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GEOGRAPHY OF OREGON.

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that part of the continent. All these ports are, however, on a small scale, and seldom contain more than two or three clerks or traders, and a few Indians or half-breed hunters. Fort Hall was established in 1834, by a party of citizens of the United States, under the direction of Captain Wyeth, of Boston, who endeavored, at the same time, to carry on the salmon fishery in the Lower Coluinbia ; the Hudson's Bay Company, however, by their active and powerful competition, soon compelled the Americans to relinquish the project, and to dispose of their posts to that body.

The American trappers and hunters have been compelled, in consequence of these measures on the part of the Hudson's Bay Company, to abandon the regions of the Columbia, and to confine themselves to the northern parts of California, about the head-waters of the Colorado river, and the Utah lake. In the summer of each year they repair with the produce of their labors to certain places of rendezvous, where they meet the traders bringing clothes, hardware, arms, ammunition, and other articles from the Missouri; and an exchange of merchandise is effected, to the benefit of both parties. The principal rendezvous is on the banks of the Sidskadee, or Green river, one of the confluents of the Colorado, near the western extremity of the great Gap in the Rocky Mountains, called the South Pass, through which all the communications between the Mississippi regions on the one side, and Oregon and California on the other, are conducted.

The citizens of the United States in the Columbia regions, previous to 1843, did not probably exceed four hundred in number, nearly all of whom were established in the valley of the Willamet, and on the WallaWalla, as farmers, graziers, or mechanics, very few being engaged in any commercial pursuit. The greater part of them had gone thither under the guidance of missionaries of several Protestant sects, from the Mississippi, or from the Eastern States of the Union; and their condition might be considered as prosperous, in consequence rather of their industry, sobriety, and morality, than of any peculiar advantages of soil or climate, in the country. The Roman Catholics were priests from Missouri, chiefly Jesuits, who, as usual, devoted themselves almost exclusively to the instruction of the natives.

In 1843, however, a large emigration took place to these countries from the United States; and it has been continued ever since, so that at the end of 1845, the number of American inhabitants was not less than six thousand, of whom perhaps three-fourths were established in the Willamet. There they organized a government on the model of those of their fatherland; and, according to the most recent accounts, the little colony is proceeding in the most satisfactory manner, in every respect. Their chief town, called Oregon City, at the Falls of the Willamet, contains several hundred inhabitants; the abundance of their crops enables them to afford a sufficiency of food, not only for the supply of the new comers, but also for exportation to the Sandwich Islands; and a newspaper, moreover, issues weekly from their printing press. With their neighbors of the Hudson's Bay Company they maintain the most friendly relations; and there is reason to believe that a large proportion of the servants of that body, in the territory, will remain, and that their children, at least, will become citizens of the Republic, to which the region south of the 49th parallel is now definitively secured.

The intercourse between the States of the Union and the Columbia regions, has been hitherto conducted almost entirely by land: the number of emigrants who have gone to those regions by sea has been small; and the Missouri, the Arkansas, and the Red Rivers, have not as yet been used as channels of communication beyond the limits of the States. To what distance the two last-named rivers may be ascended by boats is not yet determined; there is, however, strong reason to believe, that they may each be navigated to points, much nearer to the passes of the Rocky Mountains, than the place from which the land journey is now commenced. The Missouri will, in all probability, never be employed for the purpose, beyond the mouths of the Kansas, or the Platte; on account of its circuitous course, and the great elevation and barrenness of the region between its headwaters and those of the Columbia.

The towns of Independence and Westport, near the confluence of the Kansas with the Missouri, on the western frontier of the state of Missouri, form the usual places of departure to and arrival from Oregon and New Mexico.

of the route to Oregon, a concise descriptive itinerary may not be uninteresting

From Independence, the trail, as it is called, for there is as yet no road, passes along the south side of the Kansas to its ford, 80 miles — then crossing the river, it continues northwestward, ascending the valley of the Blue branch of the Kansas to the Platte, near its grand island, 220 — thence the route is west along the south bank of the Platte to the junction of its north and south forks, or branches, 115 - across the south branch, and along the south side of the north branch, to a remarkable pile of marl and limestone, called the Chimney, 155 – continuing along the south bank to Fort Larimie, a fur trading post, at the mouth of a small stream from the south, called Larimie's Fork, 82— thence along the north branch of the Platte, to its passage through a ridge of sandstone, near the heights called the Red Buttes, 155 - following the north branch to its junction with a small stream, called the Sweet Water, on which, Dot far from the confluence, is the remarkable isolated eminence of granite, called Rock Independence, 50 - and along the Sweet Water, through a rugged region, up to its sources in the depression of a gap of the Rocky Mountains, called the South Pass, 110.

