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Early western travels 1748-1846 : A series of annotated reprints of some of the best and rarest contemporary… Thwaites, Reuben Gold, 1853-1913 1906

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Array       Early Western Travels
1748-1846
Volume XXX
V  Early Western Travels
1748-1846
A Series of Annotated Reprints of some of the best
and rarest contemporary volumes of travel, descriptive of the Aborigines and Social and
Economic Conditions in the Middle
and Far West, during the Period
of Early American Settlement
Edited with Notes, Introductions, Index, etc., by
Reuben Gold Thwaites, LL.D.
Editor of "The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents,"  "Original
Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition," "Hennepin's
New Discovery," etc.
Volume   XXX
Palmer's Journal of Travels over the Rocky Mountains,
1845-1846
'v al
Cleveland, Ohio
The Arthur H. Clark Company
1906
*
a
JL Copyright 1906, by
THE ARTHUR H. CLARK COMPANY
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Cf)t ILaktsfbt $res*
X. R. DONNELLEY & SONS COMPANY
CHICAGO CONTENTS OF VOLUME XXX
Preface.   The Editor   .......
Journal of Travels over the Rocky Mountains, to the
Mouth of the Columbia River;  Made during the
Years 1845 and 1846: containing minute descriptions of
the Valleys of the Willamette, Umpqua, and Clamet; a
general description of Oregon Territory; its inhabitants,
climate, soil, productions, etc., etc.;  a list of Necessary
Outfits for Emigrants;  and a Table of Distances from
Camp to Camp on the Route.    Also; A Letter from the
Rev. H. H. Spalding, resident Missionary, for the last ten
years, among the Nez Perce' Tribe of Indians, ontheKoos-
koos-kee River; The Organic Laws of Oregon Territory;
Tables of about 300 words of the Chinook Jargon, and
about 200 Words of the Nez Perce* Language; a Description of Mount Hood;   Incidents of Travel,   &c,   &c.
Joel Palmer.
Copyright Notice       ......
Author's Dedication  ......
Publishers' Advertisement .....
Text: Journal, April 16, 1845-July 23> I846 .
Necessary   Outfits   for   Emigrants   traveling   to
Oregon      .......
Words used in the Chinook Jargon
Words used in the Nez Perce* Language
Table of Distances from Independence, Missouri;
and St. Joseph, to Oregon City, in Oregon
Territory    .......
Appendix:
Letter of   the  Rev. H. H. Spalding to Joel
Palmer, Oregon Territory, April 7, 1846
Organic Laws of Oregon (with amendments).
24
25
27
29
257
264
271
277
283
299  illustration to volume XXX
Facsimile of title-page, Palmer's Journal of Travels .     23
n
Iff  PREFACE TO VOLUME XXX
In the wake of the pathfinders, fur-traders, Indian
scouts, missionaries, scientific visitors, and foreign adventurers came the ultimate figure among early Western
travellers, the American pioneer settler, the fore-runner
of the forces of occupation and civilization. This concluding volume in our series is, therefore, fitly devoted
to the record of an actual home-seeker, and founder
of new Western communities.
The significant feature of American history has been
the transplanting of bodies of colonists from one frontier
to a newer frontier. In respect to the Oregon country,
our interest therein is enhanced not only by the great
distance and the abundant perils of the way, but also
by the political result in securing the territory to the
United States, and the growth of a prosperous commonwealth in the Far Northwest corner of our broad domain.
In several previous volumes of our series we have witnessed the beginnings of Oregon civilization. Two of
our travellers, Franchere and Ross, have graphically
detailed the Astoria episode, giving us, not without
some literary skill, the skeleton of facts which Irving's
masterful pen clothed with living flesh and healthful
color; in Townsend's pages we found an enduring
picture of the regime of the all-powerful Hudson's Bay
Company; De Smet, with faithful, indeed loving, touches
has portrayed the vanishing aborigines, whose sad story
has yet fully to  be  told — eventually,  when the  last
„. ■ V
io
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
vestige of their race has gone, we shall come to recognize the tale as the sorriest chapter in our annals; Farnham shrewdly narrates the sharp transition to American
occupancy; but Palmer tells us of the triumphant progress of the conquering pioneer, and in his pages the
destiny of Oregon as an American state is clearly foreshadowed.
" Fifty-four forty, or fight," the belligerent slogan
with regard to Oregon, adopted in the presidential
campaign of 1844, was after all not so much a notice
to the British government that the United States considered the Oregon country her own, beyond recall,
as an appeal to the pioneers of the West to secure
this vast inheritance by actual occupation. As such
it proved a trumpet call to thousands of vigorous
American farmers, most of them already possessed
of comfortable homes in the growing communities of
the Middle West.
"I have an uncle," declared one of the pioneers to
Dr. John McLoughlin, Hudson's Bay factor on the
Pacific coast, "who is rich enough to buy out your
company and all this territory."
"Indeed!" replied the doctor, courteously, "who
is he?" lit H
"Uncle Sam," gayly responded the emigrant, with
huge enjoyment in his well-worn witticism. It was at
the supposed behest of this same "Uncle Sam" that
farms were sold, wagons and oxen purchased, outfits
prepared, and long caravans of permanent settlers
slowly and painfully crossed the vast plains and rugged
mountains lying between the comfortable settlements
of the "Old Northwest"—the "Middle West" of our .   I
1845-1846] Preface 11
day — and the new land of promise in the Far Northwest of the Pacific Slope.
The emigration of 1845 exceeded all that had gone
before. That of 1843, eight hundred strong, had
startled the Indians, and surprised the staid officials
of the Hudson's Bay Company. That of 1844 had
occupied the fertile valleys from Puget Sound on the
north to Calapooia on the south. That of 1845 determined that the territory should be the home of Americans; it doubled the population already on the ground,
re-inforced the compact form of government, and laid
broad and deep the foundations of new American commonwealths.
Our author, Joel Palmer, a shrewd, genial farmer
from Indiana, was a leader among these emigrants of
1845. Born across the Canada line in 1810, he nevertheless was of New York parentage, and American
to the core. In early life his family removed to Indiana,
where Joel founded a home at Laurel, in northwest
Franklin County. By the suffrages of his neighbors
Palmer was sent to the state legislature in 1844, but
the following year determined to make a tour to Oregon
for personal observation, before deciding to remove his
family thither and cast his future lot with its pioneer
settlers. Arrived on the Missouri frontier, he found
that the usual wagon train had gone in advance. However, he overtook the great body of the emigrants in
time to assist in the organization of the caravan on Big
Soldier's Creek, in Kansas.
Gathered from all parts of the Middle West, with no
attempt at organization nor any pre-arrangement whatsoever, the emigrants, who had not yet forgotten the
H
ifan
*i$*T**%-*~Yr?$*- 12
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
frontier traditions of their fathers, proved to be a homogeneous body of about three thousand alert, capable
travellers, provided in general with necessities and
even comforts for the hardships of the long journey;
indeed, after the manner of their Aryan forbears in the
great westerly migrations of the past, they were accompanied by herds of cattle, to form the basis of agricultural life in the new land. Each of the several
hundred wagons was a travelling house, provided with
tents, beds, and cooking utensils; clothing and food
were also carried, sufficient not only for the journey
out, but for subsistence through the first year, always
the crucial stage of agricultural pioneering. The
draught cattle were largely oxen, but many of the men
rode horses, and others drove them with their cows
and bulls.
Aside from the duties of the nightly encampment
and morning "catch-up," life upon the migration progressed much as in settled communities. There were
instances of courtship, marriage, illness, and death, and
not infrequently births, among the migrating families.
These, together with the ever-shifting panorama of
sky, plains, and mountains, made the incidents of the
long and tedious journey. Occasionally there appeared
upon the horizon an Indian gazing silently at these
invaders of his tribal domain, and at times he came
even to the wagon wheels to beg or trade; the mere
numbers of the travellers gave him abundant caution
not to attempt hostilities. The wagons were so numerous as to render a compact caravan troublesome to
manage and disagreeable to travel with. The great
cavalcade soon broke into smaller groups, over one of Preface
18451846]
which, composed of thirty, wagons, Palmer was chosen
captain.
At Fort Laramie they rested, and feasted the Indians,
who, in wonderment and not unnatural consternation,
swarmed about them in the guise of beggars. Palmer
afterwards harangued the aboriginal visitors, telling
them frankly that their entertainers were no traders,
they "were going to plough and plant the ground,"
that their relatives were coming behind them, and these
he hoped the red men would treat kindly and allow free
passage — a thinly veiled suggestion that the white
army of occupation had come to stay and must not be
interfered with by the native population, or vengeance
would follow.
From Fort Laramie the invaders, for from the standpoint of the Indians such of course were our Western
pioneers, followed the usual trail to the newly-established
supply depot at Fort Bridger. Thence they went by way
of Soda Springs to Fort Hall, where was found awaiting them a delegation from California, seeking, with
but slight success, to persuade a portion of the emigrants
in that direction. Following Lewis River on its long
southern bend, the travellers at last reached Fort Boise,
where provisions could be purchased from Hudson's
Bay officials, and a final breathing-spell be taken before
attempting the most difficult part of the journey — the
passage of the Blue and Cascade ranges.
A considerable company of the emigrants, accompanied by the pilot, Stephen H. Meek, left the main
party near Fort Hall, to force a new route to the Willamette without following Columbia River. The essay
was,   however,   disastrous.    Meek  became   bewildered,
—.*, V
14
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
and was obliged to secrete himself to escape the revenge
of the exasperated travellers, who reached the Dalles
of the Columbia in an exhausted condition, having lost
many of their number through hunger and physical
hardships.
Palmer himself continued with the main caravan on
the customary route through the Grande Ronde, down
the Umatilla and the Columbia, arriving at the Dalles
by the closing days of September. Here a new difficulty faced the weary pioneers — there was no wagon
road beyond the Dalles; boats to transport the intending colonists were few, and had been pre-empted by
the early arrivals, while provisions at the Dalles would
soon be exhausted. In this situation Palmer determined to join Samuel K. Barlow and his company
in an attempt to cross the Cascades south of Mount
Hood, and lead the way overland to the Willamette
valley. This proved an arduous task, calling for all
the skill and fortitude of experienced pathfinders. In
its course, Palmer ascended Mount Hood, which he
describes as "a sight more nobly grand" than any he
had ever looked upon. At last the valley of the Clackamas was reached, and Oregon City, the little capital
of the new territory, was attained, where "we were so
filled with gratitude that we had reached the settlements
of the white man, and with admiration at the appearance
of the large sheet of water rolling over the Falls, that
we stopped, and in this moment of happiness recounted
our toils, in thought, with more rapidity than tongue
can express or pen write." The distance that he had
travelled from Independence, Missouri, our author
estimates at 1,960 miles. 1845-18461
Preface
15
Passing the winter of 1845-46 in Oregon, Palmer
made a careful examination of its resources, and in his
book describes the country in much detail. The ensuing spring, after a journey to the Lapwai mission for
horses, he started on the return route, arriving at his
home in Laurel, Indiana, upon the twenty-third of July.
Palmer's experience, although trying, had been sufficiently satisfactory to justify his intention to make a
permanent home in Oregon. In 1847 he took his family
thither, the emigration of that year being sometimes
known as "Palmer's train," he having been elected
captain of the entire caravan, also in recognition of
his great utility to the expedition. The new caravan
had but just arrived in Oregon — now belonging definitely to the United States — when the Whitman
massacre aroused the colonists to punish the Indian
participants in order to ensure their own safety. In
the organization of the militia force, Joel Palmer
was chosen quartermaster and commissary general,
whence the title of General, by which he was subsequently   known.
He was also made one of two commissioners to
attempt to treat with the recalcitrant tribes, and win
to neutrality as many as possible. Accompanied by
Dr. Robert Newell, a former mountain man, and Perrin
Whitman, the murdered man's nephew, as interpreter,
Palmer risked his life in the land of the hostiles, and
succeeded in alienating many Nez Perces and Walla-
walla from the guilty Cayuse. Thus was laid the
foundation of that full knowledge of aboriginal character that availed him in his service as United States
superintendent of Indians for Oregon. If
16
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
m
To this difficult position General Palmer was appointed by President Pierce in 1853, just on the eve
of an outbreak in southern Oregon, and his term of
office coincided with the period of Indian wars. After
pacifying the southern tribes, Palmer inaugurated the
reservation system, removing the remnants of the tribes
of the Willamette valley and their southward neighbors
to a large tract in Polk and Yamhill counties, known
as Grande Ronde Reservation. This ended the Indian
difficulties in that quarter until the Modoc War, twenty
years later.
Palmer found the tribesmen east of the mountains
more difficult to subdue. Scarcely had he and Isaac
T. Stevens, governor of Washington Territory, made a
series of treaties (1855) with the Nez Perces, Cayuse,
Wallawalla, and neighboring tribes, when the Yakima
War began, and embroiled both territories until 1858.
During these difficulties the military authorities complained that Commissioner Palmer was too lenient with
former hostiles, and pinned too much faith to their
promises. Consequently the Oregon superintendency
was merged with that of Washington (1857), and James
W.  Nesmith  appointed  to  the  combined   office.
Retiring to his home in Dayton, Yamhill County ?
which town he had laid out in 1850, General Palmer
was soon called upon to serve in the state legislature,
being speaker of the house of representatives (1862-63),
and state senator (1864-66). During the latter incumbency he declined being a candidate for United States
senator, because of his belief that a person already
holding a public office of emolument should not during
his term be elected to another.    In 1870 he was Repub- 1845-1846]
Preface
l7
lican candidate for governor of the state, but was defeated
by a majority of less than seven hundred votes. From
this time forward he lived quietly at Dayton, and there
passed away upon the ninth of June, 1881. His excellent portrait given in Lyman's History of Oregon (iii,
p. 398) is that of an old man; but the face is still
strong and kindly, with a high and broad forehead, and
gentle yet piercing eyes.
One of Palmer's fellow pioneers said of him, "he
was a man of ardent temperament, strong friendships,
and full of hope and confidence in his fellow men."
Another calls his greatest characteristic his honesty
and integrity. Widely known and respected in the
entire North West, his services in the up-building of the
new community were of large import.
Not the least of these services was, in our judgment,
the publication of his Journal of Travels over the Rocky
Mountains, herein reprinted, which was compiled during the winter of 1846-47, and planned as a guide for
intending emigrants. The author hoped to have it in
readiness for the train of 1847, but the publishers were
dilatory and he only received about a dozen copies before
starting. The book proved useful enough, however,
to require two later editions, one in 1851, another in
1852, and was much used by emigrants of the sixth
decade of the past century.
Palmer makes no pretence of literary finish. He
gives us a simple narrative of each day's happenings
during his own first journey in 1845, taking especial
care to indicate the route, each night's camping places,
and all possible cut-offs, springs, grassy oases, and
whatever else might conduce to the well-being of the
is   -  I
V      I
—
-— *tf*<±i*ittttt«»ttfctttta
18
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
emigrant and his beasts. The great care taken by the
author, with this very practical end in view, results in
his volume being the most complete description of the
Oregon Trail that we now possess. Later, his account
of passing around Mount Hood and the initial survey of the Barlow road, produces a marked effect
through its simplicity of narrative. His incidents have
a quaint individuality, as for instance the reproof from
the Cayuse chief for the impiety of card-playing. No
better description of the Willamette valley can be
found than in these pages, and our author's records of
the climate, early prices in Oregon, and the necessities
of an emigrant's outfit, complete a graphic picture of
pioneering days.
In the annotation of the present volume, we have
had valuable suggestions and some material help from
Principal William I. Marshall of Chicago, Professor
Edmond S. Meany of the University of Washington,
Mr. George H. Himes of Portland, Dr. Joseph Schafer
of the University of Oregon, and Mr. Edward Huggins,
a veteran Hudson's Bay Company official at Fort
Nisqually.
With this volume our series of narratives ends, save
for the general index reserved for volume xxxi. The
Western travels which began in tentative excursions
into the Indian country around Pittsburg and Eastern
Ohio in 1748, have carried us to the coast of the Pacific.
The continent has been spanned. Not without some
exhibitions of wanton cruelty on the part of the whites
have the aborigines been pushed from their fertile seats
and driven to the mountain wall. The American
frontier has steadily retreated — at first from the Alle- 1845-1846]
Preface
19
ghanies to the Middle West, thence across the Mississippi, and now at the close of our series it is ascending
the Missouri and has sent vanguards to the Farthest
Northwest. The ruts of caravan routes have been
deeply sunk into the plains and deserts, and wheel
marks are visible through the length of several
mountain passes. The greater part of the continental
interior has been threaded and mapped. The era of
railroad building and the engineer is at hand. The
long journey to the Western ocean has been ridded
of much of its peril, and is less a question of mighty
endurance than confronted the pathfinders. When
Francis Parkman, the historian of New France, going
out upon the first stages of the Oregon Trail in 1847
— the year following the date of the present volume —
saw emigrant wagons fitted with rocking chairs and
cooking stoves, hs foresaw the advent of the commonplace upon the plains, and the end of the romance of
Early Western Travels.
Throughout the entire task of preparing for the press
this series of reprints, the Editor has had the assistance
of Louise Phelps Kellogg, Ph. D., a member of his staff
in the Wisconsin Historical Library. Others have also
rendered editorial aid, duly acknowledged in the several
volumes as occasion arose; but from beginning to end,
particularly in the matter of annotation, Dr. Kellogg
has been his principal research colleague, and he takes
great pleasure in asking for her a generous share of
whatever credit may accrue from the undertaking.
Annie Amelia Nunns, A. B., also of his library staff, has
rendered most valuable expert aid, chiefly in proofreading   and  indexing.    The Editor  cannot  close  his 20
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
last word to the Reader without gratefully calling
attention, as well, to the admirable mechanical and
artistic dress with which his friends the Publishers have
generously clothed the series, and to bear witness to
their kindly suggestions, active assistance, and unwearied
patience, during the several years of preparation and
publication.
R. G. T.
Madison, Wis., August, 1906. *
Palmer's Journal or Travels over the Rocky
Mountains, 1845-1846
Reprint of original edition:   Cincinnati, 1847
m
mM 'fl JOURNAL OF TRAVELS
OTCft TBS
ROCKY   MOUNTAINS,
TO THE
MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER;
MADE DURING THE YEARS 1849 AMD 1846t
coirrAisitra Mimrra Mscnrprtows or th«
VALLEYS OF THE WILLAMETTE, UMPQUA, AND CLAMET ;
a osmiL jnsscitimo* or
OREGON TERRITORY;
ITS INHABITANTS,  CLIMATE,  SOIL,  PReDU«TI0K8,  ETC., KTC.;
A LIST OV
NECESSARY OUTFITS FOR EMIGRANTS:
A!»D A '
Sable of ©[stances from damp to Camp on tye ftottte.
ALSO;
A Lfetter from the Rev. H. H. Spalding, resident Missionary, for the last tea years,
among the Nez Perce Tribe of Indians, on the Koos-koos-kee River; Th*
Organic Laws of Oregon Territory, Tables of about 300 words of the Chinook
Jargon, and about 300 Words of the Nez Perce Language; a Description of
Mount* Hood; Incidents of Travel, &«., Ac.
BY JOEL PALMER.
:        *
CINCINNATI:
J. A. & U. P. JAMES, WALNUT 8TREET,
BETWEEN FOURTH AND FIFTH.
1847. SftUttSt
f/i
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847, by
J. A. & U. P. JAMES,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Ohio. TO THE
PIONEERS  OF THE  WEST,
AND THEIR DESCENDANTS,
THE BONE AND MUSCLE OF THE COMMUNITY,
WHO IMPROVE AND ENRICH THE COUNTRY LN PEACE,
AND PROTECT AND DEFEND IT IN WAR,
THIS WORK
IS RESPECTFULLY
DEDICATED. BRUi PUBLISHERS'  ADVERTISEMENT
In offering to the public a new work on Oregon, the
publishers feel confident that they are performing an
acceptable service to all who are desirous of obtaining
full and correct information of that extensive and interesting region.
The facts contained in this Journal of Travels over
the Rocky Mountains were obtained, by the author,
from personal inspection and observation; or derived
from intelligent persons, some of whom had resided in
the country for ten years previously. It contains, as is
believed, much very valuable information never before
published, respecting the Oregon Territory.
Mr. Palmer's statements and descriptions are direct
and clear, and may be relied on for their accuracy.
He observed with the eye of an intelligent farmer the
hills and valleys; timbered land and prairies, soil, grass,
mill sites, &c; all of which he has particularly described.
To the man about to emigrate to Oregon just the kind
of information needed is given. He is informed what
is the best season for setting out; the kinds and quantities of necessary outfits; where they may be purchased
to the best advantage, so as to save money, time and
useless hauling of provisions, and to promote comfort
and prevent suffering on the long journey.
[vi] A particular account of Oregon city is given;
the number of houses  and inhabitants;   the number
•m WHBHH
taH
mmmmmm
1/4
28
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
and kinds of mechanical trades carried on;   and the
prices current during the author's stay there.
The objects of natural curiosity on the route — the
Solitary Tower — the Chimney Rock — Independence
Rock — the Hot Springs — the Devil's Gate — the
South Pass — the Soda Springs, and many others —
are noticed.
The work is enlivened with anecdotes of mountaineer
life — shooting buffalo — hunting bear — taking fish,
&c Jf
Mr. Palmer made the ascent of one of the highest
peaks of Mount Hood, almost alone, and with a very
scanty supply of provisions. An extraordinary achievement, when the circumstances under which it was
accomplished are taken into consideration.
Cincinnati, January, 1847.
If I JOURNAL OF TRAVELS OVER THE
j  ROCKY MOUNTAINS
Having concluded, from the best information I was
able to obtain, that the Oregon Territory offers great
inducements to emigrants, I determined to visit it with
a view of satisfying myself in regard to it, and of ascertaining by personal observation whether its advantages
were sufficient to warrant me in the effort to make it
my future home.1 I started, accordingly, on the morning of the 16th of April, 1845, in company with Mr.
Spencer Buckley. We expected to be joined by several
young men from Rushville, Ind., but they all abandoned
the enterprise, and gave us no other encouragement
than their good wishes for our success and safety. I
took leave of my family, friends and home, with a truly
melancholy heart. I had long looked forward and
suffered in imagination the pain of this anticipated
separation; but I had not tasted of its realities, and
none but those who have parted with a family under
similar circumstances, can form any just conception
of the depth and power of the emotions which pervaded
my breast on that occasion.     The undertaking before
1 Oregon Territory, which under the treaty of 1818 was held in joint occupation by the United States and Great Britain, had been brought into prominence by the presidential campaign of 1844, and the belligerent message of
President Polk at his inauguration in March, 1845. Emigration thither for
the year 1845 exceeded that of any previous season and consisted of nearly
three thousand persons, largely from Missouri and the frontier states of the
Old Northwest.— Ed.
fl
Ii
m iinimmininmmif
HsMHHIiHflMBI
3°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
me was arduous. It might and doubtless would be
attended with various and unknown difficulties, privations and dangers. A doubt arose in my mind, whether
the advantages, which were expected to result from the
trip, would be likely to compensate for the time and
expense necessary to accomplish it: but I believed
that I was right, hoped for the best, and pressed onward.
We were favoured with a pleasant day and good roads,
which tended in some degree to dissipate the gloom
which [10] had weighed down my spirits upon leaving
home. Our day's travel ended at Blue River, on the
banks of which we encamped for the first time on the
long and tedious journey before us.2
April 17. Arrived at Indianapolis, in the afternoon,
where we expected to meet a number of persons, who
had expressed a determination to join the party.* But
here too, as in the case of our Rushville friends, we were
doomed to meet disappointment; — not one was found
willing to join us in our expedition. After having had
our horses well shod, (we traveled in an ordinary wagon
drawn by two horses,) and having laid in a supply of
medicines, we put up for the night.
April 18. We this day had a sample of what might
be called the mishaps of travelers — an encounter with
a wild animal, the first which we met in our journey.
One of our horses becoming lame, we were obliged to
trade him away, and received in exchange one so wild,
2 Blue River, in central Indiana, flowing through Rush and Shelby counties,
is part of the White River system.— Ed.
* For a note on the founding of Indianapolis see our volume ix, p. 190,
note 100.— Ed.
f i 1845-1846]
Palmer*s Journal
31
that it required the greatest vigilance and exertion on
our part to prevent him from running away with our
whole concern. We .reached Mount Meridian after
a day's journey of about thirty-four miles, during which
we succeeded admirably in taming our wild horse.4
April 24. Reached the Mississippi, opposite to St.
Louis, having traveled daily, and made the best of our
time after leaving Mount Meridian.
April 25. We made a few purchases this morning,
consisting chiefly of Indian trinkets, tobacco, powder,
lead, &c. and, soon after, resumed our journey upon
the road to St. Charles, the seat of justice for St. Charles
county.6 We reached this place at the close of the day,
and encamped upon the banks of the Missouri, which
appears to be about as wide as the Ohio at Cincinnati,
in a fair stage of water; the current is quite strong; the
water very thick and muddy. Here, we overtook a
company of Germans, from St. Louis, who had started
for California. The company consisted of four men,
two women and three children; they traveled with a
wagon drawn by six mules, and a cart drawn by two,
— a very poor means of conveyance for such a long
and tedious route. We traveled the same road until
we reached Fort Hall.
April 26. At nine o'clock A. M. we crossed the river
and traveled twenty-eight miles. The surface of the
country is somewhat undulating; the soil, though poorly
watered, appears to be good, and produces respectable
crops.
4 Mount Meridian is a small village in Jefferson township, Putnam County,
Indiana.   It was laid out in 1833 and at first named Carthage.— Ed.
* For St. Charles see our volume v, p. 39, note 9.— Ed.
*
* jiiiiniiiiinrii
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
April 27. We traveled thirty-one miles. The day
was rainy [11] and unpleasant. The country through
which we passed is a rolling prairie: some parts of it
are very well timbered. On account of the scarcity
of springs, the people rely generally upon their supplies
of rain water. There we were joined by a clever backwoodsman, by the name of Dodson, who was making
the best of his lonely journey to join an emigrating
party at Independence; upon his consenting to bear
an equal share in our expenses and outfit at that place,
we took him in, and traveled together.
April 28. We started this morning at sunrise, and
traveled to Lute creek, a distance of six and a half miles.*
This stream was so much swollen, in consequence of
the recent rains, that we were unable to ford it, and
were forced to encamp upon its banks, and remain all
day. While there, we were greatly annoyed by the
wood-tick — an insect resembling, in size and in other
respects, the sheep-tick. These insects, with which
the bushes and even the ground seemed to be covered,
fastened themselves with such tenacity upon our flesh,
that when picking them off in the morning, the head
would remain sticking fast to the skin, causing in most
cases a painful wound.
April 29. We traveled about twenty-six miles, through
a gently undulating country: the principal crops consisted of corn, oats, tobacco and some wheat. We
passed through Williamsburgh and Fulton. The latter
town is the seat of justice for Callaway county.7
• By the term " Lute creek," Palmer intends Loutre River, rising in northeast Callaway County, and flowing south and southwest through Montgomery
County into the Missouri, at Loutre Island. See our volume v, p. 47, note
19.— Ed.
7 Williamsburgh, a village in the township of Nine Mile Prairie, Callaway
ft
•V T
1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
33
April 30. We made an advance of about thirty miles
through a well timbered country, and passed through
Columbia, the seat of justice for Boone county. The
town is pleasant and surrounded by a fertile and attractive country. We made our halt and encamped for
the night, five miles westward of this town.
May 1. We started this morning at the usual hour,
and after a ride of eight miles, reached and re-crossed
the Missouri, at Rocheport, and continued our journey
until night, passing through Booneville, the county
seat of Cooper — a rich and fertile county, making in
all a ride of twenty-six miles.8
May 2. Passed through the town of Marshall, the
seat of justice for Saline county. The town stands
upon an elevated prairie, upon which may be found
a few groves of shrubby timber. The country upon
this [the west] side appeared to be much better supplied
with water, than that upon the east side.9
May 3. We traveled about twenty-eight miles, over
a thinly-settled [12] prairie country. The crops, cultivated generally by negroes, consisted of hemp, corn,
oats, and a little wheat and tobacco. The soil appeared
to be good, but the scarcity of timber will prove a serious
barrier to a complete settlement of the country.
May  4.    We  traveled  twenty-three  miles  this  day,
County, was laid out in 1836.    For Fulton see our volume xxi, p. 131, note
7.— Ed.
8 Columbia and Rocheport are noted in our volume xxi, p. 133, note 8;
Boonville, ibid., p. 89, note 59. Palmer probably crossed the Missouri at
Boonville. Townsend went by a similar route from St. Louis to Boonville.
See his Narrative in our volume xxi, pp. 125-134.— Ed.
9 Marshall was in 1839 set off as the county seat of Saline, and in 1900
had a population of 5086. It was named in honor of the chief justice of the
United States, who died shortly before the incorporation of the town.— Ed.
if!
•
$/ MaUHUHHHI
mnxrj
34
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
through a better improved and pleasanter part of Missouri, than any we have yet seen. The crops appeared
well; there were fine orchards under successful cultivation. The country is well timbered, and there appears
nothing to hinder it from becoming the seat of a dense
and thriving population.
May 6. Reached Independence at nine o'clock A.M. ;10
and as the main body of emigrants had left a few days
previous, we hastily laid in our supplies, and at five
o'clock P. M., pushed forward about two miles, and
encamped upon the banks of a small creek, in company
with four wagons, bound for Oregon. From one of the
wagons they drew forth a large jug of whiskey, and
before bed-time all the men were completely intoxicated.
In the crowd was a mountaineer, who gave us a few
lessons in the first chapter of a life among the mountains.
At midnight, when all were quiet, I wrapped myself in
my blanket, laid down under an oak tree, and began to
realize that I was on my journey to Oregon.
May 7. After traveling about fifteen miles we halted
and procured an extra set of horse-shoes, and a few
additional wagon bows. The main body of the emigrants is twenty-five miles in advance of us: we have
now passed out of Missouri, and are traveling in an
Indian country — most of which is a rolling prairie.11
May 8. We started at seven o'clock, A. M. and
traveled about twenty miles. Towards evening we
overtook an emigrating company, consisting of thirty-
10 For Independence see our volume xix, p. 189, note 34. Gregg gives
a much fuller description of this town as an outfitting place, than does our
present author; ibid., pp. 188-192.— Ed.
11 On the bounds of this territory, see our volume xxi, p. 50, note 31.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
35
eight wagons, with about one thousand head of loose
cattle, all under the direction of a Mr. Brown. We
passed this company, expecting to overtake a company
of about one hundred wagons, which were but a few
miles before us. The night, however, became so dark
that we were compelled to encamp upon the prairie.
Soon after we had staked our horses, a herd of wild
Indian horses came galloping furiously by us, which
so alarmed our horses and mules, that they broke loose
and ran away after them. Dodson and myself pursued,
but were distanced, and after running two or three
miles, abandoned the chase as hopeless, and attempted
to return to the camp. Owing to the darkness, we
[13] were unable to find our camp, until the night had
far advanced; and when we finally reached it, it required
all my logic, supported by the positive testimony of
Buckley, to convince Dodson that we were actually^
there.
May 9. At daylight, Dodson and I resumed the searcfe
for our lost stock. After a fatiguing tramp of several
hours, I came upon one of the mules, which being hobbled,
had been unable to keep with the herd. Dodson was
unsuccessful, and returned to camp before me; during
our absence, however, the herd had strolled near the
camp, and Buckley had succeeded in taking our two
horses. Having taken some refreshments, we started
again in search of the lost animals. As I was return
ing to camp, hopeless, weary and hungry, I saw at a
distance Dodson and Buckley mounted upon our two
horses, and giving chase to the herd of Indian horses,
among which were our two mules. The scene was
wild,  romantic  and  exciting.    The  race  was untram-
I 36
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
meled by any of those arbitrary and useless rules with
which the "knights of the turf" encumber their races,
and was pursued on both sides, for a nobler purpose;
it was to decide between the rights of property on the
one side, and the rights of liberty on the other. The
contest was for a long time doubtful; but the herd
finally succeeded in winning the race, and poor Buckley
and Dodson were compelled to yield; the former having lost his reputation as a sportsman, and the latter —
what grieved him more,— his team; and both had ruined
the character of their coursers in suffering them to be
beaten. Sad and dispirited, they returned to camp,
where, after a short consultation, it was unanimously
resolved,— inasmuch as there was no other alternative,
— to suffer the mules freely and forever to enjoy the
enlarged liberty which they had so nobly won.
The day was nearly spent, but we harnessed up our
team and traveled four miles, to the crossing of a creek,
where we encamped for the night.
May 10. Re-considered our resolution of last evening, and spent the morning looking for the mules —
re-adopted the same resolution, for the same reason,
and then resumed our journey.
We advanced about eighteen miles through a very
fertile and well watered country, and possessing, along
the banks of the water courses, a supply of bur and
white oak, ash, elm, and black walnut timber, amply
sufficient for all practical purposes. In our travel, we
crossed a stream called the Walkarusha, extending
back from which, about two miles in width, [14] we
discovered a fine bottom covered with heavy bur oak
and black walnut timber.    After passing through this
iff 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
37
bottom, the trail strikes into a level and beautiful prairie,
and crossing it — a distance of four miles — rises gradually to the ridge between the Walkarusha and the Caw,
or Kansas river.12 We encamped upon the ridge, in full
view of the two streams, which at this place are from six
to eight miles apart. The banks of both streams, as far as
can be seen, are lined, either way, with excellent timber:
the country rises gradually from the streams, for fifteen
or twenty miles, with alternate forests and prairies,
presenting to the eye a truly splendid scene. I noticed
here almost a countless number of mounds, in different
directions — some covered with timber, others with
long grass. The Caw or Kansas Indians dwell along
these streams. Through this part of the route there
are two trails, uniting near our camp; the difference
in the distance is small.18
May 11. We traveled about twenty miles, and passed
a company of twenty-eight wagons. The road runs
upon the ridge, which after a distance of ten or twelve
miles becomes a broad rolling prairie. As night came
on, we came up with the company of one hundred wagons
which we were in pursuit of: they were encamped upon
the banks of a small brook, four miles from the Kansas,
12 Walkarusa Creek rises in several branches in Wabaunsee County, and
flows east through Shawnee and Douglas into Kansas River. The crossing
of the Oregon Trail was almost directly south of Lawrence. The trail thence
followed the divide between the creek and river to about the present site of
Topeka. During the Free Soil troubles in Kansas, a bloodless campaign
(1855) along this creek toward Lawrence was known as the "Walkarusa
War."
Kansas River is noted in our volume xiv, p. 174, note 140.— Ed.
18 For the Kansa Indians see our volume v, p. 67, note 37; also our
volume xxviii, p. 140, note 84. Wyeth notes their village in his Oregon,
our volume xxi, pp. 48, 49.— Ed.
«i
iv 38
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
into which it empties. We joined this company. At
dark the guard was stationed, who becoming tired of their
monotonous round of duty, amused themselves by shooting several dogs, and by so doing excited no small tumult
in the company, which after some exertion on the part
of the more orderly portion was quelled, and tranquility
restored. Ill
May 12. We traveled about four miles to Caw or
Kansas river. This is a muddy stream, of about two
hundred and fifty yards in width. We were obliged
to be ferried over it in a flat boat; and so large was our
company, and so slowly did the ferrymen carry on the
necessary operations, that darkness overtook us before
half the wagons had crossed the stream. Fearing
molestation from the numerous Indians who were
prowling about, we were compelled to keep a strong
guard around our camp, and especially around our
cattle; and when all the preliminaries had been arranged,
we betook ourselves to rest; but our tranquility was
soon interrupted by one of the most terrific thunder
storms that I ever witnessed. It appeared to me that
the very elements had broken loose, and that each
was engaging madly in a desperate struggle for the
mastery. All was confusion in our camp. The storm
had so frightened the cattle, [15] that they were perfectly
furious and ungovernable, and rushed through the
guard, and dashed forward over the country before
us: nothing could be done to secure them, and we were
obliged to allow them to have out their race, and endeavor
to guard our camp.
May 13. Early this morning we succeeded in finding and taking possession of our cattle, and by noon
f I I845-I846J
Palmer s Journal
39
all our wagons had crossed the river. Soon after we
took up our line of march, and after advancing about
three miles, encamped near the banks of Big Soldier
creek, for the purpose of organizing the company by an
election of officers; the officers then acting having been
elected to serve only until the company should reach
this place.™ It was decided, when at Independence,
that here there should be a thorough and complete
organization. Great interest had been manifested
in regard to the matter while upon the road; but
now when we had reached the spot and the period
for attending to the matter in earnest had arrived, the
excitement was intense. The most important officers
to be elected were the pilot and captain of the company. There were two candidates for the office of
pilot,— one a Mr. Adams, from Independence,— the
other a Mr. Meek, from the same place. Mr. Adams
had once been as far west as Fort Laramie, had in his
possession Gilpin's Notes,15 had engaged a Spaniard,
who had traveled over the whole route, to accompany
him, and moreover had been conspicuously instrumental
M For this stream see De Smet's Letters in our volume xxvii, p. 197, note
74.— Ed.
18 This was probably a local publication of the journal or notes of William
Gilpin, who went to Oregon with Fremont's party in 1843. Gilpin was a
Pennsylvanian, appointed cadet at West Point in 1834. Two years later he
became lieutenant in the 2nd dragoons, and saw frontier service, resigning
from the army in 1838. He accompanied Fremont as far as the Dalles of
the Columbia, and passed the winter of 1843-44 in the Willamette valley,
returning overland to the states in 1844. As an intelligent observer bis reports
on the Oregon country were much sought (see Miles' Register, lxvii, p. 161).
Gilpin afterwards served in the Mexican War, and earnestly urged the building
of a Pacific railway. In 1861 he was appointed first territorial governor of
Colorado, in recognition of f. his services as an explorer of the Great West,"
and lived until 1894.— Ed. w
40
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
i'Jr
in producing the "Oregon fever." In case the company would elect him pilot, and pay him five hundred
dollars, in advance, he would bind himself to pilot them
to Fort Vancouver:
Mr. Meek, an old mountaineer, had spent several
years as a trader and trapper, among the mountains,
and had once been through to Fort Vancouver;16 he
proposed to pilot us through for two hundred and fifty
dollars, thirty of which were to be paid in advance,
and the balance when we arrived at Fort Vancouver.
A motion was then made to postpone the election to the
next day. While we were considering the motion,
Meek came running into the camp, and informed us
that the Indians were driving away our cattle. This
intelligence caused the utmost confusion: motions and
propositions, candidates and their special friends, were
alike disregarded; rifles were grasped, and horses were
hastily mounted, and away we all galloped in pursuit.
Our two thousand head of cattle were now scattered
over the prairie, at a distance of four or five miles from
the camp.
[16] About two miles from camp, in full view, up
the prairie, was a small Indian village; the greater
part of our enraged people, with the hope of hearing
18 Stephen Hall Meek was a brother of Colonel Joseph Meek so well known
as an Oregon pioneer (see our volume xxviii, p. 290, note 171). Stephen
began his career as a trapper under Captain Bonneville in 1832, and accompanied Joseph Walker to California in 1833-34. He was in the Willamette
valley in 1841, where he purchased of Dr. John McLoughlin the first lot sold
on the site of Oregon City. In 1842 he guided the emigrant caravan from
Fort Laramie. His unfortunate experience in attempting a "cut off " with
a party of emigrants in 1845 (related post by Palmer), discredited his abilities
as a guide. At the time of the gold excitement (1848-49) he returned to California, where he made his later home in Siskiyou County.— Ed.
if'I fc 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
41
from the lost cattle, drove rapidly forward to this place.
As they approached the village, the poor Indians were
seen running to and fro, in great dismay — their women
and children skulking about and hiding themselves,
— while the chiefs came forward, greeted our party
kindly, and by signs offered to smoke the pipe of peace,
and engage with them in trade. On being charged
with the theft of our cattle, they firmly asserted their
innocence; and such was their conduct, that the majority
of the party was convinced they had been wrongfully
accused: but one poor fellow, who had just returned to
the village, and manifested great alarm upon seeing
so many "pale faces," was taken; and failing to prove
his innocence, was hurried away to camp and placed
under guard. Meanwhile, after the greater part of
the company had returned to camp, and the captain
had assembled the judges, the prisoner was arraigned
at the bar for trial, and the solemn interrogatory, "Are
you guilty or not guilty," was propounded to him: but
to this, his only answer was — a grunt, the import of
which the honorable court not being able clearly to
comprehend, his trial was formally commenced and
duly carried through. The evidence brought forward
against him not being sufficient to sustain the charge,
he was fully acquitted; and, when released, "split"
for his wigwam in the village. After the excitement
had in some degree subsided, and the affair was calmly
considered, it was believed by most of us that the false
alarm in regard to the Indians had been raised with
the design of breaking up or postponing the election.
If such was the design, it succeeded admirably.
May 14.   Immediately after breakfast, the camp was
mimmWmWmWm UHWfl
IKUL
%    l
42
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
m
assembled, and proceeded to the election of officers and
the business of organization. The election resulted in the
choice of S. L. Meek, as pilot, and Doctor P. Welch,17
formerly of Indiana, as captain, with a host of subalterns;
such as lieutenants,  judges,  sergeants, &c.
After these matters had been disposed of, we harnessed
up our teams and traveled about five miles, and encamped
with Big Soldier creek on our right hand and Caw river
on our left.
The next day we were delayed in crossing Big Soldier
creek, on account of the steepness of its banks; and
advanced only twelve miles through a prairie country.
Here [17] sixteen wagons separated from us, and we
were joined by fifteen others.
May 17. We traveled eighteen miles over a high,
rolling prairie, and encamped on the banks of Little
Vermilion creek, in sight of a Caw village. The principal chief resides at this-village.18 Our camp here replenished their stores; and, although these Indians may be
a set of beggarly thieves, they conducted themselves
honorably in their dealings with us; in view of which
we raised for their benefit a contribution of tobacco,
powder, lead, &c, and received in return many good
wishes   for a pleasant and successful   journey.   After
17 Little is known of Dr. Presley Welch save as related by Palmer — that he
was from Indiana, was chosen captain of the caravan, and was without authority
after the formation of the independent companies. H. H. Bancroft {History
of Oregon, i, p. 612) notes that he was candidate for governor in 1846.
