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Wagons Ho! for the Oregon-California Trail

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

Grades—Fourth

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 offers pre- and post-visit material to help teachers provide students with supplemental learning. 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.

Download PDF with tour information.

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.

Cost per student is $6.  One adult enters free for every 10 students. Additional adults pay $5.

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 at kshs.hollenberg@ks.gov. 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.