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Guide and Walkthrough by VinnyVideo

Version: 1.82 | Updated: 11/14/2021

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   |_|    |_|   \_\ |_| |_| |_| |_____|           5TH EDITION

VinnyVideo's FAQ/Strategy Guide for The Oregon Trail: Fifth Edition (PC)

Table of Contents
[INTRO] Introduction
[START] Getting Started
[WALKT] Walkthrough
[NOTES] Notes, Tips, and Strategies
[QUEST] Frequently Asked Questions
[CHART] Charts and Tables
[RECRD] Record Scores
[VERSN] Version History
[COPYR] Copyright
[CONTC] Contact Information

Easy Navigation: Hold down the Ctrl key and press F to bring down a search bar.
Then type in the code for the section you want to see (for example, [VERSN] for
the Version History section).

Introduction                                                           [INTRO]
Giddyup, pardner! I know that this isn't really a cowboy game, but that's OK.
To use an early 1990's word that isn't much in favor any more, The Oregon Trail
is a form of "edutainment." This is my first guide of that genre, unless you
count SimCity 3000, and it's a game that has a lot of fond memories for me.

The Oregon Trail is a lot of fun and does a good job of teaching its players
about an exciting period in American history. The graphics and music are pretty
cool, at least for its the time, and the people, clothes, and landmarks are
generally authentic. The replay value is excellent, too, as you can change the
year you travel, the route, and many other variables. You can play quickly, or
you can take the time to visit all the stores and going on hunting and fishing
expeditions. The Fifth Edition lacks some of the corny charm of the original
versions, which may or may not be a good thing. While this game is aimed at
kids between the ages of 8 and 14 years, the game can be an educational - and
challenging - experience for those at the upper end of that age range and
beyond. And who knows? Maybe you'll learn some things along the way, and
perhaps you'll even learn enough money-management skills to dispel the national
deficit someday!

Getting Started                                                        [START]
First you'll insert the game CD into your disc drive and install the game. Once
you've installed the software, you might want to take a look at the manual.
It's possible that you may have received a printed manual, but I think all
versions of this game include a manual on the CD in PDF format.

Anyway, once you start the game up, an opening sequence will play. I always
press ENTER to skip the company name screen and the opening sequence, but you
might want to watch them. At this point, you should select the NEW GAME option
(or Quick Start if you want the computer to randomly assign information like
names and occupation). Alternatively, if you've saved a previous game and want
to resume play, select LOAD GAME.

The Character Creation screen
This screen appears when you start a new game. This is where you decide all the
details of your new game - your name, the amount of responsibility you have in
your wagon train, your occuption, the month and year you leave, your starting
point, your destination, your wagon size, the number of other people in your
party, the names and ages of each of your companions, and your skills. These
decisions play a major role in making the game easier or more difficult, and
they have a big effect on the score you can ultimately achieve.

First of all, you'll want to enter your name. This might be your real name or a
nickname. It's all up to you!

Rookies might be wise to select the Greenhorn role, as Adventurers and Trail
Guides have to make important decisions (such as choosing routes) where
mistakes can cause you to go badly off course. Also, in more difficult roles,
you will be more accountable for your decisions; Adventurers can be fired as
captain, lowering your final score, and if morale dips too low for Trail
Guides, you'll be booted - and for Trail Guides, that means game over. If you
want to earn the maximum score, though, you'll have to be a Trail Guide,
because you'll receive a $1,000 bonus once you reach your destination. Plus,
you get an extra $500 once you're elected Trail Guide (which usually happens a
couple days after departure), which is a huge boost if you're an artist,
pastor, teacher, or other occupation that doesn't have much money.

It's no secret that bankers and doctors tend to have more wealth than teachers,
pastors, or artists, and the occupation you select determines the amount of
cash you have at the beginning of the game. Some occupations have different
skills, too. If you're new to the game, you'd be wise to select one of the
wealthier professions. If you're trying to get a high score, choose one of the
less affluent occupations.

May is often recommended as the best month for departure. If you leave too
early, there may not be enough grass for your animals, and if you leave too
late, you greatly increase the risk of getting bogged down in winter cold near
the end of the journey. Alternatively, you could start the game in April or
even earlier, but if there's still snow on the ground, you might need to wait
until it melts before purchasing any animals and leaving.

The year you travel also makes a difference. Some starting points and
destinations are only available in certain years. Travel tends to become easier
in later years, as there will be more forts and trading posts available, and
sometimes you'll be able to take a bridge over a river instead of having to
ford or float across.

A lot of players begin their adventure in Independence, Missouri, and head to a
new life in Oregon. This route is called the Oregon Trail - you might've heard
of it by now. However, you can also head to California, the Rogue River Valley
of southern Oregon, or Salt Lake City. There are also different starting points
available. While these routes overlap in places, choosing different
combinations of starting points and destinations will allow you to visit
different places and enjoy new experiences.

Since we didn't have cars and trains and planes back then, you'll need a wagon
to carry all your supplies to your destination. Larger wagons hold more
supplies, but they're more expensive and harder to handle. I devote an entire
section to wagons.

As for party size, it's easier if you carry a small party (3 or 4) instead of 6
people. A larger group will require more food and other supplies, and they'll
consume supplies more rapidly. However, you get bonus points if you get more
people to your destination in one piece.

You'll also probably want to change the names and/or ages of your traveling
companions. The other characters don't have their own occupations or skills,
but they're not just along for the ride - your companions can (and do) get sick
or even die. Keep in mind that younger people have increased risk of measles
and scarlet fever, but diseases like dysentery are more deadly in older people.

Traveling in a later year and choosing a wealthy, high-skill occupation (like
banker or doctor) will make things easier while reducing your final score. If
you're looking for a high score, make sure to be a Trail Guide and choose the
Teacher occupation. Choosing an earlier year, making a larger party, and not
using all your skills will also boost your final score (assuming you know what
you're doing!).

Player skills
Click on the Skills tab at the bottom of the Character Creation screen to
select the special skills for your character. Each skill is worth a certain
number of points, and you have 120 points available. The more useful the skill,
the more points it costs (for example, medical skill is more valuable than
Spanish). You don't have to use up all your points, and unused points will
increase the final score at the end of your game. Some occupations, like
doctor, have some skills selected automatically, which are not deducted from
your 120-point limit.

One of my readers (Kim) asked for the full list of skills, so here it is.
Please let me know if any of these skills have additional effects that I'm not
aware of:

* Medical reduces the likelihood of sick party members getting worse and dying.
  It also increases the effectiveness of certain medical treatments and ensures
  that each illness is diagnosed properly.
* Riverwork lessens the odds of accidents occurring during river crossings.
* Sharpshooting makes it easier to down large game with fewer bullets.
* Blacksmithing helps you repair broken wagon equipment.
* Carpentry is the same as blacksmithing; it also helps you repair broken wagon
* Farming/animals makes your animals healthier and less likely to die or get
  injured. It also makes your party immune to smallpox.
* Tracking makes more game appear when hunting. It might also be helpful in
  finding missing people or livestock, and for finding alternate routes if the
  trail is blocked.
* Botany helps when gathering wild fruits.
* Commerce/trade lets you get better deals in trades. This helps a lot if you
  want to max out your pocketbook with some of the haggling tricks.
* Cooking makes food go a bit farther and gets more nutrients out of it.
* Musical boosts morale if you bring along a musical instrument.
* Sewing makes your clothes last longer. (At least, that's what it's supposed
  to do.)
* Spanish automatically translates messages in Spanish into English; this skill
  is useless even if you're bilingual.

Personally, I think the medical skill is the most useful; it helps prevent
illnesses and deaths, which can occur randomly and can't always be avoided by
restarting from the last save point. Commerce and trade abilities can earn you
a lot of money if used properly - it's an excellent choice if you're trying to
earn the highest score possible. Cooking is useful, too, especially if you
don't have much money. It also doesn't take away as many skill points as most
of the other skills. Riverworking, which lowers the probability of suffering an
accident during a river crossing, isn't really needed; instead of spending your
points on this ability, just save your game before each river, and if something
bad happens, simply resume the game from your last save file. Sharpshooting and
tracking also probably aren't worth the points; hunting isn't usually
necessary, and even when it is, most of the time it's easy to find and shoot
game. Musical skills aren't bad, especially if you're an Adventurer or Trail
Guide and you remember to bring along a musical instrument of some sort.
Spanish is the one skill that is completely useless. The Spanish skill
supposedly translates Spanish text into English. However, I've analyzed the
text in the game, and there's only one character who speaks Spanish, and I've
never actually encountered him, even though I've gone out of my way in an
attempt to find him.

Buying supplies
When you first leave the opening screen of Independence, you'll be offered a
package deal that includes most of the supplies you need. I elaborate on this
in a later section. In short, accepting the 5-month offer is a good idea for
beginning players, but experienced players will probably want to buy supplies
individually. Never select the 6-month package - it's usually too much money
and too much weight. Poorer occupations may only have the option of a 2- or
3-month deal. If you choose the package deal, be sure to go to one of the
general stores (Wilson & Clark or J.S. Stone Dry Goods) and supplement the
package deal with a few other items not offered in the package (namely, salt
and a canteen or water keg). If you want to be able to go fishing later, make
sure to buy some fishing gear, too. Almost every item in the game has a
purpose, but that doesn't mean you should buy everything! Be selective and just
bring what you need.