George H. Himes, assistant secretary of the Oregon Historical Society, writes to
the Editor: "In all my efforts to make a roll of Pioneers by years, I have not
so far been able to find anything about Dr. Welch; hence I conclude he either
left the country at an early date or died soon after his arrival here."— Ed.
18 For this stream see our volume xxi, p. 149, note 20. Townsend also
describes the same Kansa village, ibid., pp. 148, 149.— Ed.
'wl 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
43
leaving them, we traveled about twelve miles over a
fertile prairie. In the evening, after we had encamped
and taken our supper, a wedding was attended to with
peculiar interest.
May 19. This day our camp did not rise. A growing spirit of dissatisfaction had prevailed since the
election; there were a great number of disappointed
candidates, who were unwilling to submit to the will
of the majority; and to such a degree had a disorderly
spirit been manifested, that it was deemed expedient
to divide the company. Accordingly, it was mutually
agreed upon, to form, from the whole body, three companies; and that, while each company should select
its own officers and manage its internal affairs, the
pilot, and Capt. Welsh, who had been elected by the
whole company, should retain their posts, and travel
with the company in advance. It was also arranged,
that each company should take its turn in traveling in
advance, for a week at a time. A proposition was then
made and acceded to, which provided that a collection
of funds, with which to pay the pilot, should be made
previous to the separation, and placed in the hands
of some person to be chosen by the whole, as treasurer,
who should give bonds, with approved security, for
the fulfilment of his duty.
A treasurer was accordingly chosen, who after giving
the necessary bond, collected about one hundred and
ninety dollars of the money promised; some refused
to pay, and others had no money in their possession.
All these and similar matters having been satisfactorily
arranged, the separation took place, and the companies
proceeded to the election of the necessary officers.    The
]Jw
i qjxiTTttmiiTiiniwri-'iiirM
mmmttmimm
n
44
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
company to which I had attached myself, consisting
of thirty wagons, insisted that I should officiate as their
captain, and with some reluctance I consented. We
dispensed with many of the offices and formalities
which [18] existed in the former company, and after
adopting certain regulations respecting the government
of the company, and settling other necessary preliminaries, we retired to rest for the night.
May 20. We have this day traveled fifteen miles,
through a prairie country, with occasionally a small
grove along the streams.
May 22. Yesterday after moving thirteen miles
we crossed Big Vermilion, and encamped a mile beyond
its west bank; we found a limestone country, quite
hilly, indeed almost mountainous. To-day we have
crossed Bee, and Big Blue creeks; the latter stream
is lined with oak, walnut, and hickory.19 We encamped
two and a half miles west of it. During the night it
rained very hard. Our cattle became frightened and
all ran away.
May 23. Made to-day but eight miles. Our pilot
notified us that this would be our last opportunity to
procure timber for axle trees, wagon tongues, &c, and
we provided a supply of this important material. Our
cattle were all found.
May 25. Early this morning we were passed by
Col. Kearney and his party of dragoons, numbering
about three hundred.    They have with them nineteen
19 The Big Vermillion is now known as the Black Vermillion, an eastern
tributary of the Big Blue, in Marshall County, Kansas. The usual crossing
was near the site of the present town of Bigelow. Bee Creek is a small stream
in Marshall County. The Big Blue is noted in our volume xiv, p. 185, note
154;   also in our volume xxi, p. 142, note 15.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
45
wagons drawn by mules, and drive fifty head of cattle
and twenty-five head of sheep. They go to the South
Pass of the Rocky Mountains.20 Our travel of to-day
and yesterday is thirty-two miles, during which we
have crossed several small streams, skirted by trees.
The soil looks fertile.
May 26. Overtook Capt. Welsh's company to-day.
We passed twelve miles through a rolling prairie region,
and encamped on Little Sandy.
May 27. As it was now the turn of our company
to travel in advance, we were joined by Capt. Welsh
and our pilot. The country is of the same character
with that we passed through on yesterday, and is highly
adapted to the purpose of settlement, having a good
soil, and streams well lined with timber.
May 31. In the afternoon of the 28th we struck
the Republican fork of Blue River,21 along which for
20 For a biographical note on Colonel Stephen W. Kearny see our volume
xvii, p. 12, note 4. In the summer of 1845 the general of the army ordered
Kearny to take five companies of dragoons and proceed from Fort Leavenworth via the Oregon Trail to South Pass, returning by way of the Arkansas
and the Santa Fe" Trail. The object was both to impress the Indians, and to
report upon the feasibility of an advanced military post near Fort Laramie.
Leaving their encampment May 18, they were upon the Little Blue by the
twenty-sixth of the month. See report in Senate Docs., 29 Cong., 1 sess., 1,
pp. 210-213. This was the first regular rnilitary campaign into the land of the
Great West, and strongly impressed the Indians of that region. Kearny's
recommendations were against the establishment of a post because of the
difficulty of supplying it — advising instead, a biennial or triennial campaign
similar to his own.— Ed.
21 By the " Republican Fork of Blue River" Palmer intends the stream
known usually as the Little Blue. Republican River, farther west, is an important branch of Kansas River, and for a portion of its course nearly parallels the Little Blue. The Oregon Trail, however, followed the latter stream,
and the distances given by Palmer preclude the possibility of a detour via
the Republican River. The name of this stream, as well as that applied by
Palmer to the Little Blue, is derived from the tribe of Republican Pawnee,
for which see our volume xiv, p. 233, note 179.— Ed.
I nut*
l)
1
1 1
46
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
fifty miles lay the route we were traveling. Its banks
afford oak, ash and hickory, and often open out into
wide and fertile bottoms. Here and there we observed
cotton wood and willow. The pea vine grows wild,
in great abundance on the bottoms. The pea is smaller
than our common garden pea and afforded us a [19]
pleasant vegetable. We saw also a few wild turkies.
To-day we reached a point where a trail turns from this
stream, a distance of twenty-five miles, to the Platte
or Nebraska river. We kept the left hand route, and
some nine or ten miles beyond this trail, we made our
last encampment on the Republican Fork.
June 1. We set out at the usual hour and crossed
over the country to Platte river; having measured the
road with the chain, we ascertained the distance to be
eighteen and a half miles, from our encampment of last
night. It is all a rolling prairie; and in one spot, we
found in pools a little standing water. Some two miles
before reaching the Platte bottom the prairie is extremely
rough; and as far as the eye can reach up and down
that river, it is quite sandy.22 We encamped near a
marshy spot, occasioned by the overflow of the river,
opposite an island covered with timber, to which we
were obliged to go through the shallows of the river
for fuel, as the main land is entirely destitute of trees.
Near us the Platte bottom is three and a half miles
22 There were two routes across from the head of Little Blue River to the
Platte. The first left the trail near the site of Leroy, Nebraska, and came in
to the Platte about twenty miles below Grand Island; the second continued
farther west, about ten miles, then crossed northwest to the Platte near the
site of Fort Kearney. See military map of Nebraska and Dakota, prepared
in 1855-57 by Lieutenant G. K. Warren of the topographical engineer corps.
For the Platte River see our volume xiv, p. 219, note 170.— Ed.
r* 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
47
wide, covered with excellent grass, which our cattle
ate greedily, being attracted by a salt like substance
which covers the grass and lies sprinkled on the surface
of the ground. We observed large herds of antelope
in our travel of to-day. In the evening it rained very
hard.
June 2. Our week of advance traveling being expired,
we resolved to make a short drive, select a suitable spot,
and lay by for washing. We accordingly encamped
about six miles up Platte river. As I had been elected
captain but for two weeks, and my term was now expired,
a new election was held, which resulted in the choice of
the same person. The captain, Welsh, who was originally elected by all the companies, had been with us one
week, and some dissatisfaction was felt, by our company,
at the degree of authority he seemed disposed to exercise. We found, too, that it was bad policy to require
the several companies to wait for each other; — our
supply of provision was considered barely sufficient
for the journey, and it behooved us [to] make the best
use of our time. At present one of the companies was
supposed to be two or three days travel in the rear.
We adopted a resolution desiring the several companies
to abandon the arrangement that required each to delay
for the others; and that each company should have the
use of the pilot according to its turn. Our proposition
was not, for the present, accepted by the other companies.
While we were at our washing encampment one [20]
of the companies passed us, the other still remaining in
the rear.
June 3. Having traveled about eight miles, we halted
at noon, making short drives, to enable the rear com-
fifiL
if TJ1MX
#
iff
48
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
iT'l
pany to join us. We have no tidings of it as yet. We
met seventy-five or eighty Pawnee Indians returning
from their spring hunt.23
June 5. Yesterday we traveled about twelve miles,
passing captain Stephens, with his advance company.
To-day we traveled about the same distance, suffering
Stephens' company to pass us.24 At noon they were
delayed by the breaking of an axletree of one of their
wagons, and we again passed them, greatly to their
offence. They refused to accede to our terms, and we
determined to act on our own responsibility. We
therefore dissolved our connection with the other companies, and thenceforward acted independently of them.
June 6. We advanced twenty miles to-day. We
find a good road, but an utter absence of ordinary fuel.
We are compelled to substitute for it buffalo dung, which
burns freely.
June 7. We find in our sixteen miles travel to-day
that the grass is very poor in the Platte bottoms, having been devoured by the buffalo herds. These bottoms
are from two to four miles in width, and are intersected,
at every variety of interval, by paths made by the buffaloes, from the bluffs to the river. These paths are
remarkable in their appearance, being about fifteen
inches wide, and four inches deep, and worn into the
soil as smoothly as they could be cut with a spade.
We formed our encampment on the bank of the river,
with    three   emigrating    companies   within   as    many
23 For this tribe, see our volume vi, p. 61, note 17; also our volume xv, pp.
143-165; and xxviii, p. 149, note 94.— Ed.
24 Thomas Fulton Stephens joined the Oregon caravan from Illinois. The
year after his arrival in Oregon he took up donation land near the site of Portland and erected thereon a saw-mill.    His death occurred in 1884.— Ed.
#1 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
49
miles of us; two above and one below; one of fifty-
two wagons, one of thirteen, and one of forty-three
— ours having thirty-seven. We find our cattle growing lame, and most of the company are occupied in
attempting to remedy the lameness. The prairie having been burnt, dry, sharp stubs of clotted grass remain,
which are very hard, and wear and irritate the feet of
the cattle. The foot becomes dry arid feverish, and
cracks in the opening of the hoof. In this opening
the rough blades of grass and dirt collect, and the foot
generally festers, and swells very much. Our mode
of treating it was, to wash the foot with strong soap
suds, scrape or cut away all the diseased flesh, and
then pour boiling pitch or tar upon the sore. If applied
early this remedy will cure. Should the heel become
worn out, apply tar or pitch, and singe with a hot iron.
At our encampment to-night we have abundance of
wood for fuel.
[21] June 8. We advanced to-day about twelve
miles. The bottom near our camp is narrow, but
abounds in timber, being covered with ash; it, however, affords poor grazing. So far as we have traveled
along the Platte, we find numerous islands in the river,
and some of them quite large. In the evening a young
man, named Foster,25 was wounded by the accidental
discharge of a gun. The loaded weapon, from which
its owner had neglected to remove the cap, was placed
at the tail of a wagon; as some one was taking out a
tent-cloth, the gun was knocked down, and went off.
The ball passed through a spoke of the wagon-wheel,
25 John Foster was born in Ohio in 1822, removed to Missouri in early
life, and in 1897 was still residing in Oregon.— Ed.
*
!i 5°
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
struck the felloe, and glanced. Foster was walking
some two rods from the wagon, when the half spent
ball struck him in the back, near the spine; and, entering between the skin and the ribs, came out about three
inches from where it entered, making merely a flesh
wound. A small fragment of the ball had lodged in
his arm.
June 9. The morning is rainy. To-day we passed
Stephens' company, which passed us on yesterday.
Our dissensions are all healed; and they have decided
to act upon our plan.
June 10. Yesterday we traveled fifteen miles; to-day
the same distance. We find the grazing continues
poor. In getting to our encampment, we passed through
a large dog town. These singular communities may
be seen often, along the banks of the Platte, occupying various areas, from one to five hundred acres. The
one in question covered some two hundred or three
hundred acres. The prairie-dog is something larger
than a common sized gray squirrel, of a dun color;
the head resembles that of a bull dog: the tail is about
three inches in length. Their food is prairie grass.
Like rabbits, they burrow in the ground, throwing
out heaps of earth, and often large stones, which remain
at the mouth of their holes. The entrance to their
burrows is about four inches in diameter, and runs
obliquely into the earth about three feet, when the
holes ramify in every direction and connect with each
other on every side. Some kind of police seems to be
observed among them; for at the approach of man,
one of the dogs will run to the entrance of a burrow,
and,  squatting down,  utter  a  shrill  bark.   At  once, i84S-I846]
Palmer's Journal
S1
the smaller part of the community will retreat to their
holes, while numbers of the larger dogs will squat, like
the first, at their doors, and unite in the barking. A
near approach drives them all under ground. It is
singular, [22] but true, that the little screech-owl and
the rattlesnake keep them company in their burrows. I
have frequently seen the owls, but not the snake, with
them. The mountaineers, however, inform me, that
they often catch all three in the same hole. The dog
is eaten by the Indians, with quite a relish; and often
by the mountaineers. I am not prepared to speak of
its qualities as an article of food.
During the night, a mule, belonging to a Mr. Risley,20
of our company, broke from its tether, and in attempting to secure it, its owner was repeatedly shot at by the
guard; but, fortunately, was not hit. He had run
from his tent without having been perceived by the
guard, and was crawling over the ground, endeavoring
to seize the trail rope, which was tied to his mule's neck.
The guard mistook him for an Indian, trying to steal
horses, and called to him several times; but a high wind
blowing he did not hear. The guard leveled and fired,
but his gun did not go off. Another guard, standing
near, presented his piece and fired; the cap burst, without discharging the load. The first guard, by this time
prepared, fired a second time, without effect.    By this
28 Orville Risley was born in New York state about 1807. In early life he
removed to Ohio, where he joined the Oregon emigrants of 1845. Upon
reaching the Willamette valley he took up land in Clackamas County, and
later was a merchant at Lafayette. In his last years he resided principally
at Portland, where he was known as Judge Risley, from having once held the
office of justice of the peace. His death occurred at his Clackamas farm in
1884.— Ed. tlf 11
itill
Pi
1
52
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
time the camp was roused, and nearly all seized their
fire-arms, when we discovered that the supposed Indian
was one of our own party. We regarded it as providential that the man escaped, as the guard was a good
shot, and his mark was not more than eighty yards
distant. This incident made us somewhat more cautious
about leaving the camp, without notifying the guard.
June 11. To-day we traveled ten or twelve miles.
Six miles brought us to the lower crossing of Platte
river, which is five or six miles above the forks, and
where the high ground commences between the two
streams. There is a trail which turns over the bluff
to the left; we however took the right, and crossed the
river.27 The south fork is at this place about one fourth
of a mile wide, and from one to three feet deep, with a
sandy bottom, which made the fording so heavy that
we were compelled to double teams. The water through
the day is warm; but as the nights are cool, it is quite
cool enough in the morning. On the west bank of the
river was encamped Brown's company, which passed
us whilst we were organizing at Caw River. We passed
them, and proceeded along the west side of the south
fork, and encamped on the river bank. At night our
hunters brought in some buffalo meat.
June 13. Yesterday we followed the river about
thirteen miles, and encamped on its bank, where the
road between the [23] two forks strikes across the ridge
toward the North fork. To-day we have followed
that route: directly across, the distance does not exceed
four miles: but the road runs obliquely between the
two streams, and reaches the North fork about nine
27
For the fords of the South Platte see our volume xxi, p. 173, note 27.— Ed.
I 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
53
miles from our last camp. We found quite a hill to
descend, as the road runs up the bottom a half mile
and then ascends the bluff. Emigrants should keep
the bluff sixteen or seventeen miles. We descended
a ravine and rested on the bank of the river.
June 15. Yesterday we advanced eight miles, and
halted to wash and rest our teams. We have remained
all this day in camp. At daylight a herd of buffalo
approached near the camp; they were crossing the river,
but as soon as they caught the scent, they retreated to
the other side. It was a laughable sight to see them
running in the water. Some of our men having been
out with their guns, returned at noon overloaded with
buffalo meat. We then commenced jerking it. This
is a process resorted to for want of time or means to
cure meat by salting. The meat is sliced thin, and
a scaffold prepared, by setting forks in the groundy
about three feet high, and laying small poles or sticks
crosswise upon them. The meat is laid upon those
pieces, and a slow fire built beneath; the heat and smoke
completes the process in half a day; and with an occasional sunning the meat will keep for months.
An unoccupied spectator, who could have beheld
our camp to-day, would think it a singular spectacle.
The huntera returning with the spoil; some erecting
scaffolds, and others drying the meat. Of the women,
some were washing, some ironing, some baking. At two
of the tents the fiddle was employed in uttering its
unaccustomed voice among the solitudes of the Platte;
at one tent I heard singing; at others the occupants
were engaged in reading, some the Bible, others poring
over novels.    While all this was going on, that nothing
ummmmSm
~wt* MBMMiMBMttMi
54
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
Iltlt
iVtt.
vm
might be wanting to complete the harmony of the scene,
a Campbellite preacher, named Foster, was reading a
hymn, preparatory to religious worship. The fiddles
were silenced, and those who had been occupied with
that amusement, betook themselves to cards. Such
is but a miniature of the great world we had left behind
us, when we crossed the line that separates civilized
man from the wilderness. But even here the variety
of occupation, the active exercise of body and mind,
either in labor or pleasure, the commingling of evil and
good, show that the likeness is a true one.
[24] June 17. On our travel of eight miles, yesterday, we found the bluffs quite high, often approaching
with their rocky fronts to the water's edge, and now
and then a cedar nodding at the top. Our camp, last
night, was in a cedar and ash grove, with a high, frowning bluff overhanging us; but a wide bottom, with fine
grass around us, and near at hand an excellent spring.
To-day five miles over the ridge brought us to Ash
Hollow. Here the trail, which follows the east side
of the South fork of Platte, from where we crossed it,
connects with this trail.28 The road then turns down
Ash Hollow to the river; a quarter of a mile from the
latter is a fine spring, and around it wood and grass in
abundance. Our road, to-day, has been very sandy.
The bluffs are generally rocky, at times presenting
perpendicular cliffs of three hundred feet high. We
passed two companies, both of which we had before
passed; but whilst we were lying by on the North fork,
28 Ash Hollow, called by Fremont Coulee des Frdnes, was a well known
landmark, where the Oregon Trail crossed the North Platte. It is now known
as Ash Creek, in Deuel County, Nebraska.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
SS
they had traveled up the South fork and descended
Ash Hollow.
June 18. We met a company of mountaineers from
Fort Laramie, who had started for the settlements
early in the season, with flat-boats loaded with buffalo
robes, and other articles of Indian traffic. The river
became so low, that they were obliged to lay by; part
of the company had returned to the fort for teams;
others were at the boat landing, while fifteen of the
party were footing their way to the States. They were
a jolly set of fellows. Four wagons joined us from
one of the other divisions, and among them was John
Nelson, with his family, formerly of Franklin county,
Indiana. We traveled fifteen miles, passing Captain
Smith's company.
June 19. Five miles, to-day, brought us to Spring
creek; eleven miles further to another creek, the name
of which I could not ascertain; there we encamped,
opposite the Solitary Tower.29 This singular natural
object is a stupendous pile of sand and clay, so cemented
as to resemble stone, but which crumbles away at the
slightest touch. I conceive it is about seven miles
distant from the mouth of the creek; though it appears
to be not more than three. The height of this tower
is somewhere between six hundred and eight hundred
feet from the level of the river. Viewed from the road,
the beholder might easily imagine he was gazing upon
29 Spring Creek was probably the one now known as Rush, formed by
springs issuing in Cheyenne County, Nebraska. The second creek was that
now entitled Pumpkinseed. In the days of trail-travelling it was called
Gonneville, from a trapper who had been killed thereon. The Solitary
Tower is on its bank—a huge mass of indurated clay, more frequently
known as the Court House or the Castle.— Ed.
m at
56
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
some ancient structure of the old world. A nearer
approach dispels the illusion, and it looks, as it is, rough
and unseemly. It can be ascended, at its north side,
by clambering up the rock; holes having been cut in
its face for that purpose. The second, or [25] main
bench, can be ascended with greater ease at an opening on the south side, where the water has washed out a
crevice large enough to admit the body; so that by
pushing against the sides of the crevice one can force
himself upward fifteen or twenty feet, which places
the adventurer on the slope of the second bench. Passing round the eastern point of the tower, the ascent
may be continued up its north face. A stream of water
runs along the north-eastern side, some twenty rods
distant from the tower; and deep ravines are cut out
by the washing of the water from the tower to the creek.
Near by stands another pile of materials, similar to
that composing the tower, but neither so large nor so
high. The bluffs in this vicinity appear to be of the
same material. Between this tower and the river stretches
out a rolling plain, barren and desolate enough.
June 20. Traveling fourteen miles, we halted in the
neighborhood of the Chimney Rock. This is a sharp-
pointed rock, of much the same material as the Solitary
Tower, standing at the base of the bluff, and four or
five miles from the road. It is visible at a distance of
thirty miles, and has the unpoetical appearance of a
hay-stack, with a pole running far above its top.30
June  24.    Since  the  20th we  have  traveled  about
80 For a note on Chimney Rock consult De Smet's Letters in our volume
xxvii, p. 219, note 89. See also engraving in Fremont's "Exploring Tour,"
Senate Docs., 28 Cong., 2 sess., 174, p. 38.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
57
sixty-two miles, and are now at Fort Laramie; making
our whole travel from Independence about six hundred
and thirty miles. On the 2 2d we passed over Scott's
Bluffs, where we found a good spring, and abundance
of wood and grass. A melancholy tradition accounts
for the name of this spot. A party who had been
trading with the Indians were returning to the States
and encountering a band of hostile savages, were
robbed of their peltries and food. As they struggled
homeward, one of the number, named Scott, fell sick
and could not travel. The others remained with him,
until the sufferer, despairing of ever beholding his home,
prevailed on his companions to abandon him. They
left him alone in the wilderness, several miles from
this spot. Here human bones were afterwards found;
and,| supposing he had crawled here and died, the
subsequent travelers have given his name to the
neighboring bluff.81
June 25. Our camp is stationary to-day; part of
the emigrants are shoeing their horses and oxen; others
are trading at the fort and with the Indians. Flour,
sugar, coffee, tea, tobacco, powder and lead, sell readily,
at high prices. In the [26] afternoon we gave the
Indians a feast, and held a long talk with them. Each
family, as they could best spare it, contributed a portion
of bread, meat, coffee or sugar, which being cooked,
a table was set by spreading buffalo skins upon the
ground,   and   arranging   the   provisions   upon   them.
81 This story is told with variations by many writers, notably Washington
Irving in his Rocky Mountains (Philadelphia, 1837), i, pp. 45, 46. The event
appears to have occurred about 1830. The range of bluffs, about nine hundred
yards in length, still retains the name. It is situated on the western borders
of Nebraska, in a county of the same name.— Ed. fcnm
IIP
58
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
Around this attractive board, the Indian chiefs and
their principal men seated themselves, occupying one
fourth of the circle; the remainder of the male Indians
made out the semi-circle; the rest of the circle was
completed by the whites. The squaws and younger
Indians formed an outer semi-circular row immediately
behind their dusky lords and fathers. Two stout young
warriors were now designated as waiters, and all the
preparations being completed, the Indian chiefs and
principal men shook hands, and at a signal the white
chief performed the same ceremony, commencing with
the principal chief, and saluting him and those of his
followers who composed the first division of the circle;
the others being considered inferiors, were not thus noticed.
The talk preceded the dinner. A trader acted as
interpreter. The chief informed us, that "a long while
ago some white chiefs passed up the Missouri, through
his country, saying they were the red man's friends,
and that as the red man found them, so would he find
all the other pale faces. This country belongs to the red
man, but his white brethren travels through, shooting
the game and scaring it away. Thus the Indian loses
all that he depends upon to support his wives and children. The children of the red man cry for food, but
there is no food. But on the other hand, the Indian
profits by the trade with the white man. He was glad
to see us and meet us as friends. It was the custom
when the pale faces passed through his country, to make
presents to the Indians of powder, lead, &c. His
tribe was very numerous, but the most of the people
had gone to the mountains to hunt. Before the white
man came, the game was tame, and easily caught, with I845-I846J
Palmer's Journal
59
the bow and arrow. Now the white man has frightened
it, and the red man must go to the mountains. The red
man needed long guns." This, with much more of the
like, made up the talk of the chief, when a reply from
our side was expected.
As it devolved on me to play the part of the white
chief, I told my red brethren, that we were journeying
to the great waters of the west. Our great father owned
a large country there, and we were going to settle upon
it. For this purpose we brought with us our wives
and little ones. We were compelled [27] to pass through
the red man's country, but we traveled as friends, and
not as enemies. As friends we feasted them, shook
them by the hand, and smoked with them the pipe of
peace. They must know that we came among them
as friends, for we brought with us our wives and children. The red man does not take his squaws into battle:
neither does the pale face. But friendly as we felt, we
were ready for enemies; and if molested, we should
punish the offenders. Some of us expected to return.
Our fathers, our brothers and our children were coming behind us, and we hoped the red man would treat
them kindly. We did not expect to meet so many of
them; we were glad to see them, and to hear that they
were the white man's friends. We met peacefully —
so let us part. We had set them a feast, and were glad
to hold a talk with them; but we were not traders, and
had no powder or ball to give them. We were going
to plough and to plant the ground, and had nothing
more than we needed for ourselves. We told them to
eat what was before them, and be satisfied; and that
we had nothing more to say.
B
=
j NiMH
'    i       "I
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
The two Indian servants began their services by
placing a tin cup before each of the guests, always waiting first upon the chiefs; they then distributed the
bread and cakes, until each person had as much as
it was supposed he would eat; the remainder being
delivered to two squaws, who in like manner served
the squaws and children. The waiters then distributed
the meat and coffee. All was order. No one touched
the food before him until all were served, when at a
signal from the chief the eating began. Having filled
themselves, the Indians retired, taking with them all
that they were unable to eat.
This is a branch of the Sioux nation, and those living in this region number near fifteen hundred lodges.82
They are a healthy, athletic, good-looking set of men,
and have according to the Indian code, a respectable
sense of honor, but will steal when they can do so without fear of detection. On this occasion, however, we
missed nothing but a frying pan, which a squaw slipped
under her blanket, and made off with. As it was a
trifling loss, we made no complaint to the chief.
Here are two forts. Fort Laramie, situated upon
the west side of Laramie's fork, two miles from Platte
river, belongs to the North American Fur Company.
33
82 The usual habitat of the Dakota or Sioux was along the Missouri River
or eastward. The Teton Sioux were in the habit of wandering westward for
summer hunts, and this was probably a band of the Oglala or Brule" Teton,
who frequently were encountered in this region. For the Teton subdivisions
see our volume xxii, p. 326, note 287.— Ed.
88 The succession of trading posts on the Laramie branch of Platte River
is somewhat confusing, due to differences in nomenclature. Consult our
volume xxi, p. 181, note 30. The fort here described appears to be the new
Fort Laramie (which must thus have been built in 1845, not 1846). Alexander Culbertson, who was at one time in command for the American Fur m
^
1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
61
m
The fort is built of adobes. The walls are about two
feet thick, and twelve or fourteen feet high, the tops
being picketed or spiked. Posts are planted in these
walls, and support the timber for the roof. [28] They
are then covered with mud. In the centre is an open
square, perhaps twenty-five yards each way, along the
sides of which are ranged the dwellings, store rooms,
smith shop, carpenter's shop, offices, &c, all fronting
upon the inner area. There are two principal entrances;
one at the north, the other at the south. On the eastern
side is an additional wall, connected at its extremities
with the first, enclosing ground for stables and carrell.
This enclosure has a gateway upon its south side, and
a passage into the square of the principal enclosure.
At a short distance from the fort is a field of about four
acres, in which, by way of experiment, corn is planted;
but from its present appearance it will probably prove
a failure. Fort John stands about a mile below Fort
Laramie, and is built of the same material as the latter,
but is not so extensive. Its present occupants are a
company from St. Louis.34
June 26. This day, leaving Fort Laramie behind
us, we advanced along the bank of the river, into the
vast region that was still between us and our destination. After moving five miles, we found a good spot
for a camp, and as our teams still required rest, we
Company, says that this post cost $10,000, and was the best built stronghold
in the company's possession. Fort John was the old American Fur Company's
post. How a rival company had secured it, seems a mystery; possibly Palmer
has confused it with Fort Platte, which Fremont notes in 1842 at the mouth
of the Laramie, belonging to Sybille, Adams, and Company. See his "Exploring Tour " (cited in note 30, ante), p. 35.— Ed.
84 Since the above was written, the North American Fur Company has
purchased Fort John, and demolished it.—Palmer.
\m
<fJ
W r
lnwiimiiniinaMfcMMiia
62
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
halted and encamped, and determined to repose until
Saturday the 28th.
June 28. A drive of ten miles brought us to Big
Spring, a creek which bursts out at the base of a hill,
and runs down a sandy hollow. The spring is one
fourth of a mile below the road. We found the water
too warm to be palatable.35 Five miles beyond the
creek the road forks; we took the right hand trail,
which is the best of the two, and traversed the Black
Hills, as they are called. The season has been so dry
that vegetation is literally parched up; of course the
grazing is miserable. After proceeding eighteen miles
we encamped on Bitter Cottonwood.36
June 29. To-day we find the country very rough,
though our road is not bad. In the morning some of
our cattle were missing, and four of the company started
back to hunt for them. At the end of fourteen miles
we rested at Horse Shoe creek, a beautiful stream of
clear water, lined with trees, and with wide bottoms
on each side, covered with excellent grass. At this
point our road was about three miles from the river.37
July 1. As the men who left the company on the
29th, to look for our lost cattle, were not returned, we
remained in [29] camp yesterday. Game seemed abundant along the creek, and our efforts to profit by it were
36 The trail lay back from the river, for some distance above Fort Laramie.
Big Spring was frequently known as Warm Spring, and the coulee, in Laramie
County, Wyoming, still retains the name of Warm Spring Cafion.— Ed.
36 On the general use of the term Black Hills see our volume xxiii, p. 244,
note 204. The stream called Fourche Amere (bitter fork) by Fremont is now
known simply as Cottonwood Creek.— Ed.
87 Retaining the same name, Horseshoe Creek is a considerable wooded
stream in western Laramie County, Wyoming.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
S
rewarded with three elk and three deer. To-day our
cattle hunters still remain behind. We sent back a
reinforcement, and hitching up our teams advanced
about sixteen miles. Eight miles brought us to the
Dalles of Platte, where the river bursts through a mountain spur. Perpendicular cliffs, rising abruptly from
the water, five hundred or six hundred feet high, form
the left bank of the river. These cliffs present various
strata, some resembling flint, others like marble, lime,
&c. The most interesting feature of these magnificent
masses, is the variety of colors that are presented; yellow, red, black and white, and all the shades between,
as they blend and are lost in each other. On the top nods
a tuft of scrubby cedars. Upon the south side, a narrow
slope between the bluff and river, affords a pass for a
footman along the water's edge, while beyond the bluff
rises abruptly. Frequently cedar and wild sage is to
be seen. I walked up the river a distance of half a mile,
when I reached a spot where the rocks had tumbled
down, and found something of a slope, by which I could,
with the assistance of a long pole, and another person
sometimes pushing and then pulling, ascend; we succeeded in clambering up to the top — which proved
to be a naked, rough black rock, with here and there
a scrubby cedar and wild sage bush. It appeared to
be a place of resort for mountain sheep and bears. We
followed this ridge south to where it gradually descended
to the road. The river in this kanyon is about one
hundred and fifty yards wide, and looks deep.38 At
the eastern end of this kanyon comes in a stream which,
38 This is now known as Lower Platte Canon, and is traversed by the Wyoming branch of the Colorado and Southern Railway.— Ed.
I'll
fl —■
1114111
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
from appearance, conveys torrents of water at certain
seasons of the year. Here, too, is a very good camp.
By going up the right hand branch five or six miles,
then turning to the right up one of the ridges, and crossing a small branch (which joins the river six or seven
miles above the kanyon) and striking the road on the
ridge three miles east of the Big Timber creek, a saving
might be made of at least ten miles travel. We did not
travel this route; but, from the appearance of the country,
there would be no difficulty.
July 2. This day we traveled about sixteen miles.
The road left the river bottom soon after we started.
A trail, however, crosses the bottom for about two miles,
and then winds back to the hill. The nearest road is up
a small sandy ravine, for two miles, then turn to the
right up a ridge, and follow this ridge for eight or ten
miles. At the distance of thirteen [30] or fourteen
miles, the road which turned to the left near the Big
Spring, connects with this. The road then turns down
the hill to the right, into a dry branch, which it descends
to Big Timber creek, where we encamped.39
July 3. This day we traveled about fifteen miles.
Six miles brought us to a small branch, where is a good
camp. Near this branch there is abundance of marble,
variegated with blue and red, but it is full of seams.
The hills in this vicinity are of the red shale formation.
In the mountain near by is stone coal. The hills were
generally covered with grass.   The streams are lined
88 Big Timber Creek was called La Fourche Boisee by Fremont; more
frequently it was known by the name it still retains — La Bonte" Creek, in
Converse County, Wyoming. The cut-off recommended by Palmer would be
by way of Elkhorn Creek and an affluent of La Bonte".— Ed. One or two axletrees and tongues had been broken,
and we found it necessary to encamp and repair
them.   For  this  purpose  all  hands  were  busily  em-
40 Deer Creek is the largest southern affluent of the Platte, between the
Laramie and the Sweetwater. It is well-timbered, and its mouth was a
familiar camping place on the Oregon Trail. It is in the western part of
Converse County, Wyoming, about 770 miles from the starting point at
Independence.— Ed.
"W
1845-1846] Palmer's Journal 65
with cotton wood, willow and boxalder. The road was
very dusty.
July 4. We traveled about fifteen miles to-day, the
road generally good, with a few difficult places. Two
wagons upset, but little damage was done. We crossed
several beautiful streams flowing from the Black hills;
they are lined with timber. To-day, as on yesterday,
we found abundance of red, yellow and black currants,
with some gooseberries, along the streams.
July 5. We this day traveled about twelve miles.
Three miles brought us to Deer creek.40 Here is an
excellent camp ground.   Some very good bottom land.
The banks are lined with timber.    Stone coal was found \
near the road. This would be a suitable place for a
fort, as the soil and timber is better than is generally
found along the upper Platte. Game in abundance,
such as elk, buffalo, deer, antelope and bear. The
timber is chiefly cotton wood, but there is pine on the
mountains within ten or twelve miles. The road was
generally along the river bottom, and much of the way
extremely barren. We encamped on the bank of the
river.
July 6. In traveling through the sand and hot sun,
our wagon tires had become loose; and we had wedged
until the tire would no longer remain on the wheels.
rf wsm
•.
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
ployed. We had neither bellows nor anvil, and of
course could not cut and weld tire. But as a substitute, we took off the tire, shaved thin hoops and tacked
them on the felloes, heated our tire and replaced it.
This we found to answer a good purpose.
July 7. This day we traveled about ten miles. In
crossing a small ravine, an axletree of one of the wagons
was broken. [31] The road is mostly on the river
bottom.    Much of the country is barren.
July 8. Six miles travel brought us to the crossing
of the north fork of the Platte. At 1 o'clock, P. M. all
were safely over, and we proceeded up half a mile to
a grove of timber and encamped.41 Near the crossing
was encamped Colonel Kearney's regiment of dragoons,
on their return from the South Pass. Many of them
were sick.
July 9. We traveled about ten miles this day, and
encamped at the Mineral Spring. The road leaves the
Platte at the crossing, and passes over the Red Buttes.42
The plains in this region are literally covered with
buffalo.
July 10. To-day we traveled about ten miles. The
range is very poor, and it has become necessary to divide
into small parties, in order to procure forage for our
cattle. Out of the company five divisions were formed.
In my division we had eleven wagons;   and we travel
41 The best ford in this stretch of the river; it averaged only about three
feet in depth at the ordinary stage of water, and its width varied from eight
hundred to fifteen hundred feet. It was a little above the present town of
Casper, Wyoming.— Ed.
42 The Mineral Spring was usually called Red Spring, near Poison Spider
Creek, and shows traces of petroleum. For a description of Red Buttes see
our volume xxi, p. 183.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
67
more expeditiously, with but little difficulty in finding
grass for our cattle.
July 11. We this day traveled about twelve miles.
Soon after starting we passed an excellent spring: it is
to the right of the road, in a thicket of willows. One
fourth of a mile further the road ascends a hill, winds
round and passes several marshy springs. The grass is
very good, but is confined to patches. Our camp was
on a small branch running into the Sweet Water.
July 12. This day we arrived at Independence Rock.
This is a solitary pile of gray granite, standing in an
open plain. It is about one-eighth of a mile long and
some six or eight rods wide, and is elevated about sixty
or seventy feet above the plain. On the north-eastern
side the slope is sufficiently gradual to be easily ascended.
Portions of it are covered with inscriptions of the names
of travelers, with the dates of their arrival — some
carved, some in black paint, and others in red. Sweet
Water, a stream heading in the Wind River Mountains,
and entering the Platte, runs immediately along its
southern side, leaving a strip of some twenty or thirty
feet of grassy plain between the base of the rock and
the creek. We encamped two miles above the rock,
having traveled about thirteen miles.43
July 13. We traveled about thirteen miles this day.
Three miles brought us to the Gap, or DeviVs Gate, as
it is sometimes called. The Sweet Water breaks through
a spur of the mountain, which from appearance is four
or five hundred feet high. [32] On the south side the
rocks project over the stream, but on the north slope
48 For Independence Rock and Sweetwater River see our volume xxi,
p. 53, notes 33, 34.— Ed.
,'
_ Ill-
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
back a little. The whole mountain is a mass of gray
granite rock, destitute of vegetation, save an occasional
scrubby cedar or bush of artemisia. From where
the creek enters to where it emerges from this kanyon
is three or four hundred yards. The water rushes
through like a torrent. At the distance of one hundred
rods south of this is the Gap, where the road passes;
but the rock is not so high. South of this again is another
gap, perhaps half or three-fourths of a mile wide. The
rocks there rise mountain high.44 South-west of this
is a valley extending as far as the eye can penetrate.
As the road passes through this gap, it bears to the
right, up the valley of the Sweet Water.
July 14. This day we traveled about twenty-two
miles. The road sometimes leaves the creek for several
miles, and passes over a barren, sandy plain; no kind
of vegetation but the wild sage. We this day met a
party of men from California and Oregon. A portion
of those from California spoke unfavorably of that
country; and those from Oregon spoke highly of the
latter country. On this day's march we came in sight
of the long-looked-for snow-capped mountains. They
were the Wind River Mountains. On our right is a
mass of naked rock; on our left and to the distance
of ten or twelve miles is a high range of mountains,
mostly covered with timber; whilst in the valley there
is no timber, and much of the plain entirely destitute
of vegetation.   We encamped near the Narrows.
45
44 For this gap, or canon, see De Smet's Letters in our volume xxvii, p. 241,
note 113.— Ed.
46 The Wind River Mountains are noted in our volume xxi, p. 184, note 35.
The trail along the Sweetwater is for the most part over a rough, undulating
prairie, but at times the hills force the road close to the river valley.   At one 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
69
July 15. We traveled about eleven miles to-day.
There are two trails, which diverge below the Narrows.
The nearest and best is that to the right up the creek,
crossing it several times; they unite again near where
we encamped. The road was good, but as usual very
dusty. Our hunters wounded a buffalo, and drove
him into camp. About twenty men ran to meet him.
He gave them battle. They fired a volley that brought
him to his knees, and whilst in that position Mr. Creigh-
ton (a young man from Ohio) ran across the creek,
intending to shoot the animal in the head. When
Creighton had approached within ten or twelve feet,
the enraged animal sprung to his feet and made at him.
Creighton wheeled and "split" for the camp; the buffalo pursuing to near the bank of the creek, where he
stopped. By this time others had arrived with guns,
and the buffalo was compelled to yield. In the "spree"
one of my horses was shot with a ball in the [33] knee;
no bones were broken, and he was able to travel, but
he was a long time very lame.
July 16. This day we traveled about twenty-six
miles. Four miles brought us to a marshy bottom,
where was very good grass. In the centre of this quagmire and near where the road crosses the bottom is a
spring of good water. Eight miles brought us to a small
stream; but little grass. Six miles brought us to Sweet
Water; crossed and left it and struck it again in six or
eight miles. The grass here is good. Wild sage was
our only fuel.    This night there was a heavy frost.
if
fill
place, about thirty-six miles above the river's mouth, the route grows rugged
and crosses the river three times. This was usually known as the Three
Crossings, and is probably the stretch that Palmer calls the Narrows.— Ed.
lifi
Mi »ni i *
y>
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
7w^ 17. Our cattle being much fatigued, we drove
but five miles. The road is up the creek bottom, which
is mostly covered with grass. A heavy frost: ice formed
in buckets one-fourth of an inch thick. We here found
the celebrated mountaineer Walker, who was traveling
to Bridger's fort.46
July 18. We traveled about twenty-two miles this
day. The road ascends the bluff and winds among
rocky hills for six miles, passing over ledges that are
entirely naked for rods. The appearance of the country
is extremely barren. We passed several rivulets where
small parties may obtain grazing for their stock. The
day has been quite cold. The Wind River Mountains
are on our right, about twenty miles distant. They
presented a most grand appearance. Huge masses of
ice and snow piled up peak upon peak, with large
bodies of timber covering portions of the mountains.
We   viewed   the  southern  termination  of  this  range;
48 Joseph R. Walker was born (1798) in Tennessee. In early life he
migrated to the Missouri frontier, and for many years was a trapper and trader
in the direction of Santa Fe. Once he was captured by the Mexicans, and
afterwards participated in a battle between them and the Pawnee Indians.
In 1832 Captain Bonneville secured Walker as a member of his trading
party, and the following year sent him on an expedition that explored a
route from Salt Lake to California, through Walker's Pass, which took its
name from this explorer. On this journey he claimed first of any American
to have seen the Yosemite. His knowledge of the West brought his services
in demand as a guide or pilot. In 1843 he led out a small party of emigrants.
