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Oregon Trail Bear Journals

There are currently two bears on the Oregon Trail Honey Bear  left 3/3/98
Fuzzy Bear left 11/15/98

Name: Honey Bear
Age: 23
Occupation:
Farmer
Destination: Portland, Oregon

Trip Thoughts: I am very excited to be leaving Enfield on my journey to Oregon. I have packed up my wagon with enough supplies to last me the whole trip. I am looking forward to obtaining some plentiful farmland for my family to call our own. I know that there will be hardships along the way, but it will be worth it.

Diary Entries:  

March 3, 1998 - Enfield is located 10 miles West of Ithaca, NY. The weather is still cold and snow is often in the air. (During the summer it is hot and in the 80's, while in the fall the leaves turn orange, red, and yellow. In the spring it rains a lot and everything blooms again.) Enfield is surrounded by forests and fields. The town is located in the country amidst the hills that border Cayuga Lake. Enfield does not have a lot of stores so people need to drive to town for goods. There are two classes of 14 fifth graders here and they have fun. They have fun in math and gym. The fifth graders are also studying social studies, health, reading, science, and library skills. They have nice teachers and worms for pets. The students have just started playing basketball against other schools in the area. The fifth graders here are preparing for an overnight trip to the Thousand Islands. They have already spent a lot of time raising money for their trip. {I hope it goes as well as mine.} During the 1800's in Enfield there were many farms and dirt roads. Many of the houses built during that time still exist. I am now moving on to Raccoon Elementary School in Aliquippa, PA. I'll write more then.

March 16, 1998 - I arrived at Raccoon Elementary. Raccoon Elementary is located near Aliquippa, PA which is about 20 miles Northwest of Pittsburgh. It is a rural area which has many hills and trees. The 4th grade students and I have had fun shopping at the Beaver Valley Mall. The temperature today is 35 degrees and it is sunny. This area used to have many steel mills but they have closed. This area is near the Ohio river and many of the towns have Indian names. I loved meeting all the students in Mrs. Mason's 4th grade class. I will miss them all as I continue on my way along the Oregon Trail. I'll write more from my next stop.

April 10, 1998 - I am happy to have arrived at Dunn Elementary in Louisville, Kentucky. Today the weather is windy, overcast and the temperature is 47 degrees. Louisville is a scenic town. There are many museums to visit as well as historical sites such as Locust Grove, Mammoth Cave, Louisville Slugger Museum, and Churchill Downs. The students here have been very nice to me. In their free time, they play sports such as basketball, tennis, soccer, golf, baseball, gymnastics, volleyball, swimming, and football. They also like to build models, read, get together with friends, and enjoy the spring weather. This school has a traveling Jumprope Team so they spend a lot of time practicing their stunts. (It's a lot of fun to watch!) The children tell me that the Louisville area was founded in 1778. Kentucky earned its statehood 1792. The name of this state came from an Indian Cherokee word meaning "the dark and bloody ground" because there were so many battles fought here in our history. During the Civil War, Kentucky was part of the Union, although many of her soldiers fought for the Confederates. The population of this city is close to one million people!!! I am now off to continue on my journey to Oregon. I'll write some more soon.

May 31, 1998 - I'm in Springfield, MO, at a school named Wanda Gray Elementary. It's pretty hot here the last of May, but it's beautiful. It's hilly with quite a few trees around this school. There are four teachers in the fifth grade. Each one teaches a different subject. I visited Mrs. Shurtz's social studies class. The 5th graders here are very nice. They go skating and to the mall of Friday nights for fun. They also go swimming and stuff like that. During the Westward Expansion, this was prairie land and some people even called it the "Gateway to the West." Wilson's Creek National Battlefield is just west of the city limits. The children tell me this was the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River. The schools that have been helping me on my way to Oregon are all closing up for the summer. Luckily, Mrs. Shurtz has invited me to stay with her here in the Ozarks until the schools open again in September. I am having so much fun on the Oregon Trail.  Have a great summer!

Summer in the Ozarks with Mrs. Shurtz was so much fun.   She took me with her everywhere she went.
ARCHBOOK.jpg (49631 bytes) WAGON.jpg (29846 bytes) Pool.jpg (28352 bytes)
Mrs. Shurtz took me to the Springfield Public Library to read about the St. Louis Arch.  It represents the gateway to the West.  There's even a train/elevator so you can ride up to the top of it. I also got to see a model of a Springfield Wagon which was a popular wagon in the 1800's  and was made here in Springfield.

There is more to learn about the Springfield Wagon CLICK HERE

The Summer was often hot and humid here in Springfield so we visited one of the city pools to cool down.
We also went to Wilson's Creek Battlefield.  It was the first major battle of the Civil War that was fought west of the Mississippi River.  I learned that Laura Ingalls Wilder (of Little House on the Prairie) lived in Mansfield Missouri.  Just before I left on my journey, Mrs. Shurtz took me to her son's wedding.  That was great fun and it was a good way to say goodbye.  But now my journey continues.  I'll write soon!

