Route across the Rocky Mountains with a Description of Oregon and California

Route across the Rocky Mountains with a Description of Oregon and California  (1982) 
by Overton Johnson and William H. Winter

Originally published in 1846. Republished in serial form, omitting chapters 7–8, in 1906 in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, vol. 7. Other editions, including this from 1982, have included those chapters, whose significance is described in this review.

ROUTE ACROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS

ROUTE ACROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, with A DESCRIPTION OF OREGON AND CALIFORNIA: their GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES, THEIR RESOURCES, SOIL, CLIMATE, PRODUCTIONS, &c., &c. --02:50, 17 December 2020 (UTC)02:50, 17 December 2020 (UTC)02:50, 17 December 2020 (UTC)02:50, 17 December 2020 (UTC)02:50, 17 December 2020 (UTC)~~ sy overton Johnson AND war. H. winten, of the EMicration of 1842. *Pete (talk) * * 02:50, 17 December 2020 (UTC)02:50, 17 December 2020 (UTC)02:50, 17 December 2020 (UTC)02:50, 17 December 2020 (UTC)~~ LAFAYETTE, IND: JOHN B. S E M A N S, FR IN TER 1846.

ROUTE

ACROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS

WITH A DESCRIPTION OF OREGON AND CALIFORNIA;

THEIR

GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES, THEIR RESOURCES, SOIL, CLIMATE, PRODUCTIONS, &c., &c.


BY

OVERTON JOHNSON AND WM. H. WINTER

OF THE EMIGRATION OF 1843

YE GALLEON PRESS

FAIRFIELD, WASHINGTON

tº ºl - - Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Johnson, Overton. Route across the Rocky Mountains. Reprint. Originally published: Lafayette, Ind.: J.B. Semans, printer, - 1846. º Includes index. º West (U.S.)—Description and travel—To 1848. 2. Pacific States —Description and travel. 3. Oregon Trail. 4. Overland journeys to the Pacific. 5. Johnson, Overton. I. Winter, William H., 1819-1879. II. Title. F592.J63 1982 917.8'042 82-7044 ISBN 0-87770-269-1 AACR2 ERRATA Page 40 line 5 “of” instead of “if” throughout MS. “Willamette" is present day accepted spelling Page 45 line 12 “from" instead of “form" Page 51 line 22 spelling of “afford" Page 91 line 20 spelling of “are" Page 106 line 13 spelling of “branch" Page 113 line 28 spelling of “Nez Perce" Page 138 line 26 spelling of “winter"

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction
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7
THE JOURNEY OUT, WITH ITS INCIDENTS
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13
Departure from Independence—Country of the shawnee and Kanzas Indians—Rainy Weather and muddy traveling—Antelopes and Prairie Dogs—Cold Rain Storm on Platte—Buffalo region—Sand Hills–Pawnee and Sioux Indians–Forts on the Platte–Black Hills–Red Buttes—Killing a Grizley Bear—Sulpher Springs—Summit of the Rocky Mountains.
THE JOURNEY OUT, WITH ITS INCIDENTS
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29
Trading House of Vasques and Bridger—Attacked by the Sioux—Soda Springs—Deep Chasm and the Crater of an extinct Volcano—Fort Hall–Snake or Lewis River, Falls, &c., -Snow Storm, and difficulty of starting fire—Indians along Snake River—Numerous evidences of great Volcanic action in past times–Fort Boise—Hills of Marble—Grande Round—Blue Mountains, &c., -Whitman's Mission, on the Walawala— Fort Walawala—Columbia River, Falls, &c., -Cascade Mountains—Wascopin Methodist Mission—Indian Burying place–Fort Vancouver—Arrival at Oregon City, &c.
DESCRIPTION OF WESTERN OREGON
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43
Willamette Falls, Mills, &c., -Description of the Willamette Valley–Head of the Willamette River—Calapooiah Mountains—Umpqua Valley—Umpqua Mountains—Valley of Rogue's River—Clamuth or Chesty Valley–Description of Country North of the Columbia—Mount St. Helens, an active Volcano–Numerous low Islands in the Columbia River–Astoria or Fort George—Indians West of the Cascade Mountains—their method of catching Salmon—Government organized—Peopling of America and Pacific Islands—Scenery in Oregon.
ROUTE FROM OREGON TO CALIFORNIA
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
73
Rendezvous—Indian War Dance–Indians came into Camp to Trade–Adventure of an Iroquois Indian–An— Alarm–Sugar Pine–Soda Spring—Sacramento River—Sacramento Hills—Rugged Road–Indians on the Sacramento–Fort, Trading Post, &c., of Captain Sutter.
DESCRIPTION OF UPPER CALIFORNIA
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81
Bay of San Francisco–Sacramento and St. Wakine Valleys—Many Narrow fertile Valleys—Great Lake, &c., - Barren Mountains, containing Silver Ore and good Water Power–Tar Spring—Gold found in the Puebalo Valley–Cultivation of the Vine–Spanish Dance—Wild Horses—Unsuccessful attempt to take them.
RETURN TO THE STATES
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103

JOURNEY FROM CAPTAIN SUTTERS TO FORT HALL, WITH SOME OF ITS INCIDENTS

Leave California for the United States—Difficulties in crossing Juba River—Extensive view from the summit of a mountain, with deep snow on one side, and naked earth and fine grass on the other—Burnt Mountains—Boiling Springs–Sink of Marie's River, and singular pecularity of the stream—Encamp in the bend of the River, and have horses shot by the Indians—Travel over extensive wastes, and finally come to the Oregon Trail.
RETURN TO THE STATES
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111

JOURNEY FROM OREGON CITY TO THE WESTERN PART OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, WITH SOME OF ITS INCIDENTS

Return from Oregon City to the United States—Difficulty with the Walawala Indians, and timely intervention of Capt. Grant—Meet with Wm. H. Winter, on his return from California, near Fort Hall–Difficulty with the Pawnees—Came to the Western settlements of the United States.
GENERAL VIEW OF OREGON AND CALIFORNIA
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137
Concluding remarks, giving a brief but general view of Oregon and California as regards the Agricultural, Manufacturing and Commercial advantages of those counties, &c., &c.