From Bridger's Fort, whither he was going when met by Palmer, he joined
Fremont's third exploring expedition, and was sent forward with a portion
of the party by his former route of 1833. The junction with his chief's party
was made after the latter's visit to Monterey. Walker, however, did not
remain to take part in the events that led to the American conquest of California, but started back to the states with a drove of California horses for sale,
and was again at Fort Bridger in July, 1846. For twenty years longer he
continued his vagrant life in the mountains, finally settling (1866-67) m Contra
Costa County, California, where he died in 1876.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
71
but they extend to the north further than the eye
can penetrate. The country between us and the
mountains is rolling, and much of it apparently barren.
Hard frost.
July 19. This morning we ascended the bank on
the south side of Sweet Water. Six miles brought us
again to the creek, where is good grass in the bottom
and willow for fuel. We crossed, went up the bottom
two miles, and crossed back and left the Sweet Water.
This day we passed over the dividing ridge which separates
the waters flowing into the Atlantic from those which find
their way into the Pacific Ocean.   We had reached
THE   SUMMIT   OF   THE   ROCKY   MOUNTAINS.     Six   miles
brought us to a spring, the waters of which run into
Green river, or the great Colorado of the west.47—
Here, then, we hailed Oregon. Here we found a
bottom covered with good grass, where we halted until
four o'clock, P. M., when we again hitched up and took
the plain for Little Sandy. Ten miles brought us to
a dry branch, where by digging to the [34] depth of one
foot we procured water; but it was brackish, and had
a very unpleasant taste. A white sediment, such as
we had noticed elsewhere on the road, covered the
surface of the ground. Ten miles more brought us to
Little Sandy, which we reached at one o'clock in the
night, having traveled thirty-one miles. The road
was over a barren plain of light sand, and was very
dusty.    From the spring to Little Sandy there is no
47 For South Pass and Green River see our volume xxi, pp. 58-60, notes
37> 38.
The springs were known as Pacific Springs, running into a creek of that
name, affluent of the Big Sandy in Fremont County, Wyoming.— Ed.
n
WBM MtM
nriuu!
mi
•
72
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
vegetation but the wild sage, and it had a withered
appearance. The night was cold, freezing quite hard.
Little Sandy has its source in the Wind river mountains.48 Along this stream is a narrow bottom, covered
with grass and willows. We are now out of the range
of the buffalo, and although not often mentioned, we
have seen thousands of these huge animals. There
have been so many companies of emigrants in advance
of us, that they have frightened the buffalo from the
road.   We daily see hundreds of antelope.
July 20. This day we traveled about thirteen miles,
to Big Sandy. The road was over a level sandy plain,
covered with wild sage. At Little Sandy the road
forks — one taking to the right and striking Big Sandy
in six miles, and thence forty miles to Green river, striking the latter some thirty or forty miles above the lower
ford, and thence to Big Bear river, striking it about
fifteen miles below the old road. By taking this trail
two and a half days' travel may be saved; but in the
forty miles between Big Sandy and Green river there
is no water, and but little grass. Camps may be had
within reasonable distances between Green and Bear
rivers.49 The left hand trail, which we took, twelve
miles from Little Sandy strikes the Big Sandy, follows
down it and strikes Green river above the mouth of
Big Sandy.
July 21. We traveled about fourteen miles to-day.
Six miles brought us to Green river, or Colorado.    This
48 The dry branch is known as Dry Sandy Creek.   For the Little Sandy
see our volume xxi, p. 187, note 36.— Ed.
48 This was known as Sublette's Cut-off; see De Smet's Letters in our volume
xxvii, p. 242, note 11 S.
Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
73
is a beautiful clear stream, about one hundred yards
wide, with a rapid current over a gravelly bottom. It
flows through a barren, sandy country; occasionally
the bottoms spread to a mile in width, covered with
grass. There is mostly a belt of timber along the banks
of the stream.— Emigrants had been in the habit of
crossing the river on rafts. We succeeded in finding
a place where, by hoisting up the wagon-beds six inches,
we could ford the river without damaging our goods.
This was done by cutting poles and placing them under
the wagon-beds, and in one hour we were all safely
over. We proceeded down the river eight miles, and
encamped in a grove near some [35] cabins built by a
party of traders. There is an abundance of fish in this
stream, and we had great sport in fishing.
July 23. This day we traveled about fifteen miles.
The road leaves Green river near our camp, and passes
over a high, barren country, to Black's fork; this we
followed up some four miles and encamped.50 As upon
other streams, there is occasionally a grassy bottom
with a little cotton wood and willow brush. Snowy
mountains to be seen in the south.
July 24. We traveled, to-day, about fourteen miles,
over a barren country, crossing the creek several times.
We noticed a number of piles of stone and earth, some
forty or fifty feet high, scattered in different directions,
80 At this point, Green River bears considerably east of south, the trail
therefore turns southwest, striking Black Fork of Green, not far from the
present Granger, Wyoming, at the junction of the Union Pacific and Oregon
Short Line railways. Black Fork rises in the extreme southeastern corner of
Wyoming, flows northeast, thence east and southeast, entering the Green in
Sweetwater County. It is a shallow, somewhat sluggish stream, passing through
an alkaline country.— Ed.
PARI
m 74 Early Western Travels [Vol. 30
giving the appearance of the general surface having
been worn away to that extent by the ravages of time
and the elements.
July 25. This day we traveled about sixteen miles,
crossed the creek several times, and encamped near
Fort Bridger. This is a trading fort owned by Bridger
and Bascus. It is built of poles and daubed with mud;
it is a shabby concern.81 Here are about twenty-five
lodges of Indians, or rather white trappers' lodges
occupied by their Indian wives. They have a good
supply of robes, dressed deer, elk and antelope
skins, coats, pants, moccasins, and other Indian fixens,
which they trade low for flour, pork, powder, lead,
blankets, butcher-knives, spirits, hats, ready made clothes,
coffee, sugar, &c. They ask for a horse from twenty-
five to fifty dollars, in trade. Their wives are mostly of
the Pyentes and Snake Indians.52    They have a herd
51 The site of Fort Bridger was chosen by its founder as the best station for
trade with emigrants following the Oregon Trail. Its building (1843) marked
an epoch in Western emigration, showing the importance of trade with the
increasing number of travellers. The place was an oasis in the desert-like
neighborhood, the stream of Black Fork coming from the Unita Mountains,
and in this wooded valley dividing into several branches. In 1854 Bridger
sold his post to a Mormon named Lewis Robinson, who maintained it until
1858, when United States troops wintering during the Mormon campaign
built at this site a government post, also known as Fort Bridger, which was
garrisoned about twenty years longer. For Bridger, the founder, see De
Smet's Letters, in our volume xxvii, p. 299, note 156. His partner was Louis
Vasques (not Bascus), a Mexican who for many years had been a mountain
man. For some time he was in partnership with Sublette in a trading post
on the South Platte. About 1840 he entered into partnership with Bridger,
and is remembered to have lived with some luxury, riding about the country
near Fort Bridger in a coach and four. See Wyoming Historical Society
Collections, i, p. 68.— Ed.
82 For the Snake (Shoshoni) Indians, see our volume v, p. 227, note 123.
The Paiute are referred to in our volume xviii, p. 140, note 70; also in De Smet's
Letters, in our volume xxvii, pp. 165, 167, notes 35, 38.— Ed.
mm 7"!
1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
75
of cattle, twenty-five or thirty goats and some sheep.
They generally abandon this fort during the winter
months. At this place the bottoms are wide, and covered
with good grass. Cotton wood timber in plenty. The
stream abounds with trout.
July 26. Remained at the fort the whole of this
day.
July 27. We traveled about eight miles, to-day, to
Little Muddy. The grazing and water bad. Several
bad hills.
July 28. To-day we traveled about sixteen miles.
Ten miles brought us to the Big Muddy.53 Country
barren. Our course is up the Big Muddy, and nearly
north. Encamped on the creek. Very poor grazing.
This is a limestone country.
July 29. This day we traveled about sixteen miles.
Our course is still up the Muddy. Emigrants would
do well to push on up to near the head of this creek, as
the grass is good, [36] and there are excellent springs
of water. The country is very rough. We saw a few
beaver dams.
July 30. We traveled about twenty-five miles this
day. Twelve miles brought us to the dividing ridge
between the waters of Green and Bear rivers. The
ridge is high, but the ascent is not difficult. From
this ridge the scenery is most dehghtful. In one view
is the meanders of Muddy creek. Two companies with
large herds of cattle are winding their way up the valley.
68 By the Little Muddy, Palmer refers to the stream now known as the
Muddy, a branch of Black Fork, which would be reached in about eight miles
from Fort Bridger, by travelling northwest. Palmer's " Big Muddy" is the
stream usually known as Ham's Fork, for which see our volume xxi, p. 197,
note 43.— Ed.
..
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m Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
The bold mountains on either side are very high and
rugged. In front and at the distance of twelve miles
is the valley of Big Bear river. A ravine at our feet
cuts the spur of the mountain, and empties its waters
into Bear river. The valley of Bear river is four or
five miles wide, with willows along its banks. At a
distance beyond the Bear river is a range of high mountains, stretching as far as the eye can reach, their snowy
tops glistening in the rays of the sun. The mountains
near the trail are rough and have a singular appearance;
the earth being of various colors — black, white, red,
yellow, and intermediate shades. Occasionally there
is a grove of quaking aspen, and a few sour-berry bushes
and some cedar. Our camp to-night was on Bear
river; the bottom is sandy, and mostly covered with
wild sage.54
July 31. This day we traveled down Bear river
fifteen miles. The bottom is from two to four miles
wide, and mostly covered with good grass. The road
excellent. We encamped two miles above Smith's fork.
The upper road from Green river comes in two miles
back.
August 1. We traveled fifteen miles this day. Two
miles brought us to Smith's fork. This is a bold, clear,
and beautiful stream, coming in from the east. It is
about fifteen yards wide, lined with timber and undergrowth.65   In this stream is an abundance of moun-
84 The divide between, the waters of Green and Bear River may be crossed
at several points, Its altitude is about eight thousand feet, and all travellers
speak of the wide view. The mountains to the west are those of the Bear
River range, running between the arms of the river, for which see our volume
xxi, p. 199, note 44.— Ed.
65 The upper road from Green River, usually known as Sublette's road,
ill m
1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
77
tain trout, some of them very large. The road leads
down the bottom of Bear river three miles to Spring
branch, one mile to the Narrows and three miles to the
first crossing of Bear river.58 Here are two trails. The
nearest turns to the right up a creek for a mile and a
half, crosses the creek and passes over the hill, and strikes
the other trail at the foot of Big Hill, six miles from
the crossings. The other trail crosses the river, follows
up its bottom round the bend for eight miles, to where
it crosses the river, then follows down the bottom three
miles, and takes up a valley for one mile to the foot
of the Big Hill, where it intersects the other trail. This
is the most level road, but the other is not a bad one.
[37] The hills bordering on Bear river on this day's
travel are very high and rugged; they are covered with
grass. The bottoms are from one to four miles wide.
We saw this day large herds of antelope. We encamped
in the bend of the river, near the second crossings.
August 2. This day we traveled about nineteen
miles. Four or five miles brought us to the big hill or
mountain. It is about half a mile to the top of the first
ridge, and quite steep. The road then turns a few
rods to the right, then to the left down a ravine for three
hundred yards, and then up a ravine for half a mile
to the top of the mountain.   We traveled about two
comes across by way of Crow Creek, a branch of Ham's Fork, and Sublette
Creek, a tributary of the Bear. Smith's Fork comes almost directly from
the north, its headwaters nearly interlacing with Salt River branch of Lewis
(or Snake) River. It enters Bear River quite near the dividing Une between
Wyoming and Idaho.— Ed.
46 The first crossing of Bear River is just above the mouth of Thomas's
Fork. For a detailed map of this stretch of the road see Fremont's " Exploring Tour" {op. cit. in note 30), p. 132.— Ed.
■:J$\
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ilr 7«
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
miles along the ridge, and then turned to the left down
the mountain. It is about one mile to the plain, and
generally very steep and stony; but all reached the plain
safely, and were truly thankful that they had safely
passed one of the most difficult mountains on the road.
From the top of this mountain we had a most delightful
view of the surrounding country. This is one of the
ranges which border this stream. At this place they
close in upon both sides so as not to admit of a passage
with teams along the river. A road could easily be
cut around the point, and save the fatigue of climbing
this mountain; the distance would not be materially
increased. The valley of Bear river bears off to the
north-west, and can be seen a great distance. From
the south comes in a broad valley, up which can be seen
Bear Lake. A high range of mountains separates it
from the river. The outlet of this lake is two or three
miles below the narrows made by this mountain.57 A
high range of snow covered mountains can be seen to
the south-west. The road strikes the river two miles
from the foot of the mountain, at Big Timber. Here
is a good camp. Eight miles brought us to a spring
branch. The bottom here is wide; a low marsh prevents driving to the river. The grass is good. There is
a little timber on the mountains. At Big Timber is a
company of trappers and traders attached to Bridger's
party.
67 The big hill is just beyond the bend of the Bear, below Thomas's Fork,
and the nearest approach the road makes to the valley of Bear Lake. This
lake is evidently the remains of one that occupied a much larger area, as the
marshes at its upper end signify. It now measures about nineteen miles in
length, with an average width of six, and a depth of from forty to sixty feet.
The lower portion of the lake is in Utah and the upper in Idaho. Its waters
are noted for their exquisite blue tint.— Ed.
H 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
79
August 3. We traveled about fourteen miles, crossing a number of spring branches, coming in from the
mountains. These branches abound in trout. The
ground, for a strip of about four miles, was covered with
black crickets of a large size. I saw some that were
about three inches in length, and measuring about three-
fourths of an inch in diameter; but the common size
were two inches in length and one-half or five-eighths
of an inch in diameter; their legs were large in proportion [38] to the size of their bodies. Some were
singing on stalks of wild sage; others crawling in every
direction. Our teams made great havoc among them;
so numerous were they that we crushed them at every
step. As soon as one was killed, others of them would
alight upon it and devour it. The bottoms are wide,
and covered with grass, and the soil looks well. A
few patches of snow were seen upon the mountain some
ten miles distant. A portion of the mountain is covered
with fine timber.   The bottoms are rolling.
August 4. We reached the Soda springs, having
traveled about eight miles.58 The first view we had
was of two or three white hillocks or mounds, standing
up at different points to the right of the road, and near
a grove of cedar and pine timber. One of them is
about ten rods long at the base, and three or four rods
in width; its elevation is probably twenty-five or thirty
feet from the plain in which it is situated. The size of
these mounds continually increases, as the water oozes
out at different points, and produces a crust which
becomes quite hard. The rocks, for miles around,
are of the soda formation.    Upon these mounds the
58
For the location of these springs see our volume xxi, p. 200, note 45.— Ed.
fir £SsmntnBUM*KUjBBai«UHUBI
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Mmmmmmm
80
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
water is warm. In a small bottom, immediately before
reaching the first of these mounds, and about two hundred yards above the road, is a hole about eight feet
in diameter; in this is a pool of water, strongly impregnated with soda. I had no means of ascertaining the
depth, but believe it to be considerable; at one edge
of it the water was boiling and sparkling; it would
sometimes swell four inches above the surface. This
pool, and others contiguous, affords excellent drinking water; it was cool, and, when sweetened, would
compare favourably with any soda water. Just below
the mound, and near the grove, is a rapid stream of
water, coursing over a rocky bottom, formed by soda.
At the crossing of this creek, and below the road, is a
morass; and immediately on the bank of the rivulet,
is a crevice in the rock, from which a small stream of
water issues; this was the best to drink of any I found.
After crossing the creek, the distance to the springs
generally resorted to is about three-fourths of a mile;
they boil up in every direction. Several mounds have
been formed, of ten feet in height. The water has
found some other passage, and left them to moulder
away. The centre or middle of these are concave.
The surface of the earth here is some twelve or fifteen
feet above the level of the river, the bank of which is of
rock, of the soda formation. A grove of cedar and
pine timber extends from the river back to [39] the
mountain, a distance of two and a half or three miles;
the space between the road and the river is covered
with grass; but between it and the mountain it is
barren of vegetation of any kind. The soda has left a
sediment, which is now crumbled and loose, with an
'   f     • 1845-1846] Palmer's Journal 81
occasional mound of ten or twelve feet elevation, but no
water running. The river here is about one hundred
yards in width, and about eighteen inches in depth,
running very rapidly. The soda water is bubbling
up in every direction, and sometimes rises six inches
above the surface of the river. This bubbling extends
for near half a mile. A stream comes in from the north
at the western edge of the springs, tumbles over the
rocks, and finally into the river. Near where one branch
of this falls over the rock (it has several passages where
the road crosses it) is a circular basin in the rock, being
two feet in diameter at the top, but larger below. It
was covered with grass; and, in walking along, I barely
avoided stepping into it; whilst at its edge the purling
or gurgling of the water, as it boils up, apprized me
of its vicinity. The surface of the water is about three
feet below the top of the rock. The water is cool, much
more so than the water of the springs, and is remarkably clear.
Three hundred yards below the crossing of this branch,
and immediately on the bank of the river, is the Steamboat Spring.59 The water has formed a small cone of
about two and a half feet in height, and three feet in
diameter, at the base. A hole of six inches in diameter
at the top, allows the water to discharge itself. It swells
out at intervals of eight or ten seconds, and sometimes
flows four or five feet in disjointed fragments. It is
lukewarm, and has a milky appearance; but when
taken in a vessel becomes as transparent as crystal.   It
88 A map of these springs can be found in Fremont's "Exploring Tour"
(pp. eU. in note 30), p. 135. Steamboat Spring is a miniature geyser^ an
analysis of whose waters is given by Fremont, p. 136.— Ed.
ll
t% tmmuum
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
produces a sound similar to the puffing of a steamboat,
but not quite so deep. It can frequently be heard at
the distance of a quarter of a mile. About six feet from
this is a small fissure in the rock, which is called the
escape-pipe or gas-pipe. It makes a hissing noise,
corresponding with the belching of the spring. The
gas emitted from this fissure is so strong that it would
suffocate a person, holding his head near the ground.
To the rear of this, across the road, are mounds fifty
or sixty feet in height; these were entirely dry. Up
this creek is very good grazing for cattle, but there are
found some marshy places contiguous. The bottom
upon the opposite side of the river is four or five miles
in width, and covered with a good coat of grass. The
soil looks good; and if the seasons are not too [40] short,
would produce well. The mountain upon the south
side is covered with heavy pine timber; on the north
side but little timber was observed; what little was
noticed consisted principally of scrubby cedars. Antelope found in abundance. The water, in many of the
springs, is sufficiently strong to raise bread, equally as
well as saleratus or yeast. Were it not for their remote
situation, these springs would be much resorted to,
especially during the summer months. The country
is mountainous, and its altitude so great, that the air is
always cool, and consequently must be healthy.
Companies wishing to remain for a length of time
at the springs, would pursue a proper course in driving
their cattle over the river, as good grazing can thereby
be had.
August 5. We traveled about nineteen miles. Five
miles brought us to where the road leaves the river,
MM 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
and bears northward through a valley. The river
bears to the southward and empties its waters into
Big Salt Lake.80 The range of mountains bounding
the north side of the river here comes to within a half
mile of it, then bears off to the north, leaving a valley
of about seven or eight miles in width between it and
a range coming from Lewis river, and extending south
towards Salt Lake. The range bounding the south
side of the river comes abruptly to the stream at this
point, presenting huge and cumbrous masses of basaltic
rock, but it is generally covered with heavy timber. At
this point two trails are found: one striking west, across
the valley, to the opposite side; the other, which is the
nearest and best, follows around the point, hugging the
base of the mountain for several miles. Two and one
half miles distant, and immediately beneath a cliff of
rocks by the road.side, is to be found a soda pool. A
little spring of cool soda water runs out at the base of
the rock, and a basin of eight or ten yards in extent,
and about two and one half feet high has been formed.
Inside of this, is a pool of water; — the material composing the bank around, is of a white color. In a few
miles travel, we crossed several spring branches. We
then directed our course through the plain for some
eight or nine miles, to where we encamped. Our camp
was located near a spring branch; but a small quantity
of wood was found; grazing was excellent. From where
the road leaves the river, the country presents every
appearance of having been volcanic at some period.
Craters are yet standing in the plain, exhibiting positive
evidence of this fact.    A large mound has been formed
so
For a brief note on Salt Lake see our volume xxi, p. 199, note 44.
mm* •rriLt
84
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
by the lava ejected from this crater. In the centre is [41]
a deep cavity; now partially filled, from the faffing in
of the masses of bank surrounding it. In every direction the eye rests upon fragments of rock, which have
been thrown out in a hot and burning condition, many
of them melted and united; pieces resembling broken
junk bottles or black glass lay scattered over the plain.
The valley for ten or twelve miles is covered with stone
of this description. In many places the rocks have
been lifted or bulged up to an elevation of ten or fifteen
feet, the top has been burst asunder, presenting a cavity
of eight or ten feet in width, caused by the fragments
having been cast out; the depth of the cavity is from
twenty to thirty feet, the sides have a black appearance,
and exhibit indications of having been burned; at other
places the rock had been lifted up, and elevated above
the surface of the earth some five or six feet, and about
the same in width, having numerous small apertures
in it, the centre being concave. The stone forms a
complete arch. At other places the rock has been rent,
and a chasm of thirty or forty feet in depth and from
two to ten feet in width, has been the result. These
chasms are about one quarter of a mile in length. The
fragments lay in every direction.
The country over this plain is rather barren; but at
certain seasons of the year, is covered with grass, which
during the summer months dies, leaving but little appearance of vegetation. After we had halted for the night,
three families who had separated from our company at
the Soda Springs, passed us. A few hours had elapsed,
and we espied one of their number returning post haste
to our camp.   When he arrived, he was so paralysed 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
with fear, that it was with difficulty we obtained from
him the cause of his alarm. It appeared evident, from
his statement, that a party of Snake Indians meditated
an attack upon their party. We dispatched a company
to their relief, but soon had the gratification to witness
the return of their wagons to our camp. It appears
that one of their number had marched about two miles
in advance of the wagons, when he was discovered by
a party of Snake Indians, lurking in the vicinity, who
immediately gave him chase, at every step uttering the
most terrific yells, and endeavoured to surround him;
but as he was astride a fleet American courser, he succeeded in outstripping them, and arrived at the wagons
in time to prepare for their approach. The wagons
were then in a deep ravine, and could not be seen, by
the Indians in pursuit, until within seventy-five yards.
As soon as the Indians discovered [42] their proximity
to the wagons they commenced a precipitate retreat,
and the emigrants rejoined our party.
August 6. We traveled this day about fifteen miles.
The road for seven miles is up the valley; it then takes
over the mountain, to the waters running into Snake
or Lewis river. The high range of mountains which
bears off towards Salt Lake, terminates near the road
on the left. The road follows a ravine, and winds
about among the hills, and thickets of quaking aspen,
until it reaches a spring branch, down which it follows,
to near Fort Hall. Over the ridge, and for two miles
down the branch, there is but little grass found. At the
distance of three miles, on our left up the mountain,
were several patches of snow. A few of our party
brought some of the snow to our camp. 86
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[Vol. 30
August 7. This day we made about eighteen miles.
For ten miles the road is very good. Along the stream
is found willow brush, answering for fuel. The last
seven miles is over a sandy plain; it was dry, and very
heavy traveling. Our camp was at a large spring of
cold water;  grazing was very good.
August 8. We traveled but five miles, which brought
us to Fort Hall.61 This is a trading post in the possession of the Hudson1 s Bay Company. Like the forts on
the east side of the mountains, it is built of mud or
adobes. (This term applies to sun-burnt brick.) They
are of a similar construction. At each corner is a
bastion, projecting out some eight or ten feet, perforated
with holes for fire-arms. Captain Grant is now the
officer in command; he has the bearing of a gentleman.82
The garrison was supplied with flour, which had been
procured from the settlements in Oregon, and brought
here on pack horses. They sold it to the emigrants
for twenty dollars per cwt., taking cattle in exchange;
and as many of the emigrants were nearly out of flour,
and had a few lame cattle, a brisk trade was carried on
between them and the inhabitants of the fort. In the
exchange of cattle for flour, an allowance was made
of from five to twelve dollars per head.   They also had
81 The entire route from Soda Springs at the bend of Bear River to Fort
Hall was about fifty miles in length, crossing the basaltic, volcanic plateau
which Palmer describes, to the waters of Portneuf River, down which the
trail passed to Fort Hall. For the founding of this post see Townsend's
Narrative, in our volume xxi, pp. 209-211.— Ed.
88 Captain James Grant was Hudson's Bay factor in charge at Fort Hall for
several years during the immigration movement. Most of the travellers speak
of his courtesy and readiness to assist. He was at this post in 1842, when
Matthieu describes him as a large man, resembling Dr. McLoughlin — Oregon
Historical Quarterly, i, p. 84.   He seems to have later settled in Oregon,— Ed, 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
87
horses which they readily exchanged for cattle or sold
for cash. The price demanded for horses was from
fifteen to twenty-five dollars. They could not be prevailed upon to receive anything in exchange for their
goods or provisions, excepting cattle or money.
The bottoms here are wide, and covered with grass.
There is an abundance of wood for fuel, fencing, and
other purposes. [43] No attempt has, as yet, been
made to cultivate the soil. I think the drought too
great; but if irrigation were resorted to, I doubt not it
would produce some kinds of grain, such as wheat,
corn, potatoes, &c.
Our camp was located one mile to the south-west
of the fort; and as at all the other forts, the Indians
swarmed about us. They are of the Snake tribe, and
inhabit the country bordering on Lewis and Bear rivers,
and their various tributaries. This tribe is said to be
numerous; but in consequence of the continual wars
which they have engaged in with the §ioux, Crows and
Blackfeet, their numbers are rapidly diminishing.
Snake river, which flows within one half mile of the
fort, is a clear and beautiful stream of water.63 It
courses over a pebbly bottom. Its width is about one
hundred and fifty yards. It abounds in fish of different
varieties, which are readily taken with the hook.
While we remained in this place, great efforts were
made to induce the emigrants to pursue the route to
California. The most extravagant tales were related
respecting the dangers that awaited a trip to Oregon,
and of the difficulties and trials to be surmounted.    The
Iii
M
l m
83 For a brief description of Snake (or Lewis) River, see our volume xxviii,
p. 303, note 179.— Ed. Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
w\
perils of the way were so magnified as to make us suppose
the journey to Oregon almost impossible. For instance,
the two crossings of Snake river, and the crossing of the
Columbia, and other smaller streams, were represented
as being attended with great danger; also that no company heretofore attempting the passage of these streams,
succeeded, but with the loss of men, from the violence
and rapidity of the current; as also that they had never
succeeded in getting more than fifteen or twenty head
of cattle into the Willamette valley. In addition to the
above, it was asserted that three or four tribes of Indians,
in the middle region, had combined for the purpose
of preventing our passage through their country, and
should we attempt it, we would be compelled to contend
with these hostile tribes. In case we escaped destruction at the hands of the savages, a more fearful enemy,
that of famine, would attend our march; as the distance
was so great that winter would overtake us before
making the passage of the Cascade Mountains.
On the other hand, as an inducement to pursue the
California route, we were informed of the shortness
of the route, when compared with that to Oregon; as
also of many other superior advantages it possessed.
[44] These tales, told and rehearsed, were likely to produce the effect of turning the tide of emigration thither.
Mr. Greenwood, an old mountaineer, well stocked with
falsehoods, had been dispatched from California to
pilot the emigrants through;64 and assisted by a young
84 This attempt to deflect Oregon immigrants to California arose from the
unsettled conditions in that Mexican province, and the determination of earlier
American settlers to secure California for the United States. Caleb Greenwood, who was sent to Fort Hall from Sutter's Fort (Sacramento), was an aged
mountaineer and trapper, who reared a half-breed family by a wife of the 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
89
man by the name of McDougal, from Indiana, so far
succeeded as to induce thirty-five or thirty-six wagons
to take that trail.65
About fifteen wagons had been fitted out, expressly
for California; and, joined by the thirty-five aforementioned, completed a train of fifty wagons; what the
result of their expedition has been, I have not been able
to learn.66
August 9. This day we traveled about eight miles;
five miles brought us to the crossing of Portneth. This
is a stream heading in the mountains near the Soda
Springs, receiving numerous branches in this bottom,
and is here about eighty yards in width.67 From this
place, it is one mile to the crossing of a narrow slough,
with  steep   banks.   We   crossed,   and   journeyed   two
Crow tribe. In 1844 he guided the Stevens party to California, and during
the winter of 1844-45 served in Sutter's division of Micheltorena's army against
Alvarado and Castro. Sutter wrote in regard to his mission, "I am glad
that they meet with some good pilots at Fort Hall who went there from here
to pilot emigrants by the new road."— Ed.
88 George McDougall was a native of Ohio, but started on his journey
from Indiana. He conducted the advance party of young men known as the
Swasey-Todd party, over the Truckee route to Sutter's, leaving Fort Hall
about August 13, and arriving at New Helvetia late in September. McDougall
served the next year in the California battalion, and was known to have been
at San Francisco in 1847-48. He several times returned East, and after 1853
became a confirmed wanderer, being found in Patagonia in 1867. He is
thought to have died at Washington, D. O, in 1872. He was eccentric, but
brave, and a favorite with the frontier population. Many of the emigrants
who turned off at Fort Hall for California went overland to Oregon the next
year. Consult H. H. Bancroft, History 0} Oregon (San Francisco, 1886), i,
p. 522. — Ed.
88 The writer has recently learned that the emigrants alluded to, not finding California equal, in point of soil, to their high wrought anticipations,
have made the best of their way to Oregon.— Palmer.
87 For another description of Portneuf (not Portneth) River see De Smet's
Letters in our volume xxvii, p. 249, with accompanying note.— Ed.
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
miles to the bank of Snake river, where we encamped.
Eight wagons joined us at our encampment.
August 10.    We remained in camp.
August 11. This day we traveled about eight miles;
which brought us to within one mile of the American
falls.68 Our camp was at the springs. An island
in the river afforded excellent grazing for cattle. The
country is extremely barren, being sandy sage plains.68
August 12. We traveled about fifteen miles, which
brought us to Levy creek, or Beaver-dam creek, as it
is sometimes termed; it is a small stream; its waters
flow down a succession of falls, producing a handsome
cascade: it has the appearance of having been built
up by beaver. The property of the water has turned
the material into stone; the water appears to be impregnated with soda; the rocks along the bank are of that
formation.70   The best  camp is two miles farther on.
August 13. This day we traveled about eight miles,
to Cassia creek; here the California trail turns off. The
road [45] has been very dusty and heavy traveling.
The country presents the same usual barren appearance
71
68 These falls derive their name from the following circumstance. A
number of American trappers going down this stream in their canoes, not being
aware of their proximity to the falls, were hurried along by the violence of
the current; and passing over the falls, but one of the number survived.—
Palmer.
88 The trail from Fort Hall led down the eastern and southern bank of the
Lewis; see our volume xxviii, p. 310, note 190. American Falls is a well-
known landmark, flowing over a rock about forty feet in height; see Fremont's
" Exploring Tour" (pp. cit. in note 30), p. 164, for an engraving thereof. The
once barren land of this region is now being made fertile by irrigation.— Ed.
70 Fall Creek, in Oneida County, so called by Fremont, and still known
by this name. Its bed is composed of calcareous tufa, chiefly the remains
of reeds and mosses, forming a beautiful succession of cascades.— Ed.
71 Cassia Creek is an important western affluent of Raft River, of Cassia
Iff 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
91
August 14. This day we traveled about fifteen miles,
and reached marshy springs; the road has been stony
and dusty; the country mostly destitute of vegetation —
nothing growing but the wild sage and wormwood.72
August 15. We traveled but eleven miles. The road
runs over a sage plain for eight miles, when it crosses
the stream from the marsh; no water running, and but
little standing in pools. At the distance of three miles
the road strikes the river bottom, at the lower end of
this, at which place the road leaves it; here was found
a good camp.
August 16. We traveled about twenty-three miles.
Four miles brought us to Goose creek. We found
difficulty in crossing, and no good location for a camp.7*
After seven miles travel we reached the river; but little
grass. Twelve miles brought us to Dry Branch; here
also was unsuitable ground for encamping, as the water
was standing in pools. The road we traveled was
very dusty, and portions of it quite stony; here the
river runs through a rocky kanyon. The cliffs are
sometimes of the height of one thousand feet, and nearly
County, Idaho. Upon its banks was the earliest settlement in this region,
and the valley is still noted for its farms. The first party to take this route to
California was that of J. B. Chiles (1843), guided by Joseph Walker.    They
struck across from the Snake to Humboldt River, down that stream to its
sink, and by the Walker Pass into California. In 1844 the Stevens party
followed a similar route; crossing the Sierras, however, by Truckee and Bear
River road, the Une of the present Central Pacific railway.— Ed.
72 Called by Fremont Swamp Creek, now known as Marsh Creek, a small
southern affluent of the Lewis. It forms a circular basin or valley, about six
miles in diameter, where there was grass and consequently a good camping
place.— Ed.
n Goose Creek is a deep, rocky stream rising in Goose Creek range, lying
on the border between Idaho and Utah.    The creek flows north, receiving
several branches before entering the Lewis in Cassia County.    Placer mines
of considerable value have been found on this creek.— Ed.
■
, 02
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
*1
perpendicular.74 Above the kanyon, the river is two
or three hundred yards wide; but at this place it is not
more than one hundred and fifty feet; and at one place,
where there is a fall of some twenty feet, its width does
not exceed seventy-five feet. In our march this day
I attempted to get down to the river, to procure a drink
of water, but for six miles was unable to do so, owing
to the steep precipitous banks.
August 17. We traveled but eight miles. The road
lay over a sage plain to the bottom on Rock creek.75
Here we found a very good camp.
August 18. This day we traveled about twenty
miles. After the distance of eight miles we arrived
at the crossing of Rock creek, (in a kanyon,) here we
halted for dinner, and gave our cattle water. We then
took up the bluff, and traveled over sand and sage plains
for about twelve miles. When night overtook us we
drove to the top of the river bluff and encamped.   -We
u Dry Creek is still to be found on the maps of Cassia County. Fremont says
of this portion of the trail: "All the day the course of the river has been
between walls of black volcanic rock, a dark fine of the escarpment on the
opposite side pointing out its course, and sweeping along in foam at places
where the mountains which border the valley present always on the left two
ranges, the lower one a spur of the higher; and on the opposite side, the Salmon
River mountains are visible at a great distance." (See op. cit., ante, in note 30,
p. 167.) — Ed.
78 The falls mentioned by Palmer are the Great Shoshone Falls of the
Lewis River, where the canon is over eight hundred feet deep: the first fall
has a plunge of thirty feet, and then a sheer descent of a hundred and ninety.
These are, in the United States, exceeded in grandeur only by Niagara and
the Yosemite. Palmer's failure to appreciate their height and magnificence
was probably due to the depth of the canon from the top of which he viewed
them; or he may not have seen the lower falls at all, for the trail wound back
from the river in many places.
Rock Creek is a considerable stream, with a swift current, flowing northwest into the Lewis in Cassia County, Idaho.— Ed.
MM 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
93
drove our cattle one and a half miles down the bluff
to the river for water. Here we found a little grass and
green brush, but it was not sufficient in quantity to
supply our cattle, and we could do no better. We
packed water up the bluff to our camp. The bluffs
at this place exceed one thousand feet in height; they
are of basalt. The road is on a high barren [46]
plain; a range of mountains is on our left hard by,
and at a great distance on our right another range
appears.
August 19. We traveled about twelve miles. Nine
miles brought us to where we pass down to the river
bottom; from this point the distance to the river was
three miles. A warm spring branch empties itself into
the river at this place. Emigrants would pursue a more
proper course by encamping on the bottom, near the
source of Rock creek, then drive down to where the
road crosses in a kanyon, then following the road for
eight or nine miles to where the road leaves the bluff
of the creek and encamp, driving their cattle into the
creek bottom. From this place they can drive to Salmon
Fall creek, just four miles below our present encampment, follow down this creek to its mouth, where will
be found an excellent camp.
August 20. We traveled about nine miles, reaching
the Salmon Falls.76 Here are eighteen or twenty Indian
huts.   Salmon  come  up  to  these  falls:   the  Indians
78 Salmon Falls River is the largest southern affluent of the Lewis that has
been crossed since leaving Fort Hall. It rises in many branches on the boundaries of Nevada and flows north through a valley now noted as a hay- and stock-
raising section. Salmon Falls (also called Fishing Falls) is a series of cataracts
with sharply inclined planes, forming a barrier to the ascent of the salmon,
and thus a fishing resort for Indians.— Ed.
jfi
m TTff
^MM
M
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
111
have an abundance of them, which they very readily
dispose of for hooks, powder, balls, clothing, calico
and knives, and in fact for almost anything we have
at our disposal.
The river at this place is a succession of cataracts
for several miles, the highest of which does not exceed
twelve feet. The grazing was very poor, and the country
barren as usual.
August 21. We traveled about twelve miles; for two
miles the road is up a sandy hill, it then strikes a sandy
sage plain, over which it takes its course for ten miles.
Here night overtook us, as we had commenced our march
at a very late hour on account of having lost some horses.
Our camp was on the top of the river bluff. It is one
mile to water; but little grass was found. This day
we found several head of cattle that had given out from
fatigue of traveling. Some of the companies had been
racing, endeavoring to pass each other, and now they
have reached a region where but little grass is found
— are beginning to reap the reward of their folly.
August 22. Our cattle were so much scattered that
it was late in the day when we prepared to resume our
march. We traveled about ten miles. At night we
left the road, and directed our course to the right, down
a ravine to the river, where we encamped. Our cattle
suffered much for want of food.
August 23. This morning we turned up the ravine
for one and a half miles, and then struck up the hill
to the road. Three and a half miles brought us to
where the road crosses [47] the Snake river. In coming down to the river bottom, there is a very steep hill.
Along the shore of this river was a little grass;   there 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
95
are two islands covered with grass, so that our cattle
were soon repaid for their privations heretofore. The
difficulties attending the crossing of this stream had been
represented as being almost insurmountable; but upon
examination we found it an exaggeration. From the
main shore to first island there is no difficulty; from
first to second island, turn well up, until nearly across,
then bear down to where the road enters it. The
water is not deep until nearly across, and not then if
you keep well up stream. From second island to main
shore is more difficult; it is about three hundred
yards wide and the current very rapid. Strike in,
heading well up for two rods, then quartering a little
down until eight or ten rods from shore: then quartering a little up for fifteen or twenty rods; then strike
up for the coming out place; the bottom is gravelly.
With the exception of a few holes, the water for the
first fifteen rods is the deepest part of the ford. The
bottom is very uneven; there are holes found of six
or eight feet in width, many of them swimming. Those
crossing this stream can escape the deepest of these
holes by having horsemen in the van and at each side;
it is necessary that there be attached to each wagon
four or six yoke of oxen, the current being swift; and
in the passage of these holes, previously alluded to,
when one yoke is compelled to swim, the others may
be in shallow water. Great care must be taken that
these teams be not beat down too low and pass over
the ripple; and to prevent such a casualty, two drivers
must attend each wagon. Before attempting the passage
of the river all articles liable to damage, from coming
in contact with the water, should be piled on the top
1
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
of the wagon bed. We commenced crossing at eleven
o'clock, A. M., and at one o'clock, P. M., we effected
the passage of the stream, and were so fortunate as to
land our goods free from all damage. We traveled two
miles to a spring branch and pitched our encampment.
Good grass, wood and water, were procured in plenty.77
August 24. We traveled but six miles. Soon after
leaving camp we directed our course up a stony hill;
thence over a sage plain to a spring branch.78 We
pursued our way up this branch for one mile, where
we obtained good grazing for our cattle; a high range
of hills appearing on our right, at the distance of two
miles, an occasional grove of pine timber upon them;
but, in general, the mountains here are covered with
[48] grass; numerous streams issuing from their sides,
and pouring their waters in the plain below. There
is no appearance of vegetation until you reach the low
bottoms immediately along the water's edge. The
road traveled to-day was quite stony.
The Indians along this road are expert in theft and
roguery. A young man having a horse which he had
taken much pains to get along, when night approached,
staked and hobbled him, that he might not stray off; but
at night an Indian stole into the camp, unhobbled the
horse, cut the rope, and took him off, leaving the young
man undisturbed in his sleep. A few days thereafter,
this Indian effected a sale of the horse to one of a party
of emigrants traveling behind us.
August 25.   We remained in camp.
77 For this crossing see our volume xxviii, p. 314, note 193.— Ed.
78 The emigrants were in Elmore County, Idaho, where a number of small
streams come from the north into Lewis River; one is known as Cold Spring
Creek, possibly the branch mentioned by Palmer.— Ed.
Al\ 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
August 26. We traveled about ten miles; our camp
was located on a small rivulet, at a quarter of a mile's
distance above the road, and near the mouth of the Hot
Spring branch. Between the road and the mountain
good grazing was found. The river is about eight miles
on our left; the space between is a barren, sandy sage
plain.
August 27. We traveled about sixteen miles; one
mile brought us to the Hot Springs, near which the road
passes.79 These springs are in a constant state of ebullition. They number from five to six, extending over a
surface of two to three yards, all uniting and forming
a stream of one yard in width and about three inches
deep, running quite rapid. The water is sufficiently
hot for culinary purposes. About fifteen rods off,
approaching the mountain, which is half a mile distant,
are similar springs, the waters of which flow into a reservoir a short distance below. An ox, belonging to our
party, appeared desirous to test the qualities of the water
afforded by these springs. His owners, seeing his inclination, attempted to arrest his steps, but failed; when
he arrived at the brink of one of them, and stuck his
nose in, preparatory to indulging in a draught of the
delicious nectar, he immediately wheeled, and made
the welkin ring by his bellowing; kicking and running,
he showed he was evidently displeased with himself.
Our camp was on Barrel creek bottom, which is very
narrow.
August 28. We traveled about eighteen miles, crossing several running branches.   The road is near the base
79 For these springs see Farnham's Travels in our volume xxviii, p. 314,
note 194.— Ed. Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
of the mountain; wild sage and grease wood found in
plenty.    Encamped on Charlotte's fork, a small branch.
