School Programs 2021-2022

Thank you for your interest in coming to the End of the Oregon Trail. Our focus is to give students interactive, hands-on experience, based on the Oregon Department of Education Content Standards. The group activities are designed to give in-depth educational introduction to the Oregon Trail experience. These activities are special programs separate from the general admission programming. Library Cultural Passes cannot be used for group programming. 

Interested in coming, but can’t make it out to our location? Check out our long-distance Oregon Trail Experience now offered via Skype.

Interested in coming with a small group, home-school students or girl scouts troop? If you have fewer than 20 children in your group, another option is to come general public– many great activities, reservation and deposit not required.

We want your experience at the End of the Oregon Trail to be as one-of-a-kind as the group you are bringing. Create your own group program by choosing a presentation and your choice of 30-minute activities. Groups typically choose between 2 and 5 activities, depending on available time. For example, the standard presentation and two activities is one and a half hours, the standard presentation and three activities is two hours, and so on. You can also plan to eat lunch in our on-site picnic shelter and visit our gift shop.

Please note that larger groups may require a minimum number of activities so that they can be split up into smaller groups during the program.

Presentation: All packages include a presentation with a historically clothed interpreter because it’s a great place to start!

  • Standard: In 30 minutes, your interpreter will orient your group with an interactive presentation that includes volunteers and props. This overview of the reasons pioneers traveled, the dangers they faced, and chores they did will prepare your group for the rest of your visit. Ask about customizing your presentation to better suit your group’s age or cover a specific topic.
  • Wagon Master Choices: This 45-minute PowerPoint presentation covers all the same information, but in a choose-your-own-adventure format that allows students to vote on the hard choices pioneers faced on the Oregon Trail.
  • Journey West: This presentation is 45 minutes long and takes place outside along our interpretive trail, which features oxen statues, wagons, and a replica of Independence Rock. 

Candle Dipping & Butter Making: Take part in some hands-on history through this activity. Students participate in real chores children their age would have had during the 1800s and get to keep the candle they make and taste the butter they churn. (Arrangements can be made for gluten allergies; unfortunately, there is no substitution to accommodate those with dairy allergies, who will only be able to participate in churning the butter).

Heartstrings Music: Enjoy the musical presentation of Nancy and Rob Downie in “Heartstrings”. They play a variety of instruments from the Oregon Trail era including hammered dulcimer, fiddle, mountain dulcimer, Native American flute, acoustic bass, and banjo. Their 30-minute program includes a history of the songs and instruments and a sing-along musical performance (lyrics are provided) with familiar tunes such as “Camptown Races”, “Oh Susanna”, and more. Find out more about Heartstrings here.

Bison Expedition: This activity helps students discover the wild frontier environment of the Oregon Trail and the animals pioneers saw there. Collect buffalo chips, try out pioneer hunting techniques, and using fun facts about bison, figure out if they were good techniques or not! The largest mammal in North America plays an important role in Oregon Trail history, but also in maintaining the prairie ecosystem to this day.

Bound for Oregon: This 30-minute film traces the true stories of four pioneers making their way to Oregon. Elizabeth Dixon Smith, John Minto, Lucy Henderson, and Joel Palmer came from different backgrounds, and were motivated by different goals, but all faced the hardships and the joys of the Trail. Hear their experiences in their own words – taken from their journals and letters – interwoven with the narration of John McLoughlin, the Father of Oregon.

Chinook Trade Language: This 30-minute activity helps your students face and correct the myths surrounding pioneer relationships with Native Americans. What really happened when these two groups encountered each other on the Trail? Your students can have the opportunity to use the trade language pioneers used to communicate with Native Americans when they needed trade, directions, or help.

Journal Writing: Most of what we know about the Oregon Trail we learned from the journals of pioneers. What did those brave pioneers actually experience on their journey? What did they really think of Oregon Country when they arrived? Engage your students’ critical thinking and creativity with this 30-minute activity, which compares excerpts from actual pioneer journals and then invites students to write their own journal entry imagining what they might have thought and felt if they had lived in the Oregon Trail era.

Master Gardeners: Master Gardener volunteers are available by request to meet with student groups to talk about gardening in pioneer times and the sustainable gardening practices still used today. Presentations are tailored to the ages and interests of the group, with the possibility of a hands-on project in the demonstration garden when time and weather allow. Groups are always welcome to visit the heritage garden, which is representative of plants grown by the pioneers in the 1860s and includes heirloom roses, vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Find out more about the End of the Oregon Trail Pioneer Garden and the Clackamas County Master Gardeners here.

Oregon Trail Quest: Explore the Westward Adventure interpretive trail in search of answers to intriguing questions about daily life on the Oregon Trail. This activity encourages students to read the fine print and find the answers they need in signs displaying real pioneer diary quotes. In bad weather, take the quest inside the exhibit with questions focused on the Barlow Road. Younger groups might be interested in a quest which asks students to find and identify native animal tracks in the walkways of our grounds.

Packing the Wagon: How much can a wagon really carry? What food can we pack that won’t go bad? With this 30-minute activity, students are faced with the challenging decisions that faced the Oregon Trail pioneers. Students begin with a list of items and their weights, which they use to decide what they would bring and what they would leave behind, using math to make sure they don’t over-pack and make their wagon too heavy. After completing their list, students will learn from an interpreter what packing choices would have been best, and then actually pack their own true-to-size wagon to see for themselves the struggle that every pioneer had to overcome.

Surveying and Claiming Land: What happened to the pioneers after they arrived in Oregon Country? For most, the first step was finding a good piece of land to settle on. In this activity, students experience the process of choosing, measuring out, describing, and mapping a land claim before taking it to the Land Claim Office – which was right here in Oregon City –  to receive their own deed. This is an outside activity, dress accordingly.

To make a reservation, fill out the form and a Historical Interpreter will then be in contact with you directly to help customize your visit and provide additional instructions.

School Groups
If your first choice is not available, let us know what other days of the week or dates could work for you.
One adult per every 10 students will be complimentary so they can act as chaperones; additional adults will cost the same as your per student price CHAPERONE INSTRUCTIONS: Keeping your group together & following the Interpreters instructions for activities - Moving to each activity in an orderly and timely fashion.
Name of School or Organization
Street Address for billing purposes
Regular business hours are 9:30 – 5:00, but arrangements can be made to begin earlier than regular opening time, if needed.
Per student prices are cumulative with the price of additional activities you choose. Minimum cost of 20 students.
Each activity is 30 minutes, so be sure to only select as many as you have time for with your schedule.
60-MINUTE Lunch at Picnic Shelter / Shopping
Shopping in the Visitor Center for pioneer books, games and other interesting products.
We ask the following to help enhance the experience, Thank you!
1. Groups of 10 must be accompanied by Chaperones
2. Chaperones help the children with having the correct amount of money for purchases.

Due to the increased interest in our program it is imperative to send in the deposit by the due date on your invoice. If the deposit is not received, we will move your reservation to the waiting list.

***To cancel a reservation, please notify group services at least 10 days in advance in order to allow time for another group to enjoy the experience. Cancellations must be submitted in writing (e-mail, fax or mail). Cancellations become official when CHP has confirmed your request.***

Email any questions to or call (503) 657-9336. We look forward to seeing you!