Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Oregon

OREGON, one of the Pacific States of the American Union, is bounded N. by Washington Territory, E. by Idaho Territory, S. by Nevada and California, and W. by the Pacific, and lies between 42º and 46º 15' N. lat. and 116º 45' and 124º 30' W. long. It has an area of 94,560 square miles, besides 1470 square miles of water-surface; its average width from east to west is 345 miles, and from north to south 276 miles.

The State is divided by the Coast, Cascade, and Blue Mountains into well-marked sections. The Cascade range extends in an almost due north and south direction, parallel with the Pacific coast, and a little over 100 miles from it, entirely across the State, and thence northerly through Washington Territory into British Columbia; still farther north it forms the undefined boundary between the latter province and Alaska. In Oregon the range is heavily timbered, chiefly with coniferous evergreens, the principal trees being yellow, sugar, and scrub pine, yellow and white fir, several varieties of spruce, red and white cedar, yew, juniper, tamarack, and cypress; there is also a considerable quantity of maple, ash, and alder, and some oak in the western foot-hills to the south. Its most striking feature is the number of beautiful cone-shaped peaks, rising above the line of perpetual snow. Several quite low passes exist, which, however, are very little used. Commencing at the southern boundary of Oregon, the first of these peaks is Mount Pitt (9818 feet), flanked on all sides by outlying spurs and foot-hill ranges. Forty miles to the north stands Mount Scott (9016 feet), the eastern slope of which, covered with ashes and light debris, is comparatively easy of ascent; on the west the bluffs are almost perpendicular walls of igneous rock, sheltering great masses of snow. Mount Scott overlooks Mystic or Crater Lake, an elliptically-shaped basin of water about 5 miles long by 3 miles broad, entirely surrounded by unbroken cliff-walls ranging from 500 to 2000 feet; this occupies the crater of a gigantic old volcano of which Mount Scott is a portion of the eastern rim, all the rest having been carried away by erosion and other causes. Forty miles farther north is Diamond Peak (8807 feet high), which also gives evidence of being the south-eastern portion of an old crater rim. The portion of the mountain-chain from Mount Scott to Diamond Peak was a region of numerous volcanoes and of very extensive local lava-flows. It has a very high average elevation, and in it all the principal rivers of western Oregon have their sources: the Willamette, running to the north-west; the Des Chutes, running to the north-east; the head-water streams of Klamath river, flowing to the south, and breaking through the range to the west; the Rogue river, flowing to the south-west; and the Umpqua to the west and north. The Three Sisters (in reality five) are the next marked peaks (about 9000 feet); they seem to be portions of an old crater rim, 12 miles in diameter, now broken and worn away Mount Jefferson (about 10,200 feet) comes next, and then Mount Hood, the highest of all (11,225 feet). To the north of this the Columbia breaks through the range, having cut for itself a cañon, 4000 feet in depth, through the overlying lava and far into the previously-formed conglomerate on which it rests.

Eastern Oregon is in its southern part a vast volcanic plateau, rocky and sterile, lacking water, and possessing few natural attractions. The great interior basin, with out outlet to the ocean, extends far up into the State. In this region are a few lakes, generally alkaline and marshy sinks, fed by little streams which have their origin in the small neighbouring mountain masses. The principal vegetation consists of several varieties of sage brush, dwarf pine, and juniper, the last furnishing the winter food of immense numbers of deer, which, during the summer, range through the highlands and glens of the Cascades. Many small peaks and ranges rise from the plateau, all probably of volcanic origin, and some of them made up almost exclusively of blocks and masses of obsidian. From near its junction with the Boisée to the northern line of the State the Snake river forms the eastern boundary of Oregon, and nowhere in the world is there to be found a more perfect and impassable barrier than is formed by this river and its tremendous cañon, of which the walls (consisting of basaltic and kindred rocks) are from 2000 to 5000 feet in height, and so steep and precipitous that the most skilful mountaineer can scarcely find a place to ascend or descend them. In several cases the columnar black basalt takes wonderful shapes and produces most fantastic effects. The Snake in this part of its course is not navigable, and can never be made so. The northern portion of eastern Oregon is far superior in all its physical characteristics to the southern. Confused masses, known as the Blue and Powder River Mountains, lie in the north-east, modifying the climate for the better, and giving many rich valleys and table-lands to the agriculturist. The Grande Ronde, Umatilla, John Day, Burnt, and Powder rivers are the principal streams, and their main and tributary valleys are very lovely. The mountains are covered with pine of a very fair quality, with fir, cedar, and some maple, all of which is being rapidly cleared away. In the valleys cottonwood, willow, birch, aspen, and poplar grow freely. The hills are well stocked with the larger game, as bear, deer, mountain sheep, grey wolves, panthers, foxes, etc., the valleys and lakes with feathered game in considerable variety, and the streams with trout and salmon. Many mines of gold and silver have been found in the Blue and Powder River Mount ains, but none of remarkable richness. Nearly all the untimbered plains and valleys of north-eastern Oregon are covered with a rich growth of the hardy and nutritious “bunch grass.” The soil is very deep, and, coming, as it does, from the disintegration of volcanic rocks, is very fertile. The Des Chutes river drains most of the eastern slope of the Cascades, flowing in a wild turbulent stream through a deeply-cut cañon. The river is so swift, crooked, and with such rugged banks and so many jagged rocks that it is deemed impracticable even for the lumberman's use in floating logs to the Columbia.