August 29. We traveled about eighteen miles, which
brought us to Bois river, a stream of forty or fifty yards
in [49] width, and abounding in salmon; its banks are
fined with Balm of Gilead timber.80 The bottoms
here are two or three miles wide, and covered with
grass.
August 30. We traveled about eleven miles. The
road is sometimes on bottom, at others, on bluff. The
Indians are very numerous along this stream; they
have a large number of horses; clothing is in much
demand; for articles of clothing costing in the States
ten or twelve dollars, a very good horse can be obtained.
August 31. We traveled about 14 miles. The road
pursues its course down the valley of the Bois river.
September 1. We traveled about thirteen miles. Two
miles from camp we crossed Bois river. Some of the
bottoms are covered with grass, others with wild sage
and grease wood. The road was very dusty. There
is not much timber along the stream, but great quantities
of brush.
September 2. We reached Fort Bois. This is a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, established
upon the northern side of Snake or Lewis river, and one
mile below the mouth of Bois river. This fort was
erected for the purpose of recruiting, or as an intermediate post, more than as a trading point. It is built
of the same materials, and modeled after Fort Hall,
80 For Boise River see our volume xxi, p. 249, note 63. The trail approached
this stream near the present site of Boise City, and followed its banks to Lewis
River.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
but is of a smaller compass. Portions of the bottoms
around it afford grazing; but, in a general view, the
surrounding country is barren.81
North of this fort is an extensive plain, which has
an extremely unfertile appearance; but, I am informed,
that during the winter and spring months it affords
good grazing. At this fort they have a quantity of flour
in store, brought from Oregon City, for which they
demanded twenty dollars per cwt., in cash; a few of
our company being in extreme want, were obliged to
purchase at this exorbitant price. At this place the
road crosses the river; the ford is about four hundred
yards below the fort, and strikes across to the head of
an island, then bears to the left to the southern bank;
the water is quite deep, but not rapid; it swam some
of our smallest work cattle; the bottom is solid and
smooth. We cut poles, and laid them across the top
of our wagon-beds, piling our loading on them; answering a twofold purpose — preventing our loading from
damage, as also by its weight keeping the wagons steady
and guarding them against floating. In about three
hours we effected our passage in safety, but few of the
goods getting wet. We went up the bottom a half mile,
and there encamped; [50] driving our cattle on an island hard by, to graze. Fort Bois is about two hundred
and eighty miles below Fort Hall, following the wagon
road; but by crossing the river at Fort Hall, and going
down on the north side, the distance would be lessened,
as the river bears off south, and then north; and judging from the appearance of the country, I think a road
81 For a brief sketch of Fort Boise see Farnham's Travels in our volume
xxviii, p. 321, note 199.— Ed.
m IOO
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
may be found, equal, if not better than the one on the
south side; and, I doubt not, the grazing will be found
better.82
September 3. We traveled fifteen miles, to Malheur,
or Malore, as it is sometimes called: here is a good
camp. This is a stream of about ten yards in width,
having its source in a range of mountains to the southwest, and pursuing its meanderings through a succession
of hills, sage and sand plains, and occasionally a fertile
bottom, until it arrives at Snake river, into which it
empties. A few miles below Fort Bois, its course from
its source is north of east. Along its banks, near to
where the road crosses it, are a number of hot springs;
they are of the same temperature of those between the
two crossings of Snake river.83 Here we met Dr. White,
a sub-Indian agent, accompanied by three others, on
their way from Oregon to the States.84   At this place
82 This northern and more direct route was followed by Wyeth in 1834 —
see Townsend's Narrative in our volume xxi, pp. 231-249. He found the
difficulties of the passage great, and the longer and more southern route was
the one usually followed.— Ed.
88 For Malheur River see our volume xxi, p. 264, note 64. The Hot Springs
are noted in our volume xxviii, p. 323, note 202.— Ed.
84 For a brief sketch of the life of Dr. Elijah White see Farnham's Travels
in our volume xxix, p. 20, note 12. He was at this time returning to Washington to secure the settlement of his accounts as Indian sub-agent, and with
the hope of securing further preferment—if possible, the governorship of
Oregon. He was the bearer of a memorial from the provisional government
of Oregon, requesting Congress to extend the sovereignty and laws of the United
States over the Oregon settlements. See Cong. Globe, 29 Cong., 1 sess., p. 24.
Later advices from Oregon, however, frustrated the plans of Dr. White, who
was retired to private life. On his return his companions across the plains
(1845) were William Chapman and Orris Brown of the immigration of 1843,
and Joseph Charles Saxton of 1844. Only Brown returned to Oregon; he
went back in 1846 accompanied by his own family, and that of his mother,
Mrs. Tabitha Brown, who was connected with the history of early education 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
are two trails; the fork is in the bottom above the crossing of the creek, and there is a possibility of emigrants
pursuing the wrong route. I do not deem it amiss
to give some particulars in relation to this road. Mr.
Meek, who had been engaged as our pilot, but had
previously went in advance of the companies who had
employed him, and who had after reaching Fort Hall,
fitted up a party to pilot through to Oregon, informed
the emigrants that he could, by taking up this stream
to near its source, and then striking across the plains,
so as to intersect the old road near to the mouth of
Deshutes or Falls river, save about one hundred and
fifty miles travel; also that he was perfectly familiar
with the country through which the proposed route
lay, as he had traveled it; that no difficulty or danger
attended its travel. He succeeded in inducing about
two hundred families to pursue this route; they accordingly directed their course to the left, up this creek,
about ten days previous to our arrival at the forks.
September 4. We traveled about twenty miles; ten
miles brought us to a sulphur spring, and ten miles
more to Birch creek, where we encamped.85 The
country is considerably rolling, and much of it barren:
no timber found.
September 5. We traveled about eight miles; three
miles [51]   brought  us  to  Snake river, and five more
in Oregon. The Brown family settled at Forest Grove, the immigrant of
1843 finally dying at Salem in 1874. White, in his Ten Years in Oregon
(New York, 1859), p. 282, speaks of meeting a party (Palmer's) near Fort
Boise, who brought him important letters, including one from his wife, the
first received in fifteen months.— Ed.
86 Birch Creek (Riviere aux Bordeaux) rises in Burnt River Mountains
and flows southeast into Lewis River, in Malheur County, Oregon.— Ed.
w 11
102
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
to Burnt river. The road is hilly but good; the country
mountainous.    Here is a good camp.
September 6. We made about twelve miles. The
road is up Burnt river, and the most difficult road we have
encountered since we started. The difficulties arise from
the frequent crossings of the creek, which is crooked,
narrow and stony. We were often compelled to follow
the road, in its windings for some distance, over high,
sidelong and stony ridges, and frequently through
thickets of brush. The stream is about ten or twelve
yards in width, and is generally rapid. The hills are
high, and covered with grass.86
September 7. This day we traveled about twelve
miles. The road exceeded in roughness that of yesterday. Sometimes it pursued its course along the bottom
of the creek, at other times it wound its way along the
sides of the mountains, so sidelong as to require the
weight of two or more men on the upper side of
the wagons to preserve their equilibrium. The creek
and road are so enclosed by the high mountains, as to
afford but little room to pass along, rendering it in some
places almost impassable. Many of the mountains
viewed from here seem almost perpendicular, and of
course present a barren surface. The eye is occasionally relieved by a few scrubby cedars; but along the
creek is found birch, bitter cottonwood, alder, &c, in
quantity, and several kinds of brush and briars, so
impenetrable as to preclude ingress. The road pursues
its course through these thickets, the axe having been
employed; but it is so very narrow as almost to prevent
86 For Burnt River and the course of the trail through its valley see Town-
send's description in our volume xxi, pp. 267, 268.— Ed.
rWl 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
travel. A little digging, and the use of the axe, united
with the erection of bridges, would make this a very good
road. At first view this road appeared to us impassable,
and so difficult of travel, as almost to deter us from the
attempt; but knowing that those who had preceded us
had surmounted the difficulties, encouraged us to persevere. It required much carefulness, and the exercise
of skill on the part of our drivers to pass along and avoid
the dangers of the way. We pursued our route without any loss, with the exception of that attending the
breakage of two wagon tongues, done in crossing some
deep ravines. We also experienced difficulty in finding
our cattle, which had strayed away. Five miles from
camp the road turns up a spring branch to the right,
which we followed two miles, crossing it very frequently;
it then turns up the mountain of the left, until it strikes
another ravine. We followed [52] up this for one mile,
where water makes its appearance. Here is found a
good camp. The road then takes to the left up the
hill, and then down to a dry branch: here is a good
camp, one mile to running water. This portion of
the road is solid and of good travel.
September 8. This day we traveled about fourteen
miles. Two miles brought us to the creek again; the
bottom here is of some extent. We followed this bottom
for the distance of one mile; the road then led up the
right hand branch, crossing several small branches,
taking up a ravine to the left over a ridge, until it reaches
the fork of the river; pursues its route up this river some
six or seven miles, crossing it twice, then directs its course
to the right, through a narrow ravine over the mountain,
then strikes Dry Branch;   we followed up this branch mmri
104
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
A\\
to running water, and near to a scrubby pine; here
we encamped. The road has been solid and good.
The hills and valleys appear well covered with grass.
September 9. This day we traveled about sixteen
miles. The road runs up the branch for one mile, then
turns to the left over the hill, pursuing a very winding
course for some thirteen miles, until it reaches a slough
in Powder river bottoms. Powder river is a stream
of some eight or ten yards in width, having its source
in the high range of mountains on our left, which mountains in many places are covered with snow.87 An
abundance of pine timber is found covering the sides
of these mountains, sometimes extending far down into
the bottoms, which here are between six and seven
miles in width. The soil is fertile and would undoubtedly yield abundantly.
To our right, at the distance of fifteen or twenty miles,
is presented a high range of mountains, their base covered
with grass, their sides with heavy pine timber. At
their summit they are entirely destitute of vegetation:
some of these are very lofty, their peaks present a very
lustrous appearance, resembling the snow mountains.
This shining, dazzling appearance they possess, is derived I think from the material of which they are
composed, being a kind of white clay.
The valley between Powder river and this range is
very rolling, portions of it covered with wild sage. Wild
fowl abound in this valley.
September 10. This day we traveled about ten miles;
our course was down the valley of Powder river;  eight
87 For Powder River see our volume xxi, p. 268, note 68.   The mountains
seen were the Blue; see a brief description in ibid., p. 273, note 71.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
miles brought us to the crossing of the same, one
mile to the middle [53] fork, and one to the third fork.
There is good ground for encampments at any point
along these streams.
At our camp we were visited by an Indian chief of
the tribe Caaguas,88 accompanied by his son. He was
of a friendly disposition; his object in visiting us was
principally to barter for cattle; he had in his possession
thirty or more horses.
September 11. This day we traveled about twelve
miles; for the first five or six miles, the road was quite
level and good, it then follows a ridge dividing Powder
river and Grand Round; this portion of the road is
very uneven and stony. The road leading down into
the valley of Grand Round, is circuitous, and its difficulty of travel enhanced by its roughness; it is about
one and a half miles in length, to where it reaches the
bottom. Grand Round is a valley, whose average
width does not exceed twenty miles, and is about thirty
miles in length; a stream of water of some twenty yards
in width passes through this valley, receiving considerable addition to its volume from the many rivulets that
pour down their waters from the mountains, by which
this valley is enclosed. The bottoms are of rich friable
earth, and afford grass of various kinds, among others
that of red clover. There is a root here found in great
abundance, and known as the comas, which is held in
high repute by the Indians for some medicinal qualities
it is thought to possess; wild flax and a variety of other
plants grow in luxuriance, like to those I have observed
88 Pronounced Kiwaw or Kioose.— Palmer.
Comment by Ed.   For the Cayuse see our volume vii, p. 137, note 37.
Mil, r
/H<
106 Early Western Travels [Vol. 30
in the western prairies.89 The streams are generally
lined with timber, and abound in salmon and other
varieties of fish. Upon the sides of the mountains and
extending down into the valley are found beautiful
groves of yellow pine timber. These mountains are
places of resort for bear, deer, and elk.
This bottom affords an excellent situation for a settlement, possessing more advantages in that respect, than
any found since our departure from the lower Platte
river. North of this and at the distance of about twenty
miles, is another valley, similar in appearance to this,
but of greater extent.90 The streams having their
course through this valley empty into Lewis river, which
is eighty or ninety miles to the north. Our camp was
at the foot of the hill, convenient to a spring branch. At
twilight we were visited by four or five of the Caaguas,
the tribe alluded to previously.
An incident quite worthy of note, occurred at this
place.    The  [54]  chief (Aliquot  by name)91 who had
88 For the valley of Grande Ronde see our volume xxi, p. 271, note 69.
Consult on camas, ibid., p. 247, note 61.— Ed.
90 This northern valley is the lower portion of the Grande Ronde. Fremont says: "We passed out of the Grand Rond by a fine road along the
creek, which, for a short distance, runs in a kind of rocky chasm. Crossing
a low point, which was a little rocky, the trail conducted into the open
valley of the stream — a handsome place for farms." (pp. cit. in note
30, p. 179.) This is now the most flourishing settlement in eastern Oregon
with a railway running through the valley to Elgin.— Ed.
91 Probably this was the Cayuse chief Tiloukaikt, who had early come
under Dr. Whitman's influence, but nevertheless was treacherous, and unstable
in his professions of Christianity. In 1841 he had insulted Dr. Whitman
because of the punishment of one of his nephews by a missionary teacher.
In 1843 he entered into the treaty with some reluctance, and in 1847 was one
of the principals concerned in the Whitman massacre. The following year
he was one of the five chiefs who gave themselves up to the civil authorities,
and he paid the penalty of his murderous instincts upon the scaffold.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
joined us at our other encampment, and had pursued
this day's journey in company, had pitched his tent
some three hundred yards to the rear of our camp. In
the evening, in strolling about the camp, I came near
his tent, and entered with the intention of employing
his squaw in the soling of my moccasins; while she
was engaged in this employment, a conversation had
sprung up between the old chief and myself, in which
he took occasion to ask me if I were a christian, as also
whether there were many upon the road; to which
questions I of course answered in the affirmative, supposing that he merely wished to know, whether I classed
myself with the heathen or christians. On my return
to our camp, some one of our party proposed that we
should while away an hour or so, in a game at cards,
which was readily assented to. We had but engaged
in our amusement, when the old chief Aliquot made
his appearance, holding a small stick in his hand; he
stood transfixed for a moment, and then advanced to
me, raising his hand, which held the stick in the act of
chastising me, and gently taking me by the arm, said
"Captain — Captain — no good; no good." You may
guess my astonishment, at being thus lectured by a "wild
and untutored savage," twenty five hundred miles from
a civilized land. I inwardly resolved to abandon card
playing forever.
September 12. This day we traveled about seven
miles; the road runs across the upper end of Grand
round, to a small spring branch, when it again ascends
the mountains. At this spring branch we pitched our
camp, and while here, were visited by great numbers of
Indians, including men, squaws, and papooses.    These
■   II 1
H
I	 %M
108 Early Western Travels [Vol. 30
Indians have decidedly a better appearance than any
I have met; tall and athletic in form, and of great symmetry of person; they are generally well clad, and
observe pride in personal cleanliness. They brought
wheat, corn, potatoes, peas, pumpkins, fish, &c. which
they were anxious to dispose of for cloths, calico, nankins
and other articles of wearing apparel; they also had
dressed deer skins and moccasins; they had good horses,
which they offered in exchange for cows and heifers;
they would gladly exchange a horse for a cow, esteeming the cow as of equal value. They remained with
us throughout the day, and when evening approached
returned to their lodges along the river two miles distant.
I noticed a few of the Nez Perces (Pierced Noses) tribe
of Indians among them.92 Both of these tribes are
under the influence and control of two Presbyterian
missionaries, Dr. [55] Whitman and Mr. Spalding, who
have resided among them for the last ten years; the
former among the Caaguas, which inhabit the country
bordering on Wallawalla river and its tributaries, the
Blue mountains and Grand round: the latter among the
Nez Perces who inhabit the country lying along Lewis
river, and its tributaries, from the eastern base of the
Blue mountains to the Columbia river.93 These missionary establishments are of a like character to those farther
north. As I shall have occasion to speak of these missionaries, as also the beneficial results which have flowed
from their residence among the savages, I will return
to my travels.
93 For the Nez Perces see Franchere's Narrative in our volume vi, p. 340,
note 145.— Ed.
83 For Whitman and Spaulding see our volume xxi, p. 352, note 125.— Ed.
t$
■aMH I"
1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
Some of our party becoming scant of provision,
started for Dr. Whitman's, the missionary establishment referred to above, intending to rejoin us at Umatillo
river, my old friend Aliquot generously proffered his
services as pilot for them, which were readily accepted.
September 13. This day we traveled about seven
miles. From Grand Round the road ascends the Blue
mountains, and for two miles is quite steep and precipitous; and to such an extent, as to require six yoke
of oxen, or more, to be attached to a wagon; from the
summit of these mountains is presented a rolling country
for some four miles, alternately prairie and groves of
yellow pine timber. In the prairie the grass is quite
dry, but among the groves of timber it is green and
flourishing. The road is very stony; at the end of
four miles it takes down the mountain to Grand Round
river, one mile in distance; it then crosses. Here is
another bottom covered with grass and bushes, where
we pitched our encampment. It is a remarkable circumstance that when individuals are engaged in conversation,
their voices can be heard distinctly at a quarter of a mile
distance; the discharge of a gun resembles that of a
cannon, and is echoed from hill to hill, the reverberations continuing for some length of time.
September 14. This day we traveled about ten miles.
The road ascended the mountain for one and a half
or two miles, then wound along the ridge crossing many
deep ravines, and pursuing its route over high craggy
rocks; sometimes directing its course over an open
plain, at others through thick groves of timber, winding
among fallen trees and logs, by which the road was
encumbered.   The   scenery   is   grand   and   beautiful,
. *   I M
^sm
I IO
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
fl
ii
and cannot be surpassed; the country to a great distance is rough in the extreme. It may strictly be termed
a timber country, although many small prairies are
dotted over its surface. [56] The valleys are beautiful
and the soil presents a very rich appearance. We
encamped in an opening, on the south side of a range
of mountains running to the north, and found water
in plenty in the bottom of the ravine, on our left, about
one fourth of a mile from the road. The timber growing in this region is principally yellow pine, spruce,
balsam fir, and hemlock; among the bushes I noticed
laurel.
September 15. This day we traveled about nine miles,
over the main ridge of the Blue Mountains. It is mostly
a timbered country through which we passed; the scenery
is delightful, resembling in grandeur that presented on
yesterday's travel.94 We had a fine view of the Cascade
Mountains to the west. Mount Hood, the loftiest of
these, was plain to the view. It was some one hundred
and fifty miles distant, and being covered with snow,
appeared as a white cloud rising above those surrounding it. To the north of Mount Hood, and north of the
Columbia, is seen Mount Saint Helen. We halted for
the night at Lee's encampment.
95
94 On the crossing of Blue Mountains compare our volume xxviii, p. 328,
note 206.— Ed.
95 For the location of these peaks see our volume vi, pp. 246, 248, notes 50
and 54 respectively. Lee's encampment was the place upon which Henry A. G.
Lee had waited for the immigrants of 1844. Lee, who was a member of the
train of 1843, was commissioned by Dr. Elijah White as Indian sub-agent
to encounter the party of 1844 among the Cayuse and assist in the trading
between Indians and immigrants, and thus protect both parties. The policy
did not prove successful; see Lee's own letter on the subject in Oregon Historical Quarterly, v, p. 300.    Lee emigrated from the southwestern states, and
111 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
September 16. We traveled about sixteen miles this
day, which brought us to Umatillo river. Here is an
Indian town, the residence of the principal chiefs of the
Caaguas.96 At this time they were mostly in the mountains hunting. The road has been good; the first
twelve miles led us through a well timbered country,
the last four miles over prairie; the country has a dry
appearance; the banks of the streams are lined with
cottonwood, balm of gilead, choke cherries and every
variety of bushes. The Indians have a few cultivated
fields along this stream; they raise wheat, corn, potatoes,
peas and a variety of vegetables. After the planting of
crops, the labour of tending devolves upon the squaws,
or is done by slaves, of which they have a number,
being captives taken in their expeditions against other
tribes. They brought us the different products of
their farms for traffic. As they expressed great eagerness to obtain clothes, and we had a like desire to obtain
vegetables, a brisk traffic was continued until dark. On
yesterday morning when about ready to start, we discovered that eight or ten of our work cattle were missing.
Four of our number, myself included, remained to hunt
immediately became a leader in Oregon politics. He was elected to the legislature of 1845, and was an officer in the Cay use War of 1847-48, during which
he was appointed Indian agent to succeed General Joel Palmer. The following year he resigned his office, and soon thereafter left for the California gold
mines. He returned to Oregon to enter the mercantile business; but died
on a voyage to New York in 1850.— Ed.
98 For the Umatilla River see our volume vi, p. 338, note 141.
The Indian village was probably that of Five Crows, who in 1843 was
elected head-chief of the Cayuse. His baptismal name was Hezekiah, and
he took no active part in the Whitman massacre (1847); nevertheless he did
nothing to prevent its occurrence and secured the person of some of the prisoners,
notably a Miss Bewley, whom he took as a wife. Five Crows afterwards was
active in the Cayuse War (1878), in which he was severely wounded.— Ed.
I MMMMMH
4
112
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
them up. In our search we rambled over the mountains
for several miles, and at night found them about three
miles from camp; we then followed the road and arrived
at Lee's encampment just after dark. This morning
an ox, a mule and a horse were missing. Three of us
remained to hunt for them. We searched the prairies
and [57] thickets for miles around, but were unsuccessful. We then pursued the road to Umatillo, which -we
reached at night.
September 17. At eight o'clock this morning, the
men who had left us at Grand Round for Dr. Whitman's
station, rejoined us, accompanied by the doctor and his
lady.97 They came in a two horse wagon, bringing
with them a plentiful supply of flour, meal and potatoes.
After our party had taken some refreshment, the march
was resumed; our visitors accompanying us to our camp
four miles down the river. Our present location affords
but little grazing.
The doctor and lady remained with us during the day;
he took occasion to inform us of the many incidents
that marked his ten years' sojourn in this wilderness
region, of a highly interesting character. Among other
things, he related that during his residence in this country,
he had been reduced to such necessity for want of food,
as to be compelled to slay his horse; stating that within
that period, no less than thirty-two horses had been
served up at his table. It appears that the soil has
never been cultivated until within a few years back;
but at this time, so much attention is given to the culture
of the soil, which yields abundantly, that the privations
of famine,  or even scarcity,  will probably not  again
For Mrs. Whitman see our volume xxi, p. 355, note 128.— Ed.
97 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
ll3
recur. The condition of the savages has been greatly
ameliorated and their improvement is chiefly attributable to the missionary residents. They have a good
stock of cattle, hogs, sheep, &c, and raise an amount
of grain not only sufficient to supply their own wants,
but affords a surplus. These tribes differ in their appearance and customs from any we have met. They recognise
the change which has taken place, and are not ignorant
that it has been effected by the efforts and labor of the
missionaries. On the other hand, they acknowledge the
benefits derived by yielding to their instructions. They
have embraced the Christian religion, and appear devout
in their espousal of Christian doctrines. The entire
time of the missionaries is devoted to the cause for which
they have forsaken their friends and kindred; they have
left the comforts of home, and those places which have
been endeared by early associations, for the wild wilderness and the habitation of the savage, prompted by those
principles of charity and benevolence which the Christian
religion always inculcates. Their privations and trials
have been great, but they have borne them with humility
and meekness, and the fruits of their devotion are now
manifest; and if any class of people deserve well of their
country, or are entitled to the thanks of [58] a christian
community, it is the missionaries. Having no family
of their own, they generously take families of orphan
children, raise and educate them in a manner that is
worthy of all commendation.1
98
88 Mary Ann Bridger and Helen Mar Meek, half-breed children of James
Bridger and Joseph Meek, were brought to the Whitmans before 1842; also
a half-breed Spanish boy, David Malin. The migration of 1843 left with Mrs.
Whitman two motherless English girls, Ann and Emma Hobson; while in
■11B ffl
., H4
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
September 18. This morning, after breakfast, our
worthy guests left us and we took up our line of march,
traveling down the Umatillo valley for some twelve
miles, crossing the stream twice. The road then takes
up the bluff to the right, over a high grassy plain. Our
encampment was pitched on the bluff on the left of the
road. The water required at camp, was packed about
one and a half miles, being procured at the base of the
bluffs, up which we had to climb. The country is very
rolling, covered with dry grass; it is mostly prairie.
From this point two snowy peaks appear in view, as
also the great valley of the Columbia; in truth it
may be said that our present location is in that valley,
although it is generally termed the middle region.
September 19. This day we traveled about ten miles.
Eight miles brought us to the river; we followed the banks
of the river for two miles, and encamped; good grazing
is found. The stream as usual is lined with timber, but
with this exception, it is a roiling prairie as far as can
be seen, extending to the north and south, and bounded
on the east and west by the Blue and Cascade mountains. Whilst at this camp, we were visited by the
Wallawalla Indians; they reside along the lower part of
the Wallawalla, the low bottoms of the Umatillo and the
Columbia, from the mouth of Lewis river for one hundred miles south. They furnished us with potatoes
and venison.    In their personal appearance they are
1844 seven children of the Sager family, both of whose parents had died en
route across the plains, were adopted by the Whitmans. Of these children
the two eldest Sager boys were killed during the massacre; the half-breed
girls and one of the Sager girls died a few days later, from exposure and
fright.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
much inferior to the Caaguas, and want the cleanliness
that characterizes that tribe.99
September 20. This day we traveled about fifteen
miles. For the first eight miles the soil was remarkably
rich in appearance, an admixture of sand and loam,
and covered with good grass; the stream is lined with
timber, in common with many of those that we have
passed; the last seven miles was sandy and heavy traveling. The Columbia river presents itself on our right,
at the distance of four miles. The river is in view for
miles along this road. The prickly pear is found in
abundance. It was our intention to have reached the
Columbia before encamping, but from the difficult traveling, were compelled to encamp on the sandy plain,
deprived of water, wood and grass.
[59] September 21. This morning at day-light we
started for the Columbia, distance three and a half miles.
The river at this place is from a half to three-fourths of
a mile in width. It is a beautiful stream; its waters
are clear and course gently over a pebbly bottom. Along
the Columbia, is a strip of barren country of twelve
miles in width; a little dry grass in bunches, prickly
pear and grease wood, dot its surface. With this exception, its appearance was wild and solitary to a great
degree; but sterile as it is in appearance, the view is
relieved by the majesty of the river that flows by it.
Immediately along the bank of the Columbia is a narrow
bottom, covered with green grass, cucklebur, wild sunflower, pig weed, and several other kinds of weeds, all
of which were in full bloom. There was something
inspiriting and animating in beholding this.    A feeling
Ed.
119
For the Wallawalla Indians see our volume vii, p. 137, note 37. illliniHIHillMU)
116
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
of pleasure would animate our breasts akin to that filling
the breast of the mariner, when after years of absence,
the shores of his native land appear to view. We could
scarce persuade ourselves but that our journey had arrived
at its termination. We were full of hope, and as it was
understood that we had but one more difficult part of
the road to surmount, we moved forward with redoubled
energy; our horses and cattle were much jaded, but we
believed that they could be got through, or at least
the greater part of them.
The Indians were constantly paying us visits, furnishing us with vegetables, which, by the by, were quite
welcome; but they would in return demand wearing
apparel, until by traffic, we were left with but one suit.
We were compelled to keep a sharp look out over our
kitchen furniture, as during these visits it was liable to
diminish in quantity by forming an attachment towards
these Children of the forest, and following them off.
Many of these savages were nearly naked; they differ
greatly from the Caaguas, being much inferior; they
are a greasy, filthy, dirty set of miscreants as ever might
be met.
September 22. This day we remained in camp, engaged
in traffic with the Indians. Some of our party were in
want of horses, and took this occasion to supply themselves.
September 23. This day we traveled about twenty
miles. The first eight miles the road is heavy traveling; the remaining portion however is much better,
with the exception of the last five miles, which proved
to be quite rocky. There is an occasional green spot
to be found, but the whole distance we have traveled i845-J846]
Palmer's Journal
since we first struck the river cannot be regarded [60] as
more than a barren sandy plain. In our route this day
we passed several Indian villages; they are but temporary
establishments, as their migratory disposition will not
justify more permanent structures.
September 24. This day we traveled but sixteen
miles. After a march of seven miles, we arrived at a
small creek, a good situation for encamping; nine miles
more brought us to Dry Branch, from whence we proceeded down the bluff to the river; a great portion of
the road traveled was sandy and heavy.100
September 25. This day we traveled about fourteen
miles. The road was quite hilly; sometimes it followed
the bank of the river, at others pursued its course along
the high bluff. The river is confined to a very narrow
channel; country very barren, and the bluffs of great
height.
September 26. This day we traveled about three
miles. The road ascends the bluff; is very difficult in
ascent from its steepness, requiring twice the force to
impel the wagons usually employed; after effecting
the ascent, the sinuosity of the road led us among the
rocks to the bluff on John Day's river; here we had
another obstacle to surmount, that of going down a hill
very precipitous in its descent, but we accomplished
it without loss or injury to our teams. This stream
comes tumbling through kanyons and rolling over rocks
at a violent rate.    It is very difficult to cross, on account
100 Probably Willow Creek, which drains Morrow County and affords
water for stock-raising and sheep-pasturage. Late in the year, when Palmer
passed, the stream was dry. The sandy margin along the Columbia from the
mouth of Umatilla River to the Dalles, has always been an annoyance to traffic.
Sand frequently drifts over the railway track in this region.— Ed. n8
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
1
1
W*
..
of the stone forming the bed of the creek; its width,
however, does not exceed ten yards. The grazing is indifferent, the grass being completely dried.101
September 27. This morning we discovered that several
of our trail ropes had been stolen. Our horses could not
be found until very late; notwithstanding the delay thus
occasioned we traveled some twenty miles. The road
for the first three miles is up hill; it then pursues its
course over a grassy, rolling plain for fifteen or sixteen
miles, when it again descends the bluff to the bank of
the Columbia, which we followed down for one mile and
there encamped. The bluffs are very high and rocky.
We suffered great inconvenience from the want of fuel,
as there is none to be found along the Columbia; we
collected a few dry sticks of driftwood and weeds, which
enabled us to partially cook our food. The road we
traveled this day was very good.
September 28. This day we traveled about twelve
miles. Two miles brought us to the crossing of Deshutes
or Falls [61] river; a stream having its source in a
marshy plain bordering on the Great Basin, and receives
numerous tributaries heading in the Cascade mountains,
the eastern base of which it follows and pours its waters
into the Columbia. The mouth of De Shutes river is
near fifteen miles east of the Dalles or eastern base of
these mountains; the river is about one hundred yards
wide, and the current very rapid; the stream is enclosed
by lofty cliffs of basaltic rock. Four hundred yards
from the Columbia is a rapid or cascade. Within the
distance of thirty yards its descent is from fifteen to
101 For a brief note on John Day River see our volume xxi, p. 357, note
129.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
twenty feet.102 The current of this stream was so rapid
and violent, and withal of such depth, as to require us to
ferry it. Some of the companies behind us, however,
drove over at its mouth by crossing on a bar. Preparatory to ferrying, we unloaded our wagons, and taking
them apart, put them aboard some Indian canoes, which
were in waiting, and crossed in safety; after putting our
wagons in order of travel, and preparing to start, we
discovered ourselves minus a quantity of powder and
shot, two shirts and two pairs of pantaloons, which the
Indians had appropriated to their own use, doubtless
to pay the trouble of ferriage.
In the morning a quarrel ensued among the Indians
respecting their canoes, closing in a melee, and such a
fight I never before witnessed; stones and missiles of
every description that were at hand were used with
freedom. We did not interfere with them, and when
they were tired of fighting the effects of the battle were
visible in numerous instances, such as bloody noses and
battered, bleeding heads.
We ascended the bluff and traveled along the brink
for several miles, then crossed over the ridge to a small
creek; after crossing it, we took up a dry run for one
or two miles, thence over a ridge to a running branch,
and there encamped. The country through which
we traveled this day was extremely rough; all prairie,
and covered with grass, but very dry.
September 29. This day we traveled about five miles,
which brought us to the Dalles, or Methodist Missions.108
102 For this river see our volume vii, p. 133, note 32; also our volume xxviii,
p. 354, note 222.— Ed.
103 For the Dalles and the mission there located, consult our volumes xxi,
p. 285, note 77; xxviii, pp. 355, 357, notes 223, 226,— Ed.
iii 120 Early Western Travels [Vol. 30
Here was the end of our road, as no wagons had ever
gone below this place. We found some sixty families
in waiting for a passage down the river; and as there
were but two small boats running to the Cascade falls,
our prospect for a speedy passage was not overly flattering.
September 30. This day we intended to make arrangements for our passage down the river, but we found upon
inquiry, that the two boats spoken of were engaged for
at least [62] ten days, and that their charges were exorbitant, and would probably absorb what little we had
left to pay our way to Oregon City. We then determined
to make a trip over the mountains, and made inquiries
respecting its practicability of some Indians, but could
learn nothing definite, excepting that grass, timber and
water would be found in abundance; we finally ascertained that a Mr. Barlow and Mr. Nighton had, with
the same object, penetrated some twenty or twenty-five
miles into the interior, and found it impracticable.
Nighton had returned, but Barlow was yet in the mountains, endeavoring to force a passage; they had been
absent six days, with seven wagons in their train, intending to go as far as they could, and if found to be
impracticable, to return and go down the river.104
We succeeded in persuading fifteen families to accom-
104 Samuel Kimborough Barlow was of Scotch descent, the son of a Kentucky pioneer. Born (1795) in Nicholas County, in that state, he removed
to Indiana (1818), where he married Susanna Lee of South Carolina. A
further move to Fulton County, Illinois, paved the way for emigration to Oregon
in 1845. Arrived in Oregon City, Christmas of that year, Barlow kept a hotel
there until 1848, when he bought land in Clackamas County of Thomas
McKay. Later (1852), he removed to Canemah, just above Oregon City, where
he died in 1867. He was public-spirited and active in the affairs of the new
commonwealth.   For an account of the road constructed over the trail made
If    1 j    •
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j 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
pany us in our trip over the mountains, and immediately
made preparations for our march. On the afternoon of
the first of October, our preparations were announced
as complete, and we took up our line of march; others
in the mean time had joined us, and should we fall in
with Barlow, our train would consist of some thirty
wagons.
But before proceeding with a description of this route,
I will enter into a detail of the difficulties undergone
by the company of two hundred wagons, which had
separated from us at Malheur creek, under the pilotage
of Mr. Meek.
It will be remembered that S. L. Meek had induced
about two hundred families, with their wagons and
stock, to turn off at Malheur, with the view of saving
thereby some one hundred and fifty miles travel; and
they had started about the last of August. They followed
up Malheur creek, keeping up the southern branch, and
pursuing a southern course. For a long time they found
a very good road, plenty of grass, fuel and water; they
left these waters, and directed their course over a rough
mountainous country, almost entirely bereft of vegetation,
were for many days destitute of water, and when they
were so fortunate as to procure this indispensable element,
it was found stagnant in pools, unfit even for the use of
cattle; but necessity compelled them to the use of it.
The result was, that it made many of them sick; many
in 1845, see Mary S. Barlow, "History of the Barlow Road," in Oregon Historical Quarterly, iii, pp. 71-81.
H. M. Knighton was second marshal of Oregon under the provisional
government, and sergeant-at-arms of the house of representatives of 1846.
He lived at Oregon City, where he kept an inn. In 1848 he was settled at St.
Helens.— Ed.
II m •
122
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
of the cattle died, and the majority were unfit for labor.
A disease termed camp-fever, broke out among the
different companies, of which many became the victims.
[63] They at length arrived at a marshy lake, which
they attempted to cross, but found it impracticable;
and as the marsh appeared to bear south, and many
of them were nearly out of provisions, they came to a
determination to pursued northern course, and strike
the Columbia. Meek, however, wished to go south of
the lake, but they would not follow him. They turned
north, and after a few days' travel arrived at Deshutes
or Falls river. They traveled up and down this river,
endeavoring to find a passage, but as it ran through
rocky kanyons, it was impossible to cross.
Their sufferings were daily increasing, their stock
of provisions was rapidly wasting away, their cattle
were becoming exhausted, and many attached to the
company were laboring under severe attacks of sickness;
— at length Meek informed them that they were not more
than two days' ride from the Dalles. Ten men started on
horseback for the Methodist stations, with the view of
procuring provisions; they took with them a scanty
supply of provisions, intended for the two days' journey.
After riding faithfully for ten days, they at last arrived
at the Dalles. On their way they encountered an
Indian, who furnished them with a fish and a rabbit;
this with the provision they had started with, was their
only food for the ten days' travel. Upon their arrival
at the Dalles they were so exhausted in strength, and
the rigidity of their limbs, from riding, was so great, as
to render them unable to dismount without assistance.
They reached the Dalles the day previous to our arrival.
/H< 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
123
At this place they met an old mountaineer, usually
called Black Harris, who volunteered his services as a
pilot.105 He in company with several others, started
in search of the lost company, whom they found reduced
to great extremities; their provisions nearly exhausted,
and the company weakened by exertion, and despairing
of ever reaching the settlements. They succeeded in
finding a place where their cattle could be driven down
to the river, and made to swim across; after crossing, the
bluff had to be ascended. Great difficulty arose in the
attempt to effect a passage with the wagons. The means
finally resorted to for the transportation of the families
and wagons were novel in the extreme. A large rope
was swung across the stream and attached to the rocks
on either side; a light wagon bed was suspended from
this rope with pulleys, to which ropes were attached;
this bed served to convey the families and loading in
safety across; the wagons [64] were then drawn over the
bed of the river by ropes. The passage of this river
occupied some two weeks. The distance was thirty-
five miles to the Dalles, at which place they arrived about
the 13th, or 14th of October. Some twenty of their
number had perished by disease, previous to their arrival
at the Dalles, and a like number were lost, after their
arrival, from the same cause.    This company has been
108 Moses Harris, usually called Black Harris, was a well-known scout
and trapper who came to Oregon with the emigrant train of 1844. See an
amusing story concerning Harris, related by Peter H. Burnett in his " Recollections," in Oregon Historical Quarterly, iii, p. 152. While in Oregon Harris
joined several exploring expeditions, notably that of Dr. Elijah White (1845)
and that of Levi Scott (1846) in the attempt to find a shorter route from Lewis
River to the Willamette valley. In 1846 Harris again went to the rescue of
the emigrants who were trying a new route into Oregon; the following year,
however, he returned to the states, dying at Independence, Missouri.— Ed. 124
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
%:
I
known by the name of the St. Joseph company; but
there were persons from every state of the Union
within its ranks. Illinois and Missouri, however, had
the largest representation.
The statements I have given are as correct as I could
arrive at, from consultation with many of the members.
This expedition was unfortunate in the extreme. Although commenced under favorable auspices, its termination assumed a gloomy character.108
It has been stated that some members of the Hudson's
Bay Company were instrumental in this expedition,
but such is not the fact. Whilst I was at Fort Hall, I
conversed with Captain Grant respecting the practicability of this same route, and was advised of the fact,
that the teams would be unable to get through. The
individual in charge at Fort Bois also advised me to the
same purport. The censure rests, in the origin of the
expedition, upon Meek; but I have not the least doubt
but he supposed they could get through in safety. I
have understood that a few of the members controlled
Meek, and caused him to depart from his original plan.
It was his design to have conducted the party to the
Willamette Valley, instead of going to the Dalles; and
the direction he first traveled induced this belief. Meek
is yet of the opinion that had he gone round the marshy
lake to the south, he would have struck the settlement
on the Willamette, within the time required to travel to
108 For other brief descriptions of the experiences of Meek's party, see H. H.
Bancroft, History oj Oregon, i, pp. 512-516, this latter being founded upon
manuscript accounts, notably that of Samuel Hancock, a transcript of which
is in the possession of Professor Joseph Schafer of the University of Oregon,
who has kindly loaned it to the present Editor. Consult also Oregon Pioneer
Association Transactions, 1877, pp. 50-53; 1895, p. 101.— Ed.
•
Jmuvmjymm I*"
1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
the Dalles. Had he discovered this route, it would
have proved a great saving in the distance. I do not
question but that there may be a route found to the
south of this, opening into the valley of the Willamette.107
But I must again return to the subject of my travels.
October 1. At four o'clock, P. M., every thing was
ready for our departure, and we pursued our way over
the ridge, in a southern course. The country was very
rolling, and principally prairie. We found excellent
grazing. Our camp was pitched on a small spring
branch.
October 2. This day we made about ten miles, crossing several ravines, many of which had running water
in them; [65] the country, like that of yesterday's
travel, proved to be very rolling; our camp was situated
on a small spring branch, having its source in the mountain.
October 3. This morning I started on horseback in
advance of the company, accompanied by one of its
members. Our course led us south over a rolling,
grassy plain; portions of the road were very stony.
After a travel of fourteen miles, we arrived at a long
and steep declivity, which we descended, and after
crossing the creek at its base, ascended a bluff; in the
bottom are seen  several  small  enclosures,  where  the
107 There had been an Indian trail through the Cascades up the fork of the
Santiam River, and over what is now known as the Minto Pass. Stephen
Meek, who had trapped on the headwaters of John Day River, and there met
Indians from the Willamette, thought that he could find this trail; but as a
matter of fact it was not discovered by whites until 1873. Dr. White (1845)
and Cornelius Gilliam (1846) made essays to open a road through the eastern
barrier of the valley. See John Minto, "History of the Minto Pass," in Oregon
Historical Quarterly, iv, pp. 241-250.— Ed. H
126
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
Indians have cultivated the soil; a few Indian huts
may be seen along this stream.
Meek's company crossed Deshute's river near the
mouth of this stream, which is five miles distant.108
After ascending, we turned to the right, directing our
course over a level grassy plain for some five miles or
more, when we crossed a running branch; five miles
brought us to Stony Branch, and to scattering yellow
pine timber. Here we found Barlow's company of
seven wagons. Barlow was absent at the time, having
with three others started into the mountain two days
before.   We remained with them all night.
