Wagon Trains, Historical Romance, and Emma

What do wagon trains, historical romance and Emma have to do with one another? Well, research on wagon trains was the inspiration for the most recent western historical romance I wrote, Emma’s Epiphany. (Don’t search for it – it is only available in a multi-author anthology right now, Hopeful Brides.)

Sometimes my stories and books begin with an idea that just takes on a life of it’s own and I run with it. I just run with the muse.

Other times I have to do research in order to accurately convey facts or time period details that are authentic for the time period I’m writing about… or truthfully for those readers who are historically knowledgeable and will call me out if I’m not. How’s that for transparency? : )

I could live in my imagination ALL DAY LONG, and create stories that have no basis in fact, but rather are fully born of my imagination and muse. However, that doesn’t always work well for authors, especially when they write in a historical period with readers who scrutinize accuracy, and so I must research!

While researching the Oregon Trail and wagon trains, I found out some facts that were surprising to me, and I wrote about that on the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog where I’m a contributor and author member, and you can find that article here.

That research inspired a story about Emma. Emma is (this should come as no surprise for those of you who read my books) a Suffragette. She lives in Boston, and returns home from a protest that she participated in to find something that completely rocks her world. I’m not going to give you all the details, but you can find out more at the Hopeful Brides listing on Amazon.com.

Emma is strong-willed (she’s a suffragette after all!), a junior in college, and excited about all that’s ahead of her, but that all comes to a screeching halt, and yes, as you’ve probably guessed, she ends up on a wagon train headed west.

I tried to be as true to what a wagon train was really like (not a Hollywood Western version) as possible, and Emma experiences some difficult days during her journey, but at the end (as with all my books), she finds hope and… love.

I hope this will entice you to consider picking up a copy of Hopeful Brides. It’s just $.99 right now, or FREE if you have a Kindle Unlimited membership. I’m friends with the other two authors, Annie Bone and Terri Grace, and truly thrilled to be able to release an anthology with them. Get your copy of HOPEFUL BRIDES here.

If you have questions, please leave a comment, and I promise to respond to you.

Also, please head over to the Sweet Americana Sweethearts blog, read my article there, then come back here and let me know which of the 5 Facts most surprised you in the comments below, or if you already knew them all, that’s okay, too. One lucky commenter will win a $10 gift card to Amazon— so please share this post and comment below!

Have you traveled the Oregon Trail? Let us know.

*** This contest will run through Presidents’ Day, Monday, February 20th and the winner will be randomly chosen – but you do have to comment in order to win! Now go read the article on Sweet Americana Sweethearts and come back here and comment! Share and invite your friends to participate, too. It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day, after all. 🙂

#KateCambridge #Kindness #RandomActsOfKindness #sweetromance #historicalromance #wagontrains


45 Responses

  1. Carla

    Thank you for the interesting blog. I did not know any of these facts so was very surprised by all of them! Thanks for the chance of winning the gift card!

  2. Deste

    I wear surprised at Fact #5. The first wagon train to California was in 1843, but they didn’t have an actual map til 1849.

  3. MomIsReading

    I’m amazed that you can still see the wheel ruts. I really want to go see for myself now. Very interesting facts! Thank you for sharing them with us!

  4. Tina Carlson

    I was surprised at Fact #2, I thought they all traveled now the same trail, I didn’t know there where different trails, N Fact #5 but like you said it would have took them a long time, n they probably wasn’t writing everything down, so do you think someone just want on the trail, to just map out the way, I have always wondered about the first ones that set off on the trail, how did they know which way to go? That is probably a crazy ??,
    Thank you so much for this awesome blog, I can’t wait to read, I got the book ❤❤❤
    Thank so the chance

    1. Kate Cambridge

      I agree with you! How did they know? Hmm. That’s cause for more research! 🙂
      Thanks for participating, Tina!

  5. Pam Potter

    Hi Kate,
    Because I read a lot of Wagon train type Western Romance, I knew the facts you listed, but it was good to put them all in one place. I guess the fact that 20,000 people died surprised me the most. I can’t even imagine walking for 5 months. I was raised on a farm and my uncle finally bought horses for us to ride when we were teenagers. We would go to my Grandparents every weekend, where my Uncle and cousins lived and I would ride. I spent most of my summers there too.
    Thank you again for the info.

    1. Kate Cambridge

      It is an incredible fact! Thanks for sharing about your farm and horses, Pam – sounds like a lot of fun!

    1. Kate Cambridge

      I found that hard to imagine, too! There are several pictures on Google that show several of the trails still showing the ruts from the wheels. Simply incredible!

  6. Teri DiVincenzo

    The facts on your blog are amazing! I loved reading about the Oregon Trail in history, but had no idea that the tracks really are still visible today! Bet they had no idea what an impact their travels would have on us 200+ years later!

