In the footsteps of the Oregon Trail pioneers

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You can tell your kids how easy they have it, and maybe they'll listen for awhile. But to prove how simple it is to wash dishes or clothes in the 21st century, try showing them how pioneer children did it as they crossed the United States in the westward migration.

Before doing the dishes, they had to find water and heat it up on a fire. Washing clothes often meant handling caustic lye soap. Kids crossing the continent in the mid-19th century often had roles and responsibilities that were critical to the family's survival, said Larry Jones, a retired Idaho state historian who has written extensively about the Oregon Trail.

"They were pretty tough little kids," said Jones. "Many walked the entire 2,000 miles barefoot."...

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