Mileposts Along the Oregon Trail

Compiled by Prof. Jim Tompkins

Disclaimer:  Prof. Jim Tompkins has compiled the following information for classes he has taught.  He has kindly contributed them for general use.  This information has been gathered from a variety of sources and, while it is free to use, copyright infringements may make it unsuitable for commercial purposes.


Mile 1521.3 Lytle Pass Keeney Pass

John C. Frémont, October 11, 1843 - “...we reached the foot of a rudge, where the road entered a dry sandy hollow [Cow Hollow], up which it continued to the head; and, crosing a dividing ridge, entered a similar one.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, September 24-25, 1847 - “layed by to dry our things which got wet crossing the river Mr Kimbles oldest son died of tipus fever. Sept 25 buried corpse proceeded on our journey”


John Tully Kerns, 1852 - “Had an unusual allowance of dust to the mile today, but got the most of it off before night.... The girls have as dirty faces as anybody.... Thanks be to the rewarder of troubles, 460 miles more will get us dirty-faced boys and girls out of this dirty faced kingdom.”


Mile 1526.8 John D. Henderson Grave

Bronze Plaque - “Pioneer Grave of John D. Henderson. Died of Thirst, August 9, 1852, Unaware of Nearness of the Malheur River. Leaving Independence, Missouri, in May 1852, Mr. Henderson and Companion Name Unknown, Had Completed Only Part of the Journey When Their Team Died. They Were Compelled to Continue on Foot Carrying Their Few Possessions. The Twenty Miles of Desert Separating the Snake and Malheur Rivers Proved too Great a Struggle

for the Weary Travelers.” [Henderson’s name and date inscribed on rock below plaque.]


Mile 1527.0 Malheur River Crossing

John C. Frémont, October 11, 1843 - “...about sunset we reached the Riviére aux Malheurs, (the unfortunate or unlucky river) ... named ... by Peter Skene Ogden ... in 1825-26 ... because property hidden there by employees ... was stolen.”


Samuel Parker, August 23-24, 1845 - “To Malhure Creek. 24 - Took Meeks cut-off.” Betsey Bayley, 1845 - “We had splendid times until we took what is called ‘Meek’s cut off’ You have no doubt heard of the terrible suffering the people endured on that road.”


E.S. McComas, Sept 12, 1862 - “Crossed the Malhue ... through an alkali valley which might properly be termed Carron Valley from the great number of dead cattle which are here ... it looks slightly like freezing to death, verry much like being blowed away in a hurricane and a good prospect of being killed by Indians to say nothing of dieing for want of tobacco. Through all these fiery ordeals we expect to come out all O.K.”


Mile 1527.1 Meek-Elliott Cutoff Junction

Lucy Jane Hall (Burnett), 1845 - “One say, after three weeks’ travel on our new route, our guide [Stephen Meek] suddenly and excitedly exclaimed, ‘My God, we are lost.’ Alarmed, but not dismayed, we moved on till night. There was neither grass nor water to be found. All night the men sat by the dim camp fires listening for reports from those who had gone in search of water. If any was found a signal of three shots was to be fired in quick succession; if not three shots at

intervals. At sunrise no sound had been heard. The train was soon moving on through sage brush and across dry creek beds which mocked our thirst. So we journeyed till noon, when hark! a shot, but not the three in quick succession, but at intervals; like a death knell they sounded. The men stood in groups talking over the situation, the mothers, pale and haggard, sat in the wagons with their little ones around them. With a determination that knows not defeat the party moved on. About

night in quick succession shots were heard, which proclaimed that water had been found. All pushed forward with renewed energy. When in sight of the water the thirsty oxen broke into a run and rushed into the water and drank until they had to be driven out. ‘We are saved, we are saved! Thank God!’ cried Stephen Meek, ‘for now I know the way.’ He could locate the trail to The Dalles from this stream. Men, women and children were laughing and crying in turn.” We were lost in the mountains six weeks. The way was rough beyound description. The women and children walked most of the way. ... A white man and two Indians were at once sent in search of our company. When found we people were on the verge of starvation. But for the provisions brought by the scouts many, if not all, would have perished....”


Benjamin Franklin Owen, Sept 1, 3, 10, 1853 - “We left our first camp on the Malheur River, with additional Company, (The Drury family among others) and traveled up the Malheur on the old Meak Trail....Bond turned his wagon over in the Malheur River, & his wife being [in] the Wagon was thoroughly drenched with water & when we cattle drivers overtook the wagons, she was standing up on the River bank as if to catch a gleam of Sunshine for the water was cold. Mrs. Bond, was not in the least discouraged, But being naturally of a jolly turn, could see more fun, & joke in her mishap than anybody else could.......overtook Mr. Elliot's Train, & Camped near it. Here we found Robert, Tandy. Who was anxious to join with us to go in Advance of the Trains, to the Willamette Valley, to Send out provisions for the relief of those Who had but little left. Before we left our Train. We had heard that there was Such a man traveling with Mr. Elliot's folks. So he was the man we were looking for, as we had already desided upon a trip of that Kind ourselves. So finding him anxious for the

adventure.”  [The Elliott Party was the first to cross the Central Cascades, completing the failed effort of Stephen Meek in 1845. The new road became known as the Meek-Elliott Trail or New Emigrant Road.]


Agnes Stewart, Sept 8-9, 1853 - “We parted our company yesterday, the Stevensons and Buckenhams taking the old road, and the Loves and Stewarts taking the new road going south from the old one. Some say it is much nearer, and some say not. We will soon find out ... Camped beside the river, and cooked and ate under the willows. It was a beautiful spot, to me at least. Pack up and go again like a band of gypsies. ...up the Malheur, passed several bluffs and forded the river six

times. Lost father and found him again.”


Mile 1527.3 Malheur Hot Springs

Osborne Cross, Sept 2, 1849 - “...visited the hot springs at Malheur River this morning ...was 196 degrees ... ground around this spring was extremely warm ... heat could be plainly felt through the boot....”


Mile 1551.6 Farewell Bend Construction of the Hells Canyon Dam has silenced the rapids. Construction of the interstate freeway here uncovered the grave of a man, woman and two children buried in a wagon box. The site, one quarter mile south of the current Farewell Bend State Park interchange, was almost exactly in the center of the southbound lanes. They were reburied within the angle created by the two forks of the west side frontage road and marked by a plain concrete post.


John C. Frémont, October 12, 1843 - “...we descended to the Snake River - here a finelooking stream, with a large body of water and a smooth current; although we hear it roar, and see below us the commencement of rapids where it enters among the hills [Hell’s Canyon].”


James Clyman, September 22, 1844 - “...the entire country covered with sage which for some cause or other is nearly all dead ... encamped on Snake River which here comes out of a rough looking mountain to the east & makeing a Short curve goes off into mountains again to the North our camp is verry poor for grass ... this evening we raised our bread with saleratus picked up a few miles east of independence rock on sweet water....”


David or John Dinwiddie, Aug 19, 1853 - “ the river turns to the right, and we bid farewell to Snake River, as we see it no more....”


Basil Nelson Longsworth, Aug 27, 1853 - “Here we passed a man who was lying at the point of death. He had been opening an ox that had died of mortification and had received a portion of the same in a sore on his hand, which mortified and produced sudden death. We were informed that he died a few hours after we left.”


Mile 1560.0 Burnt River

Edward Henry Lenox, 1843 - “The trail here led down a steep hill. I stopped on the brink and looked down, and asked anxiously, ‘Have we to go down that awful place?’ ‘Yes,’ said father, ‘there is no other way, son.’ Other drivers said, ‘Take off three yoke Eddie.’ ‘Well, I must prospect the bottom first,’ I replied. We had to turn square up stream. The water was deep and swift; I went back and said: ‘Now I will rough-lock both hind wheels, and then six men stand on it and I will try it.’ The plan worked finely. At the water’s edge I turned the leaders up stream, making the short turn all right. The next teamster’s wagon upset in the swift water with Mrs. Athey. She was pulled out from underneath the wagon with nothing worse than a soaking.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, September 28-October 2, 1847 - “... crossed burnt river 6 times we are all the time on a hill or in a hollow camped on burnt river with mountains on every side. Sept 29 ... camped on Burnt river dry grass and willows. Oct 1 woman of our company died as we were travling a long she had been sick some time. ... Oct 2 buried the corpse”


John Tully Kerns, 1852 - “Only traveled ten miles, over the roughest roads we have yet encountered on the journey, being up and down the sideling mountains, into the brush and across the creek every 200 or 300 yards, and over places enough to hide all despairing sinners.”


Abigail Jane Scott, Aug 25-28, 1852 - “Father is quite sick & has been unable to to walk for the last two days, Our dear little ‘Willie’ is not expected to live 12 hours as he evidently has the ‘Cholera Infantum’ or Dropsy in the brain the Doctor tells us it is in vain to administer any medicine as he must surely die this to us is heart rending, but gods ‘ways are not our ways neither is his thots our thoughts’! O! may we bow with submission to his will one of our young men is also verry ill with the prevailing disease of the country ‘diaree’ ... Two months and seven days this moring since our beloved mother was called to bid this world adieu, and the ruthless monster death not yet content has once more entered our fold & taken In his icy grip the treasure of our hearts! ... A beautiful cedar waves its wide spread branches [over] his tomb, and here beneath its shade I have wandered in remote seclusion to be alone with Wille and his God and while I reflect that he is now

beyond the reach of mortal suffering, in my heart I praise the Lord, who gave and who has taken away;”


Harriet Scott, August 1852 - “On and on we journeyed -- averaging 15 miles a day over cactus, sagebrush, hot sand. Everybody's shoes gave out and we bartered with Indians for moccasins, but that didn't help much about the prickly pears. One by one the oxen fell by the way. We came to Burnt River -- a most desolate country. Here our baby brother Willie fell sick. It was in the heat of August. The train was halted, that the darling child of 4 years could be better cared for,

but he became unconscious and passed away. The soil here was thin and full of rocks. My poor father, broken-hearted, had the men cut a cavity out of the solid rock jutting out of Burnt River Mountain, and here the little form was sealed beside where the only living thing was --- a little juniper tree. My brother Harvey found it, twenty years later, and he peeled some of the bark off of the juniper tree and brought it back to my father. My father had carved Willie's name on the tree.”


Agnes Stewart, Sept 10, 1853 - “Nothing but hills and hollows and rocks. Oh dear, if we were only in the Willamette Valley or wherever are going, for I am tired of this....”