  7. Brenda W

    This surprised me–Fact #2: The Oregon Trail wasn’t a single set path that every wagon followed.

    I remember folks saying when I was stopped at a rest area on I 80 in NB that wagon train tracks could be seen near by.

    1. Kate Cambridge

      I was surprised by that, too, Brenda. I guess I just assumed they all followed in a line, but when you think about the food supply or even how dusty it must have been with all those wagons, it makes sense that they spread out.

  8. Charlene Whitehouse

    I’m not surprised by the fact that more people died by sickness than by Indian raids. Pore conditions and long days of no food or bad water. I have not been on the Oregon Trails. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Terri Nelson

    I didn’t know that all five states had evidence still to this day. I knew some did.
    Thanks for this opportunity

  10. Candace Hickey

    I love reading westerns so the facts were very interesting, thank you. I enjoy reading about mail order brides.

  11. Maria Dalmau

    I was most surprised by fact #4 the fact that 20,000 died from sickness surprised me.
    I have not been on the Oregon Trails.
    Thank You for sharing.

  12. Yvonne Butler

    I never thought about the ruts still being there. That’s amazing. That means wagons coming later could not run the same trails These wagons were hand made and no way they were built all exactly the same.

  13. Sherry Shepherd

    I was surprised by fact # 5. I thought that it had occurred much earlier in the 1800s. Thanks for the opportunity!

  14. Nancy Cowan

    I wasn’t totally surprised by any of the facts you posted. The reason for that is I was blessed to work with the Division Historian at the Corps of Engineers in Portland, OR. He actually took me to see and experience part of the true trail. That was amazing since, on a very quiet and peaceful day, without the sounds of traffic and where NO tourists are allowed, you can actually “hear” and “feel” the pioneers. I will admit that you listing the date of 1849 was somewhat surprising since I thought it was a few years earlier due to the Whitman reservation. Glad you proved me wrong and I LOVED your post!! Way to go!!!

  15. Emily Endrizzi

    I was surprised by all of the facts, but number one was especially surprising. I can’t believe wheel ruts are still visible. That’s insane.

  16. Nancy Costello

    I am amazed that the trail is still visible. All of the 5 facts were very informative and will make reading Historical books much more enjoyable.

  17. Sheila

    I only knew fact 4, about the illnesses. But the one that really surprised me was fact 1, one would think those ruts would be long gone after this many years n the weather during those years. It’s true what they say, you learn some new everyday. Thanks for sharing!!

  18. Kara Marks

    I have never been on the Oregon Trail–your writing all these things make me curious to see it if I ever visit that area. I didn’t know any of those 5 facts–I feel pretty ignorant!

  19. Nancy Shaw

    I was lucky enough to also see the ruts that STILL exist. Because I love to read about early westerns it was a real dream come true!

  20. Deb Forward

    It makes perfect sense that the pioneers of the Oregon Trail would not travel the same route as others before them…now that I am aware of that fact! I also find it intriguing that illnesses were the cause of most deaths. For some reason I always believed that it was accidents.

  21. Sue A.

    “There are several pictures on Google that show several of the trails still showing the ruts from the wheels.”
    This sound so interesting. How do you go about finding these pictures? You’ve piqued my interest. Thanks for sharing the link to the article!

  22. Mary Preston

    Fascinating thank you. Not too surprised by any of the facts. I do imagine that there would have been quite a few deaths by accident too.

  23. Debbie J

    Hi Kate, I was surprised that the wagon wheel ruts were still there, and in the comments on that page, one of the women said the ruts were down into the limestone too! Oh my goodness, it took a special kind of person to endure all that the pioneers had to go thru. (My heart goes out to them, even though it is all in the past.)

  24. Debra Guyette

    Fact 2 and Fact 5 were unknown to me before. I knew about the ruts as we have some in town left over from the Puritans. I did think they followed the same trail. And I never thought about how they knew.

  25. Anne-Denise

    I love this era so much I went to Oregon this past summer to visit Baker City’s interpretive centre. It was great. They have a lot of authentic stuff on display. As you walk the trail inside the is a commentary video playing from room to room based upon an actual settlers diary. They have wagons their to see as well. Also outside they have preserved actual wagon tracts. You may also like to go to the interpretive centre in Oregon city. It has a hands on room where you get to see what goes into the wagons. My wish is to go to Fort Laramie, Independence Rock and Chimney Rock. Major stops along the trail. It is amazing what the settlers went thru to get out west.

  26. Kerri

    Thank you for all the hard work of research. Fact 3 was the most surprising. Now I’m going to look up what a Prairie schooner looks like.

  27. Those were all really interesting facts. I actually already knew about fact #4. (Do you remember the old video game, Oregon Trail, where dying of dysentery was so common?) I didn’t realize you could still see the wheel ruts though. That is really cool.