October 4. This morning myself and companion, with
a scanty supply of provisions for a two days' journey,
started on a westerly course into the mountains. From
the open ground we could see Mount Hood. Our object
was to go south and near to this peak. For five miles
the country was alternately prairie and yellow pine; we
then ascended a ridge, which ascended gradually to the
west. This we followed for ten miles. After the crossing of a little brushy bottom, we took over another ridge
for four or five miles, very heavily timbered and densely
covered with undergrowth. We descended the ridge
for a short distance, and traveled a level bench for four
miles; this is covered with very large and tall fir timber;
we then descended the mountain, traveling westward
for one and a half miles; we then came to a small branch,
which  we   named   Rock   creek.109   After crossing the
108 This was Tygh Creek, a western affluent of Deschutes River, about
thirty-five miles above its mouth.— Ed.
109 Marked on the United States land commissioner's map of Oregon (1897)
as an affluent of White River, a branch of the Tygh.— Ed.
/R 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
creek, we ascended a hill for one fourth of a mile, then
bore to the left around the hill, through a dense forest
of spruce pine. After five miles travel from Rock creek
we came to a marshy cedar swamp; we turned to the
left, and there found a suitable place for crossing. Here
is a stream of from five to six yards in width, when confined to one channel; but in many places it runs over a
bottom of two rods in width, strewed with old moss [66]
covered logs and roots. The water was extremely clear
and cold. Four miles brought us to the top of the bluff
of a deep gulf; we turned our course northward for two
miles, when darkness overtook us, forcing us to encamp.
A little grass was discernible on the mountain sides,
which afforded our jaded horses a scanty supply.
October 5. At an early hour this morning, I proceeded
down the mountain to the stream at its base. I found
the descent very abrupt and difficult; the distance was
one half mile. The water was running very rapid; it
had the same appearance as the water of the Missouri,
being filled with white sand. I followed this stream up
for some distance, and ascertained that its source was
in Mount Hood; and from the appearance of the banks, it
seems that its waters swell during the night, overflowing
its banks, and subside again by day; it empties into
Deshute's river, having a sandy bottom of from two
rods to half a mile wide, covered with scrubby pines,
and sometimes a slough of alder bushes, with a little
grass and rushes. We then ascended the mountain,
and as our stock of provisions was barely sufficient to
last us through the day, it was found necessary to return
to camp. We retraced our steps to where we had struck
the bluff, and followed down a short distance where we 128
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
found the mountain of sufficiently gradual descent to
admit of the passage of teams; we could then follow up
the bottom towards Mount Hood, and as we supposed
that this peak was the dividing ridge, we had reasonable
grounds to hope that we could get through. We then
took our trail in the direction of the camp; and late in
the evening, tired and hungry, we arrived at Rock creek,
where we found our company encamped. Barlow had
not yet returned, but we resolved to push forward.
October 6. We remained in camp. As the grazing
was poor in the timber, and our loose cattle much trouble
to us, we determined to send a party with them to the
settlement. The Indians had informed us that there was
a trail to the north, which ran over Mount Hood, and
thence to Oregon city. This party was to proceed up
one of the ridges until they struck this trail, and then
follow it to the settlement. Two families decided upon
going with this party, and as I expected to have no
further use for my horse, I sent him with them. They
were to procure provisions and assistance, and meet us
on the way. We had forwarded, by a company of cattle-
drivers from the Dalles, which started for the settlement
on the first of the [67] month, a request that they would
send us provisions and assistance; but as we knew
nothing of their whereabouts, we had little hope of being
benefited by them.110 The day was spent in making
the necessary arrangements for the cattle-drivers, and
for working the road.   In the afternoon, Barlow and his
uo See an account of this party of cattle drivers and their adventures in
" Occasional Address," by Hon. Stephen Staats, in Oregon Pioneer Association
Transactions, 1877, pp. 51, 52. Staats was one of the party who reached
Oregon City in thirteen days from the Dalles.— Ed.
fm 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
party returned. They had taken nearly the same route
that we had; they had followed up the bluff of this branch
of the De Shutes, to within twelve or fifteen miles of
Mount Hood, where they supposed they had seen Willamette valley. They had then taken the Indian trail
spoken of, and followed it to one of the ridges leading
down to the river De Shutes; this they followed, and
came out near our camp. We now jointly adopted
measures for the prosecution of the work before us.
October 7. Early in the morning, the party designated
to drive our loose cattle made their arrangements, and
left us. And as we supposed our stock of provisions was
insufficient to supply us until these men returned, we
dispatched a few men to the Dalles for a beef and some
wheat; after which, we divided our company so as that
a portion were to remain and take charge of the camp.
A sufficient number were to pack provisions, and the
remainder were to be engaged in opening the road. All
being ready, each one entered upon the duty assigned
him with an alacrity and willingness that showed a full
determination to prosecute it to completion, if possible.
On the evening of the 10th, we had opened a road to
the top of the mountain, which we were to descend
to the branch of the De Shutes.111 The side of the
mountain was covered with a species of laurel bush, and
so thick, that it. was almost impossible to pass through
it, and as it was very dry we set it on fire. We passed
down and encamped on the creek, and during the night
m The Little Deschutes, rising on the slopes of Mount Hood. See rerninis-
cences of William Barlow, son of the leader of this party, in Oregon Historical
Quarterly, iii, pp. 71-81. He speaks of the lack of good tools for opening the
road, rusty saws and axes being the only implements available to the builders.
They frequently reverted to firing the underbrush ahead of them.— Ed.
MBa 130
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
H
]1
the fire had nearly cleared the road on the side of the
mountain.
On the morning of October nth, a consultation was
had, when it was determined that Mr. Barlow, Mr.
Lock, and myself, should go in advance, and ascertain
whether we could find a passage over the main dividing
ridge. In the mean time, the remainder of the party
were to open the road up the creek bottom as far as they
could, or until our return. We took some provision in
our pockets, an axe, and one rifle, and started. We
followed up this branch about fifteen miles, when we
reached a creek, coming in from the left. We followed
up this for a short distance, and then struck across to
[68] the main fork; and in doing so, we came into a
cedar swamp, so covered with heavy timber and brush
that it was almost impossible to get through it. We were
at least one hour in traveling half a mile. We struck
the opening along the other fork, traveled up this about
eight miles, and struck the Indian trail spoken of before,
near where it comes down the mountain. The last
eight miles of our course had been nearly north — a
high mountain putting down between the branch and
main fork. Where we struck the trail, it turned west
into a wide, sandy and stony plain, of several miles in
width, extending up to Mount Hood, about seven or eight
miles distant, and in plain view.
I had never before looked upon a sight so nobly grand.
We had previously seen only the top of it, but now we
had a view of the whole mountain. No pen can give
an adequate description of this scene. The bottom which
we were ascending, had a rise of about three feet to the
rod. A perfect mass of rock and gravel had been washed
down from the mountain.   In one part of the bottom 18451846]
Palmer's Journal
was standing a grove of dead trees, the top of which could
be seen; from appearance, the surface had been filled up
seventy-five or eighty feet about them. The water came
tumbling down, through a little channel, in torrents.
Near the upper end of the bottom, the mountains upon
either side narrowed in until they left a deep chasm or
gulf, where it emerged from the rocky cliffs above.
Stretching away to the south, was a range of mountain, which from the bottom appeared to be connected
with the mountain on our left. It appeared to be covered
with timber far up; then a space of over two miles covered
with grass; then a space of more than a mile destitute of
vegetation; then commenced the snow, and continued
rising until the eye was pained in looking to the top. To
our right was a high range, which connected with Mount
Hood, covered with timber. The timber near the snow
was dead.
We followed this trail for five or six miles, when it
wound up a grassy ridge to the left — followed it up to
where it connected with the main ridge; this we followed
up for a mile, when the grass disappeared, and we came
to a ridge entirely destitute of vegetation. It appeared
to be sand and gravel, or rather, decomposed material
from sandstone crumbled to pieces. Before reaching
this barren ridge, we met a party of those who had started
with the loose cattle, hunting for some which had strayed
off. They informed us that they had lost about [69]
one-third of their cattle, and were then encamped on the
west side of Mount Hood. We determined to lodge
with them, and took the trail over the mountain. In the
mean time, the cattle-drovers had found a few head, and
traveled with us to their camp.
Soon after ascending and winding round this barren
b
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
ridge, we crossed a ravine, one or two rods in width, upon
the snow, which terminated a short distance below the
trail, and extended up to the top of Mount Hood. We
then went around the mountain for about two miles,
crossing several strips of snow, until we came to a deep
kanyon or gulf, cut out by the wash from the mountain
above us. A precipitate cliff of rocks, at the head,
prevented a passage around it. The hills were of the
same material as that we had been traveling over, and
were very steep.
I judged the ravine to be three thousand feet deep.
The manner of descending is to turn directly to the right,
go zigzag for about one hundred yards, then turn short
round, and go zigzag until you come under the place
where you started from; then to the right, and so on,
until you reach the base. In the bottom is a rapid stream,
filled with sand. After crossing, we ascended in the
same manner, went round the point of a ridge, where
we struck another ravine; the sides of this were covered
with grass and whortleberry bushes. In this ravine we
found the camp of our friends. We reached them
about dark; the wind blew a gale, and it was quite cold.
October 12. After taking some refreshment, we
ascended the mountain, intending to head the deep
ravine, in order to ascertain whether there was any gap
in the mountain south of us, which would admit of a
pass. From this peak, we overlooked the whole of the
mountains. We followed up the grassy ridge for one
mile and a half, when it became barren. My two friends
began to lag behind, and show signs of fatigue; they
finally stopped, and contended that we could not get
round the head of the ravine, and that it was useless
w*
~~l 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
to attempt an ascent. But I was of a different opinion,
and wished to go on. They consented, and followed
for half a mile, when they sat down, and requested me
to go up to the ledge, and, if we could effect a passage
up and get round it, to give them a signal. I did so,
and found that by climbing up a cliff of snow and ice,
for about forty feet, but not so steep but that by getting
upon one cliff, and cutting holes to stand in and hold on
by, it could be ascended. I gave the signal, and they
came up. In the [70] mean time, I had cut and carved
my way up the cliff, and when up to the top was forced
to admit that it was something of an undertaking; but
as I had arrived safely at the top of the cliff, I doubted
not but they could accomplish the same task, and as my
moccasins were worn out, and the soles of my feet exposed
to the snow, I was disposed to be traveling, and so left
them to get up the best way they could. After proceeding about one mile upon the snow, continually winding
up, I began to despair of seeing my companions. I came
to where a few detached pieces of rock had fallen from
the ledge above and rolled down upon the ice and snow,
(for the whole mass is more like ice than snow;) I clambered upon one of these, and waited half an hour. I then
rolled stones down the mountain for half an hour; but
as I could see nothing of my two friends, I began to
suspect that they had gone back, and crossed in the
trail. I then went round to the south-east side, continually ascending, and taking an observation of the
country south, and was fully of the opinion that we could
find a passage through.112
112 -pjjg opinjon heretofore entertained, that this peak could not be ascended
to its summit, I found to be erroneous.    I, however, did not arrive at the highest ■£:    i '   HE
)
*34
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[Vol. 30
The waters of this deep ravine, and of numerous
ravines to the north-west, as well as the south-west,
form the heads of Big Sandy and Quicksand rivers,
which empty into the Columbia, about twenty-five or
thirty miles below the Cascade Falls.113 I could see down
this stream some twelve or fifteen miles, where the view
was obstructed by a high range coming round from the
north-west side, connecting by a low gap with some of
the spurs from this peak. All these streams were running through such deep chasms, that it was impossible
to pass them with teams. To the south, were two ranges
of mountains, connecting by a low gap with this peak,
and winding round until they terminated near Big Sandy.
I observed that a stream, heading near the base of this
peak and running south-east [71] for several miles,
there appeared to turn to the west. This I judged to
be the head waters of Clackamis, which empties into the
Willamette, near Oregon city; but the view was hid
by a high range of mountains putting down in that direction.114   A low gap seemed to connect this stream, or
peak, but went sufficiently near to prove its practicability. I judge the diameter
of this peak, at the point where the snow remains the year round, to be about
three miles. At. the head of many of the ravines, are perpendicular cliffs of
rocks, apparently several thousand feet high; and in some places those cliffs
rise so precipitately to the summit, that a passage around is impracticable. I
think the southern side affords the easiest ascent. The dark strips observable
from a distance, are occasioned by blackish rock, so precipitous as not to admit
of the snow lying upon it. The upper strata are of gray sandstone, and seem
to be of original formation. There is no doubt, but any of the snow peaks upon
this range can be ascended to the summit.— Palmer.
118 This should read Big Sandy or Quicksand River. Lewis and Clark gave
it the latter name. It is usually known as the Sandy, and in many branches
drains the western slope of Mount Hood, flowing northwest into the Columbia,
in Multnomah County.— Ed.
114 For Clackamas River see our volume xxi, p. 320, note 105.— Ed.
*Pf 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
some other, heading in this high range, with the low
bottoms immediately under the base of this peak. I
was of the opinion that a pass might be found between
this peak and the first range of mountains, by digging
down some of the gravel hills; and if not, there would
be a chance of passing between the first and second
ranges, through this gap to the branch of Clackamis;
or, by taking some of the ranges of mountains and following them down, could reach the open ground near the
Willamette, as there appeared to be spurs extending in
that direction. I could also see a low gap in the direction
from where we crossed the small branch, coming up the
creek on the nth, towards several small prairies south
of us. It appeared, that if we could get a road opened
to that place, our cattle could range about these prairies
until we could find a passage for the remainder of the
way.
The day was getting far advanced, and we had no
provisions, save each of us a small biscuit; and knowing
that we had at least twenty-five miles to travel, before
reaching those working on the road, I hastened down
the mountain. I had no difficulty in finding a passage
down; but I saw some deep ravines and crevices in the
ice which alarmed me, as I was compelled to travel
over them. The snow and ice had melted underneath,
and in many places had left but a thin shell upon the
surface; some of them had fallen in and presented
hideous looking caverns. I was soon out of danger,
and upon the east side of the deep ravine I saw my two
friends slowly winding their way up the mountain. They
had gone to the foot of the ledge, and as they wore boots,
and were much fatigued, they abandoned the trip, and
i
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
Hi
returned down the mountain to the trail, where I joined
them. We there rested awhile, and struck our course for
one of the prairies which we had seen from the mountain.
On our way we came to a beautiful spring of water,
surrounded with fine timber; the ground was covered
with whortle berry bushes, and many of them hanging
full of fruit, we halted, ate our biscuit, gathered berries,
and then proceeded down the mountain.
After traveling about ten miles, we reached the prairie.
It was covered with grass, and was very wet. A red
sediment [72] of about two inches in depth covered
the surface of the ground in the grass, such as is found
around mineral springs. A beautiful clear stream of
water was running through the prairie, in a south-east
direction. We had seen a prairie about two miles
further south, much larger than this, which we supposed
to be dry. We now took our course for camp, intending to strike through the gap to the mouth of the small
branch; but we failed in finding the right shute, and
came out into the bottom, three miles above where we
had first struck the cattle or Indian trail. We then took
down the bottom, and arrived in camp about eleven
o'clock at night; and although not often tired, I was
willing to acknowledge that I was near being so. I
certainly was hungry, but my condition was so much
better than that of my two friends, that I could not
murmur. Our party had worked the road up to the
small branch, where they were encamped.
On the morning of the 13th of October we held a consultation, and determined upon the future movements of
the company. The party designated to bring us provisions had performed that service; but the amount of our 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
provisions was nearly exhausted, and many of the party
had no means of procuring more. Some of them began
to despair of getting through this season. Those left
with the camp were unable to keep the cattle together,
and a number of them had been lost. The Indians had
stolen several horses, and a variety of mishaps occurred,
such as would necessarily follow from a company so long
remaining in one position. They were now on a small
creek, five miles from Stony hill, which we called Camp
creek, and near the timber. It was impossible to keep
more than one third of the men working at the road; the
remainder were needed to attend the camp and pack
provisions. It was determined to send a party and view
out the road, through to the open country, near the mouth
of Clackamis, whilst the others were to open the road
as far as the big prairie; a number sufficient to bring up
the teams and loose cattle, (for a number of families with
their cattle had joined since ours left, and portions of our
company did not send their loose cattle,) to a grassy
prairie in this bottom, and near the mouth of this creek,
as the time required to pack provisions to those working
on the road would be saved. All being arranged, the
next thing was to designate the persons to go ahead of
the party, and if found practicable to return with provisions and help; or at all events to ascertain whether
the route were practicable.
[73] It was determined that I should undertake this
trip. I asked only one man to accompany me. We took
our blankets, a limited supply of provisions, and one
light axe, and at eight o'clock in the morning set out.
I was satisfied that the creek which we were then on,
headed in the low gap, seen from Mount Hood; and the
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
party were to open the road up this branch. But as I
was to precede them, I passed up this creek for about
eight or ten miles, when I discovered the low gap, went
through it, and at noon arrived at the wet prairie, which
we had visited the day before. The route was practicable, but would require great labor to remove the
timber, and cut out the underbrush.
We halted at the creek and took some refreshment;
we then struck for the low gap between the first range
of mountains running west, and the base of Mount
Hood, and traveled through swamps, small prairies,
brush, and heavy timber for about twelve miles, when
we found the labor necessary to open a wagon road in
this direction, to be greater than we could possibly
bestow upon it before the rainy season. We determined
to try some other route, retraced our steps six or seven
miles, and then bore to the right, around the base of the
mountain, when we struck into an old Indian trail.
This we followed for seven or eight miles, through the
gap I had seen from Mount Hood. It is a rolling bottom
of about four or five miles in width, and extending from
the base of Mount Hood south for ten or twelve miles.
The trail wound around the mountain, but as its course
was about that we wished to travel, we followed it until
it ran out at the top of the mountain. We then took
the ridge west, and traveled until dark; but as the moon
shone bright, and the timber was not very thick, we
turned an angle down the mountain to the left, to procure
water. We traveled about three miles, and struck upon
a small running branch; this we followed, until owing to
the darkness, we were compelled to encamp, much
fatigued, and somewhat disheartened. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
October 14. At daylight we were on the way. My
moccasins, which the night before had received a pair
of soles, in yesterday's tramp had given way, and in
traveling after night my feet had been badly snagged,
so that I was in poor plight for walking; but as there
was no alternative, we started down the mountain, and
after traveling a few miles I felt quite well and was able
to take the lead. We traveled about three miles, when
we struck a large creek which had a very rapid current,
over a stony bottom. I had hoped to find a bottom of
sufficient [74] width to admit of a wagon road, but
after following down this stream six miles, I was satisfied that it would not do to attempt it this season.
The weather, which had been entirely clear for months,
had through the night began to cloud up; and in the
morning the birds, squirrels, and every thing around,
seemed to indicate the approach of a storm. I began
for the first time to falter, and was at a stand to know
what course to pursue. I had understood that the rainy
season commenced in October, and that the streams
rose to an alarming height, and I was sensible that if we
crossed the branch of the Deshutes, which headed in
Mount Hood, and the rainy season set in, we could not
get back, and to get forward would be equally impossible;
so that in either event starvation would be the result.
And as I had been very active in inducing others to embark in the enterprise, my conscience would not allow
me to go on and thus endanger so many families.
But to go back, and state to them the difficulties to be
encountered^ and the necessity of taking some other
course, seemed to be my duty. I therefore resolved to
return,  and recommend selecting some suitable place
«-
'     -' Early Western Travels
riffiiui
[Vol. 30
for a permanent camp, build a cabin, put in such effects
as we could not pack out, and leave our wagons and
effects in the charge of some persons until we could
return the next season, unincumbered with our families
and cattle, and finish the road; — or otherwise to return
to the Dalles with our teams, where we could leave our
baggage in charge of the missionaries, and then descend
the Columbia. And when my mind was fully made
up, we were not long in carrying it into execution.
We accordingly ascended the mountain, as it was
better traveling than in the bottom, The distance to
the summit was about four miles, and the way was
sometimes so steep as to render it necessary to pull up
by the bushes. We then traveled east until we reached
the eastern point of this mountain, and descended to
the bottom, the base of which we had traversed the day
before. We then struck for the trail, soon found it, and
followed it until it led us to the southern end of the wet
prairie. We then struck for the lower gap in the direction of the camp, crossed over and descended the branch
to near its mouth, where we found four of our company
clearing the road, the remainder having returned to
Camp creek for teams. But as we had traveled about
fifty miles this day, I was unable to reach the camp.
October 15. This morning we all started for camp,
carrying [75] with us our tools and provisions. We
reached camp about two P. M. Many of our cattle
could not be found, but before night nearly all were
brought into camp. The whole matter was then laid
before the company, when it was agreed that we should
remove over to the bottom, near the small creek, and
if the weather was unfavorable, leave our baggage and
oH 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
141
wagons, and pack out the families as soon as possible.
But as some were out of provisions, it was important
that a messenger should be sent on ahead for provisions, and horses to assist in packing out. Mr. Buffum,
and lady, concluded to pack out what articles they
could, and leave a man to take charge of the teams and
cattle, until he returned with other horses. He kindly
furnished me with one of his horses to ride to the settlement. He also supplied the wife of Mr. Thompson
with a horse. Mr. Barlow and Mr. Rector made a
proposition to continue working the road until the party
could go to and return from the valley; they agreeing
to insure the safety of the wagons, if compelled to remain
through the winter, by being paid a certain per cent.
upon the valuation. This proposition was thought
reasonable by some, and it was partially agreed to.
And as there were some who had no horses with which
to pack out their families, they started on foot for the
valley, designing to look out a road as they passed along.
Some men in the mean time were to remain with the
camp, which as above stated was to be removed to the
small branch on Shutes' fork; and those who intended
pushing out at once, could follow up it to the Indian
trail. This all being agreed upon, arrangements were
made accordingly.
October 16. The morning was lowering, with every
indication of rain. Messrs. Barlow and Rector started
on the trip.115    All hands were making arrangements
118 William H. Rector settled at Champoeg, which district he represented
in the legislature of 1847. During the gold excitement the following year, he
went to California, but returned to Oregon, where in 1857 he was instrumental
in starting the pioneer woolen mill at Salem, of which for some time he was
superintendent.    In r86i he was commissioner of Indian affairs, with head-
! ffl Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
i
for moving the camp. In the mean time Mr. Buffum
and his lady, and Mrs. Thompson, were ready to start.11'
I joined them, and we again set out for the settlement.
We had traveled about two miles when it commenced
raining, and continued raining slightly all day. We
encamped on the bottom of Shutes' fork, near the small
branch.    It rained nearly all night.
On the morning of the 17th October after our horses
had filled themselves, we packed up and started. It
was still raining. We followed up this bottom to the
trail, and then pursued the trail over Mount Hood.
Whilst going over this mountain the rain poured down
in torrents, it was foggy, and very cold. We arrived at
the deep ravine at about four P. M., [76] and before we
ascended the opposite bank it was dark; but we felt
our way over the ridge, and round the point to the
grassy run.   Here was grazing for  our tired horses,
quarters at Portland. In later life, Rector was interested in railway enterprises. Popular with Oregon settlers, he was quite commonly known as
"Uncle Billy."— Ed.
118 William Gilbert Buffum was born in Vermont in 1804. When eleven
years of age his family removed to Ashtabula County, Ohio. In 1825 Buffum
went to Illinois to work in the mines, later settling in Fulton County, and
removing to Missouri in 1841. His wife, Caroline Thurman, was born in
Ohio in 1814. After their long journey to Oregon, the Buff urns settled in
Yamhill County, near Amity, where they afterwards resided, with the exception of a year spent in the California gold fields. Buffum was still living in
Amity in 1898. See his reminiscences in Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1889, pp. 42-44.
Mrs. Miriam A. Thompson (nie Robinson) was born in Illinois (1826)
and married the year before the migration to Oregon. After reaching the
Willamette she settled in Yamhill County, thence removing to Clatsop Plains,
where in 1848 her husband left her for California. There he was murdered,
and in 1850 his widow married Jeremiah H. Tuller, after 1880 living in Douglas
County. For her own account of her adventures, and especially this trip
across the Cascade Mountains, see Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions,
1895, pp. 87-90.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
H3
and we dismounted. Upon the side of the mountain,
where were a few scattering trees, we found some limbs
and sticks, with which we succeeded in getting a little
fire. We then found a few sticks and constructed a
tent, covering it with blankets, which protected our
baggage and the two women. Mr. Buffum and myself
stood shivering in the rain around the fire, and when
daylight appeared, it gave us an opportunity to look at
each others' lank visages. Our horses were shivering
with the cold, the rain had put out our fire, and it seemed
as though every thing had combined to render us miserable. After driving our horses round awhile, they
commenced eating; but we had very little to eat, and
were not troubled much in cooking it.
October 18. As soon as our horses had satisfied
themselves we packed up and ascended the mountain
over the ridge, and for two miles winding around up and
down over a rough surface covered with grass. The
rain was falling in torrents, and it was so foggy that
we could barely see the trail. We at length went down
a ridge two miles, when we became bewildered in the
thick bushes. The trail had entirely disappeared. We
could go no farther. The two women sat upon their
horses in the rain, whilst I went back to search for the
right trail; Buffum endeavoring to make his way down
the mountain. I rambled about two miles up the mountain, where I found the right trail, and immediately
returned to inform them of it. Buffum had returned,
and of course had not found the trail. We then ascended
the mountain to the trail, when a breeze sprung up
and cleared away the fog. We could then follow the
trail.
a w
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 3
o
We soon saw a large band of cattle coming up the
mountain, and in a short time met a party of men following them. They had started from the Dalles about
eight days before, and encamped that night four or five
miles below, and as it was a barren spot, their cattle
had strayed to the mountain to get grass. But what
was very gratifying, they informed us that a party of
men from Oregon city, with provisions for our company
had encamped with them, and were then at their camp.
We hastened down the mountain, and in a few hours
arrived at the camp. But imagine our feelings when
we learned that those having provisions for us, had
despaired of finding us, and [77] having already been
out longer than was expected, had returned to the settlement, carrying with them all the provisions, save what
they had distributed to these men. We were wet, cold,
and hungry, and would not be likely to overtake them.
We prevailed upon one of the men whom we found
at the camp, to mount one of our horses, and follow
them. He was absent about ten minutes, when he
returned and informed us that they were coming. They
soon made their appearance. This revived us, and
for awhile we forgot that we were wet and cold. They
had gone about six miles back, when some good spirit
induced them to return to camp, and make one more
effort to find us. The camp was half a mile from the
creek, and we had nothing but two small coffee-pots,
and a few tin cups, to carry water in; but this was
trifling, as the rain was still pouring down upon us.
We speedily made a good fire, and set to work making
a tent, which we soon accomplished, and the two women
prepared us a good supper of bread and coffee.    It was 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
a rainy night, but we were as comfortable as the circumstances would admit.
October 19. After breakfast, the drovers left us; and
as the party which had brought us provisions had been
longer out than had been contemplated, Mr. Stewart
and Mr. Gilmore wished to return. It was determined
that Mr. Buffum, the two females, Mr. Stewart, and Mr.
N. Gilmore, should go on to the settlement, and that
Mr. C. Gilmore, and the Indian who had been sent
along to assist in driving the horses, and myself, should
hasten on with the provisions to the camp. We were
soon on the way, and climbing up the mountain. The
horses were heavily loaded, and in many places the
mountain was very slippery, and of course we had great
difficulty in getting along. It was still raining heavily,
and the fog so thick that a person could not see more
than fifteen feet around. We traveled about two miles
up the mountain, when we found that whilst it had been
raining in the valley it had been snowing on the mountain.
The trail was so covered with snow that it was difficult
to find it, and, to increase our difficulty, the Indian
refused to go any farther. We showed him the whip,
which increased his speed a little, but he soon forgot
it, was very sulky, and would not assist in driving. We
at length arrived at the deep ravine; here there was no
snow, and we passed it without serious difficulty. Two
of our packs coming off, and rolling down the hill, was
the only serious trouble that we had. When we ascended
the hill to [78] the eastern side of the gulf, we found
the snow much deeper than upon the western side;
besides, it had drifted, and rendered the passage over
the strip of the old snow somewhat dangerous, as in
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many places the action of the water had melted the snow
upon the under side, and left a thin shell over the surface,
and in some places holes had melted through. We
were in danger of falling into one of these pits. Coming
to one of these ravines where the snow had drifted very
much, I dismounted in order to pick a trail through,
but before this was completed, our horses started down
the bank. I had discovered two of these pits, and ran
to head the horses and turn them; but my riding horse
started to run, and went directly between the two pits;
his weight jarred the crust loose, and it fell in, presenting a chasm of some twenty-five or thirty feet in depth,
but the horse, being upon the run, made his way across
the pit. The other horses, hearing the noise and seeing
the pits before them, turned higher up, where the snow
and ice were thicker, and all reached the opposite side
in safety.
Our Indian friend now stopped, and endeavored to
turn the horses back, but two to one was an uneven game,
and it was played to his disadvantage. He wanted an
additional blanket; this I promised him, and he consented to go on. We soon met two Indians, on their
way from the Dalles to Oregon city; our Indian conversed with them awhile, and then informed us of his
intention to return with them. Whilst parleying with
him, a party of men from our camp came up the
mountain with their cattle; they had driven their teams
to the small branch of the De Shutes, twelve miles
below the mountain, where they had left the families,
and started out with their cattle before the stream should
get too high to cross. Whilst we were conversing with
these men, our Indian had succeeded in getting one 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
loose horse, and the one which he was riding, so far
from the band of pack-horses that, in the fog, we could
not see him, and he returned to the settlement with
the two Indians we had just met.
Our horses were very troublesome to drive, as they
had ate nothing for thirty-six hours; but we succeeded
in getting them over the snow, and down to the grassy
ridge, where we stopped for the night. My friend
Gilmore shouldered a bag of flour, carried it half a
mile down the mountain to a running branch, opened
the sack, poured in water, and mixed up bread. In
the mean time, I had built a fire. We wrapped the
dough around sticks and baked it before the fire, heated
water in our [79] tin cups and made a good dish of
tea, and passed a very comfortable night. It had ceased
raining before sunset, and the morning was clear and
pleasant; we forgot the past, and looked forward to a
bright future.
October 20. At 8 o'clock we packed up, took the
trail down the mountain to the gravelly bottom, and
then down the creek to the wagon-camp, which we
reached at 3 P. M.; and if we had not before forgotten
our troubles, we certainly should have done so upon
arriving at camp. Several families were entirely out
of provisions, others were nearly so, and all were expecting to rely upon their poor famished cattle. True,
this would have prevented starvation; but it would have
been meagre diet, and there was no certainty of having
cattle long, as there was but little grass. A happier
set of beings I never saw, and the thanks bestowed
upon us by these families would have compensated
for no little toil and  hardship.    They were supplied
\
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with an amount of provisions sufficient to last them
until they could reach the settlements. After waiting
one day, Mr. Gilmore left the camp for. the settlement,
taking with him three families; others started about
the same time, and in a few days all but three families
had departed. These were Mr. Barlow's, Mr. Rector's,
and Mr. Caplinger's,117 all of whom had gone on to the
settlement for horses. Ten men yet remained at camp,
and, after selecting a suitable place for our wagon-yard,
we erected a cabin for the use of those who were to
remain through the winter, and to stow away such of
our effects as we could not pack out. This being done,
nothing remained but to await the return of those who
had gone for pack horses. We improved the time in
hunting and gathering berries, until the 25th, when
four of us, loaded with heavy packs, started on foot
for the valley of the Willamette.
But before entering upon this trip, I will state by
what means the timely assistance afforded us in the
way of provisions was effected. The first party starting
for the settlement from the Dalles, after we had determined to take the mountain route, carried the news
to Oregon city that we were attempting a passage across
the Cascade mountains, and that we should need provisions. The good people of that place immediately
raised by donation about eleven hundred pounds of
flour, over one hundred pounds of sugar, some tea,
&c, hired horses, and the Messrs. Gilmore and  Mr.
117 Jacob C. Caplinger was born in Virginia in 1815, of German descent.
In 1837 he removed to Illinois, in 1841 marrying Jane Woodsides. After
reaching the settlements, the Caplingers remained at Oregon City until 1847,
when they purchased a farm near Salem, where they were living in 1892.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
Stewart volunteered to bring these articles to us.118 The
only expense we were asked to defray was the hire of
the horses. They [80] belonged to an Indian chief,
and of course he had to be paid. The hire was about
forty dollars, which brought the flour to about four
dollars per hundred, as there were about one thousand
pounds when they arrived. Those who had the means
paid at once, and those who were unable to pay gave
their due bills. Many of the families constructed pack-
saddles and put them on oxen, and, in one instance,
a feather bed was rolled up and put upon an ox; but
the animal did not seem to like his load, and ran into
the woods, scattering the feathers in every direction:
he was finally secured, but not until the bed was ruined.
In most cases, the oxen performed well.
In the afternoon of the 25th October, accompanied
by Messrs. Creighton, Farwell, and Buckley, I again
started to the valley. We had traveled but a short
distance when we met Barlow and Rector, who had
been to the settlement. They had some horses, and
expected others in a short time. They had induced
a few families whom they met near Mount Hood to
return with them, and try their chance back to the
Dalles; but, after waiting one day, they concluded
to try the mountain trip again. We traveled up the
bottom to the trail, where we encamped;   about this
118 Matthew (not N.) Gilmore came out in 1843, settling on the Tualatin
Plains, where he was chosen delegate to the provisional legislature of 1844.
Gilmore was a farmer, not prominent in public life.
Charles Gilmore appears to have been of the migration of 1844.
Peter G. Stewart came with the Applegate party of 1843, and was one
of the executive committee of three, chosen in 1844. He was a man of calm,
dispassionate temper, who had been a jeweler in the states. In 1853 he was
port surveyor at Pacific City.— Ed.
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time, it commenced raining, which continued through
the night.
October 26.    This morning at eight o'clock, we were
on the way.    It was rainy, and disagreeable traveling.
We followed the trail over the main part of the mountain,
when we overtook several families, who had left us on
the twenty-second.   Two of the families had encamped
the night before in the bottom of the deep ravine; night
overtook them, and they were compelled to camp, without fuel, or grass for cattle or horses.   Water they had
in plenty, for it was pouring down upon them all the
night.    One of their horses broke loose, and getting to
the provision sack, destroyed the whole contents.   There
were nine persons in the two families, four of them
small children, and it was about eighty miles to the nearest
settlement.   The children, as well as the grown people,
were nearly barefoot,  and poorly clad.   Their names
were Powell and Senters.    Another family by the name
of Hood, had succeeded in getting "• up the gravelly
hill, and finding grass for their animals, and a little
fuel, had shared their scanty supply with these two
families,  and when we overtook them they were all
encamped near each other.   We gave them about half
of   our   provisions,   and   encamped   near   them.   Mr.
Hood kindly furnished us with a [81] wagon cover,
with which we constructed  a tent,  under which  we
rested for the night.
October  27.   The  two  families  who  had lost  their
119 According to H. H. Bancroft, History oj Oregon, i, pp. 525, 526, these
were the families of Andrew Hood and Sharp C. Senters. Rev. Theophilus
Powell was born in Kentucky, left for Oregon from Missouri, and died in
Marion County, Oregon, in 1861.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
provisions succeeded in finding a heifer that belonged
to one of the companies traveling in advance of us.
In rambling upon the rocky cliffs above the trail for
grass, it had fallen down the ledge, and was so crippled
as not to be able to travel. The owners had left it, and
as the animal was in good condition, it was slaughtered
and the meat cured.
After traveling four miles through the fresh snow,
(which had fallen about four inches deep during the
night,) we came to where the trail turned down to the
Sandy. We were glad to get out of the snow, as we
wore moccasins, and the bottoms being worn off, our
feet were exposed. Two miles brought us to where we
left the Sandy, and near the place where we met the
party with provisions; here we met Mr. Buffum, Mr.
Lock, and a Mr. Smith,120 with fourteen pack-horses,
going for effects to Fort Deposit — the name which we
had given our wagon camp.
The numerous herds of cattle which had passed
along had so ate up the grass and bushes, that it was
with great difficulty the horses could procure a sufficiency
to sustain life. Among the rest, was a horse for me;
and as I had a few articles at the fort, Mr. Buffum was
to take the horse along and pack them out. Two of his
horses were so starved as to be unable to climb the
mountains, and we took them back with us. The
weather by this time had cleared up; we separated,
and each party took its way.
130 Several members of the party of 1845 bore the name of Smith; probably
this was Simeon, born in Ohio in 1823, removed to Missouri in 1838, and
settled in Marion County, finally making his home in Salem, where he died in
1878. See reference in Stephen Staats's address, in Oregon Pioneer Association
Transactions, 1877, p. 55; also ibid., 1878, pp. 92, 93.—'Ed.
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A short distance below this, our trail united with one
which starting from the Dalles, runs north of Mount
Hood, and until this season was the only trail traveled
by the whites. We proceeded down the Sandy, crossing
it several times, through thickets of spruce and alder,
until we arrived at the forks, which were about fifteen
miles from the base of Mount Hood. The bottom of
the Sandy is similar to the branch of De Shutes which
we ascended; but in most cases the gravel and stones
are covered with moss; portions of it are entirely destitute
of vegetation. The mountains are very high, and are
mostly covered with timber. At a few points are ledges
of grayish rock, but the greater part of the mountain is
composed of sand and gravel; it is much cut up by deep
ravines, or kanyons. The trail is sometimes very difficult
to follow, on account of the brush and logs; about our
camp are a few bunches of [82] brakes, which the
horses eat greedily. The stream coming in from the
south-east is the one which I followed down on the 14th,
and from appearance I came within five miles of the
forks. The bottom in this vicinity is more than a mile
wide, and is covered with spruce, hemlock and alder,
with a variety of small bushes.
October 28. We started early, and after having
traveled several miles, found a patch of good grass,
where we halted our horses for an hour. We then
traveled on, crossing the Sandy three times. This
is a rapid stream; the water is cold, and the bottom very
stony. We made about fifteen or sixteen miles only,
as we could not get our horses along faster. We struck
into a road recently opened for the passage of wagons.
Mr. Taylor, from Ohio, who had left our company with 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
*53
his family and cattle on the 7th, had arrived safely in
the valley, and had procured a party of men and had
sent them into the mountains to meet us at the crossing
of Sandy.121 They had come up this far, and commenced
cutting the road toward the settlements. After traveling
this road five or six miles we came upon their camp,
where we again found something to eat; our provisions
having been all consumed. The road here runs through
a flat or bottom of several miles in width, and extending
ten or twelve miles down the Sandy; it bears towards
the north, whilst the creek forms an elbow to the south.
The soil is good, and is covered with a very heavy growth
of pine and white cedar timber. I saw some trees of
white cedar that were seven feet in diameter, and at
least one hundred and fifty feet high. I measured
several old trees that had fallen, which were one hundred
and eighty feet in length, and about six feet in diameter
at the root. We passed some small prairies and several
beautiful streams, which meandered through the timber.
The ground lies sloping to the south, as it is on the north
side of the creek. In the evening it commenced raining
a little.    We remained at this camp all night.
October 29.    This morning, after breakfast, we parted
121 Colonel James Taylor was born in Pennsylvania (1809), of Scotch-Irish
ancestry. In 1823 he removed to Ohio, where he was active in the state militia
and connected with the Indian trade. His wife was Esther d'Armon, who
came with him to Oregon. See her biography in Oregon Pioneer Association
Transactions, 1897, pp. 103-105, wherein is recounted her experience in crossing the Cascades. Colonel Taylor removed in 1846 to Clatsop Plains, but at
the outbreak of the Cayuse War (1847) carried his family back to Oregon City,
while he served in the extempore army as assistant commissary to General
Palmer. In 1849-51 Taylor was chosen first territorial treasurer. About
1850 the Taylors returned to Clatsop, removing to Astoria about 1855, where
they passed the remainder of their lives, both dying in 1893.— Ed.
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with our friends and pursued our way. We soon ascended
a ridge which we followed for seven or eight miles, alternately prairie and fern openings. In these openings
the timber is^not large, but grows rather scrubby. There
are numerous groves of beautiful pine timber, tall and
straight. The soil is of a reddish cast, and very mellow,
and I think would produce well. We came to the termination of this ridge and descended to the bottom, which
has been covered with heavy timber, but which [83]
has been killed by fire. From this ridge we could see
several others, of a similar appearance, descending
gradually towards the west.
We here crossed the creek or river, which was deep
and rapid; and as our horses were barely able to carry
themselves, we were compelled to wade the stream.
Buckly had been sick for several days, and not able to
carry his pack; and if at other times I regretted the
necessity of being compelled to carry his pack, I now
found it of some advantage in crossing the stream, as it
assisted in keeping me erect. Buckly in attempting
to wade across, had so far succeeded as to reach the
middle of the stream, where he stopped, and was about
giving way when he was relieved by Farwell, a strong
athletic yankee from the state of Maine. In crossing
a small bottom, one of the horses fell; we were unable
to raise him to his feet, and were compelled to leave
him. The other we succeeded in getting to the top of
the hill, where we were also compelled to leave him.
The former died, but the latter was taken in a few days
after by those who were opening the road. After being
relieved of the burthen of the two horses, we pushed
forward on foot, as fast as Buckly's strength and our 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
heavy packs would allow; and as it had been raining all
day, our packs were of double their former weight. At
dark we met a party of men who had been through with
a drove of cattle, and were returning with pack horses
for the three families who were yet at Fort Deposit. We
encamped with them. After crossing the Sandy our
course was south-west, over a rolling and prairie country.
The prairie, as well as the timber land, was covered
with fern. The soil was of a reddish cast, and very
mellow, as are all the ridges leading from the mountain to the Willamette or Columbia river. We traveled
this day sixteen or seventeen miles.
October 30. This morning was rainy as usual. Four
miles brought us to the valley of the Clackamis, which
was here five or six miles wide. The road was over a
rolling country similar to that we passed over on yesterday. To the left of the trail we saw a house at the foot
of the hill; we made for it, and found some of our friends
who had started from camp with C. Gilmore. The
claim was held by a man named McSwain.133 We tarried
here until the morning of the 31st, when we again started
for Oregon city. Our trail ran for five or six miles along
the foot of the hill, through prairie and timber land. The
soil looks good, but is rather inclined to gravel; [84]
numerous streams flow down from the high ground,
which rises gradually to a rolling fern plain, such as we
traveled over on the 28th, and 29th. We then continued
upon the high ground seven or eight miles, alternately
through timber and fern prairies. We then turned
down to Clackamis bottom, which is here about one
mile wide; this we followed down for three miles, when
Ed.