E.S. McComas, Sept 14, 1862 - “We encamped in the long dreaded Burnt River Canyon near a pile of skulls of a train that were massacreed in ‘52 here.”


Henry R. Herr, Sept 30, 1862 - “Burnt River, Ore. We are now 20 miles from Powder River & 35 miles from the mines. Where we are now camped a large emigrant train was completely butchered by Indians in 1860. Human bones are strewn around the camp ... one man and one woman reached Powder River out of the whole train, they walking the entire



Mile 1603.3 The Lone Pine

Medorem Crawford, 1842 - “The tree is a large pine standing in the midst of an immense plain entirely alone. It presented a truly singular appearance and I believe is respected by every traveler through this almost treeless country.”


James W. Nesmith, September 27, 1843 - “...crossed the divide [Flagstaff Hill] and encamped at the lone pine tree.”


Peter Burnett, September 1843 - “...encamped on the branch of the Powder River at the Lone Pine. This noble tree stood in the center of a most lovely valley about 10 miles distant from any other timber. It could be seen at a distance of many miles. [Later] ...the tree was gone ... had fallen at last by the vandal hands.... Some of our inconsiderate people had cut it down for fuel.”


John C. Frémont, October 15, 1843 - “From the heights [Flagstaff Hill] we had looked in vain for a well-known landmark on the Powder River. ... It may be that the company who cut it felt justified; but, for many years, those who came after mourned its absence and execrated the ‘wretch and vandal’ who had destroyed it.”


John Minto, 1844 - “...supper and breakfast at Lone Pine camp on the bank of Powder River; but some wretch had cut the noble landmark, the pine tree, down.”


Joel Palmer, 1845 - “At our camp we were visited by an Indian chief of the tribe Cayuse, accompanied by his son. He was of a friendly disposition; his object in visiting us was pricipally to barter for cattle; he had in his possession thirty or more horses.”


Mile 1617.5 Powder River Valley

John Tully Kerns, Aug 30, 1852 - “Camped on the Powder creek. This valley is the most handsome that we have seen since leaving Bear river. The valley is several miles wide, covered with a heavy coat of grass. On the west is a high range of mountains, called the Blue Mountains, which are covered with forests of pine, fir, etc. and the whole country abounds with game, such as bear, deer, prairie chickens, etc., besides numbers of wolves, panthers, etc.”


George B. Currey, 1853 - “...there began to be organized what was termed ‘Walkers’ train’ ... young men who had no family connections in the train, would ... push ahead for the end of the journey. ... As we reached the Powder river plain one automn afternoon, the dark billow of the Blue Mountains rolled athwart our pathway and as we stood gazing at its shadowy but formidable hights, from the lofty roll to the left of [Lee’s Encampment], there shot up to the sky a stately

column of smoke; all eyes caught it. I heard some of the women say ‘Signal Fire.’ The men said nothing, but looked, first at the dark ascending pillar of smoke, and then at the groups of women and children. What were their thoughts I never knew. At night extra precaution as to surprise was taken....”


Mile 1633.0 Ladd Canyon Hill

Rev. William H. Gray, September 28, 1836 - “The 28th Sabbath go 14 miles stop to noon at the South West end of the Grand Round this Valley is appropriately named is surrounded on every side with high Mountains to appearance it is about 15 miles in diameter with a beautiful streame running along the East end.... The tops of the Mountains around are also covered with beautiful Pines Spruce and the Fir Balsam making truly a Grand Round.”


James Clyman, September 27, 1844 - “Some Indian as is their habit when they discover Strangers in their country set fire to the grass about a half mile ahaid of us ... when we overtook the fire we had some difficulty in passing it but all got through nearly suffocated with smoke & dust & entered the grand Round valley....”


John C. Frémont, October 17, 1843 - “...the wagons had directly descended into the Rond by the face of the hill so very rocky and continuously steep as to be apparently impracticable....”


James Nesmith, 1843 - “Looney’s wagon turned over this morning, soon after leaving camp.... Snow, that fell the night before last on the mountains, in sight all day.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, October 6, 1847 - “... passed over one difficult stony mountain came down into grand round”


Abigail Jane Scott, Sept 1, 1852 - “...directed our course over plains and bluffs till we reached the brow of a mountains over looking the Grand Round; We then descended this mountain and ascended a ridge which has the longest and most of difficult descent of any hill which we had yet encountered; The dust blow in clouds, hiding the wagons teams and roads entirely from our

view; when a sudden contrary breath of air would clear away the dust for a few moments enabling us for a time to proceed; The rocks so filled the road, that any one who had not begun to "see the elephant" would have been afraid to have attempted the descent; When we came to the base of the mountain we were delighted to find ourselves in ‘Grand Round’; We were all hungry and tired, and hastily preparing our supper, we gladly retired to rest.”


George B. Currey, 1853 - “On the third day from seeing the signal smoke we arrived at the rim of the Grand Ronde valley. Looking down upon this, the most beautiful valley in Oregon, we could see large numbers of Indians riding over the plains. No choice was left us; friendly or warlike, we had to pass through that valley, and down the hill we started.”


Mile 1640.0 Grande Ronde Valley LaGrande

Rev. Joseph Williams, October 9, 1841 - “...we staid on a pleasant plain where beautiful springs come down from the spurs of the Blue Mountains. We staid on the Grand Round, a beautiful plain, about twenty miles long and ten broad. It is well calculated for farming, and is well watered.”


Edward Lenox, 1843 - “...we were joined by Stickas, the promised pilot.... Stickas had with him his wife and two daughters, and at our evening devotions that night the two girls sang some beautiful hymns, and Stickas himself offered a short prayer. Stickas said, ‘Prepare your axes for you will need them tomorrow'.”


John Minto, 1844 - “...we found a number of Indians. All of them were men, except one exceedingly handsome girl. She was dressed in buckskin, highly ornamented, and mounted on a proud and beautiful horse. A fine man, past middle age, was her company - father and daughter they appeared.... We camped that night with the most advanced section of [Richard] Woodcock’s

company, in a deep valley in the Blue Mountains. The Cayuse chief, Sticcus, and his family are with the first teams of 1844 to cross these mountains. The family conducted worship by singing and prayer in the evening and morning.”


Joel Palmer, 1845 - “We were visited by great numbers of Indians, including men, sqaws, and papooses....My old friend Aliquot [perhaps Cayuse Chief Tiloukaikt] generously proffered his services as pilot, which were readily accepted. ... In the evening ... I came near his tent, and . entered ... a conversation had sprung between the old chief and myself, in which he took occasion to ask me if I were a Christian, as also whether there were many upon the road; to which questions I, of course, answered in the affirmative.... On my return to our camp, some one of our party proposed that we should while away an hour or so, in a game at cards.... We had but engaged in our amusement when the old Chief Alequot made his appearance ... and gently taking me by the arm, said ‘Captain - Captain - no good; no good.’ You may guess my astonishment, at being thus lectured by a ‘wild and untutored savage,’ twenty five hundred miles from a civilized land. I inwardly resolved to abandon card playing forever.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, October 6, 1847 - “O if grand round was west of the Cascade mountains how soon it would be taken up it is level and covered with grass and watered with brooks and springs it has a river flowing through ot no timber except on the river but the mountains which surround it are promisquisly covered with pine and fur.”


James D. Miller, 1848 - “At our first camp in the Grande Ronde Valley, there came that evening several cayuse Indians. When they came in sight on their ponies, they displayed a white flag to show that they were friends, but they approached us very slowly. When they came up they made signs of being friendly, and one of them, supposed to be a chief, had a paper with writing onit,

which he handed to my father. The Indian supposed it to be a fine report and recommendation. My father being the captain of our company read the paper aloud, which was as follows: ‘Take notice emigrants, you will have to watch this damned Indian. He will steal anything he can get his hands on.’ This paper was signed by John Dawson, and caused everyone who heard it to laugh, and the Indians laughed also. The chief had to have the paper back to show someone else how good he was.”


Abigail Jane Scott, Sept 3, 1852 - “It is worthy of note that in this place common conversations can be overheard at the distance of one hundred and fifty yards, and the noise of men speaking to cattle in a loud voice sounds loud enough for a savage war whoop, Sounds echo and reverberate from hill to hill, to such a degree that the noise of discharging a rifle is equal to the report of a canon and may be heard a half dozen times reverberating from mountain to mountain.”


George B. Currey, 1853 - “...we soon learned that the Indians we had seen were a large band of Cayuses and Nez Perces, who, following the custom taught them by Dr. Whitman, had come this far out to meet the immigrants, trade with them and protect them from the Snake Indians. Here for the first time in several months we felt safe.... The smoke which had caused so much

apprehension was the Nez Perce signal of aid. It was the firey banner of friendship and succor, sent aloft by these dusky people to proclaim their presence and good will.”


Young Chief, Cayuse, 1855 - “I wonder if the ground has anything to say? I wonder if the ground is listening to what is said? I wonder if the ground would come alive and what is on it? Though I hear what the ground says. The ground says, It is the Great Spirit that placed me here. The Great Spirit tells me to take care of the Indians, to feed them aright. The Great Spirit appointed

the roots to feed the Indians on. The water says the same thing. The Great Spirit directs me, Feed the Indians well. The grass says the same thing, Feed the Indians well. The ground, water and grass say, The Great Spirit has given us our names. We have these names and hold these names. The ground says, The Great Spirit has placed me here to produce all that grows on me, trees and fruit. The same way the ground says, It was from me man was made. The Great Spirit, in placing men on the earth, desired them to take good care of the ground and to do each other no harm.”


Henry R. Herr, Sept 30, 1862 - “...75 log cabins & emigrants with us taking up claims and building houses, 3 stores, beautiful valley 30 miles long.”