This is the western limit of the Atlantic section of America ; within a few miles of the source of the Sweet Water, flowing towards the Mexican Gulf, is that of Sandy Creek, one of the head streams of the Colorado, which falls into the northern extremity of the Gulf of California ; and not far northwest are the springs of the Lewis, the southern branch of the Columbia. The dividing point in the South Pass, between the Sweet Water and Sandy Creek, is situated in latitude of 424 degrees; and in longitude of 1094 degrees west from Greenwich; 967 miles by the route, and about 750 in a straight line, from the town of Independence.

The route continues westward to Sandy Creek, and down it to the Siskadee, or Green River, the main branch of the Colorado, 70 miles then across the Green River, up one of its streams called Ham's Fork, northward, and over a ridge to Bear River, the principal feeder of the Utah, or Great Salt Lake, 135 — up Bear River, northward to the Beer or Soda Springs, where the river runs around the extremity of a line of mountains, and turns south to the lake, 50 - thence across a ridge to

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GEOGRAPHY OF OREGON.

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the Portneuf River, and down the latter 50 miles to its confluence with the Lewis, or Snake River, the southern branch of the Columbia, at which point is situated the Hudson's Bay Company's trading post, called Fort Hall, 305 miles from the South Pass.

The route as far as Fort Hall presents comparatively few difficulties, and is annually traversed by hundreds of loaded wagons. The remainder of the journey is attended with many inconveniences, some arising from the nature of the ground, and others from the want of forage and water ; all of which will doubtless be diminished when the country becomes better known, and necessity should have led to the application of labor at certain points. That the obstacles cannot be very great, is conclusively proved by the fact, that the wagons go on from Fort Hall to the Falls of the Columbia, generally in the following line of route:

From Fort Hall, along the south side of the Lewis, to the American Falls, 22 miles; thence to the Fishing Falls, 125; and thence to the crossing place of the Lewis, 40; there leaving the river, the trail passes through the mountains, which border it northward, to the Boisé, and down that stream to its junction with the Lewis, near the trading post called Fort Boisé, 130; crossing the Lewis at this place, its direction is nearly north, passing over the Malheur, Burnt and Powder Rivers, which empty into the Lewis from the west, to the Grand Rond, a beautiful and rich valley surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, and drained by a stream of the same name, falling into the Lewis, 138; thence 100 miles to Fort Walla-Walla, or Nez-percé, a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, at the entrance of the Walla-Walla River, into the main trunk of the Columbia, nine miles below the junction of the north and south branches of the latter, and 555 miles from Fort Hall,

Thus the distance along the wagon road from the Missouri, at the mouth of the Kansas to the Columbia, at the junction of its two great branches, is about 1827 miles. The wagons may proceed 115 miles farther down the valley of the Columbia to its Falls; but much labor will be required ere they can complete the passage across the continent to the Pacific. The distances on the road below Fort Walla-Walla, are, to the Umatalla River, 25 miles; to John Day's River, 70; to the Falls, 20; to the Cascades, 45; and thence to Fort Vancouver, the principal trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company west of the Rocky Mountains, 55. From Fort Vancouver to Oregon City is about 30 miles, and to the mouth of the Columbia, 120 : the whole distance, by the most direct practicable route from the city of Washington to the mouth of the Columbia being about 3312 miles. The route across the continent, through the British territories, from Fort William, near the west end of Lake Superior, to Fort Walla-Walla, is at least a thousand miles longer than that from the latter place to Independence. The passage is effected for the most part in canoes, on rivers and lakes ; the remainder of the journey being pursued on foot, or on horseback : and there is no progpect that the route will ever be improved, either in convenience or practicability.

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RUSSIAN AMERICA.

Russia claims, as already said, in virtue of the discoveries and settlements of her subjects, and of treaties with the United States and Great Britain, the whole division of the American continent, and the adjacent islands, north of the latitude of 54 degrees 40 minutes, and west of a line drawn from that latitude, northward, along the highlands bordering the Pacific Ocean to Mount St. Elias, and thence due north to the Arctic Sea. This power also claims the whole of Asia, extending on the Pacific north of the 51st parallel, all the Aleutian Islands, and all the Kurile Islands, north of the latitude of 45 degrees 40 minutes.