Buying livestock
Near the back of Independence is a store marked "Henderson Stables." This is
where you buy animals to pull your wagon. I recommend buying eight oxen,
although I provide more information in the Tips on Various Matters section.

Starting your journey
When you're ready to hit the trail, head to the front of Independence and click
on the City Hall when the cursor says "Exit." Choose a wagon train (preferably
one of moderate size) to join and you're ready to go!

You might want to save, too.

Walkthrough                                                            [WALKT]
I'm not going to take note of every single landmark on the trail, especially
since landmarks will vary depending on when you choose to travel. For example,
if you travel in 1857, there will be many little trading outposts with a small
(but useful) selection, but those won't be available in 1840. Also, not all
forts exist in all years. Your guidebook will have information pertinent to
your year, although my walkthrough covers all of the most important points
mentioned in the guidebook. My focus is on the more stable and more significant
locations, especially rivers, forts and locations like the Barlow Toll Road.
I'm assuming you're going from Independence to Oregon. And lastly: If a route
contains a word like "Shortcut" or "Cutoff," you know it'll save mileage but
will go through rough or unpleasant conditions and/or bypass a fort.

This is the "jumping-off" spot of most Oregon Trail pioneers. After buying
supplies, make sure to visit Henderson Stables to buy livestock. It's also a
good idea to visit the stores to buy some supplies (like salt), even if you
didn't buy the package deal.

Blue River
As with all rivers, save your game and select the "Check River Conditions"
option before making a decision on how to cross. This river isn't usually too
deep, so you'll often be able to ford it without travail.

A suburb of Independence. This town can safely be skipped, along with the
nearby New Santa Fe, unless you forgot some vital supplies, or if you want to
visit the Pioneer Saloon, Barber Shop, or Morton Fester (a great name for an
undertaker). Neither town has many supplies, and even if they did, you wouldn't
find them to be too useful yet.

Don't take the St. Joseph Road.

Kansas River
Starting in 1844, there may be a ferry available for $5.90.

St. Mary's Mission
A decent spot to buy a few supplies at a good price.

Red Vermillion River
Rather wide. You can pay $1 to use the bridge if it's available - if you're in
1848 or later, you should be able to use the bridge.

Big Blue River
A potentially dangerous crossing. Several scenic landmarks are up ahead.

Fort Kearny
You've now gone 330 miles. Consider resting a day. You'll want to buy a few
supplies, because although things are pricier than they were in Independence,
the prices will only be going up at future forts. I should also say that we're
not in Kansas any more.

South Platte River
The South Platte River was your friend and companion for many a day, but now
you have to cross it to continue your expedition. It's usually about half a
mile wide, but fortunately it's not too deep. Definitely save before trying to
cross, because this is one of the most hazardous rivers on the trip.

California Hill
Your first hill! Unfortunately, many more are coming very soon. You're going
uphill here, although you won't usually have to take any special precautions.

Windlass Hill
A steep descent that comes soon after California Hill. You may want to anchor
the wagon, lock the wheels, or use a rope or chain. Because of the risk of
tipping, I recommend that you save your game before traversing any slopes,
especially when they're downhill.

Laramie River
A bridge ($2.50) was built in later years, but this river usually isn't much of
a problem.

Fort Laramie
This fort is known as Fort John in some years. Prices really start going up
soon, so stock up on anything you need. On the bright side, the next leg of
your journey is usually one of the smoother parts of the trip.

Independence Rock
Pioneers could see this landmark for several days before actually reaching it.
If you can reach here by the Fourth of July, you'll know you're making good
time - if all goes well, you'll make it to Oregon before the onset of winter.

Three Crossings
Here you must choose between the Three Crossings Route and the Deep Sand route.
The former requires you to cross a river thrice, but it's often a better
alternative to the Deep Sand route, which has lots of quicksand that slows you
down, especially if it's been raining. Both are similar in terms of distance
and travel time, although Deep Sand is just a bit longer. Regardless of your
choice, when you reach the Ice Spring Slough, choose the Road to South Pass.

Parting of the Ways
This is where you make one of the most important route decisions on your Oregon
Trail journey. There are two options: the Road to Fort Bridger and the Sublette
Cutoff. The Road to Fort Bridger is fairly safe and takes you to a fort. If you
need supplies, you should select this option, although Fort Hall isn't too far
away. Taking the Sublette Cutoff saves about five days on your trip. However,
you'll be traveling over a rough trail through desert wasteland. If you opt for
the Sublette Cutoff, make sure to save your game at the Parting of the Ways,
because taking the Sublette Cutoff can be very dangerous in a heat wave. If you
choose the Fort Bridger route, make sure to steer clear of the Salt Lake Cutoff
if you're going to Oregon. Either way, you'll be looking for the "Road to Fort

Green River
The $10 ferry is so expensive you might consider using the caulk and float
method. This river appears on the dry Sublette Cutoff, so you might want to
stop here for a day or two to rest.

Hudspeth Cutoff
The Hudspeth Cutoff allows you to bypass Fort Hall and shave some time off your
trip - if luck is on your side. Unfortunately, the Hudspeth Cutoff is rough and
dry, and it really isn't worth considering unless you're heading to California.
You might want to skip it even if you're California-bound.

Fort Hall
Stuff is expensive here - $0.45 for a bag of flour! However, it very well may
be your next-to-last chance to buy supplies before Oregon. And if you're going
to California, it IS your last chance to stock up.

Raft River
This river usually isn't too tough.

California Trail Junction
This is where you must decide whether you're going to California or Oregon.
Really, you made that decision back when you started your game, and if you
settle in the wrong location, you're not going to achieve a very high score. By
the way, it was said that the Oregon Trail fork was marked by a sign, while the
way to California was supposedly indicated only by a small gem. They said if
you could read, you'd go to Oregon. In reality, not all of the settlers in
Sacramento were dunces, and some were quite bright (especially those who were
more interested in the land than the gold).

Rock Creek Gorge
Very steep downhill. This is when you start hoping that they'd hurry up and
build a railroad here. But don't worry - you'll be in Oregon soon!

Rock Creek
An easy-to-manage creek. There's some awesome fishing in this vicinity.

Three Islands
This is another fork in the road. I recommend the South Alternate Route,
despite the deep sand you'll face. You can also take the Road to Fort Boise,
which is another place to buy (expensive) supplies, but visiting the fort adds
about 35 miles to your trip.

Bruneau Sand Dunes
Soft sand can be a problem on this section of the Three Islands route.

East Cow Hollow
This is where the South Alternate Route and Road to Fort Boise converge. Choose
the Road to Farewell Bend to continue your journey.

Malheur River
Another river that isn't too scary.

Grande Ronde River
Another not-too-dangerous river, but some tough mountains are just ahead.

Doe Canyon
Take the Umatilla Shortcut, which cuts off about 60 miles from your trip,
unless you can really need the supplies at Fort Walla Walla. Note that the ill-
fated Whitman Mission is located along the Road to Walla Walla, just before the
fort, depending on the year of travel.

Trail Junction at the Umatilla River
The Umatilla Shortcut and Road to Fort Walla Walla converge here. Take the Road
to The Dalles to continue your progress.

McDonald Ford of the John Day River
A highly ordinary river with a rather long name.

Deschutes River
A ferry may be available in some years. This river is followed by a simple
hill, Deschutes Hill.

Camp Dalles
Here's your last chance to buy supplies. Flour is more than twice as expensive
($0.50 per bag) as it was in Independence. There's also a doctor if you have
anyone needing medical attention. This is where you make one of the most
important decisions on the trip: how you'll get to Oregon. There are three
options in most years. Consider carefully (and save) before making a decision.

First, you can take the Barlow Toll Road - an extremely mountainous road that
costs $5.60 to travel.

Second, you can raft down the Columbia River (a treacherous trip I discuss in
its own section).

Third, you can pay someone $80 to raft you down the river. This is the safest -
but most expensive - option.

Barlow Toll Road
You have to pay $5.60 to use the Barlow Toll Road. Although you're very near
Oregon, this is often regarded as the most demanding section of the trip. It's
a rugged, steep trail along Mount Hood, frequently blocked by fallen rocks and

Laurel Hill
Very steep.

Toll bridge
This bridge costs $0.50 to cross. It's the final obstacle between you and
Oregon City! If you don't have the 50 cents, look for someone to trade with to
try to get that final cash.

Oregon City
Woo-hoo! We've reached the land of opportunity and utopia. Stake a land claim
(the claim will usually be bigger in earlier years), see your final score, and
see what happens to your character later in life. Maybe you'll be loved as a
do-gooder who helps disabled veterans and widows, or maybe your future
offspring will be a bit rough around the edges. We shall see!

Either way, celebrate!

Notes, Tips, and Strategies                                            [NOTES]
This section contains advice on a variety of issues relevant to players of The
Oregon Trail: Fifth Edition.