Charles Oliver, Nov 1, 1864 - “arrived in the Grand Ronde valley with one yoke of oxen and an almost empty wagon about November 1st, 1864. We thought our troubles were over, but they were hardly begun as we soon found to our sorrow. The first thing to look for was a house or some kind of shelter for the winter and the only thing we could find was a deserted shanty built of cottonwood poles and roofed with poles and sod. The shanty was about 10 x 12 feet and had a dirt floor. It had a large fireplace and a chimney built of stones and mud. The windows were about 10 x 12 inches covered with greased paper for `glass.' There was but one door and it opened o for was a house or some kind of shelter for the winter and the only thing we could find was a deserted shanty built of cottonwood poles and roofed with poles and sod. The shanty was about 10 x 12 feet and

had a dirt floor. It had a large fireplace and a chimney built of stones and mud. The windows were about 10 x 12 inches covered with greased paper for ‘glass.’ There was but one door and it opened outward. Soon after our arrival at the shanty there came a heavy rainstorm and our sod roof, being dry and sun-cracked, leaked like a sieve and the dirt floor was a quagmire. Soon after the rain storm it began to snow and it continued to snow until it was four feet deep on the level. Then there came a windstorm and drifted the snow. The next morning we found that the drifted snow had piled high against the shack and lodged against the door, effectually closing it. It therefore devolved upon father to climb up the chimney and shovel the snow from the door to permit us to get outside. This performance was repeated several times during the ensuing winter.”


Philura Vanderburgh, 1864 - “In the Grande Ronde Valley we tasted our first green vegetables. I went to a strange-looking house beside the road to buy some peas for mother. It was the first sod house I ever saw. A little girl was there, and while her mother was getting the peas ready I talked to her and looked and looked at the queer house with its brown earth walls and roof

and floor. It was all very neat and clean, the inside walls covered as they were with white canvas. I would not have thought a dirt floor could have been so hard and so clean. ‘It is pretty in the spring,’ the little girl said. ‘Then the whole house is covered with bright-green grass. I wish it would stay that way all the time.’ Those vegetables were so good; one would have to take a journey similar to ours to know how good they tasted.  

    Mother's hope that I would start growing and Father's prophecy that she would have to start sewing before we reached Oregon were both fulfilled. My dresses became so short and so tight that some of them I could not wear at all. One day Mother opened a chest and from it took a beautiful piece of orange-and-black-checked gingham. The checks were tiny and so pretty that I was delighted when I learned that I was to have a new dress. She made it evenings, sitting on the ground. We had brought one chair with us for Mother, but only for a short time did she use it. Long after

we reached the new country, when we wanted to rest we sat upon the floor. Clothes were a problem to us traveling. We wore linsey dresses most of the time and I often wore little gingham aprons over mine. The linsey dresses, woven from linen and wool, could hardly be worn out, so they were good for the plains. Keeping them clean was the great problem. Mother's and Carrie's were so long and so wide and so much in the way that I could not understand why they wore that kind.

    There was one party at which everyone looked askance. The women did not wear dresses. Their clothes did look strange and funny, but I could never see why all the women did not wear that kind anyway. They wore long basque-like coats and ankle-length trousers and climbed about as easily as I did in my short dresses. But how they shocked the rest of the train! How the poor women were snubbed!”


Mile 1668.0 Emigrant Springs Blue Mountains These springs are the head of Squaw Creek and are believed to have been discovered by Jason Lee in 1834. Highway construction has disrupted all except one source of water, today within a state park that was dedicated by President Harding, on his final tour of the US before his death in 1923.


John Ball, October 12-14, 1832 - “October 12 - Having nothing to eat [in the Grande Ronde Valley], we killed an old horse, and as hungry as we were, we did not relish it, We vowed if we killed another we would take a young one. The meat of a good horse tastes like venison. ... October 14 - ... Here I noticed in the western horizon something staionary, although it looked like a

cloud in the bright sky. It proved (I afterwards found) the grand and snowy Mount Hood. I called the attention of the men to it. This we hailed as a discovery, and the grandest sight we had yet seen.”


Nineveh Ford, 1843 - “Peter H. Burnett was in favor of stopping and locating there but having no supplies we travelled on for the Blue Mountains cutting our way through the fallen timber. We camped many times in sight of our former night's camp. We found it very laborious and very hard cutting that timber with our dull axes that we had not ground since we left Missouri having no grind stone to grind them & our hands being very tender cutting those dry sticks which shruing the skin loose on our hands. But it was getting late in the season, and it devolved on some 40 persons to make that road. The lazy ones dropped back, not for back, not for the purpose of screening themselves, but to rest their cattle, so they stated, but we imputed it to a thin diffidence in

regard to the work. It devolved on the 40 persevering men to drive the wagons and cut the roads. The women frequently would drive the teams and the men would do the work. ... When we crossed the Grande Rounde River the snow had fallen to a depth of two inches but did not lay long. I think it was in September it was an early snow.”


Jesse Applegate, 1843 - “The timber had to be cut and removed to make way for the wagons. The trees were cut just near enough to the ground to allow the wagons to pass over the stumps and the road through the forest was only cleared out wide enough for a wagon to pass along.... In passing across the mountains we were overtaken by a snow storm which made the

prospect very dismal.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, October 7-10, 1847 - “ascended a mountain a mile and a half long covered with pine and grass ... rolled 5 miles over level land descended the mountain which was steep a[nd] difficult the men havin to stiddy the waggons down while we women carried and led our children camped on a branch of grand round river here the men made tar out of pine here we are surrounded with mountains covered with tall pines. Oct. 8 ascended a steep mountain travled through thick pine woods came to another mountain had to double teems to some wagons they put 9 yoke of oxon all of those mountains has a good soil covered with grass camped without water rained last night. Oct 9 doubled teems up another mountain made 15 miles camped at pine camp good feed and water me and my husband are both sick with the summer complaint. Oct 10 [Sunday] layed by to hunt some lost cattle.”


Mile 1675.0 Cabbage Hill The descent out of the Blues was a dramatic drop over a steep shoulder known as Cabbage Hill. This route began in 1844. The great migration of 1843 used nearby Poker Jim Hill.


Nineveh Ford, 1843 - “In some places the timber was very thick, so that you could not ride a horse through without cutting. After we got on the top of the mountain the timber got lighter and more scattered and we got down the mountain comparatively easy. We got out of the timber when we got pretty nearly down.“We travelled under the guidance of an Indian pilot that Dr.

Whitman had sent back. Wherever he directed us to go there we went, without searching for any other route since they have changed the road in many places. He found us a pretty fair route for getting through. The Indian did not look about much, he was familiar with the ground. He proved to be a faithful Indian. If I recollect right - he was the very Indian that afterwards killed Dr.

Whitman.”[Rev. David Lenox identifies the Indian guide as Chief Stickus - not one of the murderers, in fact Stickus testified in their defense as a friendly Cayuse.]


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, October 12, 1847 - “here our company separated some went to Whitmans Mision to winter and they were masacreed in the jeneral massacree of which I suppose you have al ready heard here my husband bought a beef of the indians it was 18 months old it weighed 400 and 30 pounds he payed them a cow and a calf and a new shirt.”


Mile 1709.6 Whitman Mission Waiilatpu The migrations of 1843 and 1844 went by the mission house of Dr. Marcus Whitman, established in 1836. In 1845-47 only the parties in desperate need took the 200 mile detour, as the lure of the ever nearing Willamette Valley was too strong for most.


Thomas J. Farnham, 1839 - “When the smoking vegetables, the hissing steak, bread as white as snow, and the newly-churned golden butter graced the breakfast table, and the happy countenances of countrymen and countrywomen shone around, I could with difficulty believe myself in a country so far from and so unlike my native land in all its features. But during breakfast the pleasant illusion was dispelled by one of the causes which induced it. Our steak was horseflesh!”


Robert “Doc” Newell, August 5, 1840 - “I concluded to hitch up and try the much dreaded job of bringing a wagon to Oregon [for the first time from Fort Hall]. ...we put out with the wagons, Joseph L. Meek drove my wagon.... In a rather tough and reduced state, we arrived at the Whitman’s Mission station in the Walla Walla Valley, where we were met by that hospitable

man.... On hearing my regret that I had undertaken to bring wagons, the Doctor Whitman said, ‘O,you will never regret it. You have broken the ice and when others see that wagons have passed they too will pass, and in a few years the valley will be full of our people!’ The Doctor shook me heartily by the hand. Mrs. Whitman too welcomed us, and the Indians walked around our wagons, or what they called ‘horse canoes,’ and seemed to give up.”


Rev. Joseph Williams, February 1842 - “There was lately a very serious circumstance took place, with a man named Monger [Congregational missionary Asahel Munger], one of the mechanics of the Presbyterian Mission [recovering from mental instability caused by the trail in 1841], who considered that he was a great prophet; and said that if he were to burn himself to death,

God would raise him up again. To test the truth of what he said, he went into a [blacksmith] shop, by himself, where he made a great fire, and then hauled out the coals, and laid down upon them. His wife being in another part of the house, heard him making a great noise, and ran into the room, and found him struggling in the pangs of death. She, with the help of some others, got him out of the fire. He, then saw his dreadful delusion, and prayed to the Lord to forgive him. He lived three days after this, then expired.”


Mary Richardson Walker, February 4, 1842 - “We are informed of the death of Mr. Munger. He locked himself in his shop, drove two nails through his hand, & then burnt it to a cinder & nearly roasted himself. His hand was amputated, but he survived only a few days.”


Edward Lenox, 1843 - “ father found it necessary to get new oxen, ours were so worn out, so we traded our five oxen for two fresh ones ... working our cows to make out a full team.”


James Nesmith, October 5, 1843 - “...started about noon on the trail for Dr. Whitman’s....” [and camped four miles beyond]


Peter Burnett, October 10, 1843 - “...we arrived within three miles of Doctor Whitman’s Mission....”


John Boardman, Oct 13, 1843 - “Arrived at Doct. Whitman’s after crossing 4 creeks....Many of the emigrants here.... Little provisions at Whitman’s. Some corn at $1.00, potatoes 40¢, beef 6¢....”


Catherine Sager (Pringle), 1844 - “ We reached the station in the forenoon. For weeks this place had been subject for our talk by day and formed our dreams at night. We expected to see log houses, occupied by Indians and such people as we had seen around the forts. Instead we saw a large white house.... Captain Shaw was in the house conversing with Mrs. Whitman.... She was a large well formed woman, fair complexioned, with beautiful auburn hair.... We thought as we shyly looked at her that she was the prettiest woman we had ever seen. She spoke kindly to us as she came up, but like frightened things we ran behind the cart, peeping shyly around at her.”


Joel Palmer, September 17, 1845 - “...he [Whitman] had been compelled to slay his horse; stating that within that period [1836-45], no less than thirty-two horses had been served up at his table.”


Mile 1712.0 Umatilla River Crossing Fort Henrietta Echo

John Minto, 1844 - This traveler followed the Umatilla River to the Columbia, thus avoiding the Fremont-Whitman-Harney cutoff, which stayed south of the Columbia River on the dry benchland and provided a firmer road. Minto’s route was sandier.


