Barlow Road

Barlow Road

11-13 yrs old

14-18 yrs old

Digital Literacy


Government and Politics

Students will learn about the dangers of the Columbia River and Pioneer Sam Barlow who forged a new path ahead.

avatar Submitted By: Minecraft Education

September 17, 2017

Learning Objectives

  • Students will learn about the dangers of the Columbia River and about Sam Barlow who decided to create a new trail.

Guiding Ideas

Students will assume the role of Sam Barlow, and decide whether they should choose the dangers of traveling on the Columbia River or the dangers of creating an alternate path known as Barlow Road. They will include specifics to support their choice. Half the class should debate in favor of travelling along the river, the others should lobby for creating Barlow Road.

Student Activities

Rapids or wilderness?  Which would you choose? When emigrants on The Oregon Trail reached the Dalles, they faced the Columbia River.  The town would be crowded with wagons waiting for passage across the river.  Travelers had to choose – go down the dangerous river on a raft they built, pay a barge operator an expensive toll to take their wagon down the river while they walked, or forge a new path.  What would you do?  Research the hazards of the Columbia River and Sam Barlow’s decision to create a new path for travelers.  Teams will then debate which choice was better.

Performance Expectations

  • Use the rubric included in the external reference link to assess student's reasoning skills in the class debate.