Abandoned Wagons
Chances are, you'll come across at least one abandoned wagon or building during
the course of your journey. If you come across one, and you've saved recently,
inspect the wagon or building to see if there's anything good inside. If you
like what you find, proceed as normal. If it contains something you don't need
(like a grandfather clock), just dump it or re-load the game. Don't feel bad
about looting these wagons; their occupants were able to hitchhike to Oregon
(or maybe they just joined the Indians or kept the buzzards fat).

At the start of each game, you'll have to visit Henderson Stables (or similar
places if you're starting someplace other than Independence). This is where you
can buy livestock. As for pulling the wagon, you have three options. If you're
going to Oregon, choose oxen without hesitation. Buy eight of them, especially
if you have at least $800. They're cheap and don't have special needs. If your
destination is California, Salt Lake, or south Oregon, you may prefer mules,
which are the most drought-tolerant of draft animals. You can also choose
horses to pull your wagon. I don't care if there are any horse-crazed 10-year-
old girls reading this; horses aren't a good option because of their price and
the special care and equipment they require. In addition, because of their high
price, horses are also harder to trade.

A few other domesticated animals are available at the stable. You could buy
three or four chickens to supply eggs for at least some of the trip (and while
they usually end up dying along the way, they can still be useful for fried
chicken!). I haven't bought a pig before, and they're not too useful on the
trail. They provide meat but are heavy and expensive, and I've heard they often
get lost. If you're rich, consider buying a milk cow as a source of nutritious
and delicious milk. Raymond Hou told me that if you have a cow and a butter
churn, you will get butter along with milk. The game guide says you can get
cheese too, but it's unknown how to do that. Cows often stop producing milk
during the trip. If all else fails, the milk cow can become food or even a
draft animal.

Diseases and Injuries
"You have died of dysentery."

I've found that most diseases, even serious ones like cholera, can be cured
pretty reliably with four or five days of rest. Keep an eye on the patient's
health rating during the illness, and if it starts to drop again, rest another
day or two. Even things like snakebites can be fatal a week or two after the
incident, so be careful and check the health status frequently.

Be careful when considering treatment options. Whenever a party member gets
sick or injured, you'll be given a variety of treatment options, and one of
those options will usually make the condition worse. "Immobilize affected
joint" is usually a pretty effective option for sprained joints, and similar
options work well for most other injuries. Snakebites are a little iffier; I've
sometimes had excellent success with the tourniquet/suction method and
antiseptic, but you might also want to rest a while. With wounds, cleaning and
dressing the affected area is probably the way to go. If gangrene sets in, you
may have to amputate. Rabies is the only disease I know of that can't be cured
in this game, although I've never gotten it. I don't think you can get rabies
unless someone is mauled by an animal during a hunting expedition.

Keep in mind that some treatment options are useless (for example, the "quack"
medicines sold in some pharmacies alongside more useful items) or even
counterproductive (vigorous exercise is not a good treatment for snakebites or

Your party members may be immune to certain contagious diseases, such as
diphtheria. Immunity is determined randomly, and older party members are more
likely to possess this immunity. I'd love for something to verify how this
mechanic works.

As in real life, if someone's feeling under the weather, it's a good idea to
see a doctor, available at many forts. Unfortunately, there isn't always a fort
nearby. Fortunately, in this game, most illnesses and injuries can be cured by
resting a few days.

Certain diseases have an incubation period - your character will carry a
disease but won't show symptoms for a few days or a few weeks. This is one
reason why you might want to keep multiple save files, especially if you're
trying for a high score.

Cholera occasionally kills people instantly. Some other injuries can cause
instant death as well. That's why it's crucial to save your game regularly (and
maybe keep a backup version of an older save file).

Cholera is more common if you travel in 1849, 1850, or 1852.

Occasionally, a character will be afflicted with the mysterious "unknown
illness". Whenever someone gets sick, there's a small chance that no one will
be able to identify the illness. However, if you have medical skills, you'll
always be able to make a proper diagnosis of the condition.

Finally, try to prevent illnesses from happening in the first place. Having
medical skills helps prevent, diagnose, and treat medical conditions, and
keeping people well-fed with a balanced diet also helps. Carrying soap might
also help promote good sanitation and keep disease at bay.

Personally, I didn't have much luck fishing until I received this tip from
Michael Valdivielso:

"Fishing seems to be pretty easy for me. You hit the mouse button to send out
the worm on the hook. You aim at different parts of the river every time,
unless you have a sweet spot with lots of fish, then just aim the tiny
crosshairs at it. I noticed that the edges of the picture seem to hold lots of
fish, while other times they crowd in the middle of the river, lake, or stream.
Wait till the fish takes the worm into its mouth and hit the mouse button
again. Sometimes it gets away with the worm but most of the time you get it. It
just takes practice and is a lot more fun than hunting. You don't waste ammo,
you can't get mauled by a fish, and you can't accidentally hurt yourself. At
least I haven't lost an eye yet.

You can get anything from 30 to 60 pounds of fish. Some fish grow up to 33
pounds! Looking up the fish seems to be a waste of time - I have yet to find a
fish that cannot be eaten. I like to rest a day in such areas - where you can
fish there is usually fresh water and lots of grass."

Brianna Buchanan has reported individual catches as hefty as 65 pounds.

Also, carrying salt helps you preserve any fish you catch.

Select the "Gather" option on the Main Travel screen to look for nearby edible
plants. Afterwards, make sure to use the "Look it up" option on each plant
before deciding whether to keep it or throw it away, because some plants are
poisonous or harmful. Gathering is a great way to obtain free, fresh food to
help balance your diet, especially in fertile areas around streams and rivers.
Gathering also saves money by reducing the need to purchase vegetables in
stores. If you get a message telling you that you're out of fruit or
vegetables, gathering is a great way to replenish your supply, even if you're
far from a fort or trading post.

If you're planning to go hunting during your expedition, make sure you buy the
supplies you need. Obviously, you'll need a firearm. Rifles are best for big
game like buffalo and bears, and pistols work well for smaller animals like
rabbits. Shotguns don't work well against large animals, but their spread
effect boosts accuracy. Once you decide on your weapon, you'll need to acquire
bullets (for rifles and pistols) or shot (if you chose the shotgun). And you'll
need gunpowder - one unit of gunpowder should be more than enough.

I don't recommend hunting unless you're fairly low on supplies or if you don't
have much money. Hunting can be dangerous to humans and livestock, especially
if you shoot someone else or wound (but not kill) an animal. Animal bites and
maulings can even culminate in gangrene or rabies. Hunting also costs time. Yet
another reason hunting isn't too useful is that you usually bring too much meat
anyway, especially if you choose the package deal.

You're limited in the amount of fresh meat you can carry, so don't go crazy
shooting everything that moves. And if you hunt too much in a certain area,
you'll deplete the game for future settlers and any local Indians, so that's
not cool.

But if you're going to hunt, I'd probably choose the rifle and focus on larger
animals from close range. Make sure to click on your gun after each shot to
reload - these guns aren't too fancy! Your mouse cursor is the crosshair, and
your left mouse button is the trigger. Click on the compass to move to a
different area - useful if animals aren't appearing. Shoot cautiously, as
careless shooting can scare game away and waste ammunition - or even cause
accidental gunshot wounds! In particular, never shoot a rock, as this may cause
a bullet to rebound and hit someone in your party.

Keep in mind that hunting is usually best in less populated areas (like away
from forts and towns), and that buffalo is rarer in later years.

One good thing is that successful hunting boosts morale.

Be sure to carry some salt so you can preserve the fresh meat.

Later in your trip, you'll have to negotiate some pretty nasty slopes. When you
reach a hill, first check the hill's conditions. On most uphills, proceed as
normal. If it's very steep, try double-teaming the oxen. Downhills are a little
tougher. I get the best results with the "Anchor Wagon" option, especially on
steeper descents. Remember that rain and mud can make hills much harder and
more hazardous. Because of the risk of tipping and losing a lot of supplies, I
recommend that you save your game before traversing any hills and mountains,
especially on the descent.

Pace of Travel
If you have only four, maybe six, oxen, you should probably stick with 8 hours
of travel per day. If you have eight oxen, and your party members and lifestock
are healthy, 10 hours is best. You can go up to 12+ hours to breeze through
certain deserts or to take advantage of optimal conditions in the flat plains,
but this grueling pace is unsustainable. Make sure you take an occasional rest
day, especially if you're going at a fast pace.

Rafting the Columbia River
Once you reach Camp Dalles, you'll have a choice of three ways (or two if
you're travelling before 1848) to get to your new life.

1. Take the Barlow Toll Road. Using this costs a toll about $5, and don't
expect to find lawn crews cutting the grass and a bunch of inmates picking up
the beer cans and fast-food wrappers. This is one of the most hazardous spots
on the trail. Seriously: Do you really think they'd name a hill the Devil's
Half Acre for nothing? Besides the steep hills, this five-day journey seems to
have a much higher incidence of falling rocks than usual, and these can damage
your wagon or set you back several days waiting for them to be cleared. And if
you're behind schedule, a snowstorm - hardly a rarity here - can be really

2. Raft the Columbia River. If you're out of money or just want action, you'll
have no choice but to raft the river yourself. The journey consists of three
legs, each involving an arcade-style rafting mini-game. Your raft will follow
the mouse cursor as you raft, and you're trying to avoid the rocks and
whirlpools that make this a dangerous little adventure. The rocks and rapids
aren't too dangerous, but the whirlpools tend to draw the raft in, so steer
well clear of those. If you hit an obstacle, you'll lose some supplies, and if
you take too much of a beating, party members may end up drowning. At the end
of each leg, you'd be very wise to save (assuming you didn't lose too much
cargo or human life). Also, when you're giving a choice to "portage the
rapids," choose the portage option.