Wm D. Stilwell, 1844 - Came from the Spalding Mission at Lapwai, past the Whitman Station [present day Walla Walla], following the foothills past Weston to Wildhorse Creek and the Umatilla River [above present day Pendleton]. “...going west to the Umatilla R.... We crossed the Umatilla at this place, going down on the west side of Butter Creek. Whitman sent an Indian to pilot

us thru this place to Wells Spring then to Willow Creek, where we again struck the Emigrant Road from Willow Creek to Rock Creek, where we crossed the John Day River....” The two routes, the Fremont-Whitman-Harney cutoff [which became the main route in 1845] and the Columbia River route of Minto merged at Willow Creek.


Cecelia McMillan Adams, Oct 13, 1852 - “ the Indian Agency, the first frame house we have seen since we left Missouri and they have actually got a stoned up well. The agent was gone to the Dalles but we left 2 of our wagon’s there and sold three cattle to some traders and put all the teams to Stephen’s wagon and proceeded. Our loads are light but our cattle are getting

powerful weak....”


David or John Dinwiddie, Sept 2, 1853 - “ the crossing of the umatilla, the river has a large channel here but water all stinks, and we crossed on a bed of gravel and pebble stones, for which the stream is famous all along. On the west bank is the United States Agency [Fort Henrietta, built during the Cayuse War], a very neat looking frame house painted white, it looked cheering, as

we had not seen a frame house since we left fort Laramie. There had passed the agency up to this morning of emigrants three thousand six hundred, of wagons seven hundred and eighty, and of stock, ten thousand three hundred. Here we leave the umatilla and strike out on one seemingly endless prarie as there is no timber of any kind to be seen in any direction....”


Mile 1730.3 Fort Walla Walla (Fort Nez Perces) The stockaded trading post built by the NorthWest Company and named Fort Nez Perces was inherited by the Hudson’s Bay Company and renamed Fort Walla Walla. It sat on the east bank of the Columbia River directly above the mouth of the Walla Walla River. It is now under the waters of lake Wallula, created by McNary Dam. This was the site of Peter Skene Ogden’s negotiations with the Cayuse securing the release of the Whitman Massacre hostages.


Nathaniel Wyeth, October 14, 1832 - “...the fort is of no strength merely sufficient to frighten Indians ... there were 6 whites here.”


James Nesmith, October 8, 1843 - “...Fort Walla Walla ... prospect is dreary ... near to the fort are sand banks not possessing fertility enough to sprout a pea.... At the fort we could procure no eatables ... country looks poverty stricken....”


Wm H. McNeil, 1843 - “At Walla Walla the train split and those desiring to float the Columbia in dugouts, canoes, rafts, batteaus, went to Wallula under the guidance of Jesse Applegate and embarked on the various river craft to Celilo Falls where they portaged their possessions to the Dalles....”


Peter Hardeman Burnett, 1843 - “These boats are very light, yet strong. They are open, about forty feet long, five feet wide, and three feet deep.... They are made in this manner so that they may be carried around the falls of the Columbia.”


Jesse Applegate, 1843 - “A train of wagons with their once white, now torn, grease and dust stained covers, parked on the bank of the Columbia River, was a novel spectacle.... The faithful oxen, now sore-necked, sore footed, and jaded, which had marched week after week, and month after month, drawing those wagons with their loads from the Missouri River to the Columbia, had

done their task, and were unhitched for the last time ... on the banks, ‘where rolls the Oregon and hears no sound save his own dashing.’ [William Cullen Bryant’s Thanatopsis]”


Mile 1738.4 Upper Well Spring The upper of two springs in a small canyon served by an underground basin that could be reached by digging a well. Lower Well Spring is also called Tub Spring and is 3.5 miles off the main track. This is the only water between Butter Creek and Willow Creek, a distance of 30 miles. This is a well preserved hiking segment of the Oregon Trail due to its location on the US Navy’s Boardman Bombing Range and its controlled access.


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, October 17, 1847 - “our cattle ran off in search of water which hindered us till late ... camped without wood except a small shrub called greece wood it burns like greeced weeds I used to wonder why it was said man must be dresed in buckskin to come to this country but now I know. evry thing we travle through is thorny and rough there is no chance of

saving your cloths here we found a great hole of water 12 to 15 feet a croos had to water a hundred and fifty head of cattle with pails had to stand out all night in the rain to keep the cattle from drownding each other after water in this hole.”


Maria P. Belshaw, Sept 8, 1853 - “Came to the Springs ... [water] proceeds from a mound dug out in the middle plenty of water but not very good....”


Mile 1775.0 John Day River Crossing McDonald Ford

John C. Frémont, November 3, 1843 - “At noon we crossed John Day’s river, a clear and beautiful stream, with a swift current and a bed of rolled stones. It is sunk in a deep valley, which is characteristic of all streams in this region.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, October 22-23, 1847 - “... camped on John Days river scarce feed willows to burn here we put a guard for fear of indians which we have not done for 3 months before. Oct 22 travled up a long steep ascent between 2 mountains the road was so narrow that a wagon could scarcely squeze a long and very at that.”


Abigail Jane Scott, Sept 14, 1852 - “...we struck John Days river ... when we crossed the stream and traveled along it one mile where we halted and to our inexpressible joy, met Mr Lawson Scott, an immigrant of 1847, and John and Foster Johnson of 1850, who brought a quarter of beef, some flour, and one of them a bottle of oh, be joyful thus horrifying our teetotaler crowd. It was

little wonder that a relative, whom my father was bringing to Oregon to reform him, got gloriously tipsy, and engaged in a carnival of drunken songs; much to the diversion of the children, to whom it was all very funny. [They were a] cousin of father's, and our cousin Foster Johnson a brother of the young man who met us yesterday; They were just from the Garden of the World and we were all much rejoiced to meet each other, in this wild and romantic spot our hearts were filled with gratitude to know that these estimable young men would leave their pleasant homes and undergo the toil and privations of this laborious and toilsome journey and for pure friendship without expectation of pecuniary fee or reward.”


Mile 1804.0 Deschutes River Crossing

Joseph Williams, 1842 - “We reached Deschutes River.... The Indians soon came and helped us over, and swam our horses across by the side of their little tottering canoes, for which we gave them some tobacco, and continued our journey in the rain.”


John C. Frémont, November 3, 1843 - “...descended again into the [Columbia] river bottom, along which we resumed our sterile road, and in about four miles reached the ford of the Fall River (Riviére aux Chutes), a considerable tributary.... The river was high, divided into several arms, with a Rocky island at its outlet into the Columbia ... name, which is received from one of its

many falls some forty miles up the river.”


Overton Johnson, October 19, 1843 - [rafting the river] “On the first day after leaving the Fort [Walla Walla], one of our canoes, in which there were three persons, one of whom was a lady [Mrs. William Newby], in passing through a narrow shoot in the Grand Rapids, struck a rock, upset and filled instantly.”


John Boardman, October 19, 1843 - [with the Johnsons and Newbys] “At the falls near the mouth of John’s River [John Day River], one of the canoes struck a rock and upset, the lady [Mrs. Newby] and two men clinging to the rocks, and were taken off by the Indian pilot pushing a canoe to them. Some attempted to wade to them but the current too strong....”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, October 24, 1847 - [Sunday] “crossed falls or Shutes river it was high rapid and dangerous the water came clear to the top of the waggon beds me and my children with as many more women and children as could stow them selves in to a canoe was taken over by two indians which cost a good many shirts the indians are thick as hops here and not very

friendly any body in preparing to come to this country should make up some calico shirts to trade to the indians in cases of necesity you will have to hire them pilot you a cross rivers a gainst we got here my folks were a bout striped of shirts trousers jackets and wamases.”


James D. Miller, 1848 - “We arrived at John Day River, which we followed for a distance, camping at a place where we left the river to make a 30 mile drive to the Columbia River. We made this drive and camped ... about six miles from the Deschutes River. On this last drive or day’s journey two of our cattle oxen gave out about 10 miles from the Columbia....”


Abigail Jane Scott, Sept 16, 1852 - “...we came to Deshutes or Falls river...; We got an Indian to pilot the wagons across the river and also one to take the females over in a canoe, for which service they taxed us four dollars; The ford is at the mouth of the river and a short distance below a handsome cascade. After getting all safely over we ascended a long, steep and (somewhat)

rocky hill, when we again overlooked the Columbia river adorned on each bank with lofty bluffs of basaltic rock; Five miles from this place brought us to Five-mile-creek. While on the sumit of the last hill before reaching the creek bottom, we viewed Mt. Jefferson for the first time, Mts. Hood and St. Helens were also in plain view...”


David or John Dinwiddie, Sept 13, 1853 - “...the country ahead appears to be covered with a dense forest, in the evening got a view of Mount Hood, but was soon obscured by clouds again.”


Mile 1819.0 Dalles Mission Wascopam Maintained by the Methodists, it was established here in 1838 by Daniel Lee, nephew of Jason Lee. It was abandoned in 1847 and the property was sold to Dr. Marcus Whitman’s nephew Perrin Whitman shortly before the Whitman Massacre.


Rev. Joseph Williams, 1841 - “We continued down the Columbia River on a very

dangerous road, on the side of the hills, where, if a horse should stumble, he would fall two hundred

feet down the river. We traveled through large white sand banks, and passed the falls, where the

Indians catch great quantities of fish.... Shortly after this we arrived at the Methodist mission, where

brother Daniel Lee, brother Perkins, brother Brewer, and their families are stationed....”


James Nesmith, October 16, 1843 - “...passed the Dalles. ... Arrived at the Methodist Mission.” [after coming by horseback with the wagons from Walla Walla]


John Boardman, October 25, 1843 - “...arrived at Mr. Perkins Mission ... found the wagons here.” [after floating down the Columbia with Jesse Applegate]


John C. Frémont, November 3, 1843 - “...encamped near the mission ... hospitable and kind reception ... our country people at the mission.... Two good-looking wooden dwelling houses, and a large schoolhouse, with stables, barn and garden, and large cleared fields between the houses and the river bank, on which were scattered ... an Indian village.”


Joel Palmer, September 29, 1845 - “Here was the end of our road, as no wagons had ever gone below this place. We found some sixty families in waiting for a passage down the river; and ... but two small boats running to the Cascade falls....” [Palmer drove south to join Sam Barlow in attempting to cross the south face of Mt Hood.]


