Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales, stories, tall tales, and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called folkloristics. In usage, there is a continuum between folklore and mythology.
American folklore encompasses the folk traditions that have evolved on the North American continent since Europeans arrived in the 16th century. While it contains much in the way of Native American tradition, it should not be confused with the tribal beliefs of any community of native people.
Native American cultures are rich in myths and legends that explain natural phenomena and the relationship between humans and the spirit world. According to Barre Toelken, feathers, beadwork, dance steps and music, the events in a story, the shape of a dwelling, or items of traditional food can be viewed as icons of cultural meaning.
Native American cultures are numerous and diverse. Though some neighboring cultures hold similar beliefs, others can be quite different from one another. The most common myths are the creation myths, that tell a story to explain how the earth was formed, and where humans and other beings came from. Others may include explanations about the sun, moon, constellations, specific animals, seasons, and weather. This is one of the ways that many tribes have kept, and continue to keep, their cultures alive; these stories are not told simply for entertainment, but as a way of preserving and transmitting the nation, tribe or band's particular beliefs, history, customs, spirituality and traditional way of life. "[S]tories not only entertain but also embody Native behavioral and ethical values."
There are many different kinds of stories. Some are called "hero stories"; these are stories of people who lived at one time, and who were immortalized and remembered through these tales. There are "trickster stories", about the different trickster figures of the tribes, spirits who may be either helpful or dangerous, depending on the situation. There are also tales that are simply warnings; they warn against doing something that may harm in some way. Many of these tales have morals or some form of belief that is being taught. This is how the things were remembered.
The founding of the United States is often surrounded by legends and tall tales. Many stories have developed since the founding long ago to become a part of America's folklore and cultural awareness, and non-Native American folklore especially includes any narrative which has contributed to the shaping of American culture and belief systems. These narratives may be true and may be false or may be a little true and a little false; the veracity of the stories is not a determining factor.
Christopher Columbus, as a hero and symbol to the then immigrants, is an important figure in the pantheon of American myth. His status, not unlike most American icons, is representative not of his own accomplishments, but the self-perception of the society which chose him as a hero. Having effected a separation from England and its cultural icons, America was left without history—or heroes on which to base a shared sense of their social selves. Washington Irving was instrumental in popularizing Columbus. His version of Columbus' life, published in 1829, was more a romance than a biography. The book was very popular, and contributed to an image of the discoverer as a solitary individual who challenged the unknown sea, as triumphant Americans contemplated the dangers and promise of their own wilderness frontier. As a consequence of his vision and audacity, there was now a land free from kings, a vast continent for new beginnings. In the years following the Revolution the poetic device "Columbia" was used as a symbol of both Columbus and America. King's College of New York changed its name in 1792 to Columbia, and the new capitol in Washington was subtitled District of Columbia.
In May 1607, the Susan Constant, the Discovery, and the Godspeed sailed through Chesapeake Bay and thirty miles up the James River settlers built Jamestown, Virginia, England's first permanent colony. Too late in the season to plant crops, many were not accustomed to manual labor. Within a few months, some settlers died of famine and disease. Only thirty-eight made it through their first year in the New World. Captain John Smith, a pirate turned gentleman turned the settlers into foragers and successful traders with the Native Americans, who taught the English how to plant corn and other crops. Smith led expeditions to explore the regions surrounding Jamestown, and it was during one of these that the chief of the Powhatan Native Americans captured Smith. According to an account Smith published in 1624, he was going to be put to death until the chief's daughter, Pocahontas, saved him. From this the legend of Pocahontas sprang forth, becoming part of American folklore, children's books, and movies.
Plymouth Rock is the traditional site of disembarkation of William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620, and an important symbol in American history. There are no contemporary references to the Pilgrims' landing on a rock at Plymouth. The first written reference to the Pilgrims landing on a rock is found 121 years after they landed. The Rock, or one traditionally identified as it, has long been memorialized on the shore of Plymouth Harbor in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The holiday of Thanksgiving is said to have begun with the Pilgrims in 1621. They had come to America to escape religious persecution, but then nearly starved to death. Some friendly Native Americans (including Squanto) helped the Pilgrims survive through the first winter. The perseverance of the Pilgrims is celebrated during the annual Thanksgiving festival.