3. Pay someone to raft you. If this option is available and you have the $80
needed, this is your safest and probably best option. You'll get to your final
destination in a day with no risk to life or limb. And if you're going for a
high score, losing 80 bucks isn't going to hurt you much more than the supplies
you'll lose on the river or taking a five-day trek through the mountains.

I'm not here to rehash the contents of the instruction manual, but the manual
sums it up extremely well:

"Filling: Eat three hearty meals each day.

Meager: Eat just enough to take the edge off of your hunger. Your supplies will
last longer, although you may not.

Bare Bones: Eat barely enough to stay alive. If the people in your wagon party
eat less, your food will last longer. However, your party may suffer from more
illnesses and lower morale."

I strongly recommend Filling rations except in desperate situations. If you're
running low on food, try trading something expendable like a spare wagon tongue
for staples like flour, beans, or salt pork. You can also try hunting or

There are several options available when you reach a river. Before you make a
decision, you'll want to check the river's current condition. You can find out
the depth of a river by selecting the "Check river conditions" option.

If a bridge or ferry is available, take it unless it's very expensive, you're
critically low on cash, or there are long delays. Otherwise, you typically have
two options. If the river is 2.5 feet or less in depth, you should probably
ford (cross) it. If it's any higher, you'll have to caulk the wagon and float
across. This method takes longer than floating, but it's necessary for crossing
deeper rivers.

On rare occasions, you can barter with an Indian to help you across (not a bad
idea if the deal is reasonable - these guys usually know what they're doing).

River crossings always have a chance of resulting in disaster, so make sure to
save your game whenever you reach a river, especially a dangerous one like the
South Platte.

You can usually cross a frozen river safely, but watch for thin ice. This is a
very rare condition, although it can happen in early spring or late fall.

Shopping - The Package Deal
The first time you change screens in Independence, you'll be offered a package
deal containing all the basic items you'll need for your adventure. If you're a
beginner, I recommend that you accept this offer - specifically, the 5-month
one. You won't save any money by buying everything individually, and you could
end up forgetting an important supply. If you're a teacher or one of the other
less-wealthy occupations, you may only have the option of a 2- or 3-month deal.
In such a case, you might want to buy everything individually and not buy things
like the spare wagon parts. Richer people might leave out hunting gear.

The biggest drawback with the package deal is that it usually saddles you with
ludicrous quantities of bacon (308 pounds with a four-person party). Also, you
could end up with a very heavy wagon if you have a large party (the quantities
included are based on the size of your party). Keep in mind that you'll have to
buy slightly less food if you have cooking skills. Always visit the stores to
supplement the package deal with important items like salt and small amounts of
certain spices and medicines. Fishing equipment is a smart buy, too. If your
character has musical skills, buy a musical instrument so you can take
advantage of that ability. Most importantly, be sure to buy a water keg and/or
canteens, which add weight but can be a lifesaver in the desert (especially on
the California Trail).

Shopping - Misc.
Almost every item in the game has a purpose. However, you can't take everything
with you to Oregon! On the other hand, you don't want to be so cheap that you
miss out on an important item. Here are a few miscellaneous items that aren't
discussed elsewhere in the guide. I'm not 100% sure about all of these, so if
I'm mistaken, please feel free to correct me:

* Boots help you warm - and maybe prevent snakebites.

* Bridles help keep horses and mules from getting stolen or stuck.

* Brown muslin cloth and mending yard supposedly extend the life of clothing -
I'm not sure whether the sewing skill helps.

* The butcher knife stretches your meat supply.

* Candles are a morale boost.

* Checkerboards, playing cards, and musical instruments also boost morale.

* Having adequate clothing helps prevent illness.

* Just as in the 21st century, pioneers love their caffeine! Having coffee
provides a morale boost, but you must have coffee beans, coffee mill, AND a
coffee pot to make coffee. If you're missing one ingredient, you won't be able
to make coffee.

* The compass shows the location of the dungeon boss and any treasure chests
you haven't opened. (Another possibility is that it helps you get around
obstructions and keep people from going missing. You probably don't need this.)

* Frying pans, pots, and other forms of kitchenware makes food consumption more

* Lanterns might boost morale and help you find missing people and livestock.
If you choose to take a lantern, remember that it's useless without lantern

* Matches reduce the risk of food poisoning and bad colds.

* Oats are horses' favorite food. Mules like oats but don't require them, while
oxen just like to munch that yummy grass.

* The pitchfork is useful for gathering hay for your livestock - quite useful
on the California Trail, where there are many deserts with no grass.

* The washboard supposedly extends clothing life.

If you'd like to trade, you can talk with people when you visit a town or by
selecting "See who's around" when you reach a landmark or fort. You can also
select the "Trade" option from the Main Travel screen. If you're going to trade
with someone, talk to that person or ask for advice before trying to trade. If
you have Commerce & Trade abilities, you'll tend to get better deals than
someone who doesn't have that skill. However, it's still possible to get a good
deal even if you don't have the Commerce & Trade skill.

While you don't need to trade to succeed in the game, commerce skills can be
helpful. Sometimes you can get better deals by trading with other settlers than
you could by buying items in stores. If you're trying to get a high score and
you're patient, you can also use trading to "farm" unlimited money.

Deals become less favorable the more you press the "Haggle" button to change
the item for sale (thanks to Blueoriontiger for reminding me about that).
Normally, the bargain gets worse every time you press the "Haggle" button,
although both Raymond Hou and Brianna Buchanan have reminded me that you can
change the price of the bargain as much as you want, and you'll still get a
good deal. Raymond notes that the best place to do this is at the start of the
game, before leaving town, where you can buy and then trade items to other
wagon trains for more money than you paid for them originally. This strategy
works best when you have nothing in your inventory except for a single animal
(kudos to Luna for noting that). Oxen and mules seem to be the best items to
trade if you're trying to "farm" cash - if you're lucky and have the Commerce &
Trade skill, you can get as much as $90 for a mule you originally paid a much
lower price for.

One of my readers, Jeorg, has reported earning $6000 through a series of shrewd
livestock trades. Luna recently told me about earning even more than that. If
you spend a lot of time farming cash, you might want to keep multiple save
files. Save the game under two different file names so can use one file as your
template and create future save files based off of the copy. This way, you
don't have to spend hours setting up your game, and you won't lose your work if
the computer crashes. Just keep in mind that you can't save your game until you
leave Independence, and you can't leave Independence until you have a set of
draft animals. You can always go back into town after you've saved, though.

Trail Obstructions
The Oregon and California Trails weren't exactly the pinnacle of highway
maintenance. When you're traveling 2,000 miles of rough, unpaved trail, you're
going to run into some problems blocking your way.

Sometimes, especially in rainy times during the early part of the trip, you'll
find a flooded trail. Usually you can continue safely or find an alternate
route. I've heard that the tracking skill helps in finding alternate routes,
but you probably won't need this skill. Another option is to rest a day or two
and wait for the water to recede.

Fallen timbers are a greater risk. This problem is more likely to occur on
narrow mountain roads. You may be able to continue over the obstruction. This
is the quickest way past the obstacle, but this poses some risk of damage to
your wagon. You might be able to clear the obstruction - your odds are better
if you have an ax, hatchet, pickax, or saw in your inventory. In some cases,
you can find an alternate route - the tracking skill might help for this. If
all else fails, you'll have to wait for another group of emigrants to help
clear the path, but this can take quite a few days.

Fallen rocks are very similar to fallen timbers. They're especially common in
the late mountains, like the Barlow Toll Road of the Oregon Trail and the
Sierra Nevadas of the California Trail. My understanding is the shovel and
pickax are effective in clearing boulders.

I recommend picking up a few of the tools mentioned above when you start your

Your odds of clearing a blocked path may be higher if you have more than 50
people in your wagon train.

If all else fails, you can restart from your last save point.

The Large Farmwagon is the default option, and it's a solid choice - it gives
you more space than the Small Farmwagon, but it won't get stuck or tip over as
much as the Conestoga wagon.

Consider the Small Farmwagon if you can keep your wagon weight under 3,000
pounds (which is quite doable). It's a good choice if you don't have much
money, if you don't plan to buy the package deal, if you have a small group, or
if you're going on a shorter trip (like Salt Lake). However, the Small
Farmwagon doesn't give you a lot of space for all your supplies, especially if
you have a large party. 

The Conestoga wagon is often considered too big and bulky for the Oregon Trail.

If you go to the wagon store in Independence, you can actually buy multiple
wagons. Thanks EnglishInFix for contributing this tip - this reader often likes
to buy two Small Farmwagons, which preserves the agility of the Small Farmwagon
while giving you the capacity of the Conestoga. Having multiple wagons also
contributes to your bonus at the end of the game. Buying multiple wagons might
not be feasible for the least wealthy professions, however, as the wagon is
your single greatest expense.
Don't forget to buy a wagon cover - it protects your stuff from the elements
and helps guard against spoilage.