Samuel Parker, October 7, 1845 - “This morning nothing to eat. Got to the mission at dark. Got in a house with my family got something to eat. ... I will just say pen & tongue will both fall short when they go to tell the suffering the company went through [on Meek’s Cutoff]. There my wife and child died....”


James D. Miller, 1848 - “...on the following day camped on the Columbia River near where Umatilla House stands in The Dalles.... This was the first house or settler that we found on our route, after leaving Big Blue River ... except at ... Forts Laramie, Hall and Boise....”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, October 27, 1847 - “passed what is called the Dalls mision where two white families lived a mong the indians it looks like starveation”


Osborne Cross, Sept 14, 1849 - “...continued our journey to the Old Mission.... The Old Mission has gone greatly to ruin ... a dwelling house, which we now occupied, and three more buildings, one of which, opposite the one fronting on the river, had been used as a school house.... The outbuildings have all been destroyed and the whole is going to decay since the war with the Cayuse.... There is a fine spring but a short distance from the house.”


Sarah Sprenger, 1852 - “When we reached The Dalles, the party separated. Some of the brothers took the big wagon over the Cascade Mountains. The rest of us took a flat boat to the Cascades, from where we went around the cascades in the wagon to the lower Columbia River. There we took a flat boat again to Sandy River, quite a way below Oregon City. At that point our brothers met us with the big wagon and we started together for Oregon City. On our way down the Columbia, the wind started to blow so hard that we had to put ashore. It happened to be on a pretty steep place, but we had to stay there all night nevertheless. How we

managed to sleep and eat our food without slipping is more than I can tell.”


Mile 1819.1 Fort Dalles Camp Drum [Established May 21, 1850, on Mill Creek, as Camp Drum. It was redesignated Fort Dalles in July 1853. It was occupied by two companies of the Mounted Riflemen that came to Oregon in 1849 with Major Osborne Cross from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The fort was abandoned in 1867 and disposed of in 1877. The former Surgeon’s Quarters serves as a museum today.]


Columbia River Route

Mile 1822.0 Chenowith Creek Crates Point Here the wagon road ended. A protected harbor at the mouth of the creek was where rafts were built and launched and boats were loaded for the Columbia River route.


John C. Frémont, November 6, 1843 - “The last of the emigrants had just left the Dalles at the time of our arrival, traveling some by water and the others by land, making ark-like rafts, on which they had embarked their families and households, with their large wagons and other furniture, while their stock were driven along the shore.”


Edward Lenox, November 1, 1843 - “Here we hired two Indians with their large Chinook canoe, to take father, mother, and the other seven children in our family, to Oregon City.”


Overton Johnson, November 1843 - [rafting the river from Ft Walla Walla] “Here we were ... compelled to run ashore and remain until the next day. This frequently happens to voyageurs.... In one instance, a crew of emigrants were under the necessity of throwing part of their loading overboard in order to gain the shore.”


Lindsay Applegate, 1843 - [rafting the river from Ft Walla Walla] “We did well till we reached the Dalles, a series of falls and cataracts. Just above the Cascade mountains one of our boats, containing six persons, was caught in one of those terrible whirlpools and upset. My son, ten years old, my brother Jesse’s son, Edward, same age ... were lost.... Leaving the women and

children on shore while we rushed to the rescue.... William Doake, a young man who could not swim, held on to a feather bed until ... rescued. W. Parker and my son Elisha, then twelve years old ... rescued themselves by catching hold of a large rock.... It was a painful scene beyond description. ... The whole scene was witnessed by Gen. Fremont and his company of explorers.... The bodies of the drowned were never recovered.”


Josiah Beal, Fall 1847 - “We then went about 3 miles farther down the River [from the mission] and here we built 2 flat Botes to come down the River. Mr. Bolen was a ship carpenter & had his tools along with him.... We soon had our Botes ready to launch. To make them tight us boys were sent out to the timber to gather pitch ... were filled with contents of our wagons and a few

wagons we taken to pieces & stowed in the Bote. Stock driven down Indian Trail....”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, October 28 - November 10, 1847 - “Oct. 28 here is a great many emegrants encamped men making rafts others going down in boats which have been sent up by speculators. Oct 30 rainy day making rafts women cooking and washing children crying indians bartering potatoes for shirts ...Oct 31 [Sunday] ... snow close by on the mountain we

should have went over the mountains with our wagons but they are covered with snow consequently we must go down by water and drive our cattle over the montains. Nov 1 we are lying by waiting for the wind to blow down stream in order that we may embark on our raft. Nov 2 we took off our wagon wheels layed them on the raft placed the wagon beds on them and started there are 3 families of us ... on 12 logs 18 inches through and 40 ft long the water runs 3 inches over our raft.  Nov 3 we are floating down the Columbia cold and disagreeable weather. Nov 4 rain all day layed by for the water to calm we clamberdered a side hill a mong the rocks and build a fire and tryed to cook and warm our selves and children while the wind blew and the waves rolled beneath. Nov 7 [Sunday] put out in rough water moved a few miles the water became so rough that we were forced to land no one to man the raft but my husband and oldest son of 16 years Russell Welch and our youngest boys were driving our cattle over the mountains here we ly smoking our eyes burning our cloths and trying to keep warm we have plenty of wood but the wind takes away the warmth. Nov. 8 finds us still lying at anchor waiting for the wind to fall we have but one dayes provision a head of us ... Nov 9 finds us still in trouble waves dashing over our raft and we al ready stinting our selves in provisions ... the icesickles are hanging from our wagon beds to the water ... Nov 10 finds us still waiting for calm weather my husband returned at 2 oclock brought 50 pounds of beef on his back 12 miles which he had bought from another company ... us women and children did not attempt to get out of our wagons tonight.”


Maria P. Belshaw, Sept 15, 1853 - “Olney’s Creek ... Four miles ...[below] the Dalles ...many canvas buildings, business lively....”


Mile 1860.5 Cascades of the Columbia Cascade Locks The last natural obstruction on the Oregon Trail river route required a three-mile portage. Sometimes a craft would try to run the falls, but was almost always fraught with accidents.


James Nesmith, October 21, 1843 - “ the Cascades about ten ... balance of the day in making the portage ... high mountains covered with timber, killed by a fire.”


John C. Frémont, November 1843 - “...the river forms a great cascade, with a series of rapids, in breaking through the range of mountains ... gives the idea Cascades to the whole range; and hence the name ... halted on the left bank, about five minutes’ walk above the cascades, where there were several Indian huts, and where our guides signified it was customary to hire Indians to

assist in making the portage.... On a low point on the right bank ... were pitched many tents of emigrants, who were waiting here for their friends from above, or for boats and provisions ... from Vancouver.”


Samuel Parker, Mid-October 1845 - “I did not expect to get to the city with my fore sick children and my oldest girl that was sick. I was looking all the time for her to die. I tuck my seat in the canoe by her and held her up and the same at nite when I come to the cascade falls. I had to make portage of 3 miles. I put my sick girl in a blanket and pack her & only rested once that day.

We maid the portage with the help of my fore Indians....”


Stephen Staats, 1845 - “One female with us at the time ... was illy prepared to withstand the chilling storm, being scantily clthed; but her husband, true to the instincts of a noble manhood, divested himself of his own well-worn blanket....”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, November 13-21, 1847 - “November 13 we got the ferry men to shift our load on to thir boat and take us down to the falls where we found quite a town of people waiting for their cattle to pull them round the falls rain all day Nov 14 [Sunday] unloaded the boat put our wagon together drizly wether. Nov 15 rainy day Nov 16 rain all day Nov 17 rainy weather Nov 18 my husband is sick it rains and snows we start this morning round the falls with our waggons we have 5 miles to go I carry my babe and lead or rather carry another through snow and mud and water al most to my knees it is the worst road a team could possibly travel I went ahead with my children and I was affraid to look behind me for fear of seeing the wagon turn over in to the mud and water with evry thing in them my children give out with cold and fatigue and could not travle and the boys had to unhitch the oxon and bring them and carry the children on to camp I was so cold and numb that I could not tell by feeling that I had any feet at all we started this morning at sunrise and did not get to camp untill after dark and there was not one dry thread on one of us not even my babe ... when I got here I found my husband lying in Welches wagon very sick ... here was some hundreds camped wating for boats to come and take them down the columbia to vancouver or Portland or Origon City. Nov 20 rain all day ... I froze or chilled my feet so that I cannot wear a shoe so I have to go round in the cold water bearfooted. Nov 21 [Sunday] rain all day the whole care of evry thing now falls upon my shoulders I cannot write any more at present”


James D. Miller, 1848 - “At Cascade falls, our raft arrived one or two days before the stock, as the trail down the river was slow. We found good grass all along our trail. At or below Wind Mountain, a few miles above the Cascade falls, we swam our cattle and horses over to the north side of the river and drove them down to or near our camp, close to where our people unloaded from the raft, which by the time they arrived there, set very low in the water - so much so that the running gears of the wagons were in the water, the logs getting water-soaked. We next hitched up our teams and pulled our wagons five miles over the portage. Here, my father contracted ... to take our wagons and other effects from the lower Cascades to Fort Vancouver in a large ... Hudson’s Bay bateaux. One of them would carry ... 10 tons weight.”


W.L. Adams, 1848 - “My wife and I carried our children up muddy mountains in the cascades, half a mile high, and then carried the loading of our wagons up on our backs by piecemeal, as our cattle were so reduced that they were hardly able to haul up the empty wagon.”


John R. Tice, Sept 16, 1851 - Tice took the steamboat James P. Flint, 60 feet long, 12 foot beam and five foot hold, which began service between the Dalles and Cascades September 4, 1851. Below the portage were other boats offering service to Portland.


Maria P. Belshaw, Sept 15, 18, 24, 1853 - [15th] “...six or eight boats on the Columbia ... above the falls.” [18th] “...harbor at Cascades ... one store, boarding house and gambling house all in one ... nothing but bitter oaths.” [24th] “...steamer ... took passage....” [Boats included the Multnomah, Fashion and a rebuilt J.P. Flint, which had sunk Sept 22, 1852 near Cape Horn, with a

full load of emigrants.]


