Cover Image: The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail

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Member Reviews

Every reader of the western genre knows the name Johnstone on the book means they'll get a great story set in the real western world, where violence ruled the land and people lived hard or died quickly. THE OREGON TRAIL is set on a wagon train's journey cross country where the wagon drivers and their families hope to find a new quality of life. But first they must face the many dangers nature and man will put in their path.

I've been reading westerns ever since my uncles decided I needed to read "real" books and I've yet to find a Johnstone title that I found less than excellent and shared with my reading circle of many critics and lovers of the genre. There are many series written with the Johnstone brand on them and the characters in one series often show up in the others, giving an extra dimension to the Johnstone world. Pick any of their series and you'll soon be a member of their fan club too.

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Not every reader will enjoy, as I did, the details and timeline of traveling The Oregon Trail. For example, a wagon train would follow the Big Sandy River to its confluence with the Green River, circa 70 miles which would take five to five-and-a-half days. There were many rivers to be crossed; some easy, some difficult, and quite dangerous. The Snake River had to be crossed multiple times.

(image of Oregon Trail) -- Source: Wikipedia, Oregon Trail

While the book doesn’t specify the year this trip was made — and the last one for the wagon master, it was after 1864. A reference is made to Fort Hall which was washed away and rebuilt after a flash flood that year.

Did you know that several of the rivers that were crossed had ferries that could be used for a fee? Remember that $5 or $10 in those days was much more. In 1865, $5 is equivalent to $94.61 today (thanks Google). And there was a Barlow Road toll gate that cost $5 for each wagon and 10 cents a head for livestock. The road was much better than using boats to travel to the next stop. The wagon master made sure everyone was aware of these tolls and that people verified they had the money to pay them.

Or that there was more than one place where people left their names and the date they were there? Or the travelers tied their wheels so they would slide down those tall mountain passes?

I found this fascinating highlighting in my Kindle each one. No, my ancestors never traveled to Oregon. But I always value when authors make these kinds of effort in a novel.

The personnel on the train are introduced nicely, with no dumping of characters. As the weeks go by, some become more interesting than others. Everyone eventually notices that Thorton’s wagon is much heavier than everyone else’s. What *does* he have in there? And Leach. Leach travels with the Thortons and is a huge, brutish man. Quiet, rarely attends socials. And some unkindly call him the “ape”. That character started intriguing me and it turned out I was right to be so interested.

I became partial to Clint Buchanan, wagon train scout, and nephew to Clayton Scofield, wagon master. But not appointed because of the family association — Clint was very good at his job. This was not his first trip with his uncle but it would be the last since his uncle had made it clear he wouldn’t be traveling the Oregon trail again.

Of course, there is a bad apple amongst the people on the train. And that one woman who has an opinion on everyone and everything. Wagon masters could legally perform a marriage. And also handled funerals.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book but as I stated earlier, I was intrigued by the timeline & details of each stopping place. Not all readers would be. So I do recommend it and if you are researching ancestors who traveled to Oregon by wagon train, the descriptions of the distances, stops, rivers crossed, and forts would be helpful. Just remember, this *is* a novel. Whether readers will find the sub-plots have enough substance to keep them entertained throughout … Thus, the rating is 3.5 stars but rounded to 3 stars for websites showing only whole numbers.

It should be noted that William W. Johnstone has passed away and his family is working with a writer to take the many notes and partially finished manuscripts and create completed works. This book, The Oregon Trail, “was inspired by Mr. William W. Johnstone’s storytelling.”

I received a complimentary DRC (digital review copy) of The Oregon Trail via NetGalley from the publisher, Kensington Books. A positive review was not required; the opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Rating: 3.5 stars but 3 stars on sites that can only display round numbers.
Series: Go West, Young Man #2
Cover: Total miss. Does not fit the book at all. Instead, the cover would better fit a book about a gunslinger.
Pages: Unknown at the time of this review but will be over 200 pages.
Publish Date: 23 Apr 2024
#TheOregonTrail #NetGalley #WilliamWJohnstone

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A good, solid story of Wagon Master Clayton Scofield whose job it is to lead the emigrants over the Oregon Trail.
Nice addition to the Johnstone library.


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I enjoyed Clayton's story in The Oregon Trail. Just what I would expect from a Johnstone novel. Five stars.

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This book reminds us of the trials and tribulations travelers experienced crossing the country on the Oregon Trail during the 19th century. There was tragedy as well as triumph for those who managed to survive. I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone interested in the history of the American West.

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This is the second book in the Go West, Young Man series and it's a great western, probably one of the best I have read about wagon trains. The Oregon Trail by William W. Johnstone and J. A. Johnstone has all that you want when it comes to some of the struggles people endured trying to make a fresh start out west. I must thank Kensington books , Pinnacle and Netgalley for letting me read this advance copy.

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Fantastic read. Particularly if you're into historical fiction, you'll very much enjoy this! I'd grown tired of many of these syle books, but this hit exactly the right note!

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This was another great book in the Western genre from the Johnstone’s. It felt like a good movie and the characters felt like they were meant for this type. It had the spirit that I’ve come to expect and glad it worked.

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William Johnstone's The Oregon Trail (Kensington 2024) is a full bodied story of the immigrant journey across the North American continent to the Pacific Ocean and what became known as the Oregon territory. In this rendition, twenty-eight wagons set out under the leadership of Clayton Schofield guided by his scout and nephew, Clint, a white man raised by Indians. As they travel, we get a full range of stories about their adventures from the usual fording of overflowing rivers to fighting savage Indians, internecine squabbles, and secrets fellow travelers prefer would stay hidden. This is one of the best stories of the Oregon trial I’ve read and I’ve read many. William Johnston has outdone himself.

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Get ready for a new set of characters in “The Oregon Trail” by the Johnstone company. A wagon master, his new wife, their cook, and a trail scout bring life to this story about crossing the country n the Oregon trail. As you might expect there are hardships to be endured including Native attacks, cold, dirt, accidents, and deaths.

Crossing the country was an arduous task to be certain. But with Clayton Schofield as the wagon master it wasn’t so bad. His nephew Clint Buchanan, and their cook as sidekick Spud are all entertaining as they get involved in the most unusual ways.

The story reminded me of playing the old computer game “Oregon Trail” and taking on the challenges of crossing where there were only trails, if that; where water could be scarce and dirt a certainty; and where the unexpected should be expected!! I enjoyed this cash of characters and hope that there are more stories for Clayton, Clint, Spud, and Lily (Clayton’s new wife).

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