Wagon Breakdowns
Covered wagons aren't that different from modern cars - sometimes parts break
on them, inevitably at the most inconvenient time possible! And sadly, the
pioneers didn't have AAA or free roadside assistance! A fast pace, rough
trails, and overloaded wagons increase the risk of breakdowns.

Wagon parts, especially axles and wheels, often break. In some cases, you might
be able to repair them. Your odds of successfully fixing them increase if you
have certain tools, like a saw or a hammer and nails. (The anvil also helps for
this purpose, but anvils are pretty heavy to lug around.)

Sometimes you won't be able to repair a broken part. That's why it's a wise
idea to buy one of each type of spare part at the beginning of the game - the
package includes all of them by default, or you can easily purchase them
individually. If you have a spare part on hand, you can always replace the bad
part. So make sure you grab a spare ox yoke, a spare wagon tongue, a spare
wagon axle, and a spare wagon wheel at the beginning of the game.

Unfortunately, if you can't fix the broken part, and you don't have a spare
with you, you'll have to trade for someone else's spare part. These parts are
expensive, so expect to pay a pretty penny - you might find yourself having to
part with one of your oxen to make a deal.

The blacksmithing and carpentry skills increase your chances of being able to
repair a broken part. These two skills stack, so if you have both blacksmithing
and carpentry skills, your odds of fixing the broken part are higher than if
you had just one of those skills. (That said, having both skills is overkill,
and I'd prefer to use my skill points elsewhere.)

Buying grease and turpentine reduces the risk of breakdowns from occurring.
I've heard that visiting the blacksmiths found in many forts and settlements
will partially repair any damage to your wagon, thus reducing the risk of

Weather, our ever-capricious friend! "Interesting" weather is seldom good news
for the emigrant making a 2,000-mile journey by covered wagon.
Rainy weather slows down the pace of travel. Rain also has the nasty side
effect of making rivers deeper, wider, and more unstable. You can use less-
than-ideal conditions as a chance to take a day off once you reach a river or
landmark. Personally, I prefer to reduce the pace of travel to 8 hours per day
when the trail becomes muddy, and I might consider accelerating to a pace of 10
hours per day when conditions clear up. If conditions are really bad, you could
restart from your last save point - rain and mud appear semi-randomly, and next
time you might get better conditions.

Thunderstorms occur randomly and usually aren't anything to worry about. I'd
probably slow down when there's a big storm.

Fog isn't a big deal - it can appear randomly, although there are certain
places where fog is extremely common. You can safely proceed as usual in fog,
even though it might cause a very slight increase in the risk of getting lost.

Snow and blizzards can cause all kinds of nasty problems - for example, you
might get frostbite, or you might find yourself snowbound. Bringing warm
clothes and blankets can help keep you warm when it's cold, but it's best to
plan your journey so you don't have to deal with this problem at all. One of
the few advantages of cold weather is it can cause rivers to freeze, which can
actually make it easier to cross them (as long as the ice isn't thin, of

Extreme heat is a common problem in the summer, especially in desert areas.
Don't push yourself too hard when it's hot - you might want to reduce the pace
of travel as long as you still have water.

Food lasts longer in cooler temperatures.

Much of the game's weather is randomly-generated. However, some weather
conditions will occur whenever you reach a certain time period. For example, if
you travel in 1844, you'll slog through near-constant rain in April and May, so
you'll only be able to travel a few miles per day. Similarly, in 1846, the
Sierra Nevadas will have early and severe snowstorms, so plan accordingly so
you won't become the next Donner Party!

Remember that you don't want to overload your wagon, especially if you don't
have a lot of oxen. An overloaded wagon can substantially slow down your travel
speed and will be more prone to tip over when you reach the mountains. For this
reason, don't buy heavy, unnecessary items like china sets or tables. With a
party of four, a 2,500-pound wagon is a good weight. If your wagon's weight
becomes excessive, especially in the mountains, you may wish to use the Dump
option from the Main Travel screen to lighten your wagon's load ("leeverite,"
as some pioneers used to say, as in "leave 'er right here"). Spare wagon parts,
furniture, and a large fraction of your bacon are good dumping candidates.

Frequently Asked Questions                                             [QUEST]
Q: What's the most important tip you have?
A: SAVE OFTEN! Especially before crossing ANY river, traversing a steep
mountain, or, most of all, before the raft excursion. If something bad happens,
you can simply select "End Game" and re-load your game from the last place you
saved. Randomness is a major factor in determining game events, and calamities
are generally not predestined. (You could even keep multiple save files to
guard against diseases with a long incubation period.)

Q: How can I get the highest score possible?
A: Choose the Trail Guide difficulty level. Be a teacher, artist, or pastor.
Get to the destination quickly and efficiently. Keep your party healthy. Don't
use any of your skill points. Don't waste money on frivolities. Don't take
ferries or toll bridges, and save often. Lastly, take advantage of commerce/
trade skills if you'd like to boost your score by "farming" cash (see the
"Trade" section for more information.)

Q: What wagon train should I join?
A: Ideally, one of moderate size. A larger wagon train provides more people to
trade and interact with, while smaller groups reduce problems like wagon dust.
It doesn't matter a huge amount, though.

Q: How do I leave a fort or town?
A: Just click on the horizon or a gate on a screen where the mouse cursor turns
into the word "Exit." If you can't do it on a particular screen, just click on
the left or right side of the screen to move to a different part of the fort or
town, and it should work somewhere.

Q: Why don't I have as much money as I'm supposed to according to the
Occupations screen?
A: The price of the wagon is automatically deducted from your total cash.

Q: My wagon tipped over while fording a 2-foot-deep river. What did I do wrong?
A: Sorry, but on the Oregon Trail, nothing is guaranteed, especially when
rivers are involved. Bad things can happen even if you take the recommended
course of action. My advice is to start over from your last save point if you
lost a lot of supplies.

Q: I seem to be going in a circle. What did I do wrong?
A: It's possible you selected the "Turn Around" option on the Main Travel
screen. More likely, you were at a place where a fork converged and chose the
wrong option. This is an extremely easy mistake to make as an Adventurer or
Trail Guide. For example, let's suppose you were at the Road to Fort Bridger/
Sublette Cutoff fork. You took the Sublette Cutoff. When these two roads
converged, you then selected "Road to Fort Bridger" instead of "Road to Fort
Hall," taking you back where you started. To correct this problem, restart from
where you last saved or use the Turn Around option.

Q: One member of my party got sick and died. I started the game from my last
save point (before he became ill) and he still got sick and passed away. What
went wrong?
A: This is kind of sad, but sometimes it takes a while for people - especially
non-professional physicians - to diagnose an illness. By the time the disease
has displayed its characteristic symptoms, it may be too late to save the
patient. An alternative explanation is that this death has been preordained
and that there wasn't any way to avoid it from the beginning. The same thing
happens in SimCity 3000; somtimes there's no way to avoid a natural disaster.
Of course, it's also possible that you selected the wrong treatment for the
patient (a rest of 3-6 days is generally most effective). In short, if someone
dies, either start the trip over or keep going.

Q: What happens if I don't give a proper burial when someone dies?
A: Giving a proper burial costs half a day of travel time, though this morbid
job might be a bit quicker if you have a shovel. However, not giving your
fallen comrade a proper burial is a massive (and easy-to-avoid) hit to your
party's morale. I know it's a video game, but be a good person and give poor
Nellie a decent burial so the coyotes don't have her as their lunch!

Q: What do the different health ratings mean?
A: "Good" indicates that the person has no illnesses or injuries. "OK" usually
means someone who has suffered an injury like a sprained ankle or who is
recovering from a major illness. This rating can also appear when a player is
tired from intense travel or is hungry or malnourished (try increasing rations
or taking a day or two off). "Fair" often means the patient is in the beginning
stages of a potentially serious illness. Several days of rest is generally the
most effective remedy. If the health is "Poor," "Bad," or "Critical," the
patient will usually die pretty soon unless you can find a doctor. I see no
need to explain what the last rating ("Dead") means.

Q: Why is it that only my partners get sick?
A: The leader of your party can't get sick, although accidents along the
Columbia River can be fatal. The other party members can become sick or die for
any reason.

Q: Why haven't I ever been attacked by Indians like in the movies?
A: Skirmishes between the American Indians and the white settlers were still
very rare when the Oregon Trail was widely used. The manual explicitly states
that Indian attacks aren't included in this game. However, you can talk to or
trade with some native peoples in this game.

Q: Why can't I write in my journal on all days?
A: You can only make entries in your journal on days where you reached a town
or landmark, or when you encountered an obstacle or adverse condition (like fog
or an illness). Some lines in your diary (frequently mentioning generic
characters such as Nick Tillman or Miss Whitney) are randomly added by the
computer and can't be erased.