Mile 1901.8 Fort Vancouver This stockaded post established by the HBC in 1824 (on an upper level and moved to the river level in 1829) served as the headquarters for the company’s trade in the Columbia basin. The assistance of Chief Factor Dr. John McLoughlin facilitated the establishment of American settlements in Oregon and hastened his forced retirement. Emigrants were given direct aid in transportation, lodging and subsistence, and were extended credit worth $60,000 ($1.25 million today) until they could raise a crop. This was a direct violation of Governor Simpson’s instructions and led to McLoughlin’s demotion to co-chief factor and retirement in late 1845. Additionally, many emigrants joined the growing anti-British sentiment and refused to repay McLoughlin or the HBC their debts.


Rev. Samuel Parker, 1835 - “The fever and ague [which killed up to 9/10ths of the Indian population in western Oregon] were never known in this country before the year of 1829, and Dr. McLoughlin mentioned it as a singular circumstance, that this was the year in which fields were ploughed for the first time. He thought there must have been some connexion between breaking up

the soil and the fever. I informed him that the same fever prevailed in the United States, about the same time, and in places which had not before been subject to the complaint.”


James W. Nesmith, October 24, 1843 - “Arrived at the Hudson Bay Company’s mill about seven miles above the fort ... at Fort Vancouver ... kindly treated by Dr. McLaughlin....”


John Boardman, November 3, 1843 - “Fort Vancouver ... well received by Doct. McLaughlin, who charged nothing for for the use of his boat sent up for us, nor for the provisions, but not satisfied with that sent us plenty of salmon and potatoes, furnished us house room, and wood free of charge, and was very anxious that all should get through safe.”


Elizabeth Dixon Smith, November 27, 1847 - “embarked once more on the Columbia on a flat boat ran all day though the waves threatened hard to sink us passed fort vancouver in the night landed a mile below my husband never has left his bed since he was taken sick.”


Mile 1920 Portland

Elizabeth Dixon Smith, November 29, 1847 - February 2, 1848 - “Nov 29 landed at Portland on the Willamette ... at eleven oclock at night. Nov 30 raining this morning I ran a bout trying to get a house to get into with my sick husband at last I found a small leeky concern with 2 families already in it ... you could have stird us with a stick ... me and my children carried up a bed

the distance was nearly a quarter of a mile made it down on the floor in the mud I got some men to carry my husband up through the rain and lay him on it and he was never out of that shed untill he was carried out in his coffin here lay 5 of us bed fast at one time and we had no money and we had no money and what few things we had left that would bring money I had to sell ... there are so many of us sick that I can not write any more at present ...jan 15 [1848] my husband is still alive but very sick there is no medicine here except at fort Vancouver and they will not sellone bit not even a bottle of wine. jan 16 [Sunday] ... we are stil

living in the old leeky shed in Portland ... Portland has two white houses and one brick and 3 wood colored framed houses and a few cabins j 20 cool and dry soldiers are collecting here from evry part of Oregon to go and fight the Indians in midle oregon in concequence of the masacree at Whitmans mision I think there were 17 [12] men killed at the masacree but no women nor

children except Whitmans wife they killed every white man there except one and he was an engleshman they took all the young women for wives robed them of their clothing and evry thing. ... jan 31 rain all day. if I could tell you how we suffer you would not believe it ... here I sit up night after night with my poor sick husband all a lone and expecting him evry day to die ... I have

not undressed to lie down for 6 weeks besides our sickness I had a cross little babe to take care of in deed I cannot tell you half. feb 1 rain all day this day my Dear husband my last remaining friend died. feb 2 to day we buried my earthly companion, now I know what none but widows know that is how comfortless is that of a widows life espesily when left in a strange land without

money or friends and the care of seven children - cloudy”


Barlow Road Route

Mile 1803 Sherars Falls Barlow Road Cutoff - Deschutes Crossing

Philura Vanderburgh, 1864 - “a road hewn from solid rock and so narrow that in places there were but four inches outside the wheel track. Father was nearly frantic. Carrie with her three horse team was ahead, and in no way could he pass the wagon to drive for her. A three-horse team, hitched as these were with two wheel horses and one leader, is a very hard team to handle. The cliff was so steep that he could not climb past her on the upper side and there was no room on the outside over the precipice beneath which the river rushed. The wagon was loaded in such a manner, with bedding, stove, everything, piled high and the cover drawn tightly over all, that no one could climb over it from behind. There was nothing to do but watch her as she drove ahead, hugging the bank. The horses, however, were no more anxious than she to take that dreadful plunge. Far below, so far that they looked like toy people, I remember seeing a band of Indians catching some salmon and drying them about little smoky fires.

At last we reached [Sherars] Bridge, high, high above the rugged river. This was the end of the terrible canyon road. At the gate on the farther side, Father paid the toll and we drove through.”


Mile 1846.4 Tygh Valley Grade

Philura Vanderburgh, 1864 - “The Tigh Valley grade was so steep that it seemed as if the horses would fall over backward. Even the drivers walked. With five horses hitched to each wagon, men ahead with ropes to hold down the wagon tongues, and men behind to thrust blocks of wood under the wheels should the wagons start backward, they struggled up the awful grade. We

climbed the hill well to the side of the road so as not to be in the way if anything about the wagons should slip. Glad we were when at last all were at the top.”


Mile 1857 Barlow Toll Gate Gate Creek

Samuel K. Barlow, Oregon Spectator, October 29, 1846 - “Mr. Editor. - Sir, by your request, I herewith send you the number of wagons and stock that passed the toll-gate on the Mount Hood road. There were one hundred and forty-five wagons, fifteen hundred and fifty-nine head of horses, mules, and horned cattle all together, and one lot of sheep, the number not recollected, but I

think thirteen. Yours, &c.”


The Emigration. Oregon Spectator, October 29, 1846 - Those of the emigrants who came by way of the Mount Hood road, have all safely reached the valley of the Willamette.”


Harriet Scott, September 1852 - “We came to the old Barlow Road, and a station called Barlow's Gate, in the Cascade Mountains, where we found provisions, and actually some fruit -- apples and peaches and plenty of bread.”


Mile 1876.8 Barlow Pass

Harriet Scott, September 1852 - “The oxen were worn out, and the wagons were in poor condition to cross' the mountains. Some wagons had to be left; some of the oxen were poisoned eating mountain laurel. Our provisions were exhausted by this time, and for three days we had only salal berries and some soup made by thickening water, from flour shaken from a remaining flour



Philura Vanderburgh, 1864 - “Here for the first time on the journey, our right of way was challenged. As we drove through the gate an old billy goat disputed our right to pass. He looked so absurd, dancing about, his head nodding up and down as he threatened the big horses, that we all had to laugh. Evidently he did not like our appearance. Finally, rather than be driven over,

he edged to the side of the road and we left him and his little band of goats behind, and headed for Barlow Pass.  We camped that night near the summit of the Cascade Mountains, Mount Hood gleaming near us. About our camp many of the trees had been felled. The stumps were a puzzling sight to me. Fully twenty feet above the ground they had been chopped off with axes. I asked Father how it could have been done. He said they must have been cut in the winter when the snow lay on the ground.”


Mile 1884 Laurel Hill

Isom Cranfill, Sept. 13, 1847 - “Mon. four ms. of Stumpy Roads brot us to Lorel Hill we decended it in three benches the last is much the longest & most Dificult”


Absolom Harden, Sept. 20, 1847 - “we traveled 7 miles and came to the Larrel Hill this is the worse hill on the road from the States to Oregon it is one mile Lonng going down”


Benjamin Cleaver, Sept. 11-14, 1848 - we went down this [Laurel] hill & camped in the tallest kind of pine timber. we had a fine little Branch of water-Zig Zag creek but very little grass. these Kaskade Mountains is a good place to loose cattle in. .... there is also a quantity of Cedar wood in these Mountains & various kinds of wild fruit.”


Harriet Scott, September 1852 - “Then we reached Laurel Hill, in the Cascade mountains. Oh that steep road! I know it was fully a mile long. We had to chain the wagon wheels and slide the wagons down the rutty, rocky road. My aunt Martha lost one of her remaining shoes, it rolled down the mountainside. I can hear her now as she called out in her despair, ‘Oh, me shoe, me shoe! How can I ever get along?’ So she wore one shoe and one moccasin the rest of the journey.  As we started down the road my father said: ‘Jump on the wheel and hang on, Fanny!’ It  was an awfully dangerous thing to do and he didn't realize what he was telling her to do. Poor sister Margaret fell, and rolled down and down. When she picked herself up, Uncle Levi was there with

his humor, ‘Maggie, ain't this the damndest place you ever saw?’ ‘Yes, it is.’ ‘Well, you swore, and I'm going to tell your father.’”


Unknown emigrant, 1853 - “The road on this hill is something terrible. It is worn down into the soil from five to seven feet, leaving steep banks on both sides, and so narrow that it is almost impossible to walk alongside of the cattle for any distance without leaning against the oxen ... cut down a small tree about ten inches in diameter and about forty feet long, and the more limbs it has on it the better. This tree they fasten to the rear axle with chains or ropes, top end foremost, making an excellent brake.”


Mile 1908 Foster’s Farm

William Wright Anderson, Sept. 10, 1848 - “we traveled 8 miles which brought us down off the mountains into the Walwalmetta valley in sight of the habittation of of Civelized man”


Harriet Scott, September 1852 - “Before we reached Oregon City, my father was fortunate enough to buy two pounds of butter. The hungry crowd was so great that before we smaller ones had our turn at the improvised table, the butter had all been eaten up. There were six of us smaller children who did not get a taste of butter, and the thought of that rankled in us for years.”


Adriette Applegate Hixon, 1853 - “About noon of the tenth day, after leaving the Dalles, we began to see, through the timber, on ahead a vision of an open valley. Peering out, I saw that it was sprinkled over with spreading oaks, while it seemed to be surrounded by a fringe of evergreens reaching up onto those mountains, and on into the blue sky above, I thought, ‘Yes, this is the

Oregon I have been hoping to get to'.”


End of the Trail

Mile 1932.2 Oregon City Willamette Falls - Abernethy Green

Thomas Jefferson Farnham, 1839 - “I cannot but view this Territory as peculiarly liable to the vice of drunkenness. The ease with which the wants of man are obtained, the little labor required, and consequent opportunity for idleness, will render it so.”


Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, 1841 - “Two-thirds of the time of the settlers is ... at their own disposal; and unless education, with its moral influence, is attended to strictly in this young settlement, these very advantages will prove its curse.”