The warm oceanic current from Japan, flowing south along the coast, is the cause of the mild climate of western Oregon, and of the heavy and incessant rains with which it is visited. These rains, continued through the centuries, have chiselled away the mountains, and, with other geological agencies, produced the three principal valleys into which this portion of the State may be considered as divided, — the Willamette, Umpqua, and Rogue river valleys. The Willamette valley has an area of about 8000 square miles, and contains more than half the population and wealth of the entire State. Its lower portions are level loamy plains, covered with rank grass, and here and there great areas of lowland timber, such as alder, maple, ash, cottonwood, poplar, &c., and a vast profusion of shrubbery. All about these lower plains are well-marked terraces, composing the higher levels, and from these, cast, west, and south to the encircling mountains, are spread away the rolling fertile uplands, gradually merging into the dense fir and pine forests which crown the higher summits. Many things attest the former presence of an arm of the sea extending from Puget Sound to the southern end of the valley. Many basaltic ridges yet remain, but this rock has been largely washed away. Western Oregon is well supplied with the ordinary building stones, as granite, syenite, and sandstone. Marble and limestone are found in the extreme south-west, and a valuable cement stone in the valley of the Umpqua. The Umpqua is a rapid mountain stream, and its valley is narrow but extremely fertile. This and Rogue river break through the Coast range in cañons, deep, rugged, and heavily timbered. The valley of Rogue river is beautiful, with a delightful climate, but it has always been very difficult of access, and has only now been reached for the first time from the north by the railroad. Much gold has been taken from the placer mines of the valley, and the sands and gravels of nearly all the tributary valleys carry the precious metal. The country lying between the Coast range and the ocean is narrow and very rugged, with some small cultivable valleys very difficult of access. There are no good harbours on the coast, but the Government is making efforts to improve Coos and Yaquina bays and Port Orford.

The Columbia river enters the Pacific Ocean near the 46th degree of north latitude; it drains by means of its tributaries the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, from about the 42d to the 53d parallel, a distance of 900 miles. The area of its drainage-basin is nearly 245,000 square miles. The route of communication by the Columbia has been of the greatest importance in the early development of Oregon, and its value increases daily. The head of navigation for sea-going ships is at Portland, about 100 miles up the Columbia and 12 miles up the Willamette. From this point up to the Cascades, river craft go freely with plenty of water at all seasons of the year, with, generally, the exception of a short time each winter when the river is frozen. The cascades of the Columbia are due north from Mount Hood, just on the central line of the range where it is cut through by the river. The obstruction to navigation here is complete; but the Government has for several years been engaged in the construction of a canal which will make navigation continuous 45 miles farther, up to the Dalles, at the eastern base of the Cascades. Here there is another total obstruction, the river flowing swiftly through intricate channels, which seem to have been originally great cracks in a field of lava; surveys have been made, however, and plans prepared for improvements. Above the Dalles the Columbia is navigable for 190 miles and the Snake for 180. The Northern Pacific Railroad passes down on the Oregon side, through the cañon of the Columbia. The Columbia is noted for its beautiful scenery, for the great quantity of salmon taken from its waters, and for the dreaded bar at its mouth. The dangers from this bar have been greatly lessened of late years by improved pilotage and more accurate knowledge of the phenomena; and further ameliorations by the general Government are in contemplation.