 


Fuzzy Bear Picture (56k) Name: Fuzzy Bear
Age: 18
Occupation:
Farmer
Destination: Newport, Oregon

Trip Thoughts: I'm going to miss the hills of Enfield and my friends, but it is my time to head out to the west .  There is plenty of land out there, and I'm old enough to start my own farm.  Momma says I'm still young, but this trip will make me grow up fast.

Diary Entries:

November 3, 1998 -  Enfield is a small town out in the country a few miles away from Ithaca, NY Which is in the Northeastern part of the country.  We are in the Finger Lakes Region of NY.  It is called the Finger Lakes Region because there are many lakes that are long and lined up next to each other like fingers on a hand.  We are at the southern end of Cayuga lake which is the longest of the Finger Lakes (about 40 miles long).  The lakes and hills were created by a giant glacier that covered this area a long time ago.  As a result of the glaciers there are many beautiful gorges in the area.  They are fun to hike in. Enfield is a farming community in the hills outside of the city of Ithaca.  On the hill opposite of Enfield is Cornell University and on the other hill is Ithaca College. I have been with Mrs. Wirt's 5th grade class since school started.  In this class there are 27 fifth graders.  The kids here are a lot of fun.  They are very supportive of each other.  I saw this when I went with them to the Cayuga Nature Center and they got to help each other on rope climbs and pole jumps.  They really like field trips, they'll be going to New York City later this year and the Thousand Islands.  Since there are so many kids in this class Mrs. Wirt is helped out by Ms. Dykoschak and Mrs. Sposito.  We also have a student teacher named Mr. Novick who is great but will be leaving in December.  I will miss all my friends here who have asked me to never forget their school motto - Enfield Shines.   My first stop is Oakdale Elementary School in Cincinnati, Ohio.

January 1, 1999 - Oakdale Elementary wasn't very helpful, so I couldn't write and had to make my own way from there.  I have a lot of lost time to make up for so I won't be writing until I get to Kansas.

February 15, 1999 - Hello. I have been visiting Ft. Riley, Kansas, for over a week now and I have seen so many things. Believe it or not they have real live buffaloes right here on the post. I have been visiting the students in one of the five elementary schools on post. The Ware Elementary School has over 700 students, most of which live on the post with parents who serve in the military. Ware, named for Keith L. Ware, a general who died in Vietnam, has a diverse student population. Ft. Riley is right on the edge of the Flint Hills and the plains. It was a cavalry post, with its oldest permanent building dating back to 1859. Back in the 1800's there were no trees here. The first buildings were sod or made from wood that was brought in from the east. Then they began to build from the native limestone. The main post has many unique buildings like an indoor riding arena. There are many historical buildings to see and a Museum. You can still see the stables where horses where kept and there is even a monument to a horse that could run backwards. The cemetery gives information about cholera deaths and wild fires. Ft. Riley is very close to the Oregon Trail, it runs just north of here. The Chisholm Trail, (more on the Chisholm Trail) one of the cattle trails from Texas, is also close by, to the west. The Santa Fe Trail is to the south and the Mormon Trail is the only one that actually goes through the post. Ft. Riley is the post that General George Custer left from when he fought in the Battle of the Little Big Horn. His wife was here when she got the news that her husband had been killed. Other famous generals like Eisenhower and Patton have been stationed at Ft. Riley. Right now the weather is most unusual. It goes from 70 degrees one day to 20 the next. I have seen sunshine, snow, sleet, and rain while I have been here. They say if you wait long enough it will change, I believe them. I hope to be gone long before the tornado season which I understand is coming up with spring storms. During the Kansas Day activities (Kansas became a state on Jan. 29th, 1861) I learned all sorts of things about Kansas. The state bird is the meadow lark, the flower is the sunflower, the reptile is the box turtle, and the tree is the cottonwood. They even have a state insect, the honey bee. The 5th graders here are not much different than those at home. They like to play basketball, and football at recess. They collect everything from Beanie Babies to Goosebump books. They groan when they have homework and like it when they get a day off. Mrs. Crosby's class (that is where I am staying) has just finished a math project in which they had to come up with a plan to spend $1,000,000. Each student made a detailed plan and then presented it to the class. Some of the kids were telling me how hard it was to spend all that money. Of course it was all pretend but they researched the items they wanted to buy and had to have a detailed accounting. They made graphs with the final product. I also got to visit a book buddy class on Valentine's Day. We had a great time sorting hearts and eating a few too. Well, I had better close for now. I am planning to leave tomorrow. I am heading north to Buffalo Elementary School in North Platte, Nebraska. I'll keep in touch! Love, Fuzzy