Of the parts of America thus claimed by Russia, the islands and the coasts of the continent have been explored, and some have been surveyed with care; several rivers, also, have been traced to considerable distances from their mouths: the interior regions are, however, but little known, and, from all accounts, they do not seem to merit the labor and expense which would be required for their complete examination. Only small portions of the islands are fit for agriculture, or for any purpose useful to man, except fishing and hunting; the remaining territories present to the eye nothing but rocks, snow, and ice.

The exclusive use and government of all the islands and ports of America above mentioned are granted by charter from the emperor of Russia to a body called the Russian American Trading Company, which has established on their coasts a number of forts, settlements, and factories, all devoted to the purposes of the fur trade and fishery; the coast of the continent, south-west of the 58th degree of latitude, has, however, been, as already mentioned, leased to the Hudson's Bay Company until the 1st of June, 1850, at an annual rent, payable in furs. The inhabitants of the Kurile, the Aleutian, and the Kodiak Islands are regarded as the immediate subjects of the company; in the service of which, every man, between the ages of eighteen and fifty years, may be required to pass at least three years. The natives of the country adjoining the two great bays called Cook's Inlet and Prince William's Sound, are also under the control of this body, and are obliged to pay an annual tax in furs, though they are not compelled to enter the regular service. All the other aborigines are considered as independent, except that they are allowed to trade only with the Russian American company. By the latest accounts, the number of Russian establishments was twenty-six, all situated south of Bering's Strait. The immediate subjects of the company were seven hundred and thirty Russians, fourteen hundred and forty-two Creoles, or children of Russian fathers by native mothers, and eleven thousand aborigines of the Kurile, Aleutian, and Kodiak Islands; the number of the natives inhabiting the other regions cannot be ascertained, but must be very small, when compared with the extent of the surface.

The Russian American territories are politically divided into six

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GEOGRAPHY OF RUSSIAN AMERICA.

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districts, each of which is under the direction of an agent ; the whole being superintended by a governor-general, usually an officer of the Russian navy, residing at the capital of the possessions. The furs are collected either by persons in the regular service of the company, or as taxes from its subjects, or by trade with the independent natives; and they are transported in its vessels to Petropawlowsk in Kamtchatka, or to Ochotsk, in Siberia, or, by special permission of the Chinese government, to Canton, or to the European ports of Russia; the supplies being received from those places by the same vessels.

The district of Sitka comprehends the islands of the North-West Archipelago, and the coasts of the American continent, northward from the parallel of 54 degrees 40 minutes, to Mount St. Elias. The islands are six large, and an infinite number of smaller ones, separated from each other, and from the main land, by narrow, but generally navigable channels. The large islands are those distinguished on English maps as Prince of Wales's Island, the southernmost, between which and the continent, on the east, are the Duke of York's and the Revillagigedo Islands; farther north, on the ocean, is King George the Third's Archipelago, including Baranof's and Tchichagof's Islands; and east of these latter are Admiralty and some other islands.

Opposite the western end of the channel, separating Baranof's from Tchichagof's Island, is a small island, consisting of a single and beautiful conical peak, rising from the ocean, which received from its Spanish discoverers, in 1775, the name of Mount San Jacinto, but is better known by the English appellation of Mount Edgecumb; a narrow passage, called Norfolk Sound, separates it from Baranof's Island, on the shore of which stands Sitka, or New Archangel, the capital of Russian America. This is a small town, of wooden houses, covered mostly with iron, protected, or rather overlooked, by batteries, and inhabited by about a thousand persons, of whom nearly one half are Russians, the majority of the others being Creoles. The governor's house is large and substantially built, and is surmounted by a lighthouse; the fortifications, which are also of wood, are armed by about forty guns: attached to the establishment are an extensive arsenal, including a ship-yard, a foundery, and shops for various artificers, a hospital, and a church, splendidly adorned in the interior. Sitka, moreover, though thus remote from all civilized countries, contains several schools, in which the children are instructed at the expense of the company, a library of two thousand volumes, a cabinet of natural history, and an observatory supplied with the instruments most necessary for astronomical and magnetic observations.

On comparing the results of meteorological observations, it appears that the mean temperature of every month of the year, at Sitka, is higher than that of any place in America, east of the Rocky Mountains, within several degrees of the same latitude. No attempts at cultivation have, however, been made there or in any other part of Russian America, except at the settlement of Ross, in California, on a scale sufficiently large to authorize any opinions as to the agricultural value of the soil.

The district of Kodiak comprises all the coasts from the North-West Archipelago, northward and westward, to the southern extremity of the peninsula of Aliaska, with the adjacent islands, as also a portion of the coast of the Sea of Kamtchatka, on the north-west side of Aliaska. The largest island is Kodiak, situated near the east coast of Aliaska, from

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