For most of my life I thought that 200 years ago, people who didn't have ready access to a water well or a spring would use a container to scoop water out of lakes and rivers and just drink the river or lake water right out of the container without treating it. I thought that since there was far less pollution 200 years ago, it was safe for people in the early 19th century to drink river water without treating it. It recently occurred to me that though [man-made] water pollution might not have been a problem 200 years ago, river water probably would not be safe for humans to drink because there would still be a lot of germs, microbes, and/or bacteria in it. I know that people who lived on farms in America 200 years ago would often have wells and would get their drinking water out of wells. But the American pioneers traveled to places where there were no water wells. I know that the pioneers could have obtained safe drinking water from springs, but I think it would be extremely difficult to find a spring. Presumably, the American pioneers could have scooped river/lake water into pots and boiled it over a fire to kill the microbes, but I cannot recall ever reading or hearing about 19th century Americans ever boiling water to kill microbes. How would pioneers on the Oregon trail obtain drinking water that was safe to drink? Would the pioneers on the Oregon trail just scoop water out of a lake or river and drink it without treating it first?