1MSamuel McSwain, of the emigration of 1844- Ml
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
night overtook us, and we put up at Mr. Hatche's, having spent just one month in the Cascade mountains.123
November 1. This morning we left Hatche's, and in
two miles travel we reached the crossings of the Clackamis river. At this point it is one hundred and fifty yards
wide, the banks of gentle descent, the water wending its
way for the noble Columbia over a pebbly bottom. Here
is a village of about twenty families, inhabited by the
Clackamis Indians, who are few in number, apparently
harmless, and caring for nothing more than a few fish,
a little game, or such subsistence as is barely sufficient
to support life. There are but two or three houses
in the village; they are made by setting up side and
centre posts in the ground, the latter being the highest,
to receive a long pole to uphold puncheons split out of
cedar, which form the covering; the sides are enclosed
with the same material, in an upright position. These
puncheons are held to their places by leather thongs,
fastened around them to the poles that lay upon the posts.
After examining this little community, the remains of a
once powerful and warlike people,124 we obtained the
128 Peter H. Hatch, who came to Oregon by sea in 1843.— Ed.
124 fphg Qackamas Indians were a branch of the Upper Chinook, which had
long inhabited the river valley called by their name. Lewis and Clark reported
(1806) that there were eleven villages of this tribe, with a population of eight
hundred. See Thwaites, Original Journals 0} the Lewis and Clark Expedition
(New York, 1905), iv, p. 255; vi, p. 118. The Indian agent for 1851 estimated
their number at eighty-eight. The village where Palmer tarried was the one
visited in 1841 by members of the Wilkes exploring expedition. A conflict for
influence over this tribe was in progress at the time, between the Catholic and
Methodist missionaries stationed at the Falls of the Willamette. Captain
William Clark thus describes their huts: "they build their houses in the same
form with those of the Columbian vally of wide split boa[r]ds and covered
with the bark of the white cedar which is the entire length of one side of the
roof and jut over at the eve about 18 inches." — Ed.
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Palmer's Journal
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use of their canoes, crossed over the river, and after two
miles further travel we reached a point that had long
been a desired object; where we were to have rest and
refreshment.
We were now at the place destined at no distant
period to be an important point in the commercial
history of the Union — Oregon City.125 Passing through
the timber that lies to the east of the city, we beheld
Oregon and the Falls of the Willamette at the same
moment. We were so filled with gratitude that we
had reached the settlements of the white man, and with
admiration at the appearance of the large sheet of water
rolling over the Falls, that we stopped, and in this moment
of happiness recounted our toils, in thought, with more
rapidity than tongue can express or pen write. Here we
hastily scanned over the distance traveled, from point
to point, which we computed to be in miles as follows,
viz: From Independence to Fort Laramie, 629 miles;
from Fort Laramie [85] to Fort Hall, 585 miles; from
Fort Hall to Fort Bois, 281 miles; from Fort Bois to
the Dalles, 305 miles; from the Dalles to Oregon City,
(by the wagon route south of Mount Hood,) 160 miles,
making the total distance from Independence to Oregon
city, i960 miles. Actual measurement will vary these
distances, most probably lessen them; and it is very
certain, that by bridging the streams, the travel will
be much shortened, by giving to it a more direct course,
and upon ground equally favorable for a good road.
Oregon City.   Now at rest, having arrived at this
125 For the founding of Oregon City see De Smet's Oregon Missions, in
our volume xxix, p. 180, note 76.— Ed.
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
place, before entering upon a general description of the
country, I will give a short account of Oregon city, as it
appeared to me. This town is located upon the east
side of the Willamette river, and at the Falls. It is about
thirty miles above the junction of the Willamette with
the Columbia, following the meanders of the river; but,
directly from the Columbia at Vancouver, it is only about
twenty miles. It was laid out by Dr. M'Laughlin, in
1842, who holds a claim of six hundred and forty acres
upon the east side of the river. From the river, upon
this side, immediately at the Falls, there rises a rocky
bluff of about eighty feet in height, which bears off
to the north-east. Passing down the river, the land
lies about ten feet lower than the surface of the water
above the Falls. This plateau extends for about one-
fourth of a mile, when there is a further descent of about
fifteen feet, from which a level and fertile bottom skirts
the Willamette for a mile and a half, to where the waters
of the Clackamis are united with those of the Willamette.
Upon the plateau, immediately below, and a small portion
of the higher ground above the Falls, is the portion of
his grant, that Dr. M'Laughlin has laid off in town lots.12*
Three years ago, this land was covered with a dense
forest, which is now cleared off, to make room for the
erection of houses to accommodate the inhabitants of
the town.
There were already erected, when I left there, about
one hundred houses, most of them not only commodious,
but neat. Among the public buildings, the most conspicuous  were  the  neat  Methodist  church,  which  is
128 For a sketch of Dr. John McLoughlin see our volume xxi, p. 296, note
81.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
l59
located near the upper part of the town, and a splendid
Catholic chapel, which stands near the river and the
bluff bank at the lower part of the town site.137 There
are two grist mills; one owned by M'Laughlin, having
three sets of buhr runners, and will compare well with
most of the mills in the States; the other is a smaller mill,
[86] owned by Governor Abernethy and Mr. Beers.128
At each of these grist-mills there are also saw-mills,
which cut a great deal of plank for the use of emigrants.
There are four stores, two taverns, one hatter, one
tannery, three tailor shops, two cabinet-makers, two
silversmiths, one cooper, two blacksmiths, one physician,
three lawyers, one printing office, (at which the Oregon
Spectator is printed, semi-monthly, at five dollars per
annum,)129 one lath machine, and a good brick yard in
127 De Smet describes the building of the Catholic church in his Oregon
Missions, our volume xxix, p. 167.— Ed.
1,8 In 1842 the Wallamet Milling Company was organized and proceeded
to erect both flour and grist mills on an island near the falls, in order to accommodate the settlers, who before their erection had been dependent upon the
Hudson's Bay Company's mills near Vancouver. The founders of this enterprise were members of the Methodist mission.
Governor George Abernethy of New York (born in 1807) came to Oregon
as steward of the party of re-inforcement arriving in the "Lausanne" (1840).
His business capacity was appreciated by the members of the mission, and
he was soon established as a merchant at Oregon City. Here he took prominent part in the organization of the provisional government, of which he was
elected governor in 1845. Re-elected the following year, Abernethy continued
in this office until the arrival of Governor Joseph Lane (1849), sent out as
first territorial governor by the United States. During the troubles incident
to the Whitman massacre, Governor Abernethy acted with discretion and
promptness, and retained the good will of Oregonians during his entire term
of office. After retiring from public service he continued in mercantile pursuits, dying at Portland in 1877. See his portrait in H. S. Lyman, History
o) Oregon, iii, p. 286. For Alanson Beers see Farnham's Travels in our volume
xxix, p. 21, note 14.— Ed.
129 In 1844 the Oregon Printing Association was formed, and George Abernethy sent to New York for a press upon which was printed the first number
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active operation. There are also quite a number of
carpenters, masons, &c, in constant employment, at good
wages, in and about this village. The population is
computed at about six hundred white inhabitants, exclusive of a few lodges of Indians.
The Indians spend most of their nights in gambling.
They have a game peculiar to the tribes of the lower
Columbia, and as I have not seen it described, I will
mention it here. Six men meet in their lodge, when they
divide among themselves into partners of three on each
side, then seat themselves, with a pole between the parties;
the middle man on one of the sides has a small bone
or stick which he holds in his hand; his partners upon
the left and right keep up a regular knocking upon the
pole with sticks, and singing of songs. The man with
the bone keeps shifting it as quickly as possible from
hand to hand, to deceive the middle man of the opposite
side, as to which hand holds the bone; after he is satisfied,
he stops and inquires of his opponent in which hand he
holds it. If the opponent guesses rightly, he throws
the bone, with a small pointed stick, to the winner, who
goes through the same ceremony as the loser had done;
but if the man guesses wrongly as to the hand that holds
the bone, he hands over a little pointed stick. Thus
they keep it up until one or the other has won a certain
number of pointed sticks, which they have agreed shall
constitute the game, when the stakes are delivered over
of the Oregon Spectator, February 6, 1846. Its first editor was Colonel William G. T'Vault, a pioneer of 1845; he was succeeded by Henry A. G. Lee,
George L. Curry, Aaron E. Wait, and Rev. Wilson Blain, successively.
Although several times suspended for brief periods, the Spectator was published
until 1855. For an account see George H. Himes, " The History of the Press
of Oregon, 1839-1850," in Oregon Historical Quarterly, iii, pp. 327-370.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
161
to the winning party. So desperately attached to this
game are these savages, that they will gamble away
every species of clothing or property they may possess;
after this their wives, and they have been known to stake
their own services, for a certain number of moons, and
sometimes even to become the slaves for life of the more
fortunate gamesters.130
The stores have but a very limited supply of such
articles as emigrants need; but the present merchants,
or others that will soon locate there, will find it to their
interest to take out such commodities as will be required.
Mr. Engle, who went out [87] with the late emigrants,
had erected a small foundry, with the intention of casting
some old cannon that lay about the fort, and other broken
utensils, into those most needed for culinary purposes;
but he had not commenced business when I left.131
Unimproved lots sell at from one to five hundred
dollars each, (the price varying with their location,)
in the currency of the country.
The ground back of the town on the bluff, is rather
rocky for half a mile, to the foot of the hill; upon ascending the hill, the country consists of fern openings and
180 See descriptions of this game in Original Journals of the Lewis and
Clark Expedition, iv, p. 37; and in Ross's Oregon Settlers, our volume vii,
pp. 291-293.— Ed.
181 William Engle, of German descent, was born near Harper's Ferry,
Virginia, in 1789, and served as a volunteer in the War of 1812-15. Having
lived for some years in St. Clair County, Illinois, he went out with the
train of 1845 for Oregon, settling first at Oregon City. The following year
he took up donation land in Clackamas County, where he resided until 1866,
being chosen member of the legislature of 1847, and for two years serving as
county judge. Having sold his farm in Clackamas, he removed to Marion
County, where he died in 1868. Engle was by trade a carpenter; his experiment as a foundryman does not appear to have been successful.— Ed.
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162 Early Western Travels [Vol. 30
timber groves alternately, for a distance of about thirty-
five miles, to the Cascade mountains. Upon this bluff,
which is covered with timber, there is a small but beautiful lake, supplied with springs, which has an outlet by
a rivulet that passes through the town into the river.
The river below the Falls, for several miles, is about
two hundred and fifty yards wide, and opposite the
town it is very deep. The bank on the east side, with
the exception of a few hundred yards, is a cliff of about
twenty feet in height, for the first half mile, of a firm
basaltic rock; from thence down to the Clackamis the
bank is a sandy loam.
Upon the west side of the Willamette, and opposite
to Oregon city, are laid out two villages; the upper one
is called Linn city, in honor of the late senator from
Missouri, whose memory, for his patriotic services in the
cause of the Oregon emigrant, is held in high esteem
by every true friend of his country and of humanity.
When Dr. Linn died, the friends of Oregon lost a champion who would not have shamelessly deserted them
in the hour of need.132 Mr. Moore, late of Missouri,
is the proprietor;13S his claim commences one-fourth
182 Lewis F. Linn was born in 1796 near Louisville, where he studied medicine and afterwards volunteered for the War of 1812 -15. At its close he removed
to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, where he began active practice. In 1827 he was
elected to the state senate, and in 1833 was appointed to the United States
senate to fill out the term of a deceased senator. Thrice elected thereto by
the Missouri legislature, he served until his own death in 1843, being known
in the senate as a champion of Oregon interests.
The town opposite Oregon City was known as Linn City. It consisted
in December, 1844, of two log buildings and many tents, wherein the emigrants of 1844 made their headquarters. In 1861 all'the buildings were swept
away by a flood.   It has now no separate existence.— Ed.
188 Robert Moore was born in Pennsylvania in 1781, served in the War of
1812-15, and in 1822 emigrated to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, whence he was 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
of a mile below the Falls, extends above the Falls one
and three-fourths of a mile, and back from the river
one half of a mile. When I left, there were about fifteen
buildings in this village, inhabited mostly by mechanics.
The proprietor had refused to sell water power, which
was doubtless one of the reasons why more emigrants
did not settle in it.
Next, lower down, is the claim of Mr. Hugh Burns, a
native of Ireland, but lately an emigrant from Missouri;
he is the proprietor of Multinoma city, which is so
called from the Indian name for the Willamette river,
and a tribe of Indians of this name that once inhabited
that country.134 This tribe is now nearly extinct. At
their burial places, near this, there are hundreds of skulls
yet lying over the ground. When I left, [88] there were
but few buildings, and some few mechanics settled
in it. There are two ferries established over the river,
from the villages on the west side, to Oregon city.
Upon the west side, the bank of the river is similar to
that  on the east, quite high, leaving but a small semi-
sent to the state legislature. In 1835 he removed to Illinois, where in 1839
he joined the Peoria party for emigration to Oregon. See preface to Farnham's
Travels, in our volume xxviii. Moore was one of the seceders who went off
from Bent's Fort to Fort St. Vrain, where he spent the winter of 1839-40.
Arrived in Oregon he purchased land of the Indians on the west side of the
Willamette, naming his place the "Robin's Nest," being visited there by Commodore Wilkes in 1841. Moore served on a committee of the provisional
government, and held a commission as justice of the peace. He died in Oregon
September 1, 1857.—-Ed.
184 Hugh Burns was a blacksmith who came to Oregon in 1842, in the
party of Medorem Crawford. The same year he was made a magistrate, and
concerned himself with public affairs until his return to Missouri in 1846.
For the Multnomah Indians see our volume vi, p. 247, note 53.— Ed.
188 The right to establish public ferries was granted by the provisional
legislature of 1844 to Robert Moore and Hugh Burns.— Ed. Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
circular level for the first bottom; and upon a farther
ascent of about twenty feet, there is a larger plain at the
lower end of this bluff. The bottom corresponds well
with that above the Clackamis on the opposite side, and
is covered with a dense growth of fir; the trees are tall
and straight.
Description of the Country. The journey to
Oregon city accomplished, and an examination of the
immediate vicinity completed, I set about an inquiry
as to the features of the country — its fertility, its general
susceptibility of improvement, and its' capability for
the support of a large and industrious population. In
so doing, in addition to what I could see for myself, I
applied for information to all whose opportunities had
been favorable for obtaining a knowledge of any particular section. In this work I was an inquirer after
facts, in order to decide the question as to the propriety
of taking my family there for a permanent home; and
when I noted these facts, no attention was paid to the
classification and arrangement of the various subjects,
as is generally done by those travelers and geographers
whose business is book-making. Necessarily, therefore,
my Journal presents facts, just in the order in which
they came to me, and as I received them they are placed
before the reader.
The landscape immediately adjacent to the villages
of Linn city and Multinoma present several abrupt
precipices of various heights, upon each of which is a
small level, of lesser and greater widths, clothed with
fine grass and studded over with oak timber, until the
highest ascent is reached, when it spreads out into an 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
extensive fern opening. From these cliffs there gush
out fine streams of pure spring water; and they will
afford most beautiful country seats for the erection of
residences convenient to the towns, when their improvement shall render such sites desirable. From these
heights, (which are easily ascended,) there is a fine view
of the falls of the river for several miles, and of Mount
Hood. From the heights to Quality Plains, a distance
of twenty-five miles, the country presents rolling plains,
with small groves of oak and fir, and it is well watered
by springs and small rivulets.
[89] From the description given of the towns, the
reader may have already inferred, that the Falls of the
Willamette combine all that is necessary to constitute
great water privileges for propelling machinery; but
before leaving this point, we will take a more particular
view of them.
These falls are occasioned by the descent of the whole
volume of the river over a ledge of basaltic rock that
crosses the entire channel. The greatest fall at any
point is twenty-eight feet, but the whole descent here
is about forty feet. The water is so divided in the
channels at the Falls, and the islands are so situated,
that nearly all of the water may be rendered available,
at a very small expense, when it shall be needed. Nature
rarely at any one point concentrates so many advantages
for the erection and support of a great commercial and
manufacturing city, as are to be found here. There is
an abundance of water to propel the machinery, stone
and timber convenient to erect the necessary buildings,
an extensive country of the best farming lands in the
world to support the towns by their trade, and a fine TlTBWiMI
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navigable river to bring the raw material to the manufactories, and when manufactured to carry the surplus
to the Pacific, whence it can easily be taken to the best
markets the world affords. At this place, the business
of the upper Willamette will concentrate, for many years
at least. Tide water reaches to the mouth of the Clackamis, which is within two miles of the Falls. Here there
is a considerable ripple in the river, which can easily
be removed by confining the Clackamis to its original
bed upon the eastern side of the island. As it is, there
are four feet of water over the bar, and not so rapid as to
prevent the ascent of steamboats to the Falls. Vessels
of two hundred and fifty tons burthen have ascended
within two miles of the rapids; but, from the crookedness of the stream and the difficulty in tacking so frequently, they generally receive and discharge their cargoes
at Portland, twelve miles below.138
Traveling up the river, five miles from the Falls,
brings us to Rock Island. Here is said to be a serious
obstruction to the navigation of the river. The difficulty
consists in there being several peaks of rocks so elevated,
as to be near the surface of the water in a low stage;
and as the channels between them are very narrow, and
136 The site of Portland was unoccupied until November, 1843, when William
Overton, from Tennessee, and Asa L. Lovejoy staked off claims of three hundred and twenty acres each. In 1844 Overton sold out to F. W. Pettygrove
of Maine for $50, and the first log cabin was built. In 1845 the place was
named and a town platted; the growth was slow, however, and by 1849 there
were only about a hundred inhabitants. Two years later the town was incorporated, at that time claiming a population of a thousand. After that the
growth became more rapid. In 1873 Portland suffered a disastrous conflagration. The city's success is due to its position at the head of tidewater
navigation for the Columbia and Willamette valleys, and as being the terminus
of eastern and southern trunk railways.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
167
the water quite rapid, boats are liable to run on to them.
But the rock can be removed at an inconsiderable expense.
It is fifteen miles above the Falls to the [90] first gravel
bar, at which place, in low water, there is but three feet
in the channel.137
In traveling up the river about fifty miles, I found,
in addition to the obstructions named, four other gravel
bars, over some of which there were only thirty inches of
water. In going the next seventy-five miles, I approached
the river several times, and found it to have a deep channel
and smooth current. Persons who had navigated the
river considerably further up, in their traffic with the
Indians, informed me that it continued equally favourable for navigation. From what I saw and learned of
intelligent persons, I think the smaller class of steamboats could for most part of the year ascend two hundred
miles above the Falls.
From the Columbia to Upper California, is a mountainous belt, known as the Coast range.138 Spurs of this
range approach nearly to the mouth of the Willamette.
Between these spurs and the river, there is but a small
portion of the soil well adapted to agriculture. The
higher range to the west of the Falls affords a scope of
fifty miles, that with the exception of a few openings,
and Quality Plains, is tolerably broken, generally well
«7 rpkg Willamette is navigable in high water for small steamers as far as
Eugene, a hundred and thirty-eight miles above Portland. The first steamers
on the upper Willamette were the "Hoosier" and "Yamhill," built in 1851.
Since railways have followed both banks of the stream, river navigation has
been of minor importance.— Ed.
1S8 Tjjg mountains of the Coast range extend at the highest from four thousand to five thousand feet above sea level, with lower levels half as great. Several
passes run through from the Pacific, notably that afforded by the Yaquina and
Mary's rivers, through which runs the Oregon Central Railway.— Ed.
A if
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[Vol. 30
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timbered, finely watered, with many excellent situations
for farms; but not so well calculated, as some other
parts, for dense settlements.
Quality Plains are distant twenty-five miles west from
Oregon city; they are about twenty-five miles in length,
are alternately rolling prairie and timber, surrounded by
heavy growths of firs, many of which rise to the height of
two hundred and fifty feet. These plains are all claimed,
settled, and mostly improved.139 They are well watered
by many small streams that constitute the two forks of
Quality river, which unite near the south-east part of the
plains, and runs an easterly course, through narrow
bottoms, well supplied with timber for more than twenty
miles, where it discharges its waters into the Willamette,
two miles above Oregon city. The principal part of the
water that flows in Quality river descends from the Coast
Range. This stream, like most others in that region,
has several falls and rapids, that furnish very desirable
sites for the propelling of machinery; but if ever profitable
for navigation, will have to be improved by canals and
189 By this paragraph, Palmer intends to describe Tualatin River and
plains. The name is derived from a local Indian word said to signify "smooth
and slowly-flowing stream." The land known to the early settlers as Tualatin
Plains is now embraced in Washington County — a famous fruit- and wheat-
raising region. The plains are encircled by hills, giving the appearance of a
large amphitheatre. The earliest settlers in this region were three independent
missionaries, Harvey Clark, Alvin T. Smith, and P. B. Littlejohn, who crossed
the continent in 1840, and the following spring settled at Tualatin. About the
same time, several mountain men, such as Joseph L. Meek and Robert Newell,
made their homes in the region. The Red River settlers who had come under
the auspices of the Puget Sound Agricultural Association in 1841, being dissatisfied with lands north of the Columbia, gradually drifted south, a number
settling at Dairy Creek, in the Tualatin country.
For the Tualatin River see Farnham's Travels in our volume xxix, p. 16,
note 5.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
169
lockage around its falls; which can easily be done, when
the commerce of the country will justify the expense.
From this stream, and between the Coast Range and
Willamette, and to the south, to the Shahalam valley,
which commences [91] at the low pass of Quality Plains,
is a tract of about twenty by thirty miles in extent, of
rolling fertile lands, alternately fern openings and timber
groves.
From the Coast Range to the Willamette there is a
belt of five or six miles in width, which near the river is
covered thinly with yellow pines; but nearer the mountain
it is better timbered, and well watered from mountain
rivulets; mostly a rich and loose soil, composed chiefly of
yellow sand, loam and clay. But little of this tract is
claimed by the emigrants, as they usually prefer the
prairie country above.
The Shahalam is a small stream, which has its origin
in the Coast Range, runs eastwardly and empties into
the Willamette, twenty miles above Oregon city. This
is skirted with good prairies of five or six miles in width,
near the mountains; but towards its mouth the valley is
covered with timber and fern. The best portion is
claimed.140
Eleven miles further up, the Willamette receives the
waters of the Yam-hill. At the mouth it is about twenty-
five yards in width, quite deep, and will bear upon its
bosom crafts of large burthen for ten miles, to the falls.
140 This stream is usually known as the Chehalem, the significance of the
name being unknown. Among the earliest settlers in this fertile valley were
Ewing Young (see our volume xx, p. 23, note 2), and Sidney Smith (for whom
see our volume xxviii, p. 91, note 41). Several mountain men also had farms
in the region, as well as Archibald McKinley, a member of the Hudson's Bay
Company.— Ed.
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[Vol. 30
This stream has two principal branches; the one
rising in the Coast Range, runs for twenty miles in a
south-easterly direction, through a beautiful and fertile
valley of twelve miles in width, handsomely covered
with groves of white oak, and other timber; which is
intersected with numerous spring branches, the banks
of which are lined with timber, leaving in some places
fine bottom prairies, covered with a rich sward of grass.
Between this fork and the Shahalam is a range of hills
averaging about two miles in width, extending from a
part of the Coast Range, to within three miles of the
Willamette. They are of steep ascent, some of them
rising to five or six hundred feet in height, well covered
with grass, and from their sides issue numerous spring
rivulets, which near their origin are lined with fir trees;
thence passing through groves of white oak, alder and
willow, to the bottom lands, which in crossing some of
them disappear, and others after joining together, continue their courses until they unite with the Shahalam
and Yam-hill. The grasses on these hills are a species
of red clover, that grows in the summer season about
one foot high, and a fine grass, which after the clover
disappears, keep them clad in green during the winter.
Thus they furnish a perpetual supply of food for cattle
the whole year. The soil upon these hills is a mixture
of clay and loam, of a reddish color, and in the bottoms
it is a rich [92] mixture of loam and muck. However,
there are some of the hills somewhat sandy, and occasionally interspersed with stony places.
From the source of this branch of the Yam-hill, (which
in the country is called the North Fork,) passes the trace,
along which the people on Clatsop plains drive their 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
171
cattle a distance of about forty miles, when they reach
the coast, fifteen miles south of Cape Lookout.
The south fork of Yam-hill has its source in the Coast
Range; where it emerges from the mountains, for the
first ten miles, its banks are well supplied with large fir
trees, as are its several tributaries; its banks are generally
steep, bearing the appearance of having washed out a
channel from fifteen to twenty feet in depth. It runs an
eastern course for about ten miles, then north-east for
some miles, and finally takes a northern direction, until
it connects with the North fork, near the Falls, after having flowed a distance of about twenty-five miles.
The valley watered by this stream is about fifteen
miles wide, after the stream emerges from the heavy
growth of firs already noticed; for there are firs, more or
less, its whole length. From the water courses, upon
an average of a little over one fourth of a mile, the valley
is fine prairie land, soil light and rich, occasionally interspersed with fine groves, and well adapted to agricultural
purposes. It is well covered with grass, as is every
portion of the country that has oaken groves, and the
lower bottoms yield an abundant supply of the Camas,
a tuberous rooted plant, shaped something like an onion,
which it resembles in appearance. It is devoured greedily
by hogs, and affords very good nutriment. The Indians
make much use of it as an article of food. Between these
streams and within six miles of their junction, commences
the high lands of the Coast Range; the first plateau is
about ten miles wide, and well covered with grass. The
second plateau, for a few miles is fern openings, with an
occasional grove of timber; after this westward to the
coast  the country is heavily timbered with firs,  pine,
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Early Western Travels
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and occasionally cedar, hemlock, balsam, and nearly
all species of the evergreen timber. The streams last
described furnish good sites for hydraulic purposes,
near the mountains. A considerable portion of the valley of the Yam-hill is not only claimed, but settled, and
finely improved.141
Leaving the Yam-hill and ascending the Willamette
twenty-five miles, we reach the mouth of the Rickerall,
a stream [93] which has its source in the same range
as the Yam-hill; for the first ten miles it runs rapidly
over a pebbly bed, and from thence to the mouth has a
deep channel, worn in a rich soil, with timbered banks.
It flows in an easterly course from the mountains eighteen
miles, and unites with the Willamette. The valley through
which this stream flows resembles that described as
watered by the Yam-hill; perhaps the soil is a little
richer. It is nearly all claimed, and will soon be well
settled. Upon this stream there is erected a grist mill,
and there was a saw mill, but the freshets washed it away
last spring.142 Five miles above Yam-hill commence a
range of hills that extend south to the Rickerall, similar to
those between Shahalam and Yam-hill. These hills vary
from one to four miles in width, leaving a bottom about
six miles wide to skirt the Willamette, which is of good
soil, well watered and timbered.   Upon the slopes of
la Yamhill is said to be a corruption of Cheamhill, a name signifying " bald
hills." Among the earliest settlers were Francis Fletcher and Amos Cook, of
the Peoria party of 1839. Medorem Crawford (1842) settled near what is now
Dayton for the first years of his Oregon life. General Palmer himself chose
this valley for his future home, and in 1850 founded therein the town of Dayton.
See preface to the present volume^— Ed.
10 Rickerall (commonly Rickreall) is a corruption of La Creole, the name
now usually applied to this stream, which drains Polk County and though not
navigable has many mill sites and waters a fertile region.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
these hills are several thousands of acres of white oak,
from six to twenty feet in height, some of them of large
diameter and all with large and bushy tops; the ground
being covered with grass, at a distance they look like
old orchards. The timber of these trees is very solid,
and promises great durability.143 The valley between
the Yam-hill and Rickerall is called the Applegate
settlement; there are three brothers of the Applegates,
they have fine farms, with good herds of fat and thrifty
cattle.144 The Yam-hill plains is called the Hemerey
settlement, from a family of this name there settled.
148 Known as Polk County Hills, forming a charming background for the
western view from Salem.— Ed.
144 Jesse, Charles, and Lindsey Applegate were natives of Kentucky who
emigrated to Oregon in 1843, and became leaders in its development. The
eldest, Jesse, was a man of marked peculiarities, but accredited with much
wisdom and indomitable perseverance, and a natural leader of men. His influence was considerable in forming the provisional government. In 1846 he
explored for a southern route into Willamette valley, and thence led emigrants
south of Klamath Lake. About 1849 he" settled in the Umpqua country, near
the site whence he obtained his title as '* sage of Yoncalla." A disastrous business venture sent him for a time to the mountains of northern California. During the Rogue River and Modoc Indian wars his knowledge of the character
of the aborigines was valuable, and several times he served as special Indian
agent, dying in Douglas County in 1888.
Charles Applegate was born in 1806, removed to St. Louis about 1820,
migrated to Oregon in 1843, and accompanied his brother Jesse to Douglas
County, where he died in 1879.
Lindsey Applegate accompanied General W. H. Ashley on his Ankara
campaign of 1823 (see our volume xxiii, p. 224, note 177), wherein he was taken
ill. After returning to St. L ouis he worked in the Illinois lead mines, and saw
service in the Black Hawk War (1832). After his migration to Oregon (1843),
he became only second to his eldest brother in services to the young commonwealth. He made his home in the southern part of the state, near Ashland, in
Jackson County, where he was living in 1885.— Ed.
141 This name should be Hembree, that of a pioneer family from Tennessee,
who came out in 1843. Absalom J. Hembree was a member of the legislature
from 1846 to 1855.    ^n the latter year he raised a company for the Yakima
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
Upon the Rickerall are the Gillams, Fords and Shaws,
all doing well.148 The Gays and Matheneys are settled
upon the bottom of the Willamette, between Yam-hill
and Rickerall.147
Twelve miles above the Rickerall, empties the Lucky-
War, in which he was killed. Many descendants of this family live near Lafayette and other Yamhill County towns.— Ed.
h« These were members of the immigration of 1844, of which Cornelius
Gilliam was chosen leader. He had served in both the Black Hawk and
Seminole wars, and had been sheriff and member of the legislature in Missouri.
His command of the emigrant train did not last through the entire trip, the
party breaking into smaller companies, two of which were commanded by
William Shaw and Nathaniel Ford. Gilliam was colonel of the regiment raised
to avenge the Whitman massacre, and was killed by the accidental discharge
of a gun.
William Shaw was born (1795) near Raleigh, North Carolina. When a
boy he emigrated to Tennessee and took part in Jackson's campaign before
New Orleans (1814-15). About 1819 he removed to Missouri, where he
married a sister of Colonel Gilliam. He was captain in the Cayuse War of
1848, and member of the territorial legislature from Marion County, ten miles
above Salem, where he made his permanent home.
Nathaniel Ford was a native of Virginia (1795), but was reared in Kentucky, and after coming out to Oregon settled in Polk County, where he died in
1870.— Ed.
147 George Gay was an English sailor. Born in Gloucestershire (1810),
he served as ship's apprentice when eleven years of age. In 1832 he reached
California on the "Kitty," and there joined Ewing Young's trapping party
to the mountains of northern California, returning without entering Oregon.
In 1835 he formed one of a party of eight men under the leadership of John
Turner, who coming overland to Oregon were attacked by the Rogue River
Indians, all being wounded and two killed. Gay reached the settlements
after a trip filled with great hardships, and thenceforth made Oregon his home,
taking an Indian wife and settling high up on the Willamette, near the southern
boundary of Yamhill County. Here he built the first brick house in the territory, and with unbounded hospitality opened it to new emigrants. Wilkes
(1841) describes him as a dashing, gay " vaquero," half-Indian in his characteristics, but very useful to the new community. At one time he had considerable
wealth in horses and cattle, but died poor in 1882.
Daniel Matheny, of the emigration of 1843, was born in Virginia in 1793.
Successive removals carried him to Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, where he
served in the War of 1812-15, and that of Black Hawk (1832). Having settled
near Gay in 1844, he afterwards kept a public ferry, dying on his farm in 1872.
Several of his family accompanied him to Oregon.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
75
muke into the Willamette; it heads in the same range
as the Yam-hill, and, like it, has two principal branches,
of about the same length, depth and width, and passes
through an excellent valley of land, with the same
diversities and excellent qualities for farming which are
attributed to the Yam-hill valley — the timber being
more of oak and less of fir. Upon this stream several
claims are entered, and there is a fine opening for others
who may desire to settle there.
Mouse river joins the Willamette about thirty-five
miles above the Lucky-muke.148 It has its origin in the
Coast range, has two principal branches, which unite
near the mountains, passes ten miles over a pebbly
bottom, and then becomes more sluggish to its mouth.
This, like the other streams described, [94] has timber
upon its borders, but less than some; good country,
fine prospects, and but few claims made.
Between the Lucky-muke and Mouse river there is a
range of hills, as between other streams; but at one
place a spur of the Coast range approaches within ten
miles of the Willamette; from this issue many small
streams which run down it, and through the fine plains
to the Lucky-muke upon the one side, and into Mouse
river on the other. This is a beautiful region; from the
bottom can be seen, at different points, seven snow-
covered peaks of the Cascade range.149 The Cascade
is within view for a great distance, to the north and
148 Luckiamute is the modern spelling of this name of Indian origin, derived
from a branch of the Kalapuya tribe that formerly inhabited' this valley. In
1851, federal commissioners made a treaty with this tribe whereby they ceded
their lands, and retired soon afterwards to the Grande Ronde reservation. By
Mouse River Palmer means the stream now known as Mary's River— a name
given by J. C. Avery, the founder of Corvallis, in honor of his wife.— Ed.
149 Mount Jefferson, Hayrick Mountain, Mount Washington, and the Three
Sisters, with neighboring peaks.— Ed.
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Early Western Travels
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south; which, together with the beautiful scenery in the
valley, renders it a picturesque place. Thrifty groves of
fir and oak are to be seen in every direction; the earth is
carpeted with a covering of luxuriant grass, and fertilized
by streams of clear running rivulets, some of which sink
down and others pursue their course above ground to the
river. Between the forks of Mouse river approaches a
part of the Cascade,156 but it leaves a valley up each branch
about one mile in width, the soil of which is rich and good
prairie for several miles above the junction. The mountain sides are covered very heavily with fir timber. Thus
these beautiful valleys offer great inducements to those
who wish to have claims of good land, with fine grounds
for pasturage and timber close at hand. There are no
claims made as yet above the forks. These streams
furnish good mill sites for each of the first six miles,
and are well filled with trout.
From the forks of this stream starts a trail, (or half-
made road,) which leads to the falls of the Alsa, a stream
that heads twenty miles to the south of these forks; the
trail leads a westerly course for fifteen miles to the Falls;
from thence to the coast it is twenty-one miles. From
the Falls the river runs in a westerly direction. An old
Indian told me that there was some excellent land in this
valley, and that there would be but little difficulty in
constructing a good road down it. Salmon and other
fish are in great abundance in this stream, up to the
Falls.151 1
Six miles above Mouse river is the mouth of Long
180 Our author here intends the Coast (not the Cascade) range, of which
Mary's Peak, between the two forks of Mary's (Mouse) River is the highest,
rising about five thousand feet above sea level.— Ed.
151 The Alsea, in Lincoln County, flows into a bay of that name, where
— 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
177
Tom Bath;152 this, like all other streams that enter the
Willamette upon the western side, heads in the coast
range, and after breaking its way through the spurs to
the plains below, passes through a valley of good soil.
It has deep banks, is more sluggish in its movements
than those that join it lower down, [95] is filled with
dirty water, has a miry bottom, shaded upon its margin
with timber, and in size is something larger than the
Yam-hill.
So far, I have described the valley from personal
observation in that direction; but I was informed by
those who had good opportunities for obtaining correct
information, that it bore off more easterly, and that it
was for eighty miles further up as well watered, timbered,
and of as luxuriant soil, as that which I have described.
It may be proper here to remark, that the further the
valley is ascended the oak timber becomes more abundant, and the fir in a corresponding ratio decreases.
Having described the country for more than one hundred miles upon the western side of the Willamette, we
will return to the Falls and mention a few facts respecting the eastern bank. Upon this bank, for ten miles to
the south of Oregon city, continue fern openings, to a
small stream called Pole Alley,153 which is skirted with
beautiful prairie bottoms of from two to eight miles in
small coasting steamers enter and ascend the stream some eighteen or twenty
miles. The name is derived from an Indian tribe — one of the Kalapuya
stock.— Ed.
182 In the early days of Oregon settlement more frequently spelled Long-
tonguebuff (properly Lungtumler), from a branch of the Kalapuya tribe that
inhabited its banks. The stream is now known simply as Long Tom River,
rising in Lane County and flowing nearly north into Benton County, entering
the Willamette not far above Peoria.— Ed.
188 Palmer here refers to Molalla River, a stream of southwestern Clacka-
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wm wrrrrwuw
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
length and from one to two miles wide; these, with alternate groves of fir, constitute the principal characteristics
of Pole Alley valley. It is not more than half a mile
from the mouth of Pole Alley, farther to the south, where
Pudding river embogues into the Willamette; it is twenty-
five yards in width at the mouth. The valley up this
river to the Cascade mountains, where it rises, is alternately fine prairie and timber lands, with occasional fern
openings. Some of the prairies are claimed by the
recent emigrants. It is finely clothed in grass, and up
the river some distance there are valuable mill sites;
the water is clear, and well stocked with fish.154 From
Pudding river further south, there are fern openings,
which are succeeded by grassy prairies, which give place
to fine groves of fir, but sparsely intermingled with
cedar.
Eight miles from Pudding river is a village called
Butes.    It was laid out by Messrs. Abernathy and Beers.
mas County, that took its name from a tribe of Indians once roaming upon its
banks. Governor Lane in 1850 refers to this tribe as Mole Alley; and the
liquid letters "m" and "p" being nearly interchangeable in the Indian dialect,
Palmer gave it the form Pole Alley. The Molala tribe was an offshoot of the
Cayuse, that had its home west of the Cascades. The early settlers testified
to their superior physique and stronger qualities, compared with the degraded
Chinook by whom they were surrounded. In 1851 their tribal lands were
purchased, when their number was reported at 123. The remnant removed
to Douglas County, and in 1888 a few calling themselves Molala were found
on the Grande Ronde reservation.— Ed.
154 The aboriginal name of this stream was Hanteuc. Two differing accounts
are given of the origin of the present name. Elijah White (Ten Years in
Oregon, p. 70) says a party of Hudson's Bay trappers lost their way upon this
stream and were forced to kill their horses for sustenance, making pudding of
the blood. Others give the derivation as " Put in"— the stream that puts in
just below the early French settlement, thence degenerated to Pudding. The
river rises in the foothills near the centre of Marion County, and flows nearly
north, a sluggish, crooked stream from eighty to a hundred feet in width.— Ed.
—	 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
179
There were but a few cabins in it when I left. The proprietors had erected a warehouse to store the wheat
they might purchase of the settlers back, who should
find it convenient to sell their crops at this point. At
this place are some conical hills, called Butes, which
rise to a considerable height; the sides and tops of them
are clothed with tall fir trees, which can be seen from
the valley above for sixty miles. Immediately at this
village is a fern opening, covered with an undergrowth
of hazle, for three-fourths of a mile back, when it merges
into an extensive and fertile prairie.155
[96] South of Butes three miles is the village of Sham-
poic. It was laid out by a mountaineer, of the name of
Newell, formerly a clerk of the Hudson's Bay Company.
158
188 The Butte was a landmark on the upper Willamette, a high escarpment
prominent from the river. Here was formerly a landing for the settlers of
French Prairie, whose farms lay south and east of this point. The town of
Butteville was laid out by merchants of Oregon City — Abernethy and Beers
— to facilitate the commerce in wheat. F. X. Matthieu took up land here as
early as 1846, and in 1850 kept a store. He still lives at Butteville, which in
1900 had a population of 483.— Ed.
188 jror Champoeg see De Smet's Oregon Missions in our volume xxix,
p. 179, note 75. The early meetings of the provisional government were held
at this place, which was the centre for the old Canadian-French inhabitants
of the country.
Dr. Robert Newell was born in 1807 at Zanesville, Ohio. His fur-trapping experiences were under the auspices of the American Fur Company (not
the Hudson's Bay Company), as companion of Joseph L. Meek. See F. T.
Victor, River 0} the West (Hartford, 1870). His first settlement (1840) after
the migration to Oregon, was at Tualatin Plains; but before 1842 he removed
to Champoeg, where by his influence over the settlers he became the political
as well as social leader. Possibly also Newell laid out a town at this place,
but he was by no means the founder of the village. Newell represented Champoeg in the provisional government for several years, and in 1846 was speaker
of the lower house of the state legislature. After the Whitman massacre (1847)
he was chosen one of the commissioners, with Palmer, to treat with the Indians.
He also raised a company for the Indian war of 1856. In later life he was
connected with railway projects and died at Lewiston, Idaho, in 1869.—Ed.
Ik ft
I
i   m
180
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
It contains a few old shabby buildings, and a warehouse
owned by the company, where they receive the wheat
of the settlers of the country from thence to the Cascade
mountains. This is an extensive plain, extending from
Pudding river up the Willamette to the old Methodist
mission ground, which is distant thirty miles from the
mouth of Pudding river. The soil for this distance, and
for two miles in width, is similar to that described immediately at Butes. Back of this for twenty-five or thirty
miles is a very handsome country, mostly prairie, and
fine timber, well watered, with occasionally a hill —
the whole covered with a soil quite inviting to the agriculturist, with an abundance of pasturage for cattle.
This is called the French settlement, and is one of the
oldest in the valley. The Catholics have here a mission,
schools, a grist and saw mill, and several mechanics;
they have also several teachers among the Indians, and
it is said that they have done much for the improvement
of these aborigines. The inhabitants are mostly of
what are called French Canadians, and were formerly
engaged in the service of the Hudson Bay Company,
but have now quit it, made claims, and gone to farming.
They have very pretty orchards of apple trees, and some
peach trees. Their wives are natives of the country.
