The Oregon Trail Trading Post with Jennifer Uhlarik!

Hi everyone. Jennifer Uhlarik here. Have you ever thought of what traveling along the Oregon Trail is like? While I am fascinated with the idea of our forefathers traveling months along the path to make a life in the wilds of Oregon or other western places, the thought of being that far from civilization—particularly someplace to replenish supplies—is a frightening one. Keeping it real here: I live 2 miles from the grocery store, and it’s waaaaayyyyyy too easy for me to wait until 5 pm some nights to decide what I’m making for dinner, then rush off to the store for supplies. Our ancestors on the Oregon Trail didn’t have such luxuries! They had to pack enough stores to do life until they reached a trading post or fort to buy more.

So how did these trading posts get their start and what were they like?

As early as the 1500’s, French and English fishermen were sailing to the coast of Newfoundland to fish for cod. It was here that they encountered some local Indian tribes who were anxious to trade for metal goods. In order to obtain the iron pots, pans, knives and tools they coveted, the Indians offered beaver pelts, which they could provide in great quantities. It took the fishermen little time to sell the pelts once they returned home, and people quickly realized that the soft underfur of a beaver pelt made a wonderful felt for hat-making. With a growing demand for beaver pelts, both France and England began to explore North America with the intent to colonize it. Not long after, France began setting up trading posts in Quebec. Of course, England’s Hudson Bay Company moved into the area as well, sending traders and trappers across parts of Canada and the American frontier. Wherever they went, Hudson Bay Company set up trading posts to barter with the native population.

As life on the frontier changed from a focus on the fur trade to a focus on Westward Expansion, many of the old trading posts lived on. The owners of the posts continued to trade with the Indian tribes, but they also became outposts where white travels and settlers could get supplies. These small outposts provided staples like coffee, tea, rice, tins of hardtack biscuits, dried fruit, or canned goods. They also offered tools and utensils, such as cast iron pots, kettles, knives, and axes, saddles, and flint and steel for starting fires. Customers could trade for textiles, such as beaver-felt hats, blankets, bandanas, ribbon, thread, needles, and fabric. Ornamental or decorative supplies were commonly found, anything from silver to beads and beyond. And of course, guns, ammunition, and other shooting supplies were a common item found in these trading posts.

I’m sure you can imagine, life on the frontier could be lonely and supplies might be hard to come by. You had to learn to live with what you had…and make do until you could restock. Often, these trading posts were lifesavers, keeping people from starving or doing without until they reached the next major stop on their journey west. Or they might have prevented settlers from having to make a long trek to the nearest town or city, which might be days or weeks away. They certainly weren’t as convenient as today’s 7-Eleven, but I’m betting they were welcome stopovers to more than a few of our ancestors.

 

It’s your turn: If you had lived in times past, would you have liked to live on the frontier where a trading post might be your nearest source of supplies, or would you have preferred to live in a town or city? I’ll be giving away one paperback copy of The Oregon Trail Romance Collection to one reader who leaves a comment.

 

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list several times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers, Women Writing the West, and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children. Follow Jennifer at bit.ly.UhlarikNews

 

The Oregon Trail Romance Collection

Nine romantic adventures take readers along for a ride on the Oregon Trail where daily challenges force travelers to evaluate the things that are most precious to them—including love. Enjoy the trip through a fascinating part of history through the eyes of remarkably strong characters who stop at famous landmarks along the way. Watch as their faith is strengthened and as love is born despite unique circumstances. Discover where the journey ends for each of nine couples.

 

Click HERE to buy

 

Guest Blogger

55 Comments

  1. trading post sounds good.

  2. Good morning Jennifer. I live in the middle of no-where now. I’m at least 30 miles from the nearest middle size town of 24,000. I live in a 4000 size town. I travel a lot with my inspections of feedyards, Dairy’s, and hog farms. Most towns I travel too are around 2000 or less in population.
    I think I would love having the trading post as my main store and only once in a blue moon going to a bigger populated town. I think living in smaller unpopulated communities people become more involved and truly love and help their communities.
    Thanks for the great history in your blog. Have a Blessed new month!

