes life on the Santa Fe and Oregon-California Trails (e.g., interactions between different cultural groups, hardships such as lack of water, mountains and rivers to cross, weather, need for medical care, size of wagon).
Economics: Benchmark 1, Indicator 1: The student knows that every spending and saving decision has an opportunity cost.
Economics: Benchmark 5, Indicator 2: The student analyzes the costs and benefits of making a choice.
Common Core Reading: RI 4.3: The student will explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
Common Core Writing: W 4.3: The student will write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
Download PDF with tour information and Kansas standards
Download PDF with tour information and Nebraska standards
Cost per student is $2. One adult enters free for every 10 students. Additional adults pay the student rate.
Length of tour: approximately two hours, with a maximum of one tour per two hour period.
Number of students in a group: for the best experience, we recommend no more than 30 students per tour.
For registration and scheduling: contact the site administrator, 785-337-2635; Hollenberg Pony Express Station. Tours must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. The site is open the first Wednesday in April through the last Saturday in October.