Many of them are raising families that, when educated,
will be sprightly, as they are naturally active and hardy,
and appear very friendly and hospitable. But few of
them speak the English language fluently; they mostly
talk French and Chinook jargon.157   They cultivate but
157 For the early settlement of French Prairie, see De Smet's Letters in our
volume xxvii, p. 386, note 203; also our volume vii, p. 231, note 83. For the
Chinook jargon see our volume vi, p. 240, note 40; also pp. 264-270 of the
present volume.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
181
little land, but that little is well done, and the rich soil
well repays them for the labor expended upon it. I
could not satisfactorily ascertain the population of the
settlement, which I much regretted.
The old Methodist mission is nearly opposite to what
is now called Matheny's Ferry. It was reported to me
to have been one of the first missions occupied in the
valley, but has been abandoned on account of the overflowing of the river. It consists of only several dilapidated
buildings.158 The soil is gravelly, inclined to barren,
with a grove of pines near by.
This place for a number of years was under the super-
intendance of the Rev. Jason Lee. It is here that the
remains of his wife are interred; a tombstone marks her
resting place, which informs the passer by that she was
the first white woman [97] that was buried in Oregon
Territory,— together with the place of her nativity,
marriage,  &c.159
The unfortunate location of the mission, and the
circumstances under which Mrs. Lee died, no doubt
have had great influence in creating that unfavorable
impression of the country in the mind of Mr. Lee, which
he has expressed in some of his letters.    The country
188 For the earliest site of the Methodist mission see our volume xxi, p. 299,
note 84.    Matheny's Ferry is mentioned in note 147, ante, p. 174.— Ed.
189 For Jason Lee see our volume xxi, p. 138, note 13. His first wife was
Anna Maria Pitman, who came out from New York in 1837, the marriage
taking place soon after her arrival in May of that year. The following spring
Lee returned to the United States. Upon his journey a messenger overtook
him, announcing the death of Mrs. Lee on June 26, 1838. The first interment
was at the old mission, as here stated. Later the grave was removed to Salem.
H. H. Bancroft, History of Oregon, i, p. 170, gives the inscription on the tombstone.— Ed.
h Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
surrounding the mission is covered mostly with scrubby
oak and pine trees.
From the mission the road proceeds up the valley,
alternately through groves of oak and pine, fern plains,
and grassy prairies, in which are several farms, with
convenient buildings. After pursuing this route about
ten miles, we come to an improvement of several hundred acres, surrounded with small groves of oak. Here
the soil is quite gravelly', and not very rich.
Nearly opposite the mouth of the Rickerall is the
Methodist Institute, which was located at this place
when it was ascertained that the Willamette would overflow its bank at the old mission. My opinion is, that
the location is a good one, being in a high and healthy
neighborhood, and nearly central of what will be the
principal population of the valley for long years to come.
The course of instruction there given is quite respectable,
and would compare well with many of those located in
the old and populous settlements of the States. This
school is unconnected with any mission. When the
missionary board concluded to abandon that field of
labor, the Institute was bought by the Methodists of
Oregon; hence it continued under its old name. The
price of tuition is low, and the means of receiving an
education at this place is within the power of those who
have but a small amount to expend in its attainment.160
For the first five miles from the river towards the
Cascade range, the soil is gravelly; it is then a sandy
loam to the foot of the mountain, and is generally an open
plain.    The valley upon the east side of the river at this
ieo por j^g origin of the Willamette Institute see De Smet's Oregon Missions
in our volume xxix, p. 165, note 62.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
183
place, is about twenty-five miles in width. It is proper,
however, to remark, that there are occasional groves of
timber interspersing the prairie, and in some places
they reach within a short distance of the river. In this
last described tract, there are several varieties of soil,
with prairie, timber, upland, bottom, and hill side; the
whole is well watered. At the Institute there reside
about fifteen families, and near by several claims are
taken, and improvements commenced. The Methodist
missionaries [98] have erected a saw and grist mill;
these mills were sold, as was all the property of the
missions in the valley, by Mr. Gerry, who was sent out
to close the missionary matters in that region; they are
now owned by resident citizens, and in successful operation.   At this place a town is laid out.161
Six miles above the Institute commences a range of
oak hills, which continue about twelve miles in a southeastern direction along the river, where they connect by
a low pass with the Cascade Range. From this place,
at the lower bench of the Cascade, commences another
range of hills,  running south-westwardly,  which con-
181 In 1843 the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal church decided
that the Oregon mission, being no longer useful for the conversion of Indians,
should be closed, and the charges organized into a mission conference for whites.
In pursuance of this resolve, Rev. George Gary of Black River Conference,
New York, was appointed to supersede Jason Lee as superintendent. Early
in June, 1844, Gary settled the affairs of the mission, dismissing the lay members, who immediately bought in the mills and other property of the mission.
Gary remained in Oregon until 1847, making his headquarters at Oregon City.
The native name of the site at Salem — Chemekata — was interpreted
by Rev. David Leslie as having the same significance as the term Salem — *. e\,
rest, or peace. The site was chosen in 1840 for the erection of mills on Mill
Creek. The trustees of Oregon Institute laid out the town, which grew slowly
until in 1851 it became the territorial capital. By the terms of the state constitution the capital was located by popular vote, which resulted in favor of
Salem.   Its population in 1900 was 4,258.— Ed.
I 184
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
tinue about twenty miles in length, to the mouth of the
Santaam river, which joins the Willamette twenty miles
by land above the Institute. This is a bold and rapid
stream, of about one hundred and fifty yards in width;
for a considerable portion of its length, it has a pebbly
bottom, and banks covered with fir and white cedar trees
of the best quality.162
The Santa Anna has four principal branches, with
several small tributaries, all lined with timber, leaving
a strip of beautiful prairie land between each, of from
one-half to four miles in width. The two northern
branches rise in Mount Jefferson, the first running nearly
west from its origin to where it leaves the mountain,
when it inclines to the south for a few miles, where it
receives another branch; from this junction about
eight miles, it is joined by a stream that rises in the
Cascade Range, south of Mount Jefferson. Ten miles
below this point, the other principal branch, which
rises still further to the south, unites with the others,
when the river inclines to the west, until it joins the
Willamette. From its origin in Mount Jefferson to its
termination, is about forty miles; from the Oak hills
above named is twenty-five miles.
Aiftli
182 The Santiam River takes its name from the head chief (Sandeam) of
the Kalapuya Indians, who dwelt upon its banks. April 16, 1851, the federal
commissioners made a treaty with the Santiam branch of the tribe, whereby
the latter ceded to the whites a large portion of their lands. Their number at
this time was a hundred and fifty-five. Santiam River drains a considerable
portion of Marion and Linn counties, its North Fork forming the boundary
between the two. The road up this fork leads to Minto Pass; the South Fork
formed the Une for the Willamette and Cascade Military Road. Palmer's
use of the term " Santa Anna " for this stream, in the two following paragraphs,
would seem to indicate his ignorance of the Indian origin of the term, and an
idea that it had been named for the Mexican general of that period.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
185
A considerable portion of the soil in this valley is quite
gravelly, but a great portion is rich, and the prairies are
well clothed with luxuriant grass. Among the plants,
herbs, &c, common to this part of the country, is wild
flax.
A few claims have been made along the north-east
side of the Oak hills, and improvements commenced.
The soil yields a good crop of the agricultural products
suited to the climate.
Above the Santa Anna, upon the eastern side of the
Willamette, the valley is about twenty miles in average
width for ninety miles, to the three forks. In this distance there are many small mountain streams, crossing
the valley to the river, all of which are lined with timber,
and several of them affording [99] valuable water privileges for such machinery as may be erected, when yankee
enterprise shall have settled and improved this desirable
portion of our great republic.
After leaving the Santaam, a prairie commences, of
from four to twelve miles in width, which continues up
the valley for a day's travel, which I suppose to be about
forty miles. The mountains upon the east side of the
Willamette are covered with timber of quite large growth.
In this last prairie has been found some stone coal, near
the base of the mountain spurs; but as to quantity or
quality I am uninformed. The specimen tried by a
blacksmith was by him pronounced to be good.
The Willamette valley, including the first plateaus
of the Cascade and Coast ranges of mountains, may be
said to average a width of about sixty, and a length of
about two hundred miles. It is beautifully diversified
with  timber  and   prairie.   Unlike   our  great  prairies
m'
tt
' I m
M
an.
11
'iff
186
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
east of the Rocky Mountains, those upon the waters
of the Pacific are quite small; instead of dull and sluggish
streams, to engender miasma to disgust and disease man,
those of this valley generally run quite rapidly, freeing
the country of such vegetable matter as may fall into
them, and are capable of being made subservient to the
will and comfort of the human family in propelling
machinery. Their banks are generally fined with fine
groves of timber for purposes of utility, and adding much
to please the eye.
The Willamette itself, throughout its length, has
generally a growth of fir and white cedar, averaging
from one-fourth to three miles in width, which are valuable both for agricultural and commercial purposes. Its
banks are generally about twenty feet above the middling stages, yet there are some low ravines, (in the country called slues,) which are filled with water during
freshets, and at these points the bottoms are overflowed;
but not more so than those upon the rivers east of the
Mississippi. It has been already observed that the soil
in these bottoms and in the prairies is very rich; it is
a black alluvial deposite of muck and loam; in the
timbered portions it is more inclined to be sandy, and
the higher ground is of a reddish colored clay and
loam.
The whole seems to be very productive, especially
of wheat, for which it can be safely said, that it is not
excelled by any portion of the continent. The yield
of this article has frequently been fifty bushels per acre,
and in one case Dr. White harvested from ten acres an
average of over fifty-four [100] bushels to the acre; but
the most common crop is from thirty to forty bushels per
—
■ 1845-18463
Palmer's Journal
187
acre, of fall sowing; and of from twenty to twenty-five
bushels, from spring sowing.
There is one peculiarity about the wheat, and whether
it arises from the climate or variety, I am unable to
determine. The straw, instead of being hollow as in the
Atlantic states, is filled with a medullary substance,
(commonly called pith,) which gives it firmness and
strength; hence it is rarely that the wheat from wind
or rain lodges or falls before harvesting. The straw is
about the height of that grown in the states, always
bright, the heads upon it are much longer, and filled
with large grains, more rounded in their form, than those
harvested in the eastern part of the Union. I have
seen around fields, where a single grain has grown to
maturity, forty-two stalks, each of which appeared to
have borne a well filled head; for the grains were either
removed by birds, or some other cause. As it was November when I arrived in the country, I saw wheat only in
its grassy state, except what had escaped the late harvest.
The farmers have a white bald wheat, the white
bearded, and the red bearded, either of which can be
sown in fall or spring, as best suits their convenience, or
their necessities demand. That sown in September,
October or November, yields the most abundantly; but
if sown any time before the middle of May, it will ripen.
The time of harvesting is proportioned to the seed time.
That which is early sown is ready for the cradle or sickle
by the last of June, or the first of July, and the latest about
the first of September. In the Oregon valley, there are
but few rains in the summer months, and as the wheat
stands up very well, farmers are generally but little
hurried with their harvesting.
1 I f
11 '■ t H
188
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
The emigrants usually arrive in the latter part of the
summer or fall, and necessarily first provide a shelter
for their families, and then turn their attention to putting
in a field of wheat. In doing this, they frequently turn
under the sod with the plough one day, the next harrow
the ground once, then sow their seed, and after going
over it again with a harrow, await the harvest, and not
unfrequently gather forty bushels from the acre thus
sown. In several instances the second crop has been
garnered from the one sowing. When the wheat has
stood for cutting until very ripe, and shattered considerably in the gathering, the seed thus scattered over the
field has been harrowed under, and yielded twenty bushels to the acre, of [101] good merchantable grain. I was
told of an instance where a third crop was aimed at in
this way; it yielded but about twelve bushels to an acre,
and was of a poor quality.
The rust and smut which so often blast the hopes of
the farmer, in the old states, are unknown in Oregon,
and so far there is but very little cheat.
Harvesting is generally done with cradles, and the
grain threshed out with horses, there being no machines
for this latter purpose in the territory.
The grain of the wheat, though much larger than in
the states, has a very thin husk or bran, and in its manufacture in that country during the winter months requires
a coarser bolting cloth than in the Atlantic states, owing
to the dampness of the atmosphere at this season.
The farmers already raise a surplus of this commodity,
over and above the consumption of the country: but
owing to the scarcity of mills to manufacture it, they
cannot at all times have it in readiness to supply vessels
hi i845-l846] Palmer s Journal 189
when they visit the settlements. At the time I left,
wheat was worth eighty cents per bushel, and flour three
dollars and fifty cents per hundred pounds. The mills
above the Falls grind for a toll of one-eighth, but at the
Falls they will exchange for wheat, giving thirty-six
pounds of fine flour for an American bushel, and forty
pounds for a royal bushel. The weight of a bushel of
wheat, (according to quality,) is from sixty to seventy
pounds.
Oats yield an abundant crop, but this grain is seldom
sown, as the stock is generally suffered to gather its
support by grazing over the plains.
Peas do well, and are much used in feeding hogs, at
the close of their fattening, when taken off of their range
of camas and other roots; and it is remarked that this
vegetable there is free from the bug or wevil that infests
it in the western states.
Barley is very prolific, and of a large and sound growth;
but there is as yet little raised, as the demand for it is
quite limited.
I saw no rye in the country. Buckwheat grew very
well, though not much raised.
For potatoes Oregon is as unequalled, by the states,
as it is for wheat. I doubt whether there is any portion
of the globe superior to it for the cultivation of this almost
indispensable vegetable. I heard of no sweet potatoes,
and think there are none in the territory.
Indian corn is raised to some extent upon the lower
bottoms [102] in the valleys, but it is not considered a
good corn country. It had yielded forty bushels to the
acre; they mostly plant the small eight-rowed yankee
corn.    The summers are too cool for corn.    Tobacco
^i^^^^^—^SH M
4 n
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
has been tried; and although it may be raised to some
extent, it is lighter than in Kentucky, and more southern
latitudes. The climate and soil are admirably adapted
to the culture of flax and hemp, and to all other vegetables,
which grow with ordinary care, in any of the northern,
eastern and middle states.
During my travels through the valley, I spent some
time with Mr. Joel Walker, a gentleman who had
resided several years in California, had made several
trips from Oregon to the bay of San Francisco, and had
spent some time in trapping and trading between the
Willamette valley and the 42d degree of north latitude.163
From this gentleman, as well as from several others, I
learned that the trail near two hundred miles south of
Oregon city arrives at the California mountains, which
is a ridge running from the Cascade to the Coast range
of mountains. With the exception of a few peaks, this
ridge is susceptible of easy cultivation, being partly
prairie and partly covered with timber.    Mr. Walker
183 Joel P. Walker was a brother of Joseph R. Walker (see note 46, ante, p. 70).
Of Virginian birth he removed at an early age to Tennessee, whence he went
out under Andrew Jackson against the Alabama Indians (1814), and later
against the Florida Seminole. Some time before 1822, he removed to Missouri, where he married, and engaged in the early Santa F^ trade with Stephen
Cooper (see our volume xix, p. 178, note 16). Walker removed with his family
to Oregon in 1840 — one of the first families of settlers who came independent
of the missionary movement. Wilkes met him on the Willamette in 1841,
when he expressed his dissatisfaction with the climate and the conditions.
See Wilkes's Exploring Expedition, iv, p. 388. That same year he went overland to California, where he worked for Captain Sutter, coming back to Oregon
some time before Palmer's visit, with a herd of cattle for sale. This time he
remained in Oregon several years, being chosen justice of the peace for Yamhill County (about 1845). In 1848 he returned to California, where he was a
member from Napa of the constitutional convention of. 1849. In 1853 he
removed to Sonoma County where he spent the remainder of his life, dying
sometime after 1878.— Ed.
r—i
■Hi i845-I846]
Palmer's Journal
191
doubts not that a good wagon road can be made over this
ridge; to cross which requires but a few hours, and brings
us into the beautiful country bounded on the east and
west by the Cascade and Coast ranges, the California
mountains on the north, and the Rogue's River mountains
on the south.
This district of country, which is only about forty
miles wide from east to west, is drained by the Umpquah
river, and its tributaries, which as in the Willamette
valley, are skirted with timber; but back from the streams
is a prairie country, beautifully alternated with groves of
timber.
At the mouth of the Umpquah, which empties into the
Pacific about thirty miles from where it leaves this beautiful district of country, the Hudson's Bay Company have
a trading post.164 If we except this, there is no settlement nor claim made on this river or its tributaries.
Passing Rogue's River mountains, the trail enters the
valley of the river of that name. This valley is quite
similar to that of the Umpquah, but perhaps not quite
so large.165 This valley is bounded on the south by the
Klamet mountain, which is a spur of the Cascade and
Coast mountains. It is high and somewhat difficult to
pass over; but it is believed a route may be found that
will admit of an easy passage over. It is heavily timbered;   and as in [103] the Coast range, the timber in
184 For the Umpqua River see our volume vii, p. 231, note 82; the fort is
noted in Farnham's Travels, our volume xxix, p. 59, note 79.— Ed.
188 For Rogue River see ibid., p. 82, note 104. The mountains lie directly
north of the river valley in Coos and Curry counties, Oregon. The first settlers
in this valley came there in 1851. See William V. Colvig, "Indian Wars of
Southern Oregon," in Oregon Historical Quarterly, iv, pp. 227-240.— Ed. II
'] J
f    '{
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
many places has died, and a thick growth of underbrush
sprung up.
South of the Klamet mountains spreads out the beautiful valley watered by the Klamet river. This valley,
although not so well known as that of the Willamette,
is supposed to be more extensive, and equally susceptible
of a high state of cultivation. It is esteemed one of the
best portions of Oregon.166 The land is mostly prairie,
but is well diversified with timber, and bountifully supplied with spring branches. The Indians are more
numerous here than in the valley further north, and as
in the Umpquah and Rogue's river valleys, more hostile.
There has been very little trading with them; but they
not unfrequently attack persons driving cattle through
from California to the settlements in Oregon; and
although none of the drivers have been killed for several
years, they have lost numbers of their cattle. Before
these valleys can be safely settled, posts must be established to protect the inhabitants from the depredations
of these merciless savages.167
A settlement of about a dozen families has been made
198 By the " Klamet" Mountains, Palmer refers to the chain lying north of
Klamath River valley, now usually spoken of as the Siskiyou range. Klamath
River is described in Farnham's Travels, our volume xxix, p. 46, note 56.
The trail into this region followed nearly the route of the Southern Pacific
Railway.— Ed.
187 The Indians of Southern Oregon had always been disposed to molest
white wayfarers. Witness the troubles of Jedidiah H. Smith in 1828, the massacre
of the Turner family in 1835, and the attack on a cattle train in 1837. After
1848, the passage of gold-seekers to and from California intensified the difficulty, whereupon a long series of contests ensued, resulting in open wars, in
which Palmer bore an important part. The war of 1853 was terminated by
a treaty (September 10) secured by Generals Lane and Palmer; that of 1855
was more serious, being participated in by regular troops as well as Oregon
militia.    For Palmer's relation to these wars see preface to this volume.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
l93
upon Clatsop plains. This is a strip of open land,
about a mile in width, extending from the south end of
Point Adams, or Clatsop Point, at the mouth of the
Columbia river, about twenty miles along the margin
of the ocean, in the direction of Cape Lookout.168 It
appears to have been formed by the washing of the waters.
Ridges resembling the waves of the ocean extend from
north to south throughout the entire length of the plains.
These ridges are from twelve to twenty-five feet high,
and in some places not more than fifty feet, but at other
points as much as three hundred yards asunder. That
along the coast is the highest and least fertile, as it seems
to be of more recent formation. The soil is composed
of vegetable matter and sand, and produces grass more
abundantly than the valleys above; the spray and dampness of the ocean keeping the grass green all the year.
The land is not so good for fall wheat as in the upper
country,  but  the  settlers raise twenty-five  bushels  of
188 For Point Adams see our volume vi, p. 233, note 37. The term Clatsop
was given for an Indian tribe — ibid., p. 239, note 39. Clatsop Plains were
first visited in the winter of 1805-06 by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, who erected a cairn for the making of salt, in the neighborhood of the
present resort known as Seaside. The settlement of this region was begun in
1840 by members of the Methodist mission, reinforced by Solomon H. Smith
and Calvin Tibbitts of the Wyeth party, who had married daughters of the
Clatsop chief Cobaway (Lewis and Clark spelled it Comowool). J. W. Perry
took up a farm in 1842, and several members of the immigration of 1843 settled
on the Clatsop Plains. See "Pioneer Women of Clatsop County," in Oregon
Pioneer Association Transactions, 1897, pp. 77-84. These plains are composed of a sandy loam well adapted for fruit and vegetables, but especially
suited to grazing, so that dairying is a leading industry of this region.
Cape Lookout, in Tillamook County, is a conspicuous headland. It was
first sighted by Heceta in 1775, and named by Captain Meares in 1789. See
our volume xxviii, p. 32, note 9; also our volume vii, p. 112, note 17. The
point, however, which Palmer designates as Cape Lookout, is in reality that
called by the Lewis and Clark expedition "Clark's Point of View," but now
known as Tillamook Head.— Ed.
\ VI Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
m
spring wheat to the acre. I think it better for root crops
than the valleys above. In the rear of the plains, or
about a mile from the shore, is a body of land heavily
timbered with hemlock and spruce, which is tall and
straight, and splits freely. Near the timber a marsh of
some two hundred yards in width extends nearly the
entire length of the plains. This marsh is covered with
the low kind of cranberries.
A stream some ten or twelve yards in width 169 enters
the plains [104] at the south end, runs ten or twelve
miles north, when it turns to the west, and after passing
through two of the ridges, takes a southerly direction and
enters the bay that sets up between the Plains and Cape
Lookout, not more than ten rods from its entrance into
the Plains. Here a dam is built across the stream, and
the claimant is erecting a flouring mill.
On these plains the claims are taken half a mile in
width on the coast, and extending back two miles; each
claimant therefore having a fair proportion of prairie
and timber land, besides a glorious cranberry patch.
Some fifteen miles south-east of Cape Lookout, stands
a peak of the Coast range, called Saddle Mountain; and
the cape is a spur or ridge extending from this mountain
some two or three miles out into the ocean.170 Around
the head of the bay, immediately north of Cape Lookout, is a body of several thousand acres of timber land.
189 The Necanican River, called by Lewis and Clark the Clatsop, has a
roundabout course, as indicated by Palmer, and drains the southern end of
Clatsop Plains.— Ed.
170 Saddle Mountain, the highest point in Clatsop County, shows three
peaks as viewed from the Columbia, and takes this name from its form. The
aboriginal name was Swollalachost. Lewis and Clark found it covered with
snow during most of the winter season of 1805-06.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
l95
The soil is good, but most of it so heavily timbered that
it would require much labour to prepare it for farming.
But as the streams from the mountain afford an abundance
of water power, it would be an easy matter to manufacture the timber into lumber, for which there is a good
market for shipping, and thus make the clearing of the
land for cultivation a profitable business.
Along the coast from Cape Lookout to the 42d parallel
there is much land that can be cultivated; and even the
mountains, when cleared of the heavy bodies of timber
with which they are clothed, will be good farming land.
There is so much pitch in the timber that it burns very
freely; sometimes a green standing tree set on fire will
all be consumed; so that it is altogether a mistaken
idea that the timber lands of the country can never be
cultivated. I am fully of the opinion that two-thirds of
the country between the Willamette valley and the coast,
and extending from the Columbia river to the forty-second parallel, which includes the Coast range of mountains, can be successfully cultivated. This region
abounds in valuable cedar, hemlock and fir timber, is
well watered, possesses a fertile soil, and being on the
coast, it will always have the advantage of a good
market; for the statements that soundings cannot be
had along the coast, between Puget Sound and the Bay
of San Francisco, are altogether erroneous. No place
along the range would be more than thirty miles from
market; and the difficulty of constructing roads over
and through this range would be trifling, compared
with that of constructing similar works over the Alle-
ghanies.
[105] The country about Cape Lookout is inhabited
In
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by a tribe of Indians called the Kilamooks. They are
a lazy and filthy set of beings, who live chiefly on fish
and berries, of which there is here a great abundance.
They have a tradition among them that a long time ago
the Great Spirit became angry with them, set the mountain on fire, destroyed their towns, turned their tiye
(chief) and tilicums (people) into stone, and cast them
in the ocean outside of Cape Lookout; that the Great
Spirit becoming appeased, removed the fire to Saddle
Mountain, and subsequently to the Sawhle Illahe (high
mountain,) or Mount Regnier, as it is called by the whites,
on the north side of the Columbia river.171
In the ocean about a mile west of Cape Lookout, is to
be seen at high water a solitary rock, which they call
Kilamook's Head, after the chief of the tribe. Around
this rock for half a mile in every direction may be seen
at low water divers other rocks, which are called the
tilicums, (people) of the tribe. At low water is to be
seen a cavity passing quite through Kilamook's Head,
giving the rock the appearance of a solid stone arch.172
In support of this tradition, the appearance of the
promontory of Cape Lookout indicates that it may be
the remains of an extinct volcano; and on Saddle Mountain there is an ancient crater, several hundred feet
deep; while Mount Regnier is still a volcano. Those
who have visited the rocky cliffs of Cape Lookout, report
that there is some singular carving upon the ledges,
171 For the Tillamook (Kilamook) Indians see our volume vi, p. 258, note
67. Mount Rainier is noted in Farnham's Travels, our volume xxix, p. 33,
note 30.— Ed.
172 On Tillamook Rock, a large boulder in the ocean, opposite Tillamook
Head, a lighthouse was erected in 1879-81. It was a work of much difficulty,
the engineers narrowly escaping being washed into the sea.— Ed. nam
1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
197
resembling more the hieroglyphics of the Chinese, than
any thing they have seen elsewhere.
These Indians have another tradition, that five white
men, or, as they call them, pale faces, came ashore on
this point of rock, and buried something in the cliffs,
which have since fallen down and buried the article
deep in the rocks; that these pale faces took off the
Indian women, and raised a nation of people, who still
inhabit the region to the south. And I have met with
travelers who say they have seen a race of people in that
region, whose appearance would seem to indicate that
they may have some European blood in their veins.
A reasonable conjecture is, that a vessel may have been
cast away upon the coast, and that these five men escaped
to Cape Lookout. Another circumstance renders it
probable that such might have been the case. Frequently, after a long and heavy south westerly storm,
large cakes of bees-wax, from two to four inches thick
and from twelve to eighteen inches in diameter, [106]
are found along the beach, near the south end of Clatsop
Plains. The cakes when found are covered with a kind
of sea-moss, and small shells adhere to them, indicating
that they have been a long time under water.173
In or about Saddle Mountain rises a stream called
Skipenoin's river, which, though extremely crooked, runs
178 Palmer probably obtained his information of these Indian traditions
from Celiast (or Helen) Smith, daughter of the Clatsop chief, whose son Silas
B. Smith has furnished much material for recent historical works. This story
of the wreck of the ship carrying beeswax, differs slightly from the version
given in Lyman, History of Oregon, i, pp. 167-169. Lyman conjectures that
it may have been the Spanish ship "San Jose," carrying stores (1769) to San
Diego, California, which was never after heard from. Some of the cakes of
w ax found bore the letters I. H. S.— Ed.
AaB
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nearly north, and empties into the western side of Young's
bay, which, it will be remembered, is a large body of
water extending south from the Columbia river between
Point Adams and Astoria. Between this river and Clatsop plains is a strip of thick spruce and hemlock,
with several low marshes. The landing for Clatsop
plains is about two miles up the river; which it is rather
difficult to follow, as there are many slues putting in
from either side, of equal width with the main stream.
From the bay a low marshy bottom extends up to the
landing, covered with rushes and sea-grass. This bottom
is overflowed opposite the landing at high water.
Between the landing and Clatsop plains is a lake one
or two miles in length, which has its outlet into the bay.
Its banks are high, and covered with spruce. Near this
is a stream, from the mouth of which it is about two or
three miles along the bay to the creek upon which Lewis
and Clark wintered; and thence about three and a half
miles to the head of the bay where Young's river enters.174
Young's river is a stream about one hundred and fifty
yards in width, and is navigable for steamboats and
small sloops to the forks, six or seven miles up. About
seven miles further up are the "Falls," where the water
pitches over a ledge of rocks, making a fall of about sixty
174 For Young's Bay see our volume vi, p. 259, note 69. Skipanon is a
small creek, a branch of which Clark crossed on a log during his trip from
Fort Clatsop to the seacoast. The site of Fort Clatsop was definitely determined by Olin D. Wheeler in 1899 (see his Trail of Lewis and Clark, ii, pp.
195,198), and the Oregon Historical Society in 1900 (see Proceedings for 1900).
The plan of the fort was discovered by the present Editor among the Clark
papers in 1904. See Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition,
iii, pp. 268, 298. The river upon which the fort was located was known by
the native name of Netul, now called Lewis and Clark River, a tributary of
Young's Bay west of Young's River.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
199
feet. Around the falls the mountains are covered with
heavy timber. Near the forks the river receives from
the east a small stream, upon which a machine for making shingles has been erected; and as the timber in the
vicinity is good for shingles, which can be readily sold
for the Sandwich Islands market, the owners expect to
do a profitable business. Young's river rises in or near
Saddle mountain.175 From the mouth of this river it is
about eight or ten miles, around the point which forms
on the east Young's Bay, to Astoria, or Fort George,
as it is called by the Hudson's Bay Company. This
stands on the south side of the Columbia river, about
sixteen miles from its mouth.176
The Columbia river and its location have been so often
described, that it is hardly necessary for me to go into
details. But as this work is designed to be afforded so
low as to place [107] it within the reach of every one,
and may fall into the hands of many whose means will
not enable them to procure expensive works on Oregon,
it may not be amiss to say something about that noble
stream, which discharges its Waters into the ocean between
cape Disappointment on the north, and point Adams or
Clatsop point on the south, and in latitude about 460 15'
north.
At its mouth the Columbia is narrowed to about six
178 Young's River was called by Lewis and Clark Kilhawanackkle, and
is the largest stream in Clatsop County. The falls are at the head of tidewater and flow over a black basalt cliff. The eastern tributary is the Klaska-
nine River. See Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, iv,
p. 137.— Ed.
178 For the history of this place see Franchere's Narrative in our volume
vi, and Ross's Oregon Settlers in our volume vii. The later history of Fort
George is sketched in Farnham's Travels, our volume xxix, p. 57, note 74.— Ed. i   :
200
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
miles in width by cape Disappointment extending in a
south west direction far out into the stream, the cape
being washed on the west side by the ocean. Cape
Disappointment and Chinook point, a few miles above
it, form Baker's bay, which affords good anchorage for
vessels as soon as they round the point.177 This cape
presents a rocky shore, is quite high, and covered
with timber. An American had taken it as his land
claim, according to the laws of the territory; but during
the last winter, he sold his right to Mr. Ogden, then one
of the principal factors, but now Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in Oregon, for one thousand dollars.
A fortification on this cape would command the entrance
of the river by the northern channel, which is immediately
around the point, and as it is said, not more than half a
mile in width.178
Point Adams, the southern cape of the Columbia,
is a little above cape Disappointment. It is low and
sandy, and continues a sand ridge four miles to Clatsop
plains. This point, and the high ground at Astoria,
as before stated, form Young's bay, near which the
ridge is covered with timber. Near point Adams is the
southern channel or entrance into the Columbia, which
is thought to be preferable to the northern channel; and
I think either of them much better than heretofore
177 For Cape Disappointment and Baker's Bay see our volume vi, pp. 233,
234, notes 36, 38. Chinook Point was the site of a populous village of that
tribe just west of Point Ellice, which is the southernmost promontory between
Gray's and Baker's Bay. Lewis and Clark found the village deserted, but
in early Astorian times it was populated — see our volumes vi, p. 240; vii,
p. 87.— Ed.
178 For Peter Skeen Ogden see our volume xxi, p. 314, note 99. The United
States government has recently chosen this site for a fort now (1906) in process
of erection, to be known as Fort Columbia.— Ed.
wmmm <rrs*
1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
201
m
represented. In each there is a sufficiency of water
to float any sized vessel. With the advantages of light
houses, buoys, and skillful pilots, which the increasing
commerce of the country must soon secure, the harbor
at the mouth of the Columbia would compare well with
those on the Atlantic coast; and I may say that it would
be superior to many of them.
As we ascend, Astoria occupies probably the first
suitable site for a town. It stands upon a gradual slope,
which extends from the bank of the river up to the mountain. The timber was once taken off of some forty or
fifty acres here, which, except about twenty acres, has
since been suffered to grow up again, and it is now a
thicket of spruce and briars. Five or six old dilapidated buildings, which are occupied by the Hudson's
Bay Company, who have a small stock of goods for trading
[108] with the natives, and a few old looking lodges upon
the bank of the river, filled with greasy, filthy Indians,
constitute Astoria.178
The person in charge of this establishment, whose
name is Birney, seems to be a distant, haughty, sulky
fellow, whose demeanor and looks belie the character
generally given to a mountaineer or backwoodsman.180
As evidence of his real character, I will state one circumstance as it was related to me by persons residing in the
vicinity of the place.    During the summer or fall, while
179 Astoria, as an American town, began in 1846 with the settlement of
James Welch, who defied the Hudson's Bay Company officers to drive him
from the site. The post-office was begun in 1847, and a custom house two
years later. In 1856 a town government was established, while twenty years
later Astoria was incorporated as a city. Its population is now about ten
thousand, with good prospects for a large growth in the near future.— Ed.
180 For James Birnie see our volume xxi, p. 361, note 130.— Ed.
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Early Western Travels
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the British war vessel Modeste was lying at Astoria, one
of the sailors fell overboard and was drowned. Search
was made, but his body could not be found. Several
weeks afterwards the body of a man was found upon
the shore, a short distance above Astoria. Information
was immediately communicated to Birney, who promised
to give the body a decent burial. About two weeks after
this, some Indians travelling along the shore, attracted
to the place by a disagreeable scent and the number of
buzzards collected together, discovered the body of a
man much mangled, and in a state of putrefaction.
They informed two white men, Trask, and Duncan,181
who immediately made enquiry as to whether the body
found on the beach previously had been buried, and
received for answer from Birney, that it was no countryman of his, but it was likely one of the late emigrants from
the States that had been drowned at the Cascade Falls.
Trask and Duncan proceeded to bury the body, and
found it to be in the garb of a British sailor or marine.
This, to say the least, was carrying national prejudice
a little too far.
Near Astoria, and along the river, several claims
have been taken, and commencements made at improving. Anchorage may be had near the shore. Three
miles above Astoria is Tongue point,182 a narrow rocky
ridge some three hundred feet high, putting out about
181 Elbridge Trask came to Oregon in 1842, apparently a sailor on an
American vessel. He lived for a time at Clatsop Plains. Probably bis companion was Captain Alexander Duncan, commander of the "Dryad," and a
friend of James Birnie.— Ed.
188 For Tongue Point, which takes its name from its peculiar shape, see
our volume vi, p. 242, note 44. Gray's Bay is noted in volume vii, p. 116,
note 20.— Ed. 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
203
a mile into the river; but at the neck it is low and not
more than two hundred yards across. The two channels
of the river unite below this point. Opposite is Gray's
bay, a large, beautiful sheet of water, of sufficient depth
to float ships. Above and on the south side of the river
is Swan bay, a large sheet of water, though shallow,
presenting numerous bars at low tides. A deep channel
has been cut through this bay, which affords an entrance
into a stream that comes in from the south, about two
hundred yards wide, and from appearance is navigable
some distance up.183 In this vicinity the whole country
is covered with heavy timber. In [109] the indentation
in the mountain range south of the river, there seems to
be large scopes of good rich land, which would produce
well if cleared of timber. From Tongue point across
Gray's bay to Catalamet point is about sixteen miles.
Small craft are frequently compelled to run the southern
channel, inside of a cluster of islands called Catalamet
Islands, which passes "old Catalamet town," as it is
called, a point where once stood an Indian village. Four
or five claims have been taken here, but none of them
have been improved. A short distance from the river
are several beautiful prairies, surrounded with heavy
timber. A small stream enters here, which affords
water power a short distance up.18
184
188 By Swan Bay, Palmer intends that stretch of the river lying between
Tongue and Cathlamet points, which is more usually known as Cathlamet
Bay. The river is the John Day (aboriginal name, Kekemarke), which should
not be confused with the larger stream of this name in eastern Oregon. See
our volume v, p. 181, note 104.— Ed.
184 For Cathlamet Point see our volume vii, p. 116, note 20. The old village
of the Cathlamet Indians which was located near the present town of Knappa,
was visited by Lewis and Clark on their outward journey (1805); see Original
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Early Western Travels
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A few miles above old Catalamet town, near the top
of the bluff, about four hundred yards from the Columbia,
stands Wilson & Hunt's saw mill, which is driven by a
small stream coming down from the mountain; after
leaving the wheel the stream falls about sixty feet, striking tide water below. A sluice or platform is so constructed as to convey the lumber from the mill to the level
below, where it is loaded into boats and run out to the
river, where it can be loaded into vessels.
Upon our arrival at this place, the bark Toulon was
lying at anchor, about fifty yards from the shore, taking
in a cargo of lumber for the Sandwich Islands, to which
she expected to sail in a few days. This was early in
January, but from some cause she did not leave the
mouth of the river until the last of February.185
In the vicinity of the mill there is some better timber
than I have seen in any other part of the country. The
largest trees are about seven feet in diameter, and nearly
three hundred feet high; the usual size, however, is from
eighteen inches to three feet diameter, and about two
hundred feet high.
The country slopes up from the mill gradually, for
several miles, and is susceptible of easy cultivation; the
Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, iii, p. 252.   The stream was
that now known as Tillasqua Creek.— Ed.
185 This mill was erected by Henry Hunt, one of the emigrants of 1843, for
the purpose of preparing lumber for the Pacific market, especially that of
the Sandwich Islands. See letter of Tallmadge B. Wood in Oregon Historical
Quarterly, iii, pp. 394-398. Later, salmon barrels were made at this place,
the men employed at the task being the only settlers between Astoria and
Linnton on the Willamette; and sometimes they were summoned to serve
as a sheriff's posse. See Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1890,
p. 73. Hunt's Mill Point is marked on the federal land office map of 1897
as being opposite the lower end of Puget Island.— Ed.
—i i845-l846] Palmer's Journal 205
soil is somewhat sandy, and has the appearance of being
good.
In leaving this place, we struck directly across the
river, which is here over two miles wide. Upon the
north side, almost opposite to the mill, is a claim held
by Birney, of Astoria, who has made an effort at improvement by cutting timber and raising the logs of a cabin.
At this place a rocky bluff commences and continues up
the river for ten miles, over which a great many beautiful waterfalls leap into the Columbia. There is one
sheet of water ten or twelve feet wide, which plunges
over a precipitous cliff two hundred feet into the river,
[110] striking the water about thirty feet from the base
of the rock, where there is sufficient depth to float vessels
of large size.
At the distance of eight or ten miles above the mill,
on the south side of the river, there is an indentation in
the mountain to the south, and a bend in the river to the
north, which forms a body of bottom land several miles
in width, and some ten or twelve miles long, the greater
part of which, except a strip varying from a quarter to
half a mile in width, next to the river, is flooded during
high tides. This strip is covered with white oak and
cottonwood timber. The remainder of the bottom is
prairie, with occasional dry ridges running through it,
and the whole of it covered with grass. By throwing
up levees, as is done upon the Atlantic coast, most of
these fine lands might be cultivated.
At the extreme southern point of the elbow, there
comes in a stream, the size of which was not ascertained,
but crom appearances it is of sufficient size to propel
a conquerable amount of machinery.    There are several
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Early Western Travels
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islands in the river opposite the lower point of this bottom,
and at the northern angle the Columbia is not more than
three-fourths of a mile wide. This is called Oak point,
and holds out good inducements for a settlement. There
is an Indian village half a mile below the point; and
opposite, upon the northern side of the river, a good mill-
stream, the falls being near the river, and the mountain
covered with timber.186 Immediately above the point,
the river spreads out to one and a half or two miles in
width, and having several islands, portions of which are
covered with cottonwood, oak and ash timber, the
remainder being nearly all prairie. From Oak point
up to Vancouver, the scenery very much resembles that
along the Hudson river through the Catskill Mountains,
but much more grand, as the Cascade range of mountains, and many snowcapped peaks, are in view.
Some portions of the way the shore is high rugged cliffs
of rocks, at others indentations in the mountain leave
bottoms, from a quarter to three miles wide, which are
mostly covered with timber. From the lower mouth
of the Willamette to Fort Vancouver, the shores are
lined with cottonwood timber, and upon the south side,
as far up as the mouth of Sandy, or Quicksand river,
which comes in at the western base of the Cascade range.
But few claims have as yet been taken along the Columbia,
but the fishing and lumbering advantages which this part
188 At Oak Point was made the first American settlement in Oregon; see
our volume xxi, pp. 261, 287, notes 74, 94. The stream on the south side is
the Clatskanie River, in Columbia County, Oregon, flowing southwest and
entering the river opposite Wallace Island. For the origin of this word and
its relation to the Klaskanine River see H. S. Lyman, "Indian Names," in
Oregon Historical Quarterly, i, p. 322. The mill stream of the northern bank
is NequaUy Creek in Cowlitz County, Washington.— Ed. T«
1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
207
of the country possesses over many others, holds out great
inducements to settlers.
[111] From Fort Vancouver, for several miles down
upon the north side, the country is sufficiently level to
make good farming land; and the Hudson's Bay Company, or members of the company, have extensive farms,
with large herds of cattle. Fort Vancouver is one of the
most beautiful sites for a town upon the Columbia. It
is about ninety miles from the ocean, and upon the
north side of the river. Large vessels can come up this
far. The banks of the river are here about twenty-five
feet high. Much of the bottom land about the fort is
inclined to be gravelly, but produces well.187
A party consisting of nine persons, in two row-boats,
started from Oregon city on the 24th of December, for
Fort Vancouver, and arrived there in the afternoon of
the 25th. In our party was Colonel M'Clure, formerly
of Indiana, and who had been a member of the Oregon
legislature for two years.188 As soon as we landed, he
made his way to the fort, which is about four hundred
yards from the shore, with the view of obtaining quarters
for the party. He soon returned and conducted us to
our lodgings, which were in an old cooper's shop, or
rather shed, near the river.