Q: Why couldn't I buy an item at a shop?
A: There are two possibilities. First, you might not have enough money to make
the current purchase. Secondly, keep in mind that quantities at stores are
limited (check the second number from the left on the Max column, which shows
how much of an item the store has in stock). Raymond Hou noted that these
limited quantities can be reset by leaving and re-entering a town or fort,

Q: Why are things like wood stoves and washboards offered at the main general
store? (from Blueoriontiger)
A: Most of the emigrants on the Oregon Trail found that wood stoves, pianos,
washboards, and other "big-ticket items" - even cherished family heirlooms -
were needless burdens once the mountains hit and usually had to be "leeverited"
(dumped along the trail). If you're going to Utah, you might buy them for the
trading value, but otherwise, avoid buying these heavy, expensive items,
especially since most of them serve no real purpose in the game.

Q: Why don't my supplies ever go down?
A: You'll consume them eventually. Some things, like flour, are measured in
bags or sacks, and you can't tell how much food is left in a bag.

Q: I am kind of a foodie, so I know to buy stuff in the shops from every food
group, such as the meat/protein group, the fruit group, and so on. I remember
to take spices to keep morale up and so on. But how about the fats? Like lard
and butter? I assume it can be used for cooking, such as olive oil, but it is
also important to diet in real life and I was wondering if the game took that
into account? If we ran out of fat would they slowly starve? Maybe I should
play a game and take no fats just to see? (from Michael Valdivielso)
A: That's an interesting question that I've wondered about myself. I think the
most important thing is to make a reasonable effort to acquire a wide range of
different food items, and to keep an eye on your supplies to ensure you don't
run out of basic staples like flour. All food is consumed gradually over the
course of the adventure, and using spices is supposed to give a small boost to
morale. Running out of items from a particular food group may be harmful to
your health and morale, and it can also slow down your progress.

Q: Do I need to buy feed for my chickens? (from Michael Valdivielso)
A: I don't think chickens require any special care. They were "free-range" and
allowed to forage for seeds, worms, and other goodies. The stable where you buy
livestock sells all the necessary equipment besides the animals themselves
(such as harnesses and feed), and they don't sell anything along those lines
for chickens.

Q: My milk cow often dies within the first week. What's wrong? (from Michael
A: I've had the same problem with milk cows. I haven't really done extensive
research on this; I only bring a cow in about 50% of my games. However, the
Farming/Animals skill helps keep your animals healthy. Other things that might
cause your cow to die would be lack of good grass (possibly caused randomly, by
entering an area that has no grass for a long stretch, or by leaving too early
in the year) and lack of water (which could possibly be alleviated by bringing
a water keg or canteen).

Q: I am having trouble getting started. Every time I get ready to leave it says
I have too much stuff for the wagon weight or not enough pack animals. I had
tried it with two horses, two mules, and a cow, as well as with a mule and two
oxen. So what do I do? (from Brenda Johnston)
A: First of all, don't try to combine different kinds of draft animals. Pick
oxen, mules, or horses, but don't try to mix them. Also, your cow will not be
used to pull your wagon; it travels alongside the wagon. You need at least four
animals to pull your wagon, and ideally six. If you select a wealthy occupation
and have a lot of cash, I'd splurge and buy eight animals. You can also reduce
your wagon's weight by purchasing supplies individually instead of opting for
the package deal in Independence.

Q: Thanks so much for the Oregon Trail 5th Edition walkthrough. I've played
this game about five or six times, but I can't keep my wagon party from dying
of thirst. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? (from Rachel)
A: Be sure to buy a water keg or canteens at a shop in Independence or wherever
you begin. And don't hang around too long in deserts and other places that
don't have good water.

Note that water kegs are heavier than canteens but last longer.

Q: How can I get a gunshot wound?
A: Here's what Ace_of_Spades sent me: An accidental gunshot wound (I think) is
sustained by shooting a rock so the bullet rebounds and hits you. You can apply
antiseptic or astringent, or clean and dress the wound, as well as the usual
continue, rest, that sort of thing. If fortune isn't on your side, your wound
could become infected, and you'll have the same options as when you first got
the wound. My guy was eventually fine, all I did was clean and dress the wound,
and when it became infected I cleaned and dressed it again, and got to a doctor
on time. I'm not sure if the wounds vary from pistols, rifles, or shotguns, but
I think I got mine from a rifle.

Another reader, Luna, reports that buying at least one gun sheath for every
firearm helps prevent gun accidents. If you plan to go hunting, they may be
worth the $0.97.

Q: Why are small streams, say 50 feet wide and 1.5 feet deep, sometimes
described as dangerous or tricky?
A: When you check river conditions, don't pay attention to the game's
description; heed the numbers. As I state elsewhere, save your game before
crossing a river, and don't try to ford any river that's 3 feet or deeper.

Q: What's the best way to deal with deserts, like the Forty-Mile Desert?
A: Deserts are more of a problem on the California Trail than the Oregon Trail
and are among the most dangerous sectors of the trip. I recommend that you
hurry through deserts, especially if temperatures aren't too high. You may want
to rest when you find a place that has good water and grass (check the bottom
of your screen and the guidebook). Having a water keg or canteens is very
helpful when you reach a place that has no water or bad water.

Q: What should I do if I get the "Animals Exhausted" message?
A: Just take a day or two of rest. Try reducing the pace of travel, too,
especially if you're going 12+ hours per day. Also keep in mind that bigger
parties tend to carry heavier loads, and heavier loads are more likely to tire
out your animals, especially when you don't have many of them. This message
appears most often in the later, more mountainous sections of the trail.

Q: If I'm buying everything individually, should I buy the spare wagon parts?
A: I would unless I was very poor or had a very large party. These spare parts
are bulky and expensive, but if a wagon part breaks (usually in the mountains),
you'll have to trade for a replacement if you can't repair the damage and you
don't have that part on hand. And in this era before AAA and roadside
assistance, you'll have to give up something valuable (typically, one ox) to
get that replacement. For that reason, if you forego the purchase of spare
wagon parts, you should definitely carry at least eight oxen, in case you have
to trade one of them to obtain a replacement part. It's hard to avoid breaking
a part or two during the trip, even if you save frequently.

Q: What happens if I don't have enough money to pay the toll for the Barlow
Toll Road?
A: You should have at least a few dollars left at this point in the game. But
if you don't, try trading something - anything - to a fellow emigrant for
enough cash to pay the bill. Or see if you can negotiate the bill; maybe you
can trade something in exchange for the standard toll.

Q: I'm going on the California Trail. Should I take the Carson or Truckee
A: I only cover the Oregon Trail in my walkthrough, as the other trails overlap
with most of the Oregon Trail and don't include many major route decisions. The
Truckee route is 38 miles shorter, a little rougher, and probably the better
option. However, the Truckee route also has a few places where you can get
turned around or go in circles, and a few of the sub-routes (like Beckwourth)
increase your distance. I should also note, for purposes of full disclosure,
that the Truckee route was the choice of the ill-fated Donner expedition. It's
really up to you.

Q: I'm going on the California Trail. Is the Hastings Cutoff of any use?
A: I'd think twice before going down any road with locations that have names
like Skull Valley. If you're using mules and have a water keg, maybe you could
consider it. The Hastings Cutoff does save a lot of time, but using it is a
great way to get killed. If you try it, please save beforehand, and remember
that Vinny told you not to.

Q: How do I get to the Rogue River Valley?
A: The Rogue River Valley, known as Jacksonville in some years, isn't the most
common destination for pioneers, although some people did settle there. Take
the main Oregon Trail junction when you reach it, and soon you'll reach a place
called Lassen's Meadows. From here, take Applegate Road and you'll be on the
way to the Rogue River Valley.

Q: Occasionally a message like "Strangers in the Distance" will appear. Is it
safe to approach them?
A: Probably - it's unlikely that anything bad will come from such a meeting,
and you might find someone to trade with. You won't be a victim of random
violent crime! Indians are even rarer, but they won't hurt you either.

Q: In real life, does it really freeze in June in the Mountain West?
A: Sometimes. It can get pretty cold any time in the upper altitudes. Cool
temperatures in summer aren't usually a bad thing, by the way.

Q: Why does the guidebook talk about dogs and cats when you can't buy any?
(from Kate)
A: The guidebook is based on real guidebooks the pioneers actually used, and
not everything discussed in them is relevant to the game (or accurate!).

Q: Can I go in the attorney's office?
A: The law firm Dewey, Cheatum, & Howe (sounds like a lot of 21st-century legal
experts) operates above another building in Independence, and unfortunately,
you can't go inside. But don't worry; you should be able to write a will
yourself (5-10% of the emigrants on the Oregon Trail didn't make it to their
destination alive).

Q: How can I participate in a wagon council meeting?
A: You can't. Wagon trains' systems of government are discussed in the
guidebook - basically, a democracy, anarchy, or monarchy. However, no system of
settling disputes or making decisions exists in the game. I think you're forced
to go with anarchy, although you might get to be the monarch if your role is
Trail Guide. As the Trail Guide, you hold absolute power until the people get
sufficiently mad at you, which is when bad things happen to your career path.

Q: Will buying a skirt or dress at one of the clothing stores affect the gender
of any of my characters?
A: No. Clothing in this game seems to be unisex, and there's no way to
specify the gender of any of your party members.

Q: Is that cholera drug, laudanum, a form of opium?
A: Yes. Be careful.

Q: What did they use the flour for?
A: Sometimes the pioneers made bread, but usually they made a sturdy,
unleavened cracker called hardtack. It's not necessarily good stuff.