The south-west warm winds from the Pacific distribute vapours over western Oregon abundantly in autumn, winter, and spring in dews, fogs, rains, and occasional snows, and over eastern Oregon in less amounts. The north-west summer winds are cool. The average temperature in western Oregon is — in spring 52º, in summer 67º, in autumn 53º, and in winter 39º Fahr. The thermometer seldom rises above 90º in the hottest days of the summer, and rarely falls below 20º in the winter. In the thirteen years 1849-51 and 1858-68, two-thirds of the days were pleasant, and only one -third were either showery or rainy or snowy in the north-west part of the State. In the Willamette valley the average yearly rainfall is 44 to 54 inches, which is about the same as at Philadelphia and at Davenport (Iowa). In the Umpqua and Rogue river valleys it is somewhat less. Thunder-storms seldom occur in the State, and cyclones and tornadoes are unknown.

{{EB1911 Fine Print|Geology. — The geological history of the Cascade and Coast ranges of Oregon is very interesting. For an immense period before these ranges existed the primeval ocean washed the western shores of the great Rocky Mountain chain, and throughout the Paleozoic era and the whole Triassic and Jurassic periods of the Mesozoic era numerous rivers kept bringing down debris until an enormously thick mass of off-shore deposits had accumulated. This marginal sea-bottom became the scene of intense aqueo-igneous action in its deeply-buried strata, producing a line of weakness, which, yielding to the horizontal thrust produced by the secular contraction of the interior of the earth, was crushed together and swollen up into the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains at the end of the Jurassic period. The range thus produced, as far as can be ascertained, was not of very great height, though probably higher to the south than to the north. It existed for unknown centuries, and in its turn was the theatre of erosion and plant-growth, and was roamed over by the now extinct fauna of the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods. It was not yet covered by the great lava-flow and mountain range of the modern Cascades, but by forests of conifers and oaks. Beneath the overlying lava, where the Columbia breaks through the range, there is found along the water's edge, and for about 15 feet upwards, a very coarse conglomerate of rounded porphyritic pebbles and boulders of all sizes up to 6 feet in diameter, held together by an imperfectly-lithified earthy paste. Above this conglomerate is a very distinct irregular old ground-surface bed, in which are found silicified stumps with roots extending over a diameter of 20 feet and penetrating into the boulder material beneath, evidently in situ. Resting directly on this forest ground-surface, and therefore enclosing the erect stumps, is a layer of stratified sandstone, 2 or 3 feet thick, filled with beautiful and perfect impressions of leaves of several kinds of forest trees, possibly of the very trees about whose silicified bases they are found; this layer is not continuous, like the ground-surface on which it rests. Above this leaf-bearing stratum rests a coarse conglomerate similar to that beneath at the water-level. Scattered about in the lower part of this upper conglomerate and in the stratified sandstone, and sometimes lying in the dirt-bed beneath it, fragments of silicified drift-wood are found. Above this last conglomerate, and resting upon it, rise the layers of lava, mostly columnar basalt, one above another, to a height of more than 3000 feet. The following order of events has been deduced from these facts by Professor Le Conte, their first observer.