March 1, 1999 - Greetings from the 5th grade classrooms at Buffalo Elementary School in North Platte, NE. I've been here for over a week and so must soon be on my way. I've learned a lot about North Platte during my visit. North Platte is a town of about 25,000 people. It has 7 public elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 1 high school. Geographically, North Platte is very flat because it is in the Valley of the Platte River. The Platte River valley was said to have some of the best trails for westward expansion. But, go out of town, either North or South and you will soon see low rolling hills. Usually, I’m told, that during the winter the weather is cold and there is snow. This year has been warmer than usual. We did have a snowstorm while I was here, which brought about 4" of snow, but by the next day after school, most of the snow was gone. Most days since I’ve been in North Platte the high temperatures have been in the 50's. One day it even reached 70F. The kids love the warm temperatures. It makes it easier to play soccer, football, and basketball during recess when they don’t have to wear their coats. Unfortunately, not everybody appreciates this warm dry weather. The farmers and ranchers wish there would be more moisture. Just before I came to North Platte there was a huge prairie fire which they think was started by a spark from a passing train. The fire burned over 15,000 acres of grassland north of town.
    North Platte has some interesting history.   Buffalo School is named after William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. The Buffalo Bill Ranch-now a state historic park and recreation area is just down the road from here. Cody was a famous western showman back in the 1800’s. Buffalo Bill’s Ranch, also called Scout’s Rest Ranch is the birthplace of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and Rodeo. Because it’s closed for the winter I didn’t get to go there, but I would have liked to see all the historic mementos in his home and barn. Had it been summer I could have even gone on a trail ride. Also close to Buffalo School is Bailey Yards which is the biggest rail switching yard in the world. All day long I could hear the banging of boxcars as they are hooked together at the humps. At first all the sounds were so different, but then I got used to them just like everybody said I would. The fifth grade teachers tell me that Tues., March 2nd, the school will be celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Too bad I won’t be here. The superintendent of schools will be in the rooms to read a Dr. Seuss story to the students. That sounds like fun. My visit here has been fun and it has been nice to rest, but if I’m to finish my journey I must continue. My next stop will be Billy Creek Elementary School in Buffalo, Wyoming.

March 10, 1999 - Hello from Buffalo, Wyoming, My travels have brought me all the way to Billy Creek School. This is a country school. There are only eleven students and two teachers in the whole school! They are a non-graded school located 18 miles south of Buffalo, with the Big Horn Mountains right out their back door. The students here claim Buffalo to be "The best town in the world" and I am starting to understand why they think this way. Buffalo has so much to offer. The students here are very active in many different things. As I talked with them about their favorite past times, I found out that sporting events of many types seem to top the list. Some of the most liked events are hunting, football, soccer, and rodeo events. Another thing that these students like to do is spend time with their families, whether it be on the ranch working with the animals or in town helping out at one of the local motels. I have found that the weather in this region seems very strange. One minute it is blowing snow and classes are being delayed and by that same afternoon, the students are running around Fuzzy in Wyoming(16k)outside without their coats enjoying the sunshine. I have learned that the people around here are always prepared for any type of weather any time of day. I have found out that Buffalo and its surrounding area are full of so much interesting history. Two of the students within this classroom live on areas that have very exciting historical events that once occurred on their actual land. These two events are the Crazy Woman Battlefield and the Johnson County Cattle War (song lyrics). The Crazy Woman Crossing of the Bozeman Trail was a favorite ambush site for Indians. In July of 1866 a military supply wagon bound from Fort Reno to Fort Phil Kearny was crossing Crazy Woman and was attacked by the Indians and later had to be rescued by soldiers from Fort Phil Kearny. The Johnson County Cattle War occurred on the TA Ranch south of Buffalo. In April of 1892, a group of Wyoming cattlemen and their hired guns from Texas took refuge at the ranch. These men were attacked by angry homesteaders, townspeople and rustlers and they eventually surrendered to federal troops from Fort McKinney. Famous outlaws were also known to hide from the law near Buffalo in the area of Hole in the Wall, which is also know as Kaycee, WY. Some of the most famous of all outlaws known to these parts were Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. I have learned so many new and exciting things while in Buffalo. I am now headed to AH Bush Elementary School in Idaho Falls, Idaho to continue my journey.

June 4, 1999 - I made it to Oregon!!!!  I'm in a small town called Irrigon,OR. It's so small, I don't think it's on the map! It is near the Columbia River by a town called Hermiston (see map). The kids tell me the weather is not good. It's either hot or cold. In the winter, it hardly ever snows. Here, you see mainly desert and weeds. We have a couple stores, 1 gas station, a few trailer courts, 2 restaurants, and a ton of houses. In this area, there's really nothing to do. But the kids play sports like baseball, football, soccer, and basketball. Or in the summer they swim at the Marina. In the 1800's, people would stop at a place in Baker City called Flagstaff Hill. The class I'm visiting went there on a field trip and saw the OregonTrail which is 10 miles from this town, called Wells Spring. People stopped here and rested before they started for the Dalles.
Thanks for all your support and the help of all my new friends along the way.  It's been a long trip but I think it was worth it.  Best wishes to all my friends

From your friend, Fuzzy Bear

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