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Wagons Ho! for the Oregon-California Trail

Guided tour—Hollenberg Pony Express Station State Historic Site, Hanover


Learning about the trailAs 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.

Crossing the "toll bridge" on the Oregon-California TrailThis 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 was the recipient of the Oregon California Trails Association (OCTA) award for outstanding educational programs.

Standards addressed:

Kansas Standards for History, Government and Social Studies

Standard #1:  Choices have consequences

  • 1.2: The student will analyze the context under which choices are made and draw conclusions about the motivations and goals of the decision-makers.

Kansas College and Career Readiness Standards

  • SL 3.3: The student will ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.
  • SL 4.3: The student will identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points.
  • W 4.3 (a-e): The student will write a narrative 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 $6 (including general admission.) 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 May through the last Saturday in October.