The region of the Columbia river was a forest, probably a valley, overgrown by conifers and oaks. The subsoil was a coarse boulder drift produced by erosion of some older rocks. An excess of water came on, either by floods or changes of level, and the trees were killed, their leaves shed and buried in mud, and their trunks rotted to stumps. Then came on a tumultuous and rapid deposit of coarse drift, containing drift-wood, which covered up the forest ground and the still remaining stumps, to a depth of one, perhaps several, hundred feet. The surface thus formed was eroded into hills and dales, and then followed the outburst of lava in successive flows, and the silicification of the wood and cementation of the drift by the percolation of the hot alkaline waters containing silica. Finally followed the process of erosion by which the present stream, channels, and valleys, whether main or tributary, have been cut to their enormous depths. The great masses of sediment sent down to the sea by the erosion of the primary Cascade range, forming a thick off-shore deposit, gave rise in turn at the end of the Miocene to the upheaval of the Coast range, the Cascade Mountains being at the same time rent along the axis into enormous fissures, from which outpoured the grand lava-floods, building the mountains higher, and covering the country for great distances. This is probably the grandest lava-flow known to geology, covering as it does an area of about 200,000 square miles. Commencing in middle California as separate streams, in northern California it becomes a flood, completely mantling the smaller and flowing around the greater inequalities. In northern Oregon and Washington it becomes an absolutely universal flood, beneath which the whole original face of the country, with its hills and dales, mountains and valleys, lies buried several thousand feet. It covers the greater portion of northern California and north-western Nevada, nearly the whole of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, and runs far into British Columbia on the north. The average thickness is probably not far from 2000 feet, and the greatest (shown where the Columbia, Des Chutes, Snake, Salmon, and other rivers cut through it) about 4000 feet. To produce this many successive flows took place, and a very long period of time must have elapsed during which the volcanic actions were going on. During the period of these Cascade eruptions the Coast range was being slowly elevated, and became in its turn the scene of local volcanic action, which was, however, not very severe. At last the great fissure eruptions in the Cascades drew to a close by the fissures becoming blocked up; the volcanic action was concentrated in a few localities, and the period of crater-eruptions followed. These eruptions continued for a long time, almost to our own day, and to them the upbuilding of the snow-clad peaks is due. By the formation of the Cascade range there came into existence a grand interior basin, the waters of which collected into secondary reservoirs, some of very large extent, and were carried off by the rivers which have cut their way from the interior to the sea. The Columbia and its tributaries drained the northern part of this immense basin, and it was at this period, doubtless, that the Great Salt Lake of Utah assumed its once colossal proportions and found its outlet to the sea by the Snake and Columbia rivers. Then came the lava-floods, since denuded in places, exposing the Tertiary and Cretaceous beds, and furnishing evidence of the former condition of the region by the fossils found therein. At the end of the Miocene the Coast range was upheaved, and the lava-flows from the Cascade fissures commenced, but it was long before these reached the entire extent of the basins of Oregon, which continued to exist and to be endowed with life well into the Pliocene. The principal fossil beds of the State are those of the John Day, Des Chutes, and Grande Ronde countries, and near Christmas Lake in southern Oregon. The Glacial, Champlain, and Terrace epochs are very well illustrated in several places, and have left marked evidences of their existence.

Fauna and Flora. — Since the occupation of the State by civilized men the grizzly, black, and cinnamon bears, grey wolf, coyote, panther, catamount, wild cat and polecat, deer, antelope, elk, and mountain sheep have slowly retreated from the settlements to the recesses of the hills. Fur-bearing animals have increased since the Hudson's Bay Company withdrew from the country. Silver foxes, martens, hares, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, porcupines, beaver, otter, musk-rats, and seals are found in greater or less abundance within the State. Salmon, sturgeon, trout, holibut, smelt, and other fish in countless numbers exist in the Columbia and its branches and in the bays and coast rivers, and oysters, shrimps, crabs, and clams along the shores. Eagles, hawks, cormorants, pelicans, gulls, cranes, albatross, vultures, buzzards, ravens, crows, jays, robins, swallows, sparrows, rice-birds, yellow-birds, hummingbirds, swans, geese, ducks, pigeons, and many other varieties of birds are found. Reptiles and insects are numerous.

The trees of Oregon include Rhamnus Purshiana (bearberry), Acer circinatum (vine maple), A. macrophyllum (large-leaved maple), Prunus (Cerasus) emarginata, var. mollis (wild cherry), P. (C.) demissa (choke-cherry), Nuttallia ccrasiformis (seam-berry, or squaw-berry), Cercocarpus ledifolius (mountain mahogany), Pyrus rivularis (Oregon crab-apple), P. sambucifolia (mountain ash), Cratægus Douglasii (black haw), C. rivularis, Amelanchier canadensis (service-berry), Cornus Nuttallii (dog-wood), Sambucus glauca (elder), Arbutus Menziesii (laurel, madroño), Arctostaphylos pungens (manzanita), Fraxinus oregana (Oregon ash), Umbellularia (Orcodaphne) californica (myrtle), Myrica californica, Quercus chrysolepis (live oak), Q. densiflora, Q. Garryana (white oak), Q. Kelloggii (black oak), Castanopsis chrysophylla (chinquapin), Betula occidentalis (birch), Alnus rhombifolia (alder), Salix lasiandra (willow), Populus tremuloides (quaking asp), P. trichocarpa, Taxus brevifolia (yew), Juniperus occidentalis (juniper), Cupressus (Chamæcyparis) Lawsoniana (Port Orford cedar), C. (Chamæcyparis) Nutkaensis (Sitka cedar), Thuya gigantea, Libocedrus decurrens (thick-barked cedar), Sequoia sempervirens (redwood), Abies concolor, A. grandis (white fir), A. nobilis, A. amabilis, A. subalpina, A. (Pseudotsuga) Douglasii, A. (Tsuga) Mertensiana (hemlock), A. (Tsuga) Pattoniana (mountain hemlock), A. (Picea) Engelmanni, A. (P.) Sitchensis, Larix Lyallii (larch), L. occidentalis (larch, or tamarack), Pinus contorta (black pine, or jack pine), P. albicaulis, P. Lambertiana (sugar pine), P. monticola (silver pine), P. ponderosa, P. tuberculata.[1]