    1. Thanks so much, Tonya! I think you’re right about smaller communities being more connected and helping each other. I live in a large suburb, and while I’ve lived in my house since 1994, there are neighbors on this street or neighboring streets that I’ve never met. It’s sad, really.

  3. Good morning I enjoyed your post. Frontier with Trading Post for me.

    1. Sounds great, Yvonne. Thanks for reading!

  4. I’m a country gal … no big cities for me. Trading posts would be more appealing. I enjoyed your blog today. Your new book looks good too. Just what I love to read about. I always enjoy meeting new authors!

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    I live 25 miles from the nearest Walmart and about 20 to a small expensive chain grocery store that I try not to frequent. I live in an unincorporated community that several other of the same communities come together to form one pre-K thru 12 school system. We finally had a Family Dollar come to our little area in 2014 and it was such a blessing to us not to have to drive so far for the little things we need or forget. So finally to answer your question, I would want to have lived rural where the trading post was my source for supplies just not days away from it! I’ve never read one of your books and would love the opportunity. Great blog, I love the history I learn here at the P&P blog!

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      By the way I love your book cover!

    2. So glad you enjoyed my post, Stephanie! Thank you for stopping by. I live in a very populated suburb of a large city, and given the traffic around here lately, living out a bit sounds delightful! LOL

      1. Thank you! Barbour does a great job with their covers. I’m always impressed by them.

  6. Jennifer, so nice to have you here! Good morning! Life on the frontier fascinates me, the grit and courage people faced and how many stayed when so many fled back east. Life wasn’t easy, and there were so many obstacles but the courage of carving out new settlements, new ranches, new farms, new towns… wow. Amazing.

    1. Amen to that, Ruth! Perhaps if I never knew the relative luxury of living today, I’d feel differently, but I just don’t know that I would’ve had the grit and courage those in the 1800s showed in settling new lands!

  7. I have never know city life or even a big town so give me the frontier and the trading post! Love your post!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Melanie! You and I are opposites. I’ve always lived in very populated places.

  8. Jennifer, this is good stuff. Coincidentally my first book, published in Sept., was an Oregon Trail story and incorporated several trading posts. Hope I got them right. They were a lifeline to the travelers after long, monotonous days of nothing but prairie.
    Please enter me in drawing.
    Kathy Bailey

    1. Congrats on your first book, Kathy! How exciting! I’m sure you did just fine on your details in your story.

  9. Enjoyed the info. Give me the frontier and trading posts.

    1. This seems to be the choice of most readers!

  10. I think I would like the frontier better. Loved the post.

    1. Thanks so much fo reading, Debra!

  11. I like my country for sure, but I like having necessities and supplies available. I’d go for country but I would make sure I had a town or good trading post close by!

    1. This sounds like a great compromise, Susan!

  12. I like my country life for sure maybe if the trading post wasn’t to far a way that would be the way I would go. I live in a small town now but its now my favorite way to live.

    1. Sounds like a great place, Quilt Lady! Thanks for stopping by and reading!

  13. I too only remember very rural living – closest town with groceries is 15 miles away

    1. Oh how interesting, Teresa. I live about 2-3 miles from two different grocery stores, tons of restaurants, and various convenience stores. Unfortunately, with all that easy access to food and supplies comes TONS of traffic!

  14. Enjoyed your post this morning. I would have loved to live out on the trail even if it meant having to go to a Trading post

  15. This is a very interesting post. Hmmm, I think I would still live a distance from any town. Stocking up for me is no problem. I guess living on a farm, mom did this with canning and such. So for me to help her and than do my own as an adult. It is just part of life. I would love to read this book. ON my list.

    1. I so admire those who do their own canning and such. That was a skill I never learned. Hope you’ll enjoy the collection, Lori!

  16. I think I could manage living on the frontier and depending on the trading post It’s the getting there in the covered wagon not knowing where the next trading post is that is the mind-boggling part. Although I say this from the comfort of my chair where I could have groceries delivered if I didn’t feel like driving the half mile to the store! Enjoyed the post and thanks for the giveaway.

