Because local governments in western frontier towns were often nonexistent or weak, westerners depended on the federal government to protect them and their rights.

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Starting from Atchison, Kansas, the trail descended into Colorado before looping back up to southern Wyoming and rejoining the Oregon Trail at Fort Bridger.

The stage line operated until 1869, when completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad eliminated the need for mail service via stagecoach.

The western half of the trail spanned most of then future states of Idaho and Oregon.

The beginnings of the Oregon Trail were laid by fur trappers and traders from about 1811 to 1840; these early trails were only passable on foot or by horseback.

While explorers and trappers had used portions of the route since the 1820s, the Overland Trail was most heavily used in the 1860s as an alternative route to the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails through central Wyoming.

The Overland Stage Company owned by Ben Holladay famously used the Overland Trail to run mail and passengers to Salt Lake City, Utah, via stagecoaches in the early 1860s.Originating from the name of Christopher Columbus, it was originally used for the 13 colonies and remained the dominant image for the female personification of the United States until the Statue of Liberty displaced it in the 1920s.During the era of manifest destiny, many images were produced of Columbia spreading democracy and other United States values across the western lands.Each year, as more settlers brought wagon trains along the trail, new cutoff routes were discovered that made the route shorter and safer.Improved roads, ferries, and bridges also improved the trip.The Oregon Trail was a 2,000-mile, historic east-west wagon route and emigrant trail that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon and locations in between.