George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799), the country's first president, is the most preeminent of American historical and folkloric figures, as he he holds the place of "Father of his Country". Apocryphal stories about Washington's childhood include a claim that he skipped a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River at Ferry Farm. Another tale claims that as a young child, Washington chopped down his father's cherry tree. His angry father confronted the young Washington, who proclaimed "I can not tell a lie" and admitted to the transgression, thus illuminating his honesty. Parson Mason Locke Weems mentions the first citation of this legend in his 1806 book, The Life of George Washington: With Curious Anecdotes, Equally Honorable to Himself and Exemplary to His Young Countrymen. This anecdote cannot be independently verified. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) is also known to have spread the story while lecturing, personalizing it by adding "I have a higher and greater standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie but I won't."
Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was an attorney, planter and politician who became known as an orator during the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. Patrick Henry is best known for the speech he made in the House of Burgesses on March 23, 1775, in Saint John's Church in Richmond, Virginia. With the House undecided on whether to mobilize for military action against the encroaching British military force, Henry argued in favor of mobilization. Forty-two years later, Henry's first biographer, William Wirt, working from oral histories, tried to reconstruct what Henry said. According to Wirt, Henry ended his speech with words that have since become immortalized: "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" The crowd, by Wirt's account, jumped up and shouted "To Arms! To Arms!". For 160 years Wirt's account was taken at face value. In the 1970s, historians began to question the authenticity of Wirt's reconstruction.
Betsy Ross (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836) is widely credited with making the first American flag. There is, however, no credible historical evidence that the story is true. Research conducted by the National Museum of American History notes that the story of Betsy Ross making the first American flag for General George Washington entered into American consciousness about the time of the 1876 centennial celebrations. In the 2008 book The Star-Spangled Banner: The Making of an American Icon, Smithsonian experts point out that accounts of the event appealed to Americans eager for stories about the revolution and its heroes and heroines. Betsy Ross was promoted as a patriotic role model for young girls and a symbol of women's contributions to American history.
The tall tale is a fundamental element of American folk literature. The tall tale's origins are seen in the bragging contests that often occurred when men of the American frontier gathered. A tall tale is a story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual. Some such stories are exaggerations of actual events; others are completely fictional tales set in a familiar setting, such as the American Old West, or the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. They are usually humorous or good-natured. The line between myth and tall tale is distinguished primarily by age; many myths exaggerate the exploits of their heroes, but in tall tales the exaggeration looms large, to the extent of becoming the whole of the story.
Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, or simply "Santa", is a figure with legendary, mythical, historical and folkloric origins. The modern figure of Santa Claus was derived from the Dutch figure, Sinterklaas, which may, in turn, have its origins in the hagiographical tales concerning the Christian Saint Nicholas. "A Visit from St. Nicholas", also known as "The Night Before Christmas" is a poem first published anonymously in 1823 and generally attributed to Clement Clarke Moore. The poem, which has been called "arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American", is largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, as well as the tradition that he brings toys to children. The poem has influenced ideas about St. Nicholas and Santa Claus from the United States to the rest of the English-speaking world and beyond. Is There a Santa Claus? was the title of an editorial appearing in the September 21, 1897, edition of The (New York) Sun. The editorial, which included the famous reply "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus", has become a part of popular Christmas folklore in the United States and Canada.
The Headless Horseman is a fictional character from the short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by American author Washington Irving. The story, from Irving's collection of short stories entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, has worked itself into known American folklore/legend through literature and film.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the 1902 stage play and the well-known adaptation 1939 film version, starring Judy Garland. The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy Gale in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a tornado. Thanks in part to the 1939 MGM movie, it is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture.