Osborne Russell, arrived September 26, 1842 - “I started with them [Elijah White’s party] and arrived at the Falls of the Willamette River.... I found a number of Methodist Missionaries and American Farmers had formed themselves into a Company for the purpose of erecting Mills and a Sawmill was then building on an Island standing on the brink of the Falls which went into operation in about 2 months after I arrived In the meantime Dr John McLoughlin, a chief Factor of the Hudson Bay Co. who contemplated leaving the service of the Company and permanently settling with his family and Fortune in the Willamette Valley laid off a town on the east side of the falls and began erecting a sawmill on a site he had prepared some years previous by cutting a race thro. the rock to let the water on to his works when they should be constructed.”


Overton Johnson, November 13, 1843 - “ Oregon City ... our destination.... We found, at the Falls, a small village of about one hundred inhabitants. Lots were laid out on both sides of the River ... on East, by Dr. McLaughlin ... on the West by H. Burns, and called Multnomah.”


William Barlow, 1845 - “But we got a hundred and fifty dollars for what oxen we had to sell. Of course, it was all in Oregon currency, which were orders on any of the stores in Oregon City.”


James Willis Nesmith, 1843 (1847 letter) - “With three comrades, I left the emigration on the Umatilla river ... and after a variety of adventures ... we arrived in a canoe at Fort Vancouver on the evening of the 23rd of October, 1843. We encamped on the bank of the river about where the government wharf now stands. The greater part of our slender means were expended in the

purchase of provisions and hickory shirts, consigning those that had done such long and continuous service, with their inhabitants, to the Columbia. On the morning of the 24th, we started for what was known as the ‘Willamette’ settlement at the Falls....

In 1843, the only settler on the river below the Falls, was an old English sailor by the name of William Johnson.... He was a fine specimen of the British tar, and had at an early day abandoned his allegiance to the British lion and taken service on the old frigate Constitution. I have frequently listened to his narrative of the action between Old Ironsides and the Guerriere, on which

occasion he served with the boarding party....... the immigration of 1843 arrived safely in the valley during the fall and early part of the winter, and found homes in the then settled neighborhoods. Dr. John McLoughlin, then at the head of the Hudson bay Company, from his own private resources, rendered the new settlers much valuable aid by furnishing the destitute with food, clothing and seed, waiting for his pay until they had a surplus to dispose of. Dr. John McLoughlin was a public benefactor....

... my wife and self ... [had a] palatial residence, which consisted of a pole cabin fourteen feet square, the interstices between the poles, puncheon floor and a mud chimney, and not a pane of glass or particle of sawed lumber about the institution....In the year 1843, Fremont, then a Lieutenant in the Engineer Corps, did cross the plains, and brought his party to the Dalles, and visited Vancouver to procure supplies. I saw him on the plains, though he reached the Dalles in the rear of our emigration. His outfit contained all of the conveniences and luxuries that a Government appropriation could procure, while he ‘roughed it’ in a covered carriage, surrounded by servants paid from the public purse. He returned to the States and was afterward rewarded with a Presidential nomination as the ‘Pathfinder.’ The path he found was made by the hardy frontiersmen who proceeded him to the Pacific....”


Oregon Spectator, September 3, 1846 - “Some of the Oregon emigrants of 1846, arrived at Oregon City on the 25th of August - also a naval officer, (Lieut. Woodworth, who is connected with the U. S. Navy,) crossed over the Rocky Mountains.... Some fifteen or sixteen emigrants have arrived, having performed the last part of their journey with pack-horses. They state that between

300 and 400 waggons must be near the Dalls at this time, and nothing extraordinary preventing, they will probably arrive at Oregon City about the 25th instant. Mr. Barlow has gone to meet them in order to conduct them safely over his road. They state that between 500 and 600 waggons that were bound to Oregon and California were counted after leaving the states.... It is reported that one family in this company is bringing a hive and swarm of bees to Oregon.”


Oregon Spectator, September 17, 1846 - “Emigrants. - Several families with their wagons have arrived in our City, and appear healthy and cheerful. They traveled over Mr. Barlow’s road, over which probably most of the emigration will come.”


Oregon Spectator, October 1, 1846 - “The public mind has been happily put at rest, in relation to the welfare of captain Jesse Applegate and party, by the arrival of intelligence, at Fort Vancouver, recently, to the effect, that he had succeeded in discovering a most admirable road for the emigration - one much more direct.”


Peter H. Burnett, 1847 - letter to James Hughes in Missouri - “The emigration of last year [1846] have all arrived with the exception of some five families now at Dr. Whitman’s, and about the same number at Fort Umqua. ... That emigration was not so large as the one of the previous year. The emigrants came in by two new routes, one across the Cascade mountains near the Columbia river, and the other a southern route entering the Wallamette valley near the sources of that River, and crossing the head waters of the Sacamento in California, and the Umqua and Klamet rivers in Oregon. Mr. Barlow obtained from the Oregon Legislature a charter for theopening of a wagon road across the Cascade mountains to the Wallamette valley, and allow him to charge certain amounts of toll as a compensation for the labor incurred. This road was in readiness when the first portion of the emigrants arrived, and those who came the old accustomed route by Fort Baise, the Grand Round and the Blue mountains came through Barlow’s road, with their wagons, teams, families and loose stock to the Wallamette Falls before the rainy season sets in. Some of these arrived as early as the 15th September....”


James D. Miller, November 1848 - “At Vancouver, we swam our cattle over to the south bank of the Columbia. After crossing all of the stock over, we then hitched up our teams and drove sixteen miles, arriving at Oregon City, the capital of the provisional government of the Territory of Oregon. We arrived here the first week in November, making our trip from Saint Joseph, Missouri,

to Oregon City, Oregon, in about six months. On our arrival at Oregon City, I found everything quite different from what I had expected ... Oregon City contained a population of 350 to 400 whites, possibly 500, including halfbreeds and Indians. There were three small churches, Methodist, Congregational and Catholic. The Baptists held their meetings in a school house. There were three stores, a large one of the Hudson’s Bay Company.... There were also one or two blacksmith shops, a wagon shop, one meat market, possibly one saloon, two flour mills, two sawmills and one weekly newspaper, Oregon Spectator....My father purchased a house and lot in Linn City, opposite Oregon City, and we moved into it soon after we arrived, and commenced the sale of our boots and shoes, Kentucky jeans and cloth that we brought with us. For fine boots, we got $5 per pair, shoes for men, women and children in proportion. If we had held them for six months, they would have brought us double....Father traded our mules and horses for one acre of land in Clackamas City, a city on paper adjoining the Oregon City town plat.... The provisional government had passed a law that every male citizen was entitled to a donation of 640 acres of land.”


Abigail Jane Scott, Sept 30, 1852 - “We traveled eight miles when we reached the far famed Oregon city we found it to be a long, narrow town situated in a kanyon, on the Willamette river; It is half as large as Pekin Ills but is a hard looking place.”


Sarah Sprenger, Oct 26, 1852 - “We arrived in Oregon City on October 26, 1852. My brother had found a house for us; it had only four rooms and no plaster, and was not very comfortable, but it did have a cookstove, and was the best that we could get at the time. At that time, four sold at $5.00 a sack, butter at $1.00 a pound, apples 25 cents apiece, cabbage 25 cents for a

little head, and potatoes about the size of walnuts were all prices. All the big potatoes were sent to California. One day a man came and begged Mother to care for his three little girls, as his wife had died on the plains. He wanted to get work and would come for them in a couple of weeks, he said. They were awfully dirty, but Mother and my sisters took care of them for about two months without pay of any kind from their father.  While in Oregon City we met again Walter McFarland, his father who had crossed the

plains in 1849, and his stepmother and sister and brother. We met also Captain Cochran who, with my brother, was running the hotel named Oregon House. And we met Judge Waite, who became much in love with my sister Mary Ann, as Captain Cochran was with my sister Maria.”


Maria P. Belshaw, Sept 30, 1853 - “...came to the long expected City ... worst looking place for a City I ever saw....”


George B. Currey, 1854 - “The rest of our party continued on down to the Willamette Valley and reached Oregon City on June 16, 1854. My father, who was a cooper and millwright, got a job coopering for a Mr. Fellows, while my mother secured work from Governor Abernethy....A large proportion of this outfit has been consumed by the disastrous journey, and the well-to-

do thrifty looking citizen and his family have been worn by the friction of the trip to a tatteredband of hungry petitioners - begging his brothers of the earth to give him leave to toil. But if the old home and early life’s earnings were consumed by the desert, there was one thing that was not diminished ... our appetites. An immigrant’s appetite - who can forget or describe it? It was illimitable in its voracity, and then seemed eternal in its cravings.... It would attack anything from dried salmon to boiled wheat, and get away with it. It prescribed but one condition to the cook - plenty. The only word it learned from the courtly jargon was muck-a-muck. Hi-yu-muck a muck the la-la-ly to which we went to sleep to dream of pots of flesh and kettles of potatoes. When we reached Oregon in the fall of 1853 a population of something near 40,000 whites had settled in Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue River valleys. Society was organized socially and politically. A large portion of the people were residing on their donation claims, but there were several towns. Oregon City was just about to become the Lowell of the Pacific. She was soon going to harness the Willamette falls and set up spinning for all creation. Portland had metropolitan dreams, and soon hoped to dictate terms of per cent and profit to the rest of the country. Champoeg was hilarious with hope.”


The Applegate Southern Route

Mile 1265-1935 Applegate Trail

Peter H. Burnett, 1847 - letter to James Hughes in Missouri - The southern route was surveyed by Messrs. Jessee Applegate, Moses Harris and others.... These gentlemen left the Wallamette Settlements in the latter part of last summer, and reached Fort Hall after the larger portion of the late emigrants had passed. Those they met at that place agreed to try this new route with their wagons, teams and cattle. They continued the old route for a distance of about 40 miles this side of the Fort, when they travelled down some three hundred miles over an excellent road. This route passes thro’ a portion of California, crosses the head waters of the Sacramento, then falls upon the waters of the Klamet and Umqua rivers.”


James Willis Nesmith, letter written in 1847 - about “Uncle” Jesse Applegate - “I traveled in his company across the plains ... was at the rendezvous at Fitzhugh’s Mill on the 17th day of May, 1843.... He was the leader in [revising] our Provisional Government in 1845, as he was of the party that escorted the first immigration by the Southern route - an unselfish service in which he periled his life to ruin himself pecuniarily.