Agriculture, Manufactures, Commerce. — Wheat is the chief crop for home use and for export. All the smaller cereals are grown and produce largely. Flax is indigenous in southern and eastern Oregon; it is cultivated both for seed and for lint. Maize gives a fair harvest, though the nights are too cool for the best results. Vegetables of all kinds common to the temperate zone flourish, and orchard and garden fruits are sure. One species of clover is indigenous, but all varieties grow and spread rapidly over fields, pastures, and burnt forest lands.

Subjoined are the agricultural statistics for the years specified.

1850. 1860. 1870. 1880.

Farm Produce.
Wheat, bushels 211,943 826,776 2,340,706 7,480,010
Oats, 61,214 885,673 2,029,909 4,385,650
Barley, .... 26,254 210,736 920,977
Indian corn, 2,918 76,122 72,138 126,862
Rye, 106 2,704 3,890 13,305
Buckwheat, .... 2,749 1,645 6,215
Potatoes, 91,326 303,319 481,710 1,359,930
Hay, tons 373 27,986 75,357 266,187
Hops, pounds 8 493 9,745 244,371
Tobacco, 325 405 3,847 17,325
Live Stock and their Products.
Value of live stock $1,876,189 $5,946,255 $6,828,675 $13,808,392
Number of horses 8,046 36,772 51,702 124,107
mules and asses 420 980 2,581 2,804
working oxen 8,114 7,469 2,441 4,132
milch cows 9,427 53,170 48,325 59,549
other cattle 24,188 93,492 69,431 352,561
sheep 15,382 86,052 318,123 1,083,162
swine 30,235 81,615 119,455 156,222
Pounds of butter 211,464 1,000,157 1,418,373 2,443,725
cheese 36,980 105,397 79,333 153,198
wool 29,686 219,012 1,080,638 5,718,524
Farm Lands and Machinery.
Number of farms 1,164 5,806 7,587 16,217
Acres in 432,808 2,060,539 2,389,252 4,214,712
Ratio of improved land in farms to total farm area 30.7 43.5 46.7 52.2
Value of farms $2,849,170  $15,200,593  $22,352,989  $56,908,575
implements and machinery $183,423 $952,313 $1,293,717 $2,956,173

The statistics of manufactures are as follows: —

Manufactures. 1850. 1860. 1870. 1880.

Establishments 52 309 969 1,080
Capital $843,600 $1,337,238 $4,376,849 $6,312,056
Hands employed (average) 285 978 2,884 3,473
Wages $388,620 $635,256 $1,120,173 $1,677,046
Value of materials $809,560 $1,431,952 $3,419,756 $6,954,436
products $2,236,640  $2,976,761  $6,877,387  $10,931,232

The principal industries ranked as follows in 1880: —

Selected Industries. Establishments. Capital. Value of
Value of

Flouring and grist mill products 106 $1,286,200 $2,978,714 $3,475,531
Lumber, sash, doors, and blinds 248 1,808,275 1,475,322 2,284,155
Woollen goods  10 566,800 227,486 549,030
Foundry and machine-shop products  16 260,500 121,911 352,300
Tin-ware, copper-ware, and sheet-iron ware  46 233,150 151,475 311,650
Other industries 654 2,157,131 1,999,528 3,958,566

Total of all industries 1080  $6,312,056  $6,954,436  $10,931,232

Oregon has three ports of entry — Astoria on the Columbia, Portland on the Willamette, and Coos Bay on the southern coast. The exports to foreign ports for the twelve months ending 31st July 1882 were $9,970,410; exports to domestic ports, $5,899,738; total exports, $15,870,148; wheat, $6,677,418; flour, $2,853,792; salmon, $2,484,761; wool, $1,488,360; oats, $417,640; lumber, $228,392. The salmon-canning business began in 1866 with a product of 4000 cases, valued at $64,000; the average annual value for the six years 1878-83 exceeded $2,000,000. Between Astoria and the cascades of the Columbia river there are about forty canneries. Over 1500 boats are employed in the fishery.

