Ezra Meeker

There was nothing particularly out of the ordinary about Ezra Meeker's wagon trip to Oregon in 1852. What was unusual was Meeker's decision to make a return trip--over 50 years later.

At 76 years of age, Meeker loaded up his wagon, picked two good oxen, and headed east. If Horace Greeley had been alive, he might have coined a new phrase: "Go east, old man."

Meeker's friends were against the idea; they thought he would never make it alive. Although his ox died, the difficult trip didn't kill Meeker. Along the way, he gave speeches encouraging preservation of the Trail, and many turned out to listen. He wrote a book, convinced President Teddy Roosevelt to set aside money for trail preservation, and became a national celebrity.

The whole expedition was so successful, Meeker did it again a few years later in 1910. He was more than 80 then, but still as energetic as ever. In later years, Meeker switched to newer forms of transportation, making the journey to Oregon by car, train and even plane. Meeker was still busy promoting the Oregon Trail when he died at age 98.

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