Native Americans were the earliest inhabitants of the land that is today known as the United States and played its first music. Beginning in the 17th century, immigrants from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Germany and France began arriving in large numbers, bringing with them new styles and instruments. African slaves brought musical traditions, and each subsequent wave of immigrants contributes to a melting pot. Folk music includes both traditional music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th century folk revival. The term originated in the 19th century but is often applied to music that is older than that.
Earliest American scholars were with The American Folklore Society (AFS), which emerged in the late 1800s. Their studies expanded to include Native American music, but still treated folk music as a historical item preserved in isolated societies. In North America, during the 1930s and 1940s, the Library of Congress worked through the offices of traditional music collectors Robert Winslow Gordon, Alan Lomax and others to capture as much North American field material as possible. Lomax was the first prominent scholar to study distinctly American folk music such as that of cowboys and southern blacks. His first major published work was in 1911, Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, and was arguably the most prominent US folk music scholar of his time, notably during the beginnings of the folk music revival in the 1930s and early 1940s.
The American folk music revival was a phenomenon in the United States that began during the 1940s and peaked in popularity in the mid-1960s. Its roots went earlier, and performers like Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, and Oscar Brand had enjoyed a limited general popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. The revival brought forward musical styles that had, in earlier times, contributed to the development of country & western, jazz, and rock and roll music.
Slavery was introduced to the British colonies in the early 17th century. The ancestors of today's African-American population were brought from hundreds of tribes across West Africa, and brought with them certain traits of West African music including call and response vocals and complex rhythmic music, as well as syncopated beats and shifting accents. The African musical focus on rhythmic singing and dancing was brought to the New World, where it became part of a distinct folk culture that helped Africans "retain continuity with their past through music". The first slaves in the United States sang work songs, and field hollers.
Protestant hymns written mostly by New England preachers became a feature of camp meetings held among devout Christians across the South. When blacks began singing adapted versions of these hymns, they were called Negro spirituals. It was from these roots, of spiritual songs, work songs and field hollers, that blues, jazz and gospel developed. Negro spirituals were primarily expressions of religious faith.
The Thirteen Colonies of the original United States were all former British possessions, and Anglo culture became a major foundation for American folk and popular music. Many American folk songs are identical to British songs in arrangements, but with new lyrics, often as parodies of the original material. Anglo-American traditional music also includes a variety of broadside ballads, humorous stories and tall tales, and disaster songs regarding mining, shipwrecks and murder.
Work songs sung by sailors between the 18th and 20th centuries are known as sea shanties. The shanty was a distinct type of work song, developed especially in American-style merchant vessels that had come to prominence in decades prior to the American Civil War. These songs were typically performed while adjusting the rigging, raising anchor, and other tasks where men would need to pull in rhythm. These songs usually have a very punctuated rhythm precisely for this reason, along with a call-and-answer format. Well before the 19th century, sea songs were common on rowing vessels. Such songs were also very rhythmic in order to keep the rowers together.
They were notably influenced by songs of African Americans, such as those sung whilst manually loading vessels with cotton in ports of the southern United States. The work contexts in which African-Americans sang songs comparable to shanties included: boat-rowing on rivers of the south-eastern U.S. and Caribbean; the work of stokers or "firemen", who cast wood into the furnaces of steamboats plying great American rivers;and stevedoring on the U.S. eastern seaboard, the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean—including "cotton-screwing": the loading of ships with cotton in ports of the American South. During the first half of the 19th century, some of the songs African Americans sang also began to appear in use for shipboard tasks, i.e. as shanties.
Shanty repertoire borrowed from the contemporary popular music enjoyed by sailors, including minstrel music, popular marches, and land-based folk songs, which were adapted to suit musical forms matching the various labor tasks required to operate a sailing ship. Such tasks, which usually required a coordinated group effort in either a pulling or pushing action, included weighing anchor and setting sail.
