What We Left Behind – A Voice From the Oregon Trail

By Jan Jackson

I live at Eden’s Gate, the famous place at the end of the Oregon Trail. I think a lot about  the hardships people in the 1840s and 1850s suffered just trying to get here. If you don’t know the story, listen to The Trail Band’s portrayal of it. For me, the song “What We left Behind,”by Marv Ross, is the most haunting.

I’ve sat in Trail Band concerts over the years (he wrote the song int 1992 for the sesquicentennial celebration of the Oregon Trail migration) and I listen to the CD in my car. In fact, when my grandson was little, he never wanted to be the one that had to ride with grandma because all she wanted to listen to was The Trail Band.

Of all of the songs (and I love them all), the one that moves me the most is “What We Left Behind.”  I like hearing the women voicing distaste for cooking squirrels along the way and how they liked dancing around the campfire, but “What We Left Behind” is the one that brings me to my knees.

I hope you enjoy hearing this as much as I do (and thank you Marv Ross).

What We Left Behind

©1992 Marv Ross, All rights reserved

A box full of ribbon, a toy soldier’s drum,
And the old chair of Mama’s she rocked in the sun, Oh, the cradle abandoned is still on my mind,
I’m afraid I’m still missing what we left behind.

This table’s too heavy, this mirror’s been cracked, And this old chest of Grandpa’s will just hold us back, Oh, this trail’s lined with pieces from long ago times, I’m afraid I’m still missing what we left behind.

And I’m not afraid of lightning, or the wolf at my door, And I’m not afraid of dying all alone anymore,
But when journeys are over and there’s fruit on the vine, I’m afraid I’ll be missing what we left behind.



Meet the Band


Trail Band’s Oregon Trail teaching guide


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