Tabitha Brown, 1846 - “We had sixty miles desert without grass or water, moutains to climb, cattle giving out, wagons breaking, emigrants sick and dying, hostile Indians to guard against by night and by day to keep from being killed, or having our horses and cattle arrowed or stolen. We were carried south of Oregon hundreds of miles into Utah Territory and california; fell in with

the Clammette and Rogue River Indians; lost nearly all our cattle; passed the Umpqua mountains ...I rode through in three at the risk of my life, having lost my wagon, and all I had but the horse I was on. ... of hundreds of wagons but one came through without breaking. The Canyon was strewn with dead cattle, broken wagons, beds, clothing, and everything but provisions of which we were nearly destitute. ... some died without any warning from fatigue and starvation; others ate the flesh of the

cattle that were lying dead by the wayside. Winter had set in; we were yet a long distance from any white settlement. The word was Fly, everyone who can, from starvation.... Mr. Pringle and Pherne insisted on my going ahead with their Uncle John and try to save our own lives. They were obliged to stay back for a few days to recruit their few worn out cattle. They divided their last bit of bacon, of which I had three slices, a teacupful of tea; the last division of all we had - no bread. We saddled our horses and set off, not knowing that we should ever see each other again.  ... when we started for Oregon, [her son] Orus was appointed pilot, having crossed the Plains twice before. His company was six days ahead of ours, so he had gone down the old emigrant route [not Applegate’s], and reached the settlements in September. In six or eight weeks he had heard of the suffering emigrants at the south; he set off with four pack-horses and provisions for our relief. He met Mr. Pringle; turned him about; a few days and nights, and they were at our Camp. ... In the gloomy stillness of the night, hoofbeats of horses were heard rushing to our tents - directly a halloo - it was the well-known voice of Orus Brown and Virgil Pringle; who can realize the joy? ... On Christmas Day at 2 P. M. I entered the house of a Methodist minister, the first I had set foot in for nine months.”


Henry Garrison, 1846 - “... our next camp was near the head of the Umpqua Canyon, we was at this camp about one week, Uncle Joseph Garrison Garrison met us here with horses loaded with provisions, which was a God send to the emigrants. Provisions was very scarce, some families by this time was entirely out. We started from here with enough provisions as we supposed to last the family up to Aprile of the next year, Father weighted out before starting a pound of flour per day for each one of the family, both large and small, for the lengthe of time, but as the emigrants would get out of provisions, he would divide with them, and for some days, he could only divide with the sick. ... when my Uncle met us, we had only about ten pounds of flour left. Uncle met us the day before the wagons was to start down the Canyon. On the next morning a man by the name of Albright whom my Uncle had hired to help him with the pack-horses and I started down the old Hudson Bay trail (which we had followed from the time we first reached the Rogue River valley) with Father's loose stock. It was evry man for himself now, as it was supposed that we had passed beyond all danger from the Indians, we got through with the cattle the first. After a days rest for my mother, Uncle Joseph started for his home on the Mission farm eight miles below Salem, with him, went my Mother and four children, they rode the horses that Uncle had packed the provisons on. The next Father and Lancefield was ready to start when a Comitty waited on Father, and informed him, that the emigrants had had a meeting at which it was decided to kill those fat oxen, (meaning a yoke of oxen brought out by Uncle Joseph to assist us to the settlement) Father stept to his wagon and pulled out his rifle and said, Gentlemen, this is highway robery, that those oxen is my dependence to get to the settlements with, and I dont want to [have] anyboddy attempt shoot them down, for I will defend them, if you wish me to give you a beef, take any of my cattle but a work ox, they then selected a cow that belonged to me, and a man by the name of Thos Steward shot her. Although he and I lived [as] neighbors for near thirty years I never could forget that he shot the only cow I had, when at the same time, he and his folks had twice as many cattle as Father had. The good book says, "pay for those that dispitefully use you" I never could, for the same book says, ‘He that is unjust, will be unjust still.’ About the first of December, we landed in the Willamette valley. Our wagon was the first to get across, so we can claim that Father's wagon was the first that ever Crossed the Calapoosa Mountains and the first that ever made a track in the upper Willamette valley. The first sign of civilation we saw was at Skinner Bute, Mr Skinner had built a hewed log house but was not covered as yet. It was now raining nearly all the time, the streams was all full from bank to bank. Before getting to Longtom we found miles upon miles of the country covered with water, with an

occasional rise in the ground which looked like Islands situated in a sea of water. Just after passing Skinner Bute we met Uncle Enoch Garrison walking, and leading a horse packed with provisions. You see by this, that our relatives who came to Oregon in 1843 had not forgotton us. It was about 10 Oclock AM when Uncle met us, Father was driving the team, when they met, they kissed each other, then Uncle turned and and walked side by side, Jeptha said for half of a mile without either speaking Blubering like calves. I suppose it was an effecting meeting. The last time they were together, their Mother was with them, and you can imagine what thoughts came surging to their minds. The next morning after Uncle Enoch arrived, Cousin Jeptha and David my

Brother started for home as we began to call Uncle Enochs place. We now felt that we were homeward bound, a few more days, and our journey would be ended.”


The Willamette Valley

Thomas J. Farnham, 1839 - “To conclude, few portions of the globe, in my opinion, are to be found so rich in soil, so diversified in surface, or so capable of being rendered the happy abode of an industrious and civilized community.”


James Nesmith, 1843 - “Then it may be asked why did such men peril everything ...exposing their helpless families to the possibilities of massacre and starvation, braving death - and for what purpose? I am not quite certain that any rational answer will ever be given to that question.”


Senator Thomas Hart Benton, 1844 - “I say the man is alive, full grown, and is listening to what I say (without believing), who will yet see the Asiatic commerce traversing the North Pacific Ocean - entering the Oregon River - climbing the western slope of the Rocky Mountains.... The steamboat and steam-car have not exhausted all their wonders. They have not yet found their

amplest and most appropriate theatres.... The magic boat and the flying car are not yet seen upon this ocean and this plain, but they will be seen there; and St. Louis is yet to find herself as near to Canton as she now is to London....”


Tabitha Brown, 1846 - “For two or three weeks of my journey down the Willamette I’d something in the end of my glove finger which I supposed to be a button. On examination at my new home in Salem I found it to be a six and one-fourth cent piece [one half of a bit]; this was the whole of my cash capital to commence business in Oregon. With it I purchased three needles;

traded off some of my ppld clothes to the squaws for Buckskin; worked it into gloves for the Oregon Ladies and Gentlemen; which cleared me upwards of $30.00 extra....”


Benjamin Franklin Bonney, 1846-47 - “Doctor John McLoughlin of Vancouver employed my father to go to Champoeg to repair a grist mill there. He furnished father a bateau with eight Indian oarsmen.... We stayed there that winter while father worked on the mill. The winter of 1846 was one of the coldest that the oldest settlers of Oregon could remember.... My father’s ... land claim [near Hubbard] on the Pudding River bottom had forty acres of fine timber on ot. We split our cedar timbers for both Ford’s and Kiser’s houses. We got $10 per thousand for the cedar shingles. People came from all over Mission Bottom and French Prairie to buy shingles of us.”


Rev. George H. Atkinson, 1847 - “An imigrant will come in during the Autumn, put himself up a log house with a mud & stick chimney, split boards & shingles, break eight or ten or twenty acres of prairie and sow it with wheat. You call upon him the next year & he will have a fine field ripe for the sickle. His large field will be fenced with newly split fir rails. There will be a patch

of corn, another of potatoes, & another of garden vegetables. Outside a large piece will be broken for the present year’s sowing. His cattle & horse & hogs will be on the prairie, thriving and increasing without care. A few sheep may be around the house. He has a spring near.... The farmer wears buckskin pants. His family has few cooking utensils, few chairs. No additions since they

came into the Territory.”


Mary Osborn Douthit, 1847 - “Mother was at first in despair - no money, nothing to sell, and Oregon City sixteen miles away through an unbroken wilderness.... There stood the ever-ready ash hopper [from the stove] without which no family was equipped for living. They were soon at work leaching the ashes for lye, and the soap kettle was boiling. Each had a bucket of soap, and in

the early morning they mounted their horses and holding their bucket of soap in front of them, were off for Oregon City to exchange it for at least Mother’s first Oregon dress.”


Keturah Belknap, October 5, 1848 - “Now it is October of 1848. The emigrants [George and Keturah Belknap and their two children - one born along the Malheur River, his parents, Jesse and Jane Belknap, and their two sons, along with the families of Chatman Hawley, J.W. Starr and the Newtons] have arrived. quite a delegation of Belknaps and Starrs, and among them the ‘First Starrs of Magnitude’, was a very acceptable local preacher from Iowa with his family.”


Henry Garrison, 1847 - “Father had laid in a supply of school books before leaving home, and he now taught school on rainy days, and the evenings was spent by us children studying our book, in fact we put in all our time studying our books, father hearing us recite of evenings, our light that we used, was from pitchwood. I will state in this connection, that, excepting about six

months, all the schooling I ever got was by the fireside, I would, after doing my days work, take my bundle of pitchwood and sit down in the chimney corner and study until ten O'clock, when father would call out from his bed, that it was time for me to go to bed, then as soon as I would build the [first] fire of a morning, I would be at my studies again.”


Henry Garrison, 1848 - “I remained at home while Father was gone to the Indian wars. Before starting he had sown about forty acres of wheat, but it was not fenced in, the rails to make the fence was all made, but was laying in the woods where they [were] made, and the first thing for me to do was to haul the rails from the woods, and build the fence, of course it was a big winter job

for a Seventeen year old boy, but it must be done, there was about four thousand rails to haul, the ground was full of water, and soft, and about twenty five rails made a good load, the days were short, and four loads was a good days work. It took me until about the middle March to get the fence [finished], when the [fence] was done, there was about 25 acres of unbroken land, that was inside the enclosure. As soon as the fence was completed, I put the oxen to the plow and went to turning over this unbroken land. the middle of April I had the 25 acres all plowed, then came the tug of war, this was new sod, and I wanted to

sow it to oats. I don't suppose there was an iron or steel tooth harrow in the county, so my Uncle Enoch made me a harrow, with wooden teeth, as I was driving three yoke of oxen the harrow was made very heavy, and the teeth were about twenty inches long, and when I put it on that fresh sod Oh how it jumped.... I never saw a better crop than grew on that ground. After the crop was in, I went to work to grub out a place for a orchard, the oak bush was not more than a foot high, but still they had big roots, the tops had been kept back by fire, it took me nearly a month to get the grubbing done.”

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