Fremont’s First Expedition

“As a stunt to demonstrate the absolute safety of the Oregon Trail, Benton conceived the idea of sending his twelve-year-old son as far as the Continental Divide, with Frémont to write the publicity. To carry out this scheme at government expense, he pushed through Congress an appropriation for ‘mapping the Oregon Trail to the western boundary of the United States,’ then had Frémont assigned to the task.

There was, of course, little reason for mapping the Oregon Trail, since there were no turnoffs and a  blind man could have followed the deep wagon ruts. But Frémont arrived in St. Louis in the spring of 1842 with a German topographer and enough scientific and navigational instruments for an exploration of the North Pole.”