Before starting we had prepared ourselves with provisions, and  a few cooking utensils.   We set to work,
187 For a brief historical sketch of Fort Vancouver see our volume xxi,
p. 297, note 82.— Ed.
188 Colonel John McClure came to Oregon from New Orleans some time
before 1842. In 1843 he settled at Astoria, where he had a cabin on the site
of the first Astoria mill. He married a native woman, and his portion of the
early town was known as McClure's Astoria. He is described as having
been an old man in 1845, and he had died before 1867.— Ed. EM.
Ml
208
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
and although the wind and rain made it unpleasant,
we soon had a comfortable meal in readiness, and we
made good use of the time until it was devoured. This
was holyday with the servants of the Hudson's Bay
Company, and such ranting and frolicking has perhaps
seldom been seen among the sons of men. Some were
engaged in gambling, some singing, some running horses,
many promenading on the river shore, and others on
the large green prairie above the fort. H. B. Majesty's
ship of war Modeste was lying at anchor about fifty
yards from the shore.180 The sailors also seemed to be
enjoying the holydays — many of them were on shore
promenading, and casting sheep''s eyes at the fair native
damsels as they strolled from wigwam to hut, and from
hut to wigwam, intent upon seeking for themselves the
greatest amount of enjoyment. At night a party was
given on board the ship, and judging from the noise
kept up until ten at night, they were a jolly set of fellows.
About this time a boat came ashore from the ship, with
a few land lubbers most gloriously drunk. One of them
fell out of the boat, and his comrades were barely able
to pull him ashore. They passed our shop, cursing their
stars for this ill luck.
We wrapped ourselves in our blankets, and lay down
189 The British ship of war "Modeste," Captain Baillie commanding,
first visited Fort Vancouver in July, 1844. Governor McLoughHn was offered
no protection at this time; but the situation having grown more intense, the
vessel was ordered to the Columbia in October, 1845, and remained to protect
British interests until April, 1847. The officers sought to conciliate the American pioneers, but there was on the whole little intercourse between the two
nationalities. Theatrical entertainments were planned and given in the winter
of 1845-46, and a ball arranged by these officers was the occasion of an expression of a majority sentiment for the American cause. See Oregon Pioneer
Association Transactions, 1874, pp. 26, 27.— Ed.
mm* im
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1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
209
upon [112] a pile of staves. The rain was falling gently,
and we were soon asleep. In the after part of the night,
several of us were aroused by a strange noise among the
staves. In the darkness we discovered some objects near
us, which we supposed to be hogs. We hissed and
hallooed at them, to scare them away. They commenced
grunting, and waddled off, and all was again quiet, and
remained so until daylight; but when we arose in the
morning, we found ourselves minus one wagon sheet,
which we had brought along for a sail, our tin kettle,
eighteen or twenty pounds of meat, a butcher knife and
scabbard, one fur cap, and several other articles, all of
which had been stolen by the Indians, who had so exactly
imitated the manoeuvres of a gang of hogs, as entirely to
deceive us.
After breakfast we visited the fort, where we had an
introduction to Dr. McLaughlin, the Governor of the
Hudson's Bay Company. He appears to be much of a
gentleman, and invited us to remain during the day;
but as we were upon an excursion down the river, we only
remained to make a few purchases, which being accomplished, we left the place.
As before stated, the fort stands upon the north bank
of the Columbia, six miles above the upper mouth of the
Willamette, and about four hundred yards from the shore.
The principal buildings are included within a stockade
of logs, set up endwise close together, and about twelve
feet high; the lower ends of the timbers being sunk about
four feet in the ground. A notch is cut out of each log
near the top and bottom, into which a girth is fitted, and
mortised into a large log at each end, the whole being
trenailed to this girth.    I judge the area contains about
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four acres. The first thing that strikes a person forcibly
upon entering one of the principal gates upon the south,
is two large cannons, planted one upon either side of
the walk leading to the Governor's house, immediately
in front of the entrance. Many of the buildings are
large and commodious, and fitted up for an extensive
business, others are old fashioned looking concerns, and
much dilapidated. East of the fort and along the river
bank there is a grassy prairie, extending up for about
three miles; it has been cultivated, but an unusually
high freshet in the river washed the fence away, and it
has since remained without cultivation. The soil is
gravelly. North of this, and extending down nearly
even with the fort there is a handsome farm, under
good cultivation. North of the fort there is a beautiful
orchard, and an extensive garden, with several large
blocks of buildings. Below the [113] fort, and extending from the river for half a mile north, is the village;
the inhabitants of which are a mongrel race, consisting
of English, French, Canadians, Indians of different
nations, and half breeds, all in the employ of the
company. The buildings are as various in form, as
are the characteristics of their inmates.
As yet there are but few Americans settled upon the
north side of the Columbia. There seems to have been
an effort upon the part of the Hudson's Bay Company,
to impress the American people with an idea that the
entire country north of the river was unfit for cultivation.
Not only was this statement made to emigrants, but it
was heralded forth to the whole world; and as much of
the country along the Columbia corroborated this statement, no effort was made to disprove it.    Americans
-1 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
211
visiting that country being so well pleased with the attentions paid them by the Hudson's Bay Company, took for
granted their statements, without examining for themselves, and have asserted it at home, in accordance with
British interests, and this I fear has had its influence in
the settlement of this question. For any one acquainted
with the character of the claims of the respective governments can but admit, that greater privileges have been
granted to Great Britain than that government had any
right to expect, or than the justice of our claim would
allow. Undoubtedly, the largest part of good agricultural country is south of 490 north latitude, but there is
a great deal of excellent land north of that line. But
little of it has been explored by Americans, and we have
taken only the statements of British subjects, and upon
their authority, the question between the two governments was settled. But as we have proven by actual
examination the incorrectness of their statements in
relation to the country between the Columbia and the
49th degree north latitude, we may reasonably infer that
they are also incorrect in relation to the remainder of the
country north. That the general features of the country
north of the Columbia River are rough and mountainous,
is admitted; and the same may be said in relation to the
country south of it; but that it is barren and sterile, and
unfit for cultivation, is denied.
The country upon the north side of the Columbia
abounds with beautiful valleys of rich soil, of prairie
and timbered lands, well watered, and adapted to the
growth of all the grains raised in the northern, middle,
and western States, with superior advantages for grazing;   never failing resources for timber [114] and fish;
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and its proximity to one of the best harbors in the world,
renders it one of the most desirable and important sections
upon the Pacific coast. Frazer's river, with its numerous
tributaries, will afford a settlement which will compare
well with England itself.
Vancouver's Island, an excellent body of land, is
equal to England in point of size, fertility of soil, climate,
and everything that would constitute great national
wealth. And besides these, there are undoubtedly
extensive valleys north of Frazer's river, which will compare well with it; but we know nothing positively upon
this subject.190
The excellent harbors of Puget's sound, with its many
advantages, and the delightful country about it, are
sufficient to induce capitalists to look that way. This
will probably be the principal port upon the coast.
Here will doubtless be our navy yard and shipping stores.
It is thought by many that an easy communication can
be had between the Sound and the middle region, by
striking the Columbia above fort Wallawalla. If this
can be effected, it will lessen the distance materially
from the settlement upon the upper Columbia to a seaport town; and as the navigation of that river, between
the Cascade and Lewis's fork is attended with great
danger and difficulty, a route through to the sound in
this quarter would be very desirable.191 That it can be
accomplished there is but little doubt. A stream emptying into the ocean between the Columbia and the sound,
called Shahales, affords a very good harbor, which is
190 For Fraser River and Vancouver Island see Farnham's Travels, our volume xxix, pp. 43, 75, notes 52, 91.— Ed.
181 For Puget's Sound see ibid., p. 90, note 108. The first road over the Cascades was built in 1853, from Olympia to Walla Walla.— Ed. im
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1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
213
called Gray's harbor.182 Up this stream there is a country
suitable for an extensive settlement. Like most other
valleys in the country it is diversified with prairie and
timbered land, and well watered. No claims as yet
have been taken in this valley.
There are two peaks upon the north side of the river,
which remain covered with snow the whole year round.
One is called Mount St. Helen, and stands north east of
Fort Vancouver, and distant perhaps forty-five or fifty
miles.
The other is Mount Regnier, and stands some thirty-
five miles from St. Helen, in a northerly direction. This
is said to be a volcano.
The distance from Fort Vancouver to Puget's sound,
in a direct line, cannot exceed ninety miles; but the
high mountains between render the route somewhat
difficult, and the distance necessarily traveled would
be considerably increased.
About forty miles below fort Vancouver there comes in
a [115] stream called Cowlitz; twenty-five miles up this
stream there is a French settlement of about twenty
families. Like those in the settlement upon the east
side of the Willamette river, they have served out their
term of years in the H. B. Company, have taken claims,
and become an industrious and thriving population.193
The people in Oregon have adopted a code of laws for
their government, until such time as the United States
shall extend jurisdiction over them.
^1W For Gray's Harbor see our volume vi, p. 256, note 64; the Chehalis
River is described in Farnham's Travels, our volume xxix, p. 81, note 103.— Ed.
188 For the Cowlitz settlement see our volume xxvii, p. 386, note 203.— Ed .
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The powers of the government are divided into three
distinct departments — the legislative, executive, and
judicial.
The legislative department is to consist of not less
than thirteen members, nor more than sixty-one-, the
number not to be increased more than five in any one
year. The members are elected annually; each district
electing a number proportionate to its population.
The executive power is vested in one person, who is
elected by the qualified voters of the territory, and holds
his office for the term of two years. The judicial power
is vested in a supreme court, and such inferior courts of
law, equity, and arbitration, as may by law from time
to time be established. The supreme court consists
of one judge, elected by the legislature, and holds his
office four years. They have adopted the Iowa code of
laws.194   || ff: 1      J»
Oregon is now divided into eight counties, viz: Lewis,
Vancouver, Clatsop, Yam-hill, Polk, Quality, Clackamis,
184 Much has been written on the provisional government of Oregon, which
was shadowed forth in the action of 1841, and actually established July 5,
1843. Consult J. Quinn Thornton, "History of the Provisional Government," in Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1874, pp. 43-96; J. Henry
Brown, Political History of Oregon (Portland, 1892); James R. Robertson,
"Genesis of Political Authority in Oregon," in Oregon Historical Quarterly, i,
pp. 1-59; and H. W. Scott, "Formation and Administration of the Provisional
Government of Oregon," ibid., ii, pp. 95-118. Palmer's brief synopsis is a
summaryTof the revised organic law, drafted by a committee appointed by the
legislature in June, 1845, endorsed by popular vote on July 26, and put in
operation August 5 (see appendix to the present volume). This government continued until February 16, 1849, when it was superseded by the territorial government provided by Congress under act approved August 14,
1848. The code of Iowa laws appears to have been adopted because of the
existence of a copy of Iowa statutes in the country. See F. I. Herriott, "Transplanting Iowa's Laws to Oregon," in Oregon Historical Quarterly, v, pp.
139-150.— Ed.
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1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
215
and Shampoic.195 Lewis county includes that portion
of country about Puget's sound; — Vancouver, that
along the northern side of the Columbia. These two
counties comprise all the territory north of the Columbia
river.
Clatsop county includes that part of the country west
of the centre of the coast range of mountains, and from
the river south, to Yam-hill county, and of course includes
Astoria, Clatsop Plains, &c.
Quality county includes the territory bounded on the
north by the Columbia, on the east by the Willamette,
on the south by Yam-hill, and on the west by Clatsop
county.
Yam-hill county is bounded on the north by Quality
and Clatsop, (the line being about fifteen miles south of
Oregon city,) on the east by the Willamette river, on the
south by Polk county, and on the west by the Ocean.
[116] Polk county is bounded on the north by Yamhill county, on the east by the Willamette, on the south
by the California line, and on the west by the Pacific
ocean.
Clackamis county is bounded on the north by the
Columbia, on the east by the Rocky mountains, on the
south by Shampoic county, and on the west by the Willamette, including Oregon city.
Shampoic county is bounded on the north by Clackamis
county, on the east by the Rocky mountains, on the south
by California, and on the west by the Willamette.
195 The legislature of 1843 erected four districts for the purpose of local
government — i. e., Tualatin (read for Quality), Yamhill, Champoeg (read
for Shampoic), and Clackamas. That of 1845 changed the title to counties
and created four more — Clatsop, Polk, Vancouver, and Lewis. Palmer gives
their location properly.— Ed.
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The country will, without doubt, be divided into at
least three states. One state will include all the country
north of the Columbia river. Nature has marked out
the boundaries. Another state will include all that
country south of the Columbia river to the California
line, and west of the Cascade range of mountains. This
country, however, is large enough to form two states.
The country east of the Cascade range, extending to the
Rocky mountains, and between the Columbia and California, would make another state. This would include
more territory than all the remainder; but it would cover
all that vast barren region of country which can never
be inhabited by the white man. The western portion
of this section is fertile. The line doubtless would be
established between, leaving the eastern portion as Oregon
territory, for future generations to dispose of.
The country now contains over six thousand white
inhabitants; and the emigration this year, over land,
will be about seventeen hundred souls, and that by water
will probably equal it, which will increase the number
to near ten thousand. It may be a safe calculation to set
down the number for the first of January, 1847, a* twelve
thousand souls.
The settlers are labouring under great disadvantages
on account of not being able to obtain a sufficient amount
of farming implements. The early settlers were supplied
at the Hudson Bay Company's store, and at prices much
less than those now charged for the same articles. At that
time the supply was equal to the demand; but since the
tide of emigration has turned so strongly to this region,
the demand is much greater than the supply. This may
be said of almost every kind of goods or merchandise.
-•I 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
217
The supply of goods in the hands of the American merchants has been very limited, being the remnant of
cargoes shipped round upon the coast, more for the
[117] purpose of treating with the Indians, than with
the cultivators of the soil.
Great complaints have been made by the merchants
trading in that quarter, that they were not able to compete
with the Hudson Bay Company; and this is the cry even
at home; but the fact is, the prices were much lower
before these American merchants went into the country
than they now are. Their mode of dealing is to ask
whatever their avarice demands, and the necessities of
the purchaser will bear. And not being satisfied with
an open field, they have petitioned the Hudson Bay
Company to put a higher price upon their goods, as they
were selling lower than the American merchants wished
to sell. In accordance with this request, the H. B.
Company raised the price of goods when sold to an
American, but sold them at the old prices to British
subjects. This arrangement was continued for two
years; but an American can now purchase at the fort
as cheap as any one. These facts I obtained from
various sources, and when apprised of the prices of
goods in that country, they are not so hard to be
believed.
I paid for a pair of stoga shoes, made in one of the
eastern states, and a very common article, four dollars and
fifty cents; for a common coarse cotton flag handkerchief, which can be had in Cincinnati for five or ten cents,
fifty cents. The price of calico ranges from thirty-one
to eighty-seven and a half cents a yard; common red
flannel one dollar and fifty cents per yard; a box of two
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Early Western Travels
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hundred and fifty percussion caps, two dollars and fifty
cents; coarse boots, eastern made, six to eight dollars;
calfskin from ten to twelve dollars; coarse half hose,
one dollar; dry goods generally ranging with the above
prices. Iron was selling at twelve and a half cents per
pound. Tools of all kinds are very high; so that whatever may be said against the company, for putting down
the prices to destroy competition by breaking up other
merchants, cannot be "sustained by the facts of the case."
That they prevent them from raising the prices there
is no doubt, and if the American merchants had the
field, clear of competition, the prices would be double
what they now are. They have not capital to enable
them to keep up a supply, nor to purchase the surplus
of the country. The Hudson Bay Company are the
only purchasers to any extent, for there are no others
who have the necessary machinery to manufacture wheat,
which is the staple of the country at present. The
American merchants buy a few fish, [118] hides, and
lumber; but in such limited quantities as to be of very
little advantage to the country.
A few American merchants, with a little capital, would
give an impulse to trade, encourage the settlers, make
it a profitable business to themselves, and add much to
the character of the country. There is scarcely any
branch of business that might not be carried on successfully in Oregon. Flouring mills, saw-mills, carding
machines, fulling and cloth dying, tin shops, potteries,
tanyards, &c, &c, would all be profitable; and in truth
they are all much needed in the country.
The price of a flour barrel is one dollar; that of common split-bottom chairs twenty-four dollars per dozen; 1845-1846J Palmer's Journal 219
a common dining table without varnish, fourteen dollars;
half soling a pair of shoes or boots, two dollars; cutting
and splitting rails, one dollar and twenty-five cents per
hundred; eighteen inch shingles, four dollars and fifty
cents per thousand; cutting cord wood, from seventy-
five  cents to one dollar per cord;   carpenter's wages
from two to three dollars per day; laborer's from one
to two dollars per day; plough irons fifty cents per pound;
stocking a plough, from four to six dollars. Wheat,
eighty cents per bushel; potatoes fifty cents; corn sixty-
two and a half cents; oats fifty cents; beef four to six
cents per pound; pickled salmon by the barrel, nine to
twelve dollars for shipment; work cattle are from seventy-
five to one hundred dollars per yoke; cows from twenty-
five to fifty dollars each; American work horses from
one hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars. I have
never heard of any sheep being sold, but presume they
would bring from five to ten dollars. A tailor will charge
from six to twelve dollars for making a dress coat. Hogs
are high, though there seems to be plenty of them in the
country. The common kinds of poultry are plenty. It
is a singular fact that the honey bee is not found in the
Oregon territory, neither wild nor domesticated. Beef
hides are two dollars each; a chopping axe from four
and a half to six dollars; a drawing knife, tl+ree to five
dollars; hand-saws, six dollars; cross-cut saws, eight to
twelve dollars; mill-saws, twenty-five dollars. There is
but little hollow ware in the country. No stationery of
any kind could be had when I was there. The people
are in great need of school books; some sections being
destitute of schools in consequence of not being able to
procure books.    Good teachers are also much needed. w
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I had expected to find the winters much more severe
than they turned out to be. I had no thermometer,
and no means [119] of ascertaining the degrees of heat
and cold, but I kept an account of the wet and dry
weather, cloudy, clear, &c, &c, commencing on the
first day of November and ending on the fifth of March,
which was the day I started on my return to the United
States.
The 1st and 2d days of November were clear; 3d
rainy; then clear until the nth; cloudy until the 13th.
Then cloudy, with slight showers of rain until the 20th;
21st and 22nd clear; 23d rainy; 24th and 25th were
cloudy, but no rain; the weather was then clear until
the 29th, when it again clouded up.
30th of November and first of December were cloudy;
2d and 3rd clear, with frosty nights. On the 4th a misty
rain; 5th and 6th were cloudy; from 7th to 10th clear
and cool, with frost every night. On the nth it rained
nearly all day, and on the 12th about half the day. 13th
and 14th were cloudy. From the 15th to 2 2d clear and
pleasant, with frosty nights; it thawed through the
day in the sun all that froze at night, but in the shade
remained frozen. From the 22d to 24th cloudy, with
showers of drizzling rain; 25th, 26th and 27th rain
nearly all the time, but not very copiously; the mornings
were foggy. The 28th and 29th were clear, but very
foggy in the forepart of the day; 30th and 31st rain about
half the time.
From the 1st to 3d of January it was squally, with
frequent showers of rain; 4th cloudy, but no rain; 5th
rained nearly all day. From the 6th to the 12th, clear
and pleasant, being slightly foggy in the mornings; from
^^mwmmmmm 1845-1846] Palmer's Journal 221
13th to 17th rained about half each day, and nearly all
the night; 18th and 19th, cloudy without rain. The
20th and 21st, slight rain nearly all the time; 22d was
cloudy; 23d and 24th, rain about half of each day;
25th rained all day, 26th cloudy, without rain, 27th was
rainy, some heavy showers; 28th was clear; 29th, 30th
and 31st, were showery and blustering, raining about
half the time, and foggy.
The 1st of February was clear; 2d cloudy, 3d rainy;
4th and 5th were a little cloudy, but pleasant; 6th and
7th, a few slight showers; 8th and 9th rainy and quite
cool; snow was seen on the lower peaks of the Coast
range of mountains, but none in the valley. The 10th
was cloudy, at night a little frost; nth was rainy; 12th
and 13th rained all the time; 14th and 15thwere nearly
clear, with fight frosts. The weather remained clear
until the 23rd, with light frosts, but not cold enough to
freeze the ground; 24th cloudy; 25th clear; 26th, 27th,
and 28th rained all the time.
[120] First of March, rained half the day; 2d cloudy,
3d rained all day; 4th cloudy, 5th was showery — making in all about twenty days that it rained nearly all the
day, and about forty days that were clear, or nearly so;
the remainder of the days were cloudy and showery.
A number of the days set down as rainy, a person with a
blanket coat could have worked out all the day without
having been wet. Much of the time it rained during
the night, when it was clear through the day. I should
think that two-thirds of the rain fell during the night.
No snow fell in the valleys, nor were there frosts more
than fifteen nights. Ice never formed much over a quarter
of an inch in thickness.    The little streams and "swales"
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
sometimes rise so high as to make it difficult to get about
for a few days; but they are short, and soon run down.
But little labour has yet been bestowed on the public
roads. The Willamette river is the highway upon which
nearly all the traveling is done, and upon which nearly
all the products of the country are conveyed. The
numerous streams can be easily bridged, and when this
is done, there will be but little difficulty in traveling at
any period of the year.
Upon the 5th of March, 1846, I set out on my return
to the States. About one week previous, a party of
seven persons had also set out on their return, and we
expected to overtake them at Dr. Whitman's station.
A few head of lame cattle had been left the preceding
fall with a man named Craig, who resided near Spalding's mission;196 and as the Indians in that vicinity had
large bands of horses, which they wished to trade for
cattle, I purchased several head of cattle to trade for
horses, as also did others of the party. I, however, had
purchased two horses and one mule; which, with several
horses and mules belonging to the party, had been
taken ahead on the 2d of the month, with the view of
crossing the Columbia river at fort Vancouver, going
up the valley of the Columbia, and recrossing below
186 For the location of Spaulding's mission see our volume xxviii, p. 338,
note 215.
William Craig was a mountain man who came to Oregon in 1842. He married among the Nez Perces, and established a farm just east of the Lapwai
mission, where he had great influence with this tribe. In 1855 his land was
reserved to him by treaty, the Nez Perces "having expressed in council a desire
that William Craig should continue to live with them, having uniformly shown
himself their friend." In 1856 he was made lieutenant-colonel of Washington volunteers, and in 1857-59, Indian agent at Walla Walla.— Ed.
	 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
223
the Dalles.    By this route we would avoid the deep
snow on the Cascade mountains.
We loaded our effects on board a boat which we had
bought for that purpose, and at two o'clock P. M. shoved
off; and although anxious to be on the way back, yet
I left the place with considerable reluctance. I had
found the people of Oregon kind and hospitable, and my
acquaintance with them had been of the most friendly
character. Many of the persons who had traveled
through to Oregon with me, resided at Oregon [121]
city. Attachments had been formed upon the road,
which when about to leave, seemed like parting with
our own families. We were about to retrace the long
and dreary journey which the year before had been
performed, and again to brave the privations and dangers
incident to such a journey. Traveling as we expected
to do on horseback, we could not take those conveniences
so necessary for comfort, as when accompanied with
wagons; but we bade adieu to the good people of Oregon,
and rapidly floated down the Willamette to the town of
Portland, twelve miles below the falls. It commenced
raining quite fast, and we hove to, and procured quarters
with Mr. Bell, one of the emigrants who had recently
settled at this place. This will probably be a town of
some consequence, as it occupies a handsome site, and
is at the head of ship navigation.    Mr. Petigrew197 of
197 For the beginnings of Portland see note 136, ante, p. 166.
Francis W. Pettygrove was born in Calais, Maine, in 1812. Having
engaged in mercantile business he carried a cargo of goods valued at $15,000
to Oregon by sea, establishing a store at Oregon City (1843). It was due to
his wish that the newly-founded town near the mouth of the Willamette received
the name of Portland. In 1848 Pettygrove sold his interest in the Portland
town site, going to California, where he speculated in land at Benicia. In
1851 he was one of the founders of Port Townsend, in Washington.— Ed.
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
New York is the proprietor. It continued raining nearly
all night.
In the morning the rain abated; we again took the
oars, and in two hours and a half reached the town of
Linton. Here are a few log huts, erected among the
heavy timber; but it will not, probably, ever be much
of a town.198 A great portion of the emigrants traveling
down the Columbia land at this place, and take the road
to Quality plains, which are about twenty-five miles
distant;  but the road is a bad one.
At 3 o'clock P. M. we arrived at fort Vancouver,
where we made a few purchases to complete our outfit,
and then rowed up the river two miles and a half, and
encamped. Here we found the party with our horses.
The Indians had stolen two horses, several trail ropes,
&c.    The day was showery.
On the 7th we ascended about eighteen miles, to the
mouth of a stream coming in upon the north side of the
river, about one hundred yards in width, having its source
in Mount St. Helen. Here a commencement of a settlement had been made by Simmons, Parker, and others,
and about a dozen buildings erected, but were now
abandoned on account of its being subject to be overflowed by the annual high freshets of the Columbia
river.199   The soil is good, with several patches of prairie.
198 The town of Linnton was founded in 1843 by M. M. McCarver and
Peter H. Burnett, emigrants of that year, who supposed they had chosen a
site that would be the head of ship navigation. They spent the first spring
cutting the road to Tualatin Plains; but not finding Linnton a profitable speculation, they removed to the Plains and began farming. The town has continued
to exist until the present, its population in 1900 being 384.— Ed.
189 The stream is the Washougal River of Clarke County, Washington
whose source is not as far north as Mount St. Helens, but near Saddle Peak in
Skamania County.   A number of the immigrants of  1844 stopped here and
L
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Palmer's Journal
225
On our way we passed the grist and saw mills of the
Hudson's Bay Company. They stand immediately upon
the bank of the Columbia. The water power is obtained
from small mountain streams. The mills are six and
eight miles above the fort. Several islands in the river
might be leveed and successfully cultivated. The day
was cloudy, with occasional showers of rain, and some
hail.
[122] On the 8th we advanced sixteen or eighteen
miles. For the greater part of the way, the river is
hemmed in by high, craggy, rocky cliffs. At a point,
called Cape Horn, the rocks project over the stream,
presenting a huge mass of black looking rocks of several
hundred feet in height.200 Some of them seem to have
broken and slid from their former position, and now
stand in detached columns erect in the deep stream,
presenting a grand and terrific appearance. At several
points, streams of water were tumbling more than a
thousand feet from crag to crag, and failing into the
river in broken sheets. Upon one of these columns
stands a solitary pine tree, and upon the topmost branch
sat a large bald-headed eagle. We rowed nearly under
it, when one of our men took his rifle and fired, and
down came the eagle, striking the water not more than
established winter quarters, going on the next year to settle at Puget Sound.
Chief among these was Colonel Michael T. Simmons, this title being bestowed
because he was second in command of the caravan of 1844. Born in Kentucky
in 1814, he had in 1840 removed to Missouri where he built and ran a saw mill;
which he sold to obtain his outfit for the Oregon journey. He explored the
Puget Sound region in the spring of 1845, settling at Tumwater, where he
died in 1867. Simmons is known as the father of Washington; he was sub-
Indian agent for several "years, and much concerned in building up the settlement.— Ed.
soo j?or this landmark see our volume xxi, p. 346, note 120.— Ed.
1
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226 Early Western Travels [Vol. 30
ten feet from the boat. A wing had been broken, and
we dispatched him with our oars; he measured over
seven feet from tip to tip of the wings. Round this
point the water is sometimes very rough. Boats have
been compelled to lay to, for two weeks, on account
of the roughness of the water.    The day was clear.
Upon the 9th we progressed about ten miles. Seven
miles brought us to the foot of the rapids, called the
Cascade falls, and here for five miles the river is hemmed
in and contracted to not more than three hundred yards
in width, and runs with tremendous velocity.201 We
were compelled to cordelle our boat, and sometimes lift
it over the rocks for several rods. It is not easy to form
an idea of the difficulties to be encountered, in ascending
this rapid. Late in the evening we encamped, after a
day of hard work in wading, pulling and lifting. It
rained nearly all night.
On the 10th we arrived at the head of the portage.
Three times we were compelled to unload our boat,
and carry our effects over the rocks along the shore;
and at the main falls the distance of the portage is nearly
one mile. At night we had completed the portage, and
were all safe above the falls.
At the foot of the rapids we met several families of
emigrants, who had been wintering at the Dalles. One
of them had traveled the most of the way with us, but
being unwilling to travel as fast as we wished, had not
arrived in time to get through before winter set in. In
this family was a young woman, who so captivated one
of our party, that he turned back with them.
On the nth we made but about eight miles; the wind
201 For the Cascades see our volume xxviii, p. 371, note 233.— Ed.
—I 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
227
causing [123] a swell that rendered boating dangerous.
The day was clear, and at night there was a hard frost.
We progressed twelve or fourteen miles on the 12th;
the day was cloudy. Here we had designed crossing
the river with our horses.
The morning of the 13th was too windy to swim our
horses over. We attempted to take them up the north
side of the river; but after clambering about three miles,
we were compelled to halt, the cliffs being so abrupt
that we were unable to pass them with horses. We
remained at this place through the day.
On the morning of the 14th the wind had so abated
that we could swim our animals. We commenced by
taking four at a time; two upon each side of the boat,
with four men rowing. In this manner by ten o'clock
A. M., all had crossed. The water was very cold. The
width of the river at this place, is more than a mile.
The party with the horses then took the trail, and we
saw no more of them, until we arrived at the Dalles,
which we reached on the 15th. Here we found five
of the party who had started a week in advance of us.
Two of their company had gone on to Whitman's station.
We sold our boat to the Missionaries, and remained
here until the morning of the 19th, endeavoring to hire
and buy horses to pack our effects to Dr. Whitman's.
There were hundreds of horses belonging to the Indians,
but their owners knew our situation, and wished to
extort a high price from us. We so arranged our effects
as to pack them on the mules and horses we had, and
we ourselves traveled on foot.
On the evening of the 18th, we packed up and proceeded two miles, when we encamped.    Two Indians
\ 228
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
came and encamped with us. In the night our mules
began to show signs that a thief was approaching. The
guard apprised us of it, and we prepared our arms.
Our two Indian friends seeing that we were prepared
to chastise thieves, roused up and commenced running
around the camp, and hallooing most lustily; probably
to give warning that it was dangerous to approach, as
they soon disappeared.
During the day we had seen some sport. As we were
nearly all green in the business of packing, and many
of our animals were quite wild, we frequently had running and kicking "sprees," scattering the contents of
our packs over the prairie, and in some cases damaging
and losing them. In one instance, while traveling
along a narrow, winding path upon the side of [124] a
bluff, a pack upon a mule's back became loose; the
mule commenced kicking, and the pack, saddle and
all, rolled off, and as the trail rope was tied fast to the
mule's neck, and then around the pack, it dragged
the mule after it. The bank for six or eight hundred
feet was so steep that a man could scarcely stand upright.
The mule was sometimes ahead of the pack, at others
the pack was ahead of the mule. At length, after tumbling about one thousand feet, to near a perpendicular
ledge of rocks, they stopped. Six feet farther would
have plunged them over a cliff of two hundred feet,
into the river. We arrived at and crossed Falls river,
receiving no other damage than wetting a few of our
packs.202 We encamped two miles above Falls river,
having traveled about sixteen miles.   The weather was
202 This is an alternate name for Deschutes River, for which see ante,
p. 119, note 102.— Ed.
iii iiiimitMH
1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
ZZC)
clear and warm. We traveled leisurely along, nothing
remarkable occurring; but as some of the party were
unaccustomed to walking, they soon showed signs of
fatigue and sore feet. We were often visited by a set
of half-starved and naked Indians.
On the 26th we reached Fort Wallawalla, or Fort
Nez Percys, as it is sometimes called. This fort stands
upon the east side of the Columbia, and upon the north
bank of the Wallawalla river. We went about three
fourths of a mile up the Wallawalla river, and encamped.
Near us was a village of the Wallawalla Indians, with
their principal chief.203   This old chief was not very
,M For this fort see our volume xxi, p. 278, note 73. The chief of the Wallawalla was Peupeumoxmox, or Yellow Serpent. He early came under missionary influence, and sent one of his sons to the Willamette to be educated under
Methodist influences. This young man was christened Elijah Hedding, for
a bishop of the church. He remained with the missionaries for over six years
and acquired a command of English. In the autumn of 1844 a number of
Cayuse, Nez Perce, and Wallawalla chiefs decided to visit the California
settlements in order to trade for cattle. From Sutter's fort they made a Taid
into the interior, capturing some horses from a band of thieves. These
animals were claimed by the Spanish and American settlers while the Indians
maintained that they were their own property. In the course of the dispute
Elijah was shot and killed. The Oregon Indians were greatly exasperated
by this incident, threatening to raise a war-party against California, or to
make reprisal upon any or all whites. .The affair was quieted by the Hudson's
Bay agent and the missionaries, but was undoubtedly one of the causes of the
Whitman massacre. Yellow Serpent took no part in this latter event, but
was active in the war of 1855, in which he perished while a hostage in the
hands of the whites.
John Augustus Sutter was a German-Swiss born in 1803. After serving
in the Franco-Swiss guards (1823-24) he came to America (1834) and embarked
in the Santa F6 trade (1835-37). In 1838 he started for California, going
via Oregon, the Sandwich Islands, and Alaska. Arriving in San Francisco
Bay (1839) he secured from the Mexican government a concession on the
Sacramento River, where he built a fort (1842-44) and named his possessions
New Helvetia. In 1841 Sutter bought the Russian establishment known as
Ross (see our volume xviii, p. 283, note 121), whose materials he used in fitting
up his own fort.    Sutter was friendly to the American cause, and received
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Early Western Travels
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friendly to Americans. The season before, a party of
the Wallawallas had visited California, by invitation of
Capt. Suter; and whilst there, a difficulty arose about
some horses, and the son of the old chief was killed in
the fort. The Indians left immediately, and as Suter
claimed to be an American, the chief's feelings were
excited against all Americans. He had showed hostile
demonstrations against a party of Americans the summer
previous; and when we arrived, we were told that he
was surly, and not disposed to be friendly. The grazing
about the camp was poor, and we sent a few men with
the animals to the hills, three miles distant, to graze.
Near night we observed quite a stir among the Indians.
We gave a signal to drive in the horses; they soon came
in, and we picketed them near the camp. As soon as
it was dark the Indians commenced singing and dancing,
accompanied with an instrument similar to a drum, and
giving most hideous yells, running to and fro. We
began to suspect that they meditated an attack upon
our camp; and we accordingly prepared to meet them
by building a fortification of [125] our baggage, and posting a strong guard. We remained in this position until
day-light, when we packed up, and traveled up the Wallawalla eight or ten miles, when we stopped, cooked breakfast, and allowed our animals to graze.
Before starting, the old chief and a few of his principal
emigrants with hospitality. He aided Fremont in the revolt against Mexican
authority. In 1848 gold was discovered upon his property. He profited
but little by this event, however, and became so poor that he was pensioned
by the California legislature. About 1865 he went East to five, dying in Washington, D. C, in 1880. H. H. Bancroft secured from Sutter, by means of
interviews, a detailed narrative of his career, and the manuscript is now in the
Bancroft Library, purchased for the University of California in November
1905.— Ed.
Hi 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
231
men made us a visit. They appeared friendly, and
wished to trade. We gave them some provisions, and
made them a few presents of tobacco, pipes, &c. After
shooting at a mark with the chief, to convince him of our
skill, we conversed on various subjects, among which
the death of his son was mentioned, and he expressed
his determination to go to California this season. We
parted, he and his people to their village, and we upon
our route to Dr. Whitman's.
We were here joined by a party of Nez Perce Indians;
among whom were four of their principal chiefs. Ellis
the great chief was with them. He speaks very good
English, and is quite intelligent. He was educated
at the Hudson's Bay Company's school, on Red river.204
They traveled and encamped with us, making heavy
drafts upon our provisions; but as we expected to replenish at Whitman's, we gave them freely. We encamped
on a branch of the Wallawalla. This is a most beautiful
valley of good land, but timber is limited to a few cottonwood and willows along the streams.
In the afternoon of the 28th we reached Dr. Whitman's station.205 Here we remained until the 31st,
when in company with four others, and the Nez Perce
204 Ellis (or Ellice) was the son of Bloody Chief. Having been educated
by the Hudson's Bay Company, he had acquired much influence with his
tribe. In 1842, being then about thirty-two years old, he was, at the instigation of Dr. Elijah White, Indian sub-agent, chosen head chief of the Nez
Perces, and ruled with considerable tact and wisdom, being favorable to the
whites. During the Cayuse War of 1848, Ellis was reported as hunting in
the buffalo country; later, it was stated that having gone with sixty braves
to the mountains for elk, they all perished from an epidemic of measles. Lawyer was chosen as head-chief in Ellis's place.— Ed.
205 por i^g iocation Qf Whitman's mission, see our volume xxviii, p. 333,
note 210.— Ed.
IS
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232 Early Western Travels [Vol. 30
Indians, we started for Spalding's mission — Mr. Spalding being of our party. The rest of our party remained
at Whitman's. Our object was to purchase horses and
explore the country. The distance from Dr. Whitman's
to Spalding's was about one hundred and fifty miles,
in a north-east direction. The first day we traveled
but about twenty-five miles, over a most delightful prairie
country, and encamped on a beautiful clear stream coming down from the Blue mountains, which are about
twelve miles distant.208
The first of April we traveled about fifty-five miles,
also over a delightful, rolling, prairie country; crossing
several beautiful streams, lined with timber, and affording desirable locations for settlement. The soil is rich,
and covered with an excellent coat of grass. This region
possesses grazing advantages over any other portion of
Oregon that I have yet seen. The day was blustering,
with a little snow, which melted as it reached the ground.
On the 2d of April we arrived at Mr. Spalding's mission,
[126] which is upon the Kooskooskee or Clear Water,207
and about twenty miles above its mouth or junction with
Lewis's fork of the Columbia. Ten miles from our
camp we struck Lewis's fork, and proceeded up it for
five miles, and crossed. On our way up we passed a
ledge of rocks of fluted columns, two or three hundred
feet high.   The bluffs of Lewis's fork and the Kooskoos-
206 For the Blue Mountains see our volume xxi, p. 273, note 71. The
stream was probably Touchet River, the largest affluent of the Walla Walla.
Rising in the Blue Mountains in Columbia County, Washington, it flows
northwest to Dayton, then turns southwest and south, debouching into the
Walla Walla at the present town of Touchet.— Ed.
207 For this stream see Farnham's Travels in our volume xxix, p. 79, note
98.— Ed.
mmmtmm 1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
233
kee are very high, sometimes more than three thousand
feet.    The hills are nearly all covered with grass.
As the time I could remain in this region would not
allow me to explore it satisfactorily, I requested Mr.
Spalding to furnish me with the result of his experience
for ten years in the country. He very kindly complied,
and the following is the information obtained from him.208
As he goes very much into detail, it is unnecessary for me
to add any further remarks here, in relation to this region
of the country.
We remained at this missionary establishment until
the 10th of April. During our stay, we heard related
many incidents common to a mountain fife. At one
time, when Mr. Spalding was on an excursion to one of
the neighboring villages, accompanied by several Indians
and their wives, they espied a bear at a short distance
clambering up a tree. He ascended thirty or forty
feet, and halted to view the travelers. A tree standing
near the one upon which sat the bear, with limbs conveniently situated to climb, induced Mr. Spalding to
attempt to lasso master bruin. He accordingly prepared
himself with a lasso rope, and ascended the tree until
he attained an elevation equal to that of the bear. He
then cut a limb, rested the noose of the rope upon one
end, and endeavored to place it over the head of the
bear; but as the rope approached his nose, bruin struck
it with his paw, and as Mr. S. had but one hand at liberty,
he could not succeed, the weight of the rope being too
great. He called to some of his Indian friends, to come
up and assist him; but none seemed willing to risk
themselves so near the formidable animal.    At length
•
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See Appendix.— Palmer.
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
one of the squaws climbed up, and held the slack of the
rope, and Mr. S. succeeded in slipping the noose over
bruin's head. He then descended from the tree, and
as the rope extended to the ground, they gave it a jerk,
and down came the bear, which fell in such a way as to
pass the rope over a large limb, thus suspending him
by the neck.
The cattle which we had purchased were scattered
over the [127] plain. On the 3d they were brought
in, and the chief Ellis bought the whole band, agreeing
to give one horse for each head of cattle. His place of
residence was about sixty miles further up the Kooskooskee, but his father-in-law resided near the mission. Ellis
made arrangements with the latter for six horses, and
delivered them to us, and his father-in-law took possession of the cattle. We left the horses in his possession,
until Ellis could return with the remainder of the horses.
In his absence many of the natives came in with their
horses to trade for the cattle, and when informed that
Ellis had bought them all, they were very much displeased,
and charged Ellis with conniving with the whites against
his people. In a few days Ellis returned, when the feelings of his people were so much against him, that he was
forced to abandon the trade. His father-in-law drove
down his band of horses according to agreement, but
instead of bringing the horses which had been selected,
he brought some old, broken-down horses that could
not stand the trip. We objected to receive these horses,
and thus broke up the whole arrangement. They had
the horses and cattle; of course we demanded the cattle;
the Indians showed us that they were on the plains, and
that we must hunt them up. We dispatched a party,
and they soon brought us all but one heifer. 1845-1846]
Palmer s Journal
235
Our intention then was to drive the cattle down to Dr.
Whitman's, and trade with the Cayuses; but as we
would be compelled to travel on foot for nearly one
hundred and fifty miles, we abandoned the project.
The neighboring Indians soon drove in some horses to
trade, and before night we had disposed of all but four
head of our cattle, one yoke of oxen, one yearling heifer,
and a yearling calf. The oxen belonged to me. I left
them in charge of Mr. Spalding, until my return. In
the exchange one horse was given for a cow or heifer.
A few horses were purchased for other articles of trade,
such as blankets, shirts, knives, &c. The value of
fourteen dollars in trade would buy an ordinary horse;
if it was an extra horse something more would be asked.
Four blankets was the price of a horse. None of the
Indians would take money except Ellis. In fact they
did not seem to know the value of money.
During our stay at this place, the Indians flocked in
from all quarters. It is but seldom that the whