The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail

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Updated Feb 09, 2021 at 08:46AM EST by Y F.

Added Nov 07, 2017 at 04:01PM EST by Don.

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The Oregon Trail is a series of computer games in which the player directs a group of 19th-century pioneers traveling in a covered wagon across the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to Oregon's Willamette Valley.


On December 3rd, 1971, the original version of the game was released on the HP 2100 system by developers Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann and Paul Dillenberger as an educational tool to teach children about the experiences of 19th-century pioneers. In 1948, the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) hired Rawitsch to rebuild the game with events and player choices while traveling the trail. Subsequent versions of the game were released on CDC Cyber, Apple II, Atari 8-Bit, DOS, Macintosh and Windows computer systems.

Online Presence

In 2006, playthroughs of The Oregon Trail were submitted in threads on the Something Awful "Games" subforum. On May 20th, 2010, the /r/OregonTrail[3] subreddit was launched for discussions about the games. On January 13th, 2012, the /r/OregonTrailProblems[4] subreddit was created as "a place for all those little problems that crop up" while playing the game. On December 26th, 2014, the game was added to the Internet Archive.[1]


In 2010, the web browser game Organ Trail was released in which the player controls human survivors of a zombie apocalypse (shown below, left). On March 24th, YouTuber Dane Boe posted a parody video titled "Mortal Kombat vs. Oregon Trail," in which the Mortal Kombat characters Scorpion and Sub Zero massacre animals in the game (shown below, right).

On March 25th, 2011, YouTuber Cr1tiKal uploaded a "gameplay and commentary" video featuring the game (shown below, left). On October 15th, 2012, the Studio C YouTube channel uploaded a comedy sketch set inside the game (shown below, right).

On December 12th, 2014, YouTubers Rhett and Link uploaded a video to the Good Mythical Morning channel titled "The Oregon Trail IRL Challenge," which gathered upwards of 1.83 million views and 2,600 comments over the next three years (shown below, left). On June 29th, 2016, Pepsi released a Flash game titled "Travel The Crystal Pepsi Trail" loosely based on The Oregon Trail (shown below, right).

In November 2017, the Oregon Tourism Commission released an updated parody of the game titled Travel Oregon,[5] in which the players can work at a Portland craft brewery, purchase kombucha and attend hockey games.

You Have Died of Dysentery

You Have Died of Dysentery is a video game reference to a message commonly encountered in Oregon Trail, an educational computer game that was developed and distributed through public schools in the 1980s and 1990s. Due to the frequent appearance of the quote during gameplay, the phrase has since become a classic catchphrase used by old school video game fans on the web.

Search Interest

External References

[1] – Oregon Trail

[2] MyAbandonWare – Oregon Trail

[3] Reddit – /r/OregonTrail

[4] Reddit – /r/OregonTrailProblems

[5] Travel Oregon – Travel Oregon

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