    1. LOL A woman after my own heart, Sally! I am not sure I could’ve handled the travel to the frontier, and yet, the idea of living in the country and away from the bustle of my current place sounds great!

  17. I think anyway would be interesting . . . And fun even!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Abigail.

  18. I’d rather live on the frontier. Cities an towns weren’t like they are today, and even today there are plenty of those I don’t want to go!!

    1. So true, Trudy! Thank you for reading.

  19. I’d like to say trading post, but I have to be honest with myself and go with town. We drive through Western Colorado to visit family every few years and I always get a little creeped out by how empty it is!

    1. Hahahaha. I’ve been to that part of Colorado, Carrie, so I know just what you mean!

  20. I’d like to live on the edge of town.

    1. Best of both worlds, right Caryl? 😉

  21. Hi Jennifer,
    That was a great post! Mmm, that is a hard one. I grew up in the country and on the beach, always wanted to live in town and now at 63 years old I would like to live in the country. I guess I would pick country. I love historical western romances and anything to do with the Oregon Trail. I grew up in Florida but moved west with my family just before my 17th birthday. I live in Wyoming and love the wide open spaces. We also have amazingly beautiful sunsets! I often think about the brave women who left everything they knew and especially their families. It must have been a very hard life.

    1. Well hello to a former Floridian from a current one! We moved from the Midwest to the Tampa area when I was 10. I’ve lived in the same town ever since. Of course, when I came to my town, it was best known for being pasture land for cattle. Today, all the pastures are gone and it’s a bustling suburb.

  22. I am another one who lives twenty miles from town although there is an interstate highway in front of my house. My husband’s grandfather was the baby of his family when they came over the Oregon Trail to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. (He was in his forties when he married and my in-laws were in their late twenties when they married so my husband and his siblings are younger than most third generation Northwesterners.) We have always been country people,but it is nice to have a store not too far away.

    1. What an interesting family history! Thank you for sharing it with me, Alice!

  23. I’m a bit spoiled by living so near grocery stores and other necessity shops in today’s world…lol! But I think I wouldn’t mind being near a trading post living on the frontier. Folks back then I’m sure made due with what they had or became inventive for things they didn’t. Hearty folk 🙂

    What a fun post Jennifer! I love stories about the Oregon trail since I live on the coast and there’s so much history here about it.

    1. I think I’m in that “spoiled by nearby groceries” club too, Trixi! I’ve gotten all too used to leaving decisions about what’s for dinner until about 4 pm, then driving the 2 miles (or less?) to the nearby grocery store for food. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  24. In my youth I would not have minded living a bit far from civilization with a trip to the trading post my main source for supplies. I could do it now, but would prefer a bit more convenience at my older age. I am a country girl who has lived outside small towns a good portion of my life. Three years in the Peace Corps gave me a taste of what relying on a trading post could be like. We were a military family for over 20 years, so those times I lived on base or in town. Big cities are not to my liking for living (DC, Sacramento), although Colorado Springs was enjoyable. Sadly it has grown too big since we lived there. If you plan well, you can make trading post visits work, but I will leave that to the younger and healthier among us.
    We have traveled the routes of some of the wagon train trails, The longest stretch was on the Oregon Trail. It is easy to think how discouraging it would get crossing those distances with not much change of scenery to mark your progress. I am sure they were thrilled to spot the few forts and towns that were along their way. For me judicious shopping for supplies would be the foirst order of business upon arrival.

    1. Patricia, it sounds like you’ve had a very interesting life! Thank you for sharing some of your vast experiences. I’m with you on the big cities. The one we live near has grown up so much in the 30-odd years we’ve been here. I wouldn’t mind to move, but there are circumstances keeping us where we are for now.

  25. I’d like living out in the country a little bit, but not so much that my only option was the trading post.

    1. I’m with you, Denise. I want the best of both worlds.

  26. Hi I would prefer a frontier and trading post. I prefer small towns. I enjoyed reading your post, it is very interesting. Thank you for sharing. Your book sounds like a very good read. Thank you for the chance.

  27. Thank you for stopping by, Alicia!

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