REPORT ON OREGON TERRITORY 283 gather with vegetables, and a sufficient quantity has been ob- tained to supply the wants of the post. The ground is well adapted for grazing in the prairies, and, despite its changeable climate, stock is found to thrive well and endure the severity of the winters without protection. This section is exceedingly dry and arid, rains seldom falling and but little snow. The country is partially timbered and the soil much impregnated with salts. The missionary station on the Kooscooske, near the western line of this section, is thought by the missionaries to be a wet climate. The soil along the river bottoms is generally alluvial, and would yield good crops were it not for the overflowings of the river, which check and kill the grain. Some of the finest por- tions of the land are thus unfitted for cultivation; they are generally covered with water before the banks are overflown in consequence of the quicksands that exist in them and through which the water percolates. The rivers of this territory afford no fertilizing properties to the soil, but, on the contrary, are destitute of all substances, being perfectly clear and cold. The temperature of the Colum- bia in the latter part of May was 42 and in September 68. The rise of the streams from the Cascade Mountains usually takes place twice a year in February and November from the rains ; that of the Columbia in May and June from the melting of the snows. Sometimes it is very sudden, if heavy rains occur at that period, but usually it is gradual in reaching its greatest height about the 6th to the 15th of June. Its perpendicular rise is from 18 to 20 feet at Vancouver, where a line of embankment has been throw up to protect the lower prairie, but it has been gradually flooded, although the water has not risen within a few feet of its top, and has in most cases destroyed the crops; it is the intention to abandon its cultivation and devote it to pasturage. The greatest rise in the Willamette takes place in February, and I was informated that it rose sometimes 20 to 25 feet, and quite suddenly in some places, but soon subsides. It occasion- ally causes much damage. Both the Willamette and Cowlitz
Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/291
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