Q: How can I view a journal file without using the Oregon Trail program?
A: Just use Notepad or WordPad to open the .OT5 file. There will be a little
bit of gibberish, and you won't be able to find out the entry dates, but
otherwise you should be able to understand it.

Q: Is there any way to automatically skip Jebb's campfire stories and the
Montgomery journal cutscenes? (from Becca Miliano)
A: I don't know of any option to disable these. However, you can easily skip
any of them by simply clicking in the middle of the screen or pressing ENTER.

Q: Running the game really messed up my screen when I tried to use the computer
as normal. What's wrong? (from Brenda Johnston)
A: My guess is that the game crashed at some point, and when you returned to
Windows, everything looked enormous in size. If that's what happened, it's
because the game changed your screen resolution and didn't change it back to
normal as it would have had you closed it yourself. If so, either restart your
computer or change the screen resolution under the "Settings" tab of "Display
Properties" (right-click on the desktop).

Q: Why won't this game work on my Windows 7 computer? (from Kingkirby1234,
Becca Miliano, and oodles of other people)
A: Sadly, The Oregon Trail Fifth Edition doesn't run properly on all Windows 7
systems. You can try downloading one of the patches floating around the
Internet, or fiddling with the game settings, but there's no guarantee it'll
run properly. Playing the game on Windows 7 can result in some very strange
glitches ranging from inability to save to being able to catch 1,000 pounds of
fish in a single fishing trip. The fishing sequences are particularly
troublesome for many systems. If you're having trouble playing this game,
virtualization is an excellent alternative.

Getting this game to run natively in Windows 10 is especially tricky, although
I was able to install the game on my Windows 10 machine.

Q: Virtualization? What's that?
A: Virtualization gives the appearance of multiple computers running on the
same physical "host" machine. Using tools like VMware Player or Oracle
VirtualBox, you can run multiple operating systems simultaneously - for
example, on my old laptop, I ran a Windows 10 host machine, a Windows XP
virtual machine, and a Linux VM, all at the same time. This is great for
experimenting with different operating systems and for running older
applications that would otherwise be incompatible with the native operating
system. In my experience, this game works perfectly in a virtualized Windows XP
environment, so if you're having trouble playing this (or any Windows 98/XP-era
game, for that matter), and you have some technical expertise, I'd recommend
giving virtualization a try. In fact, if you have a valid Windows 7 or 8
license, you can download a Windows XP VM for free from Microsoft's Web site.

Q: Is there an "alternative" way to play this game?
A: Yes. Most people try to earn the highest score possible while keeping their
companions alive. But if you were wondering whether people have gone out of
their way to make decisions that would hurt their score and result in
interesting injuries and illnesses, yes, that has been done. It's part of why
this game's replay value is so great. (Please don't kill your digital friends
on purpose, though. That's not nice, and you don't want to be a not-nice

Q: Does anything bad happen to you if you fail to reach your destination within
a certain time period?
A: If you're playing the game under normal conditions, you want to get to
Oregon reasonably quickly. As the trip progresses, you consume supplies and may
exhaust your cash reserves, and in later months, cold weather and blizzards
become a grave concern. You want to get to finish the journey as quickly as
possible, while not going so fast that you wear out your animals or sacrifice
the health of your party members. Also, taking too long results in a duration
penalty that reduces your final score.

However, one of my readers, Merky, found that there is indeed a hidden time
limit in the game! It won't affect you unless you go out of your way to trigger
it, but if you wait outside Independence for about a year and a half, your
party's health will begin to decline until all your party members die a few
weeks later. Curiously, unlike The Oregon Trail II, your party leader stays
alive indefinitely but remains in critical condition. Your journal will say
that the party leader died instead of one of your companions, which is strange.
Having adequate food will not prevent your companions' demise, although it will
keep morale high even when everyone starts getting sick and dying. I guess it's
great fun to die of laziness. Another oddity is that when I played, my party
leader was elected captain of the wagon train the same day all the other party
members died.

If there are any exceptionally patient people around here, I'd love to see the
longest anyone can play this game - might it possible to keep playing the game
for decades after the hidden time limit kicks in?

Q: What makes this game different from previous versions of the game?
A: The Oregon Trail: Fifth Edition is actually based on The Oregon Trail II.
Compared to The Oregon Trail II, the Fifth Edition makes some musical changes,
improves some of the graphics, adds options for gathering and fishing, and adds
the Montgomery family cutscenes. However, OT2's soundtrack has much greater
emotional depth than OT5 - instead of the same background music playing
everywhere (except for towns), OT2 had different songs for different phases of
the game, with different variations depending on how well you're doing. The
music also got pretty intense when you reach hills!

I haven't played the Third and Fourth Editions, but 3 and 4 have very different
graphic styles compared to 2 and 5.

The original Oregon Trail game was quite bare-bones in terms of features and
visuals, although it has a handful of features that have disappeared - newer
versions of the game have taken away the ability to carve your own tombstones
if you die! The newer game is "better" per se, but the original game has a
special charm that everyone should try.

Q: What other tips and notes do you have?
A: Here are a few things that didn't fit anyplace else:
* Kamikaze969 on the GameFAQs message boards posted some interesting
information about game mechanics, especially the quantitative side of how the
game works. It's a useful resource, although I must note that I haven't had a
chance to verify any of the information provided in this post:

* Try using different combinations of jumping-off spots and destinations. Can
you make it from Nauvoo to Oregon?

* In real life, this 2,000-mile journey typically took approximately five
months, although it's taken me as little as four to as many as seven months.

Always go looking for missing people/livestock.

* At shops, supplies are always limited, but the quantities are random. For
example, if you visit a fort there could be 43 pounds of salt pork in stock,
but if you re-load your game and go to that fort again, they might have 339
pounds of salt pork available.

* If morale starts slipping, resting a day or two at the next good location
will usually make people feel better.

* Salt pork seems to get consumed more quickly than bacon. The package deal
always gives you way too much bacon, so if you choose it, you should NEVER buy
additional bacon at future forts and trading posts.

* Spices are cheap and can help boost morale, and they're valuable for trade.
Plus, you don't need huge amounts of them, so they're lightweight and
relatively inexpensive.

* Spending exorbitantly on intoxicants (such as whisky or brandy) is a recipe
for disaster, at least in real life. I don't think alcoholism is a problem in
this game, though!

* It's best to stock on the more expensive supplies (like tea and coffee) early
on while prices are still low. Heavier, less expensive supplies (say, a bag of
potatoes) can be bought later, and by then your wagon should be lighter so the
weight of the new items won't be as much of a problem.

* Wagon dust is a bigger problem in later years and in larger wagon trains.

* Watch the map screen and you'll sometimes see photos of regional wildlife.
These can also inform you of the presence of rattlesnakes or other hazards in
the area.

* Your save/journal files are stored in the My Documents folder by default,
although you might want to create a special subfolder to store them.

* In beta versions of this game, some stores are closed on Sundays. I know this
because I made a text dump for the game. In the final release, though, there
are no days of the week.

* I got my copy of the game in spring 2002; it should be the earliest printing
of the game. It's possible a few things related to gameplay might be slightly
different in newer releases of the game; if so, please tell me, and I'll give
you credit for your contribution.

Charts and Tables                                                      [CHART]

Available Occupations

Occupation   Bonus  Cash    Skills/Abilities
Banker       1.0   $2,000   Commerce/Trade
Doctor       1.2   $1,900   Medical
Merchant     1.4   $1,800   Commerce/Trade
Pharmacist   1.5   $1,750   Botany/Medical
Wainwright   1.6   $1,700   Blacksmithing
Gunsmith     1.8   $1,600   Sharpshooting
Mason        2.0   $1,500   Nothing
Blacksmith   2.2   $1,400   Blacksmithing
Wheelwright  2.4   $1,300   Blacksmithing
Carpenter    2.5   $1,250   Carpentry
Saddlemaker  2.6   $1,200   Nothing
Brickmaker   2.8   $1,150   Nothing
Prospector   3.0   $1,100   Find more gold in California
Trapper      3.2   $1,050   Tracking/sharpshooting
Surveyor     3.4   $1,100   Nothing
Shoemaker    3.5   $  950   Sewing
Journalist   3.6   $  900   Nothing
Printer      3.8   $  850   Nothing
Butcher      4.0   $  800   Cooking/more meat
Baker        4.2   $  750   Cooking/more flour
Tailor       4.4   $  700   Sewing
Farmer       4.5   $  650   Farming/botany
Pastor       4.6   $  600   Weekly morale boost
Artist       4.8   $  550   Nothing
Teacher      5.0   $  550   Nothing

Available Options on Character Creation Screen
Roles: Greenhorn, Adventurer, Trail Guide

Starting Months: February, March, April, May, June, July, August

Years: 1840-1860

Starting Towns: Independence (any year), St. Joseph (43-60), Nauvoo (46-60),
Kanesville (46-60, becomes Council Bluffs in 1854)

Destinations: Williamette Valley (40-60, becomes Oregon City in 1842),
Sacramento Valley (40-60, becomes Sacramento in 1860), Rogue River Valley (46-
60, becomes Jacksonville in 1852), Great Salt Lake City (47-60)