Bill of the Route
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151
Roster of the Great Immigration of 1843
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159
Index
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165


Route Across the Rocky Mountains - Contents Endpiece.png

INTRODUCTION

The Great Immigration of 1843 was supposed to have brought one thousand persons to Oregon and numerous books proudly present this information, actually misinformation, as there were only 265 men in this rather large wagon train. There were women and children along. It is a matter of regret that their names were not recorded. We know that the total number of souls was more than 400 and less than 500. This one great wagon train did more than double the population of U.S. citizens in Oregon, however the roster that is known is of those who started for Oregon. At least seventeen men left the train at a point west of Fort Hall and went on to California. A few men died along the way and a few turned back. An alphabetzied list of the men will be appended to this book and also information will be given on those persons who for one reason or another did not reach the Oregon for which they so enthusiastically began their journey. And of those who did make that two thousand mile journey and so did reach their goal of Oregon, not all remained and became citizens of that territory and state. Among those who did reach Oregon and who did not remain there are two names, Overton Johnson and William Winter, the authors of one of the rarest books pertaining to travel out on the Oregon Trail.

These two young men were intelligent, adventurous, and not without literary ability. Their curiosity impelled them to write of what they saw and what was of interest to them at the moment. They commented on the route of travel, the grass available for their animals, the ability of the land to support settlers, and of course the Indians...the native Americans they distrusted. Their prudent, factual sentences are enlivened at times with enthusiastic paragraphs approaching what is fanciful as they describe the wonders of Oregon, and they were young enough to appreciate the dances and the damsels of California.

William H. Winter is said to have been born in Vigo County, Indiana, in 1819. At age 22 he moved to Missouri where he lived for two years before making his adventurous trip west on the Oregon Trail in 1843, traveling on to California and returning to Indiana in 1845. His wandering feet took him to California again in 1849, along with thousands of other would-be gold seekers. Not finding wealth in the gold fields he returned to his native Indiana where he lived until 1853. In that year he traveled to Texas but finding dry Texas plains not to his liking he went for a third time to California, first to Colusa County, then to Lake County, and finally to Napa, where he lived the rest of his life. He died in 1879, aged sixty and the father of five sons.

Overton Johnson is more of a mystery. We know he was a young man in 1843, probably somewhere in his twenties. His father was James B. Johnson, said to be postmaster at Concord, Indiana, and a land owner at that place. Like many other men of the date, James Johnson had political ambitions which seem not to be realised beyond his appointment as postmaster. Overton Johnson taught school for several years after his return to Indiana, and intended to take part in the 1849 gold rush to California, however this did not come about as he is said to have died February 15, 1849, still in Indiana. As an educated man he is believed to have written most of the travel narrative, but the California portion was probably written to William H. Winter.

A word could be said about the printer of the original edition of the Route Across the Rocky Mountains. The imprint on the title page gives us the date of 1846; the place as Lafayette, Indiana; and the printer as John B. Semans. This man, Semans or Seaman, had been printing a newspaper, the Western Argus, in Wilmington, Ohio, but drifting west in the fashion of the day, he came to Lafayette in 1829. He left this place in the 1830's but returned in 1841 and printed the Tippecanoe Journal and Lafayette Free Press. The 1846 edition of the Winter and Johnson book was printed, rather crudely, on this newspaper equipment. This was forty years before the first linotypes were on the market and rather more than that before these composing machines reached small newspaper offices, so the book was set by hand, one piece of lead type at a time, and presumably with the same worn type used to print the newspaper.

It could be kept in mind that the date of 1843 was three years before the boundary settlement with Great Britain divided the old Oregon Territory on the 49th parallel, and ten years before Washington Territory was seperated from Oregon Territory. In 1843 Upper California was still a Mexican Province and ownership of Old Oregon, particularly that portion north of the Columbia river, was in dispute. The glowing description of Oregon seems written to appeal to prospective emigrants, yet the authors do in fairness state some disadvantages of the trip and some portions of Oregon. There must have been some magic in the name Oregon for it drew thousands of persons over the Oregon Trail and Oregon achieved statehood some 40 years before Washington became a state. By 1879 migration over the Oregon and California Trails had slowed to a trickle, in part because of the completion of a trans-continental railroad to California the previous year, but a few families, short of money or traveling with a sizeable number of animals, continued to come out on the Oregon Trail until the beginning of the twentieth century or a few years past that point. A few late comers were pleased to find electric street cars in the streets of Walla Walla.



Glen Adams
Fairfield, Washington
January, 1982


Dedicated to those stalwart pioneers of Old Oregon who took part in the Great Immigration of 1843.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) between 1978 and March 1, 1989 (inclusive) without a copyright notice and without subsequent copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office within 5 years.