The Places and Stories that Became Oregon:
The places and stories that became Oregon had their beginnings amid volcanic eruptions, basalt lava flows, and floods that repeatedly shaped the Columbia River landscape.
Shaping the Landscape:
Both Native stories and scientific accounts reveal that periodic geological and meteorological events helped shape the lands that would become the Oregon Country.
Humans and Oregon's Diverse Landscapes:
According to scientists, humans may have occupied Oregon’s diverse landscapes for more than 15,000 years.
Indian Trading Groups:
As the eighteenth century came to a close, Indian groups along the Oregon Coast traded with their neighbors and occasionally with voyagers in sea-going canoes from the north.
Scientific Exploration and Trading Ships:
While the long-term consequences were similar, there were significant differences between European scientific explorations and the flood of trading ships that followed. The travels of British naval captains James Cook and George Vancouver and American ship captain Robert Gray illustrate some of those contrasts.
The Coming of Robert Gray:
Robert Gray was without a ship in the mid-1780s when word arrived in Boston telling of Cook’s discoveries in the Pacific Northwest.
Maritime Fur Trade & Indian Market-Exchange Networks:
The maritime fur trade was centered primarily in sea-otter trafficking and brought coastal Indian groups into market-exchange networks.
Lewis, Clark, and Jefferson:
No two explorers are more firmly imprinted in the American consciousness than Meriwether Lewis and William Clark; no American political figure is more central to westward expansion than Thomas Jefferson.
The Object of Your Mission is to Explore:
While Lewis was awaiting Clark’s decision about joining the expedition, Jefferson sent Lewis instructions about the purposes of the undertaking.
The Stuff of Legend:
The epic Lewis and Clark journey has become the stuff of folklore and legend.
The Astorians arrived first in an effort to take advantage of the rich fur resource hinted at in Lewis’s report to President Jefferson.
The Hudson's Bay Company & Fort Vancouver:
The HBC immediately set about reorganizing its continent-wide fur-trading activities under the ruthless but efficient administration of George Simpson.
Old World Contagions:
Until the close of the eighteenth century, the Columbia River country existed in relative isolation from the diseases that proved so deadly to people lacking genetic immunities to Old World contagions.