Wagons: Small Farmwagon ($60), Large Farmwagon ($75), Conestoga wagon ($100)

People: 3-6

Ages: 5-20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65

Skills: Medical (50 pts.), riverwork (50), sharpshooting (50), blacksmithing
(40), carpentry (40), farming/animals (40), tracking (30), botany (20),
commerce/trade (20), cooking (20), musical (10), sewing (10), Spanish (10)

What the Package Deal Includes*
  1     8-oz jar of aloe vera
  1     8-oz bottle of alum
308     lbs. of bacon
  3     boxes of 20 bullets
 16     lbs. of cheese
 20     lbs. of coffee beans
  1     coffee mill
  1     coffee pot
  8     10-lb. sacks of cornmeal
  8     5-lb. tins of crackers
 16     10-lb. sacks of dried beans
  8     5-lb. tins of dried bread
 24     5-lb. sacks of dried fruit
 20     5-lb. sacks of dried vegetables
 16     10-lb. sacks of flour
  2     25-lb kegs of gunpowder
  1     4-oz. bottle of iodine
  1     kettle
  3     5-lb. slabs of lard
  1     4-oz. bottle of laudanum
  5     boxes matches
152     lbs. of pemmican
  2     8-oz. bottles of pepper
  1     4-oz. bottle of peppermint
  1     25-lb. keg of pickles
 16     5-lb. tins of preserved potatoes
  8     20-lb. sacks of rice
  1     rifle
  1     30-lb. length of rope
  2     3-lb. boxes of saleratus
 12     sets of clothing
  1     set of cooking utensils
  1     set of eating utensils
  4     pairs of shoes
  1     skillet
  8     10-lb. boxes of soap
 12     pairs of socks
  1     spare ox yoke
  1     spare wagon tongue
  1     spare wagon axle
  1     spare wagon wheel
 12     10-lb. sacks of sugar
  1     6-oz. bottle of sulfur
 12     lbs. of tea
  4     tin cups
  4     tin plates
  1     5-lb. box of yeast cake

* The 5-month supply, based on a party of four

Accidental gunshot*, alkali sickness, animal bite*, animal mauling*, bad cold,
beriberi*, broken arm, broken foot, broken hip*, broken leg, broken wrist,
burns, cholera, concussion, consumption, cuts and abrasions, diphtheria,
drowning, dysentery, food poisoning, freezing*, frostbite*, gangrene*, grippe,
gunshot wounds*, infection, internal injuries, lockjaw*, malaria*, measles,
mountain fever*, near-drowning, pneumonia, rabies*, scarlet fever, scurvy*,
smallpox*, snakebites, sprained ankle, sprained elbow, sprained knee, sprained
shoulder, sprained wrist, starvation, thirst, typhoid fever, typhus*, unknown
illness, water poisoning, wound, death

* I haven't gotten any of these, but they're mentioned in the guidebook, and I
know they can happen because they're included in the game text (see my Oregon
Trail 5 Text Dump at GameFAQs, Neoseeker, or Super Cheats) and because readers
of my guide have reported experiencing some of them as well.

Adverse Conditions
Special screens: All stores closed, animal caught in quicksand, bad mosquitoes,
blizzard*, broken wagon parts, buffalo stampede*, can't get wagon up hill, dust
storms, exhausted animals, extreme cold, extreme heat, fallen rocks, fallen
timbers, flooded trail, hailstorms, heavy fog, injured/diseased livestock,
locusts, missing livestock, missing person, prairie fire, quicksand, river
delay, severe thunderstorms, snowbound*, stuck wagon, swamped wagon, theft,
thirst, tipped wagon, wagon dust, wagon fell through ice, wagon fire, wagon

Bottom line: No draft animals, no/low food, no grass, low/slipping morale,
person near death, no progress, quicksand, rainy, slow going, snow, someone's
sick, rough/muddy trail, no wagon*, bad/alkali/no water

Flour Prices at Selected Trading Institutions
Independence       $0.22
St. Mary's Mission $0.24
Fort Kearny        $0.27
Fort Laramie       $0.30
Fort Bridger       $0.40
Fort Hall          $0.45
Fort Boise         $0.45
Fort Walla Walla   $0.50
Camp Dalles        $0.50
Fort Vancouver     $0.45

These prices are per 10-pound sack. Flour was chosen because it should be
representative of each fort's prices for other items. This chart is intended
more to provide an example of how prices of goods increase the further you go
in the game, not to show specific prices of flour at every fort or trading post
that appears in the game.

Record Scores                                                          [RECRD]
These are my top scores.

 1.   32,770
 2.   30,000
 3.   29,930
 4.   28,553
 5.   28,431

As of 2021, Dani Newport holds the record score of 78,885. Good job!

Before then, Lineka (Luna) held the record at 74,511.

A little while ago, Mike Darr (Jeorg) scored 39,780, and Jessica W. Glover's
record of 34,605 stood for a while as well.

Version History                                                        [VERSN]
Yep, I'm still maintaining this guide a decade later.

 Date      Version   Size
 2- 6-08  |  0.05 |   2KB | Began guide.
 2- 8-08  |  0.1  |  12KB | Did first real work.
 2- 9-08  |  0.2  |  16KB | Added list of unfavorable conditions.
 2-10-08  |  0.25 |  17KB | Began the walkthrough section.
 2-11-08  |  0.35 |  20KB | Did more stuff.
 2-12-08  |  0.6  |  28KB | Worked on walkthrough section.
 2-13-08  |  0.8  |  36KB | Did more stuff.
 2-14-08  |  1.0  |  45KB | Finished things up.
 2-15-08  |               | Submitted guide to GameFAQs and Neoseeker.
 5-11-09  |  1.1  |  58KB | Made many additions, especially to the FAQs.
11-27-09  |  1.2  |  59KB | New note about gunshot wounds. Added a record.
 1- 3-11  |  1.3  |  60KB | Added a couple of new notes.
 2- 5-11  |  1.4  |  62KB | Added a note about the Haggle button. Also thanks
          |       |       | to Angela Egelston for sort of reminding me to add
          |       |       | the Columbia River section I'd forgotten to write.
 3- 5-11  |  1.45 |  63KB | Added a Windows 7 note.
 6-22-11  |  1.5  |  63KB | Included a couple of additions regarding hunting
          |       |       | and rare illnesses. Thanks to Papaya.
11-22-11  |  1.55 |  63KB | Updated a few things, like the high score.
 9- 7-12  |  1.6  |  64KB | Another batch of updates.
 3-17-14  |  1.7  |  73KB | A lot of new information. Includes new tips from
          |       |       | readers and important notes about virtualization. I
          |       |       | tweaked some of the writing and formatting, too.
11-14-15  |  1.75 |  78KB | Added some new strategies contributed by readers
          |       |       | during the past year or so, including the Hidden
          |       |       | Countdown of Doom and Luna's Money Factory.
 5-10-17  |  1.76 |  78KB | Updated my top score and made a few small tweaks.
 5- 5-19  |  1.77 |  83KB | Added a note about playing the game with multiple
          |       |       | wagons. Thanks EnglishInFix! Made other small
          |       |       | changes, especially in the Getting Started section.
 3-21-20  |  1.78 |  83KB | Added Dani Newport's record score.
 5-24-21  |  1.8  |  93KB | Added more details on miscellaneous items, trail
          |       |       | obstructions, wagon breakdowns, and weather.
          |       |       | Mentioned the duration penalty.
 9-12-21  |  1.81 |  94KB | Added some additional health details - thanks
          |       |       | Katherine St. Asaph for your fascinating analysis
          |       |       | of the game's mechanics.
11-14-21  |  1.82 |  94KB | Made a few tweaks based on Banananaut's research.

Copyright                                                              [COPYR]
(c) 2008-2021 VinnyVideo. All rights reserved.

All trademarks and copyrights mentioned in this guide are property of their
respective holders.

You can post this guide on your Web site as long as you give proper credit to
VinnyVideo and you don't change anything I wrote. The latest version of this
guide will always be available at GameFAQs and Neoseeker, but keep in mind that
I don't update this guide very frequently.

Contact Information                                                    [CONTC]
If you have any questions or comments about this guide, please send an e-mail
to VHamilton002@gmail.com. That's zero-zero-two, by the way. Please follow
these guidelines when you e-mail me:

* Do include "Oregon Trail" in the subject line.
* Do send polite suggestions for ways to make this walkthrough better.
* Do send information about any glitches, tricks, or codes you find.
* Do ask any questions you have about The Oregon Trail 5.0 gameplay. If you've
  got a problem, I'm happy to help you out.
* Do tell me if you break a record score.
* Do make a reasonable effort to use decent spelling and grammar so that I can
  understand what you're trying to say.
* Do use patience. I check my messages quite sporadically.
* Do not send spam, pornography, "flaming," or profanity. Be nice.

Interestingly, I've gotten far more reader mail about this guide than any of
the other guides I've written. 

Also, you can connect with me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/VinnyVideo.

For Katie, for getting me into this game in the first place

View in:

Vinny is an FAQ author from Florida. He first discovered GameFAQs in 2007 but started writing guides even before then.

He now works full-time as a developer. Besides writing FAQs, Vinny enjoys photography and programming games