The Shakers is a religious sect founded in 18th-century England upon the teachings of Ann Lee. Shakers today are most known for their cultural contributions (especially style of music and furniture). The Shakers composed thousands of songs, and also created many dances; both were an important part of the Shaker worship services. In Shaker society, a spiritual "gift" could also be a musical revelation, and they considered it important to record musical inspirations as they occurred. "Simple Gifts" was composed by Elder Joseph Brackett and originated in the Alfred Shaker community in Maine in 1848. Aaron Copland's iconic 1944 ballet score Appalachian Spring, uses the now famous Shaker tune "Simple Gifts" as the basis of its finale.
Folk dances of British origin include the square dance, descended from the quadrille, combined with the American innovation of a caller instructing the dancers. The religious communal society known as the Shakers emigrated from England during the 18th century and developed their own folk dance style.
Other locations and landmarks that have become part of American folklore include: Independence Hall, Monument Valley, Ellis Island, Hoover Dam, Pearl Harbor, the Vietnam War Memorial, and the Grand Canyon.
Historical events that form a part of American folklore include: 9/11, Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's Ride, the Battle of the Alamo, the Salem witch trials, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, California Gold Rush, Battle of the Little Bighorn, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the Attack on Pearl Harbor.
The axehandle hound (sometimes spelled as axhandle hound, ax-handle hound, or similar), is an American fearsome critter of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Overall, it resembles a dog with a roughly axe-like shape. It has a head shaped like an axe blade hence the name, complemented by a handle-shaped body atop short stubby legs. It subsists on a diet consisting entirely on the handles of axes which have been left unattended. A nocturnal creature, the axehandle hound travels from camp to camp searching for its next meal. In Minnesota, there is a canoe-access campground named Ax-Handle Hound after the folklore creature. It can be found on the Little Fork River near Voyageurs National Park and very near the town of Linden Grove.Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid (born Henry McCarty September 17 or November 23, 1859 – July 14, 1881, also known as William H. Bonney) was an American Old West outlaw and gunfighter who killed eight men before he was shot and killed at age 21. He took part in New Mexico's Lincoln County War, during which he allegedly committed three murders.
McCarty was orphaned at age 14. The owner of a boarding house gave him a room in exchange for work. His first arrest was for stealing food at age 16 in late 1875. Ten days later, he robbed a Chinese laundry and was arrested, but he escaped only two days later. He tried to stay with his stepfather, and then fled from New Mexico Territory into neighboring Arizona Territory, making him both an outlaw and a federal fugitive. In 1877, McCarty began to refer to himself as "William H. Bonney".After murdering a blacksmith during an altercation in August 1877, Bonney became a wanted man in Arizona Territory and returned to New Mexico, where he joined a group of cattle rustlers. He became a well-known figure in the region when he joined the Regulators and took part in the Lincoln County War. In April 1878, the Regulators killed three men, including Lincoln County Sheriff William J. Brady and one of his deputies. Bonney and two other Regulators were later charged with killing all three men.
Bonney's notoriety grew in December 1880 when the Las Vegas Gazette in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and The Sun in New York City carried stories about his crimes. Sheriff Pat Garrett captured Bonney later that month. In April 1881, Bonney was tried and convicted of the murder of Brady, and was sentenced to hang in May of that year. He escaped from jail on April 28, 1881, killing two sheriff's deputies in the process and evading capture for more than two months. Garrett shot and killed Bonney—aged 21—in Fort Sumner on July 14, 1881. During the following decades, legends that Bonney had survived that night grew, and a number of men claimed to be him.Cochrane's Craft
Cochrane’s Craft, which is also known as Cochranianism, is a tradition of traditional witchcraft founded in 1951 by the English witch Robert Cochrane, who himself claimed to have been taught it by some of his elderly family members, a claim that is disputed by some historians such as Ronald Hutton and Leo Ruickbie.
