Death on the Oregon Trail

Rest in Peace

The Oregon Trail is dead. At least on Facebook. Otherwise, I would be playing it now. Luckily, I didn’t even know it was there until the last two weeks of its existence, which led to a frenzy of activity because I wanted to get to Oregon at least once before the game disappeared.

I have a longstanding rule about not playing Facebook games. No Farmville, no Frontierville, no anythingville. I mean, how many virtual cows do you really need? But right after Christmas when I was too sick to do anything more strenuous than click Facebook links, I discovered that The Oregon Trail was testing a Facebook version.

I had to try it.

Back in the day, I loved The Oregon Trail. For those who have never played it, the premise is basically this. Take a wagon train from Independence, MO to Oregon City, Oregon without dying. It’s not as easy as it sounds. I probably died twice as many times as I actually got to Oregon, but each trip you learned something. You learned to take a little extra flour or pack an additional snakebite kit. You learned to leave in March instead of May. You learned dysentery isn’t as funny as it sounds. Mostly, you learned that being a pioneer was pretty serious business.

The Facebook version had a neat twist. Your party is made up of your Facebook friends. You don’t actually have to tell your friends that you are putting them in your party.

That way you don’t have to tell them that they died of cholera farther along the way.

So I buy my supplies, I get my wagon party together and we start off across country. Dana drowns at the first river crossing. Brian can’t stop getting bitten by snakes. Mark keeps falling out of the wagon.

I should have chosen better friends.

Meanwhile, winter is approaching. On Dec. 22 (game time), you are done, through, kaput. We had left a little too late and so we are only halfway to Oregon when we are told that Winter Has Arrived. I’m given two choices. Go Back to Independence or pay 5 Trail Bucks to turn back time.

Turn back time? Seriously?

Guess the Donner Party was all out of Trail Bucks.

I choose Go Back to Independence.

Which is apparently a euphemism for dying on the trail because the next screen is my tombstone.

Now I’m determined that I’m going to beat this game without the use of Trail Bucks, the deus ex machina of the new Oregon Trail. Bitten by snake? Trail Bucks make a doctor magically appear. River too wide to ford? Trail Bucks provide a ferry. The ultimate was when Brian died of cholera 81 miles outside of Oregon City.

For 5 Trail Bucks, you can raise the dead.


(Brian is still mad that I didn’t raise him from the dead, by the way. But I didn’t have any Trail Bucks even if I had wanted to break my own code and dabble in the Dark Arts.)

Don’t get me wrong. I had a blast trekking across country, picking up gold nuggets and trying to keep my friends from shooting themselves in the face. I just missed the realistic edge of the original version where you actually could starve to death if your shooting skills weren’t up to par.

I made it to Oregon City. Twice. The second time it was a rush to finish before Facebook took the game down.

I doubt any number of Trail Bucks will bring it back.