Railroads and Steamers. — In 1865 there were in Oregon 19 miles of railway open; in 1875, 248; in 1880, 582; on 1st March 1884, 900 miles. Steamers ply twice a week between Portland and San Francisco (670 miles), and at frequent intervals on the Columbia river for 725 miles, on the Willamette 138 miles, and on the Snake river 180 miles.

Government and Finance. — The statutes of Iowa and New York were the models of the provisional government of Oregon, and legislation has continued generally on these lines. The courts consist of a supreme court, with appellate jurisdiction, situated in Salem, the capital, and five circuit or district courts, with county courts and justices courts in every precinct of city and county. Cities have police courts also. There is a United States district court for Oregon, and a United States circuit court for Oregon with California and Nevada. The State debt in 1880 was $511,376, and local, county, city, and school debt was $377,126. The gross value of all property, as compiled from records in the office of the secretary of state in 1882, was $85,531,716; indebtedness, $22,300,912; exemption, $4,973,058; taxable property, $59,257,746; State tax, $325,917.38; wealth per head, $493.90.

Education. — In 1848 Congress granted to Oregon one-eighteenth of all the public domain for free schools. This area (3,387,520


acres) was received by the State on its admission to the Union for the education of all its youth of both sexes. Congress also granted about twenty-six townships (500,000 acres) for a State university, and 90,000 acres for an agricultural college. A portion of these lands has been sold, and the proceeds have been made an irreducible fund for the objects named. The free-school system has been established in every county and almost every settlement. In Portland and other cities grades have been established from “primary” to “high school.” The State university is established at Eugene City, and an agricultural college at Corvallis. This public-school system is supplemented by many corporate academies, seminaries, and colleges, and by parochial and private schools representing different denominations. A school for mutes and one for the blind have been established at Salem by the legislature. Ten institutions report as endowments $290,132, yielding an annual income of $16,050, and thirteen report $35,166 from tuition, and a total annual income of $61,070. The number of children of school age (four to twenty years) is 65,216; enrolled in public schools 37,748, in private schools 5101. Public school expenses for the year ending 1st March 1882 amounted to $338,386; the public schoolhouses numbered 1061, of the value of $684,298. The United States Indian Industrial Training School at Forest Grove, which numbers 146 pupils, taken from schools on the reservation, has become a marked success. Of 119,482 white persons over ten years of age in 1880 only 3.6 per cent, were unable to write.

Charitable and Penal Institutions. — A State asylum for the insane at Salem has over 300 inmates. The State penitentiary is at Salem; the convicts are employed under contractors in various industries, subject to constant watch of officials.

Religion. — The statistics of 1875 report 351 religious organizations of all denominations, with 242 church edifices, 320 clergymen, 14,324 communicants, and 71,630 adherents. The estimated value of church property was $654,000. The rank of the several denominations in respect to numbers is approximately as follows: Methodists, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, and five minor sects. The increase in seven years by immigration and other gains has been at least 35 per cent.

The Press. — Oregon has 74 newspapers — 72 in English and 2 in German. A weekly newspaper is published in every shire town, and in many of the larger villages. Four daily papers are issued in Portland.

Cities and Chief Towns. — Portland (q.v.) on the Willamette, 115 miles from the ocean, is the chief city of the Pacific coast north of San Francisco (population in 1880, 17,577); Astoria is a commercial city of 3000 inhabitants, with large salmon-canning establishments, which do an annual business of over $2,000,000; Oregon City, at the falls of the Willamette, is a nourishing manufacturing town; Salem (the capital), Albany, Corvallis, Eugene City, Roseburg, The Dalles, Pendleton, Union, and Baker City are places of rapidly-growing importance.}}

Population. — The following statistics show the growth of the State during the last three decades: —

Census. Males. Females. Total. Density per
square mile.

Of the total population in 1880 17½ per cent. (30,503) were of foreign birth, 9472 being Chinese, 5034 Germans, 1557 Scandinavians, 7913 British, and 3019 British Americans.

History. — Oregon at first included all the United States territory between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains north of the 42d parallel, and thus had a total area of over 300,000 square miles. The Greek pilot De Fuca, in the service of Spain, in 1592, Admiral Fonte in 1640, and others had visited and mapped the coast as far as the 55th parallel. In 1792 Captain Robert Gray of Boston, in the ship “Columbia,” discovered and ascended the river as far as Gray's Bay, and named the river after his vessel. Oregon was afterwards held by the United States Government to have been included in the sale of “Louisiana” by France in 1803. In 1804-5 Lewis and Clark explored the Columbia to its mouth and reported the great resources of the country. In 1810 Captain Winship, a New Englander, built the first house in Oregon, on the Columbia; and in 1811 John Jacob Astor of New York estab lished a fur-trading post 15 miles from the ocean at Astoria on that river. In 1813, during the war, his agent sold it to the North-Western Fur Company, who called it Fort George. Though restored to the United States after the war, it was held by the company, and in 1821 it passed, with their other possessions, into the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company. The British laid claim to Oregon by virtue of Drake's discovery of the coast in 48º N. lat. in 1558, of Cook's visit to De Fuca Strait in search of a north-west passage in 1778, and of the survey of the coast from 30º to 60º N. lat., by order of the British Admiralty, made by Vancouver (who was with Cook in 1778), to find a north-west passage, and his discovery and ascent of the Columbia to the site of the present city of Vancouver in 1792. A treaty of “joint occupation” was made in 1818 between the United States and Great Britain which left these conflicting claims for future settlement and only served to prolong and increase the disagreement. The British finally offered to compromise on the Columbia. In 1824 some employees of the Hudson's Bay Company set out a few fruit trees and cultivated a garden at Fort George (Astoria). In 1832 Captain Nathaniel Wycth of Wenham, Massachusetts, established a fishery on Sauvie's Island. In 1834 the Revs. Jason and Daniel Lee and others came to Oregon on Captain Wyeth's second trip, to establish a mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church, east of the Cascade Mountains, but they were persuaded by the superintendent of the Hudson's Bay Company to settle in the Willamette valley. They soon collected some dozens of Indian children near the present site of Salem, and established the “Oregon Manual Labour School.” Others came, until, in 1840, their mission families numbered fifty-two adults and twenty children. Their mission closed in 1847, and the families became settlers. In 1835 Rev. Samuel Parker and Dr Marcus Whitman were commissioned to explore and plant a mission in Oregon. Under convoy of the yearly expedition of the American Fur Company, Dr and Mrs Whitman, Rev. H. H. Spalding and Mrs Spalding, and Mr W. H. Gray “crossed the plains” in 1836, travelling 2300 miles from the Missouri line, and began a mission among the Indians of eastern Oregon. These two ladies were the first white women who crossed the Rocky Mountains. The missionaries formed the nuclei of settlements: trappers, adventurers, and western pioneers followed; cattle were secured from California, and in 1842 steps were taken for a government, by a choice of officers. The whites numbered only about 240. Western pioneers having been told that waggons could not be taken to the Columbia, and induced to exchange them at Fort Hall for horses, Dr Whitman, to remove the bar thus put up against immigration, recrossed the plains in the winter of 1842-43. He published his plan to help emigrants through to Oregon with their families and waggons, hastened to Washington to arouse Government officials to retain their hold of Oregon and care for it, and then returned, overtaking nearly 1000 emigrants at the North Platte river. A provisional government was organized that year by the people. More immigrants followed. In 1846 a treaty was concluded between Great Britain and the United States fixing the boundary at 49º N. lat. In 1848 Congress established a Territorial government, and the governor, General Joseph Lane, arrived in March 1849. United States courts were then established. On 28th November 1847, Dr and Mrs Whitman, along with twelve others, were murdered by the Indians. War followed, and again broke out in 1855. Other wars against the Indians occurred in 1877 and 1878, but the tribes have mostly been placed upon reservations, under educational and industrial training. They have become peaceable and partially self-supporting, though paid in annuities for their lands. The Territory was admitted into the Union as a State on 14th February 1859. (T. W. S.G. H. A.)

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EB9 Oregon - map.jpg
W. & A. K. Johnston, Edinburgh & London

  1. See List of the Trees of Oregon, published by Prof. G. H. Collier.