Cochranianism revolved around the veneration of the Horned God and the Mother Goddess, alongside seven deities which are viewed as children of the God and Goddess. Cochranian Witchcraft has several features that separate it from other traditions such as Gardnerian Wicca, such as its emphasis on mysticism and philosophy, and Cochrane's attitude that it was not pagan, but only based upon paganism.Culture of the United States
The culture of the United States of America is primarily of Western culture (European) origin and form, but is influenced by a multicultural ethos that includes African, Native American, Asian, Polynesian, and Latin American people and their cultures. It also has its own social and cultural characteristics, such as dialect, music, arts, social habits, cuisine, and folklore. The United States of America is an ethnically and racially diverse country as a result of large-scale migration from many countries throughout its history. Many American cultural elements, especially from popular culture, have spread across the globe through modern mass media.Jack of Fables
Jack of Fables is a spin-off comic book series of Fables written by Bill Willingham and Lilah Sturges (credited as "Matthew Sturges") and published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint. The story focuses on the adventures of Jack Horner, a supporting character in the main series, that takes place after his exile from Fabletown in the story-arc Jack Be Nimble. The idea for the spin-off comic came after editor Shelly Bond suggested to put Jack in a separate comic when Willingham planned to write him out of the series.
While Jack of Fables focused on the eponymous Jack Horner, the spin-off also allowed Willingham and Sturges to expand upon the Fables Universe by adding new characters, settings, and anthropomorphic personifications of philosophical and literary ideas in the series. A preview of its first issue was shown in Fables #50, and the series itself debuted in July 2006. It ran for 50 issues from July 2006 to March 2011, and received positive reception from critics and fans alike during its release, though over time would be criticized because of the main character's abhorrent sociopathy. In 2007, it was nominated for numerous Eisner Awards and won Best Lettering for Todd Klein and Best Cover Artist for James Jean. The series has since been collected in both trade paperback and deluxe edition hardcovers.List of culture heroes
A culture hero is a mythological hero specific to some group (cultural, ethnic, religious, etc.) who changes the world through invention or discovery. A typical culture hero might be credited as the discoverer of fire, or agriculture, songs, tradition, law or religion, and is usually the most important legendary figure of a people, sometimes as the founder of its ruling dynasty.Lost Nigger Gold Mine
The Lost Nigger Gold Mine is a legendary mine in the folklore of the United States. According to the legend, in 1887 four brothers in Dryden, Texas—Frank, Jim, John, and Lee Reagan—hired an illiterate Seminole man named William Kelly to help with work on their ranch. Kelly was known as "Nigger Bill" (nigger being a term for a multiracial person in the slang of the Big Bend region) and has been identified as a cook and also as a horse wrangler; at the time of his employment by the Reagans, he was only 14. While working on the ranch, Kelly announced that he had discovered a gold mine, and was "greeted only with jeers". The next day he again tried to tell the Reagans about the mine, even going so far as to show them a lump of gold ore, but received a "cussing out" for his trouble.After this rejection, Kelly went to San Antonio, where he knew a white assayer, and asked him to analyze the ore. Stories then conflict: One account states that he returned to Dryden, where the Reagans received a letter addressed to him that confirmed the gold was immensely valuable, and then killed him and dumped his body in the Rio Grande. The other states that, shortly after returning, he "borrowed" a horse and fled. Whatever the case, the Reagans dedicated their lives to attempting to find the mine; one report from 1930 claims that the three Reagans alive at that point had still not given up on their search. As well as the Reagans, many other expeditions set out in search of the mine; the legend has it that, while some explorers did discover it, they always died before they could make a profit or pass on the information.One of the more serious searches was instigated by William Broderick Cloete, a British mine owner who believed in the story so completely that he offered Lock Campbell, a Texan man, expenses of $10,000 if he would undertake an expedition to find it. On July 19, 1899, Campbell and four other men signed an agreement to search for it, and one of the men later claimed to have discovered it in the Ladrones Mountains in New Mexico, but this was never verified. In 1909, an Oklahoman named Wattenberg traveled to Alpine, Texas, with a map that he claimed showed the mine to be in Mexico itself; a pioneer named John Young went so far as to enter into partnership with Wattenberg and secure a mining permit from Porfirio Díaz, only to spend years fruitlessly trying to find it. These failures have led to debates as to what happened to the mine. Young himself believed that it had been deliberately hidden by prospectors following Kelly; another theory is that the gold was not actually gold ore, but instead pieces of refined gold left by the Spanish. A third theory is that the gold was dropped by a group of Mexicans fleeing the rurales, who were forced to abandon it because it was slowing them down. Another is that, as the gold mine was allegedly in a canyon, gravel could have washed down and hidden it from view.The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid
The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid is a biography and first-hand account written by Pat Garrett, sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico, in collaboration with a ghostwriter, Marshall Ashmun "Ash" Upson. During the summer of 1881 in a small New Mexican village, Garrett shot and killed the notorious outlaw, William H. Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. Due to the first publisher's inability to widely distribute this book beginning in 1882, it sold relatively few copies during Garrett's lifetime. By the time the fifth publisher purchased the copyright in 1954, this book had become a major reference for historians who have studied the Kid's brief life. The promotion and distribution of the fifth version of this book to libraries in the United States and Europe sent it into a sixth printing in 1965, and by 1976 it had reached its tenth printing. For a generation after Sheriff Garrett shot the Kid, his account was considered to be factual; however, historians have since found in this book many embellishments and inconsistencies with other accounts of the life of Billy the Kid.The Hook
The Hook, The Hookman or Man Door Hand Hook Car Door is an urban legend about a killer with a hook for a hand attacking a couple in a parked car. The story is thought to date from at least the mid-1950s, and gained significant attention when it was reprinted in the advice column Dear Abby in 1960. It has since become a morality archetype in popular culture, and has been referenced in various horror films.Western United States
The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. As European settlement in the U.S. expanded westward through the centuries, the meaning of the term the West changed. Before about 1800, the crest of the Appalachian Mountains was seen as the western frontier. The frontier moved westward and eventually the lands west of the Mississippi River were considered the West.The U.S. Census Bureau's definition of the 13 westernmost states includes the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin to the West Coast, and the outlying states, Alaska and Hawaii.
The West contains several major biomes, including arid and semi-arid plateaus and plains, particularly in the American Southwest; forested mountains, including two major ranges, the American Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains; the massive coastal shoreline of the American Pacific Coast; and the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.Westward Expansion Trails
In the American Old West, overland trails were popular means of travel used by pioneers and immigrants throughout the 19th century and especially between 1830 and 1870 as an alternative to sea and railroad transport. These immigrants began to settle various regions of North America west of the Great Plains as part of the mass overland migrations of the mid-19th century. Settlers emigrating from the eastern United States were spurred by various motives, among them religious persecution, economic incentives, some people say that the interior to destinations in the far west, including the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail. After the end of the Mexican–American War in 1849, vast new American conquests again enticed mass immigration. Legislation like the Donation Land Claim Act and significant events like the California Gold Rush further lured people to travel overland to the west.
Two major wagon-based transportation networks, one typically starting in Missouri and the other in the Mexican province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México, served the majority of migrants during the era of Westward expansion. Three of the Missouri-based routes—the Oregon, Mormon, and California Trails—were collectively known as the Emigrant Trails. Historians have estimated at least 500,000 emigrants used these three trails between 1843 and 1869, and despite growing competition from transcontinental railroads, some use even continued into the early 20th century. The major southern routes were the Santa Fe Trail, the Southern Emigrant Trail, and the Old Spanish Trail, as well as its wagon road successor the Mormon Road, a southern spur of the California Trail used in the winter that also made use of the western half of the Old Spanish Trail. Regardless of the trail used, the journey was often slow and arduous, fraught with risks from infectious diseases, dehydration, malnutrition, injury, and harsh weather, with as many as one in ten travelers dying along the way, usually as a result of disease.
The history of these trails and the pioneers who traveled them have since become deeply embedded in the culture and folklore of the United States as some of the most significant influences to shape the content and character of the nation. The remains of many trail ruts can still be observed in various locations throughout the American West. Travelers may loosely follow various routes of the emigrant trails on modern highways through the use of byway signs across the western states.
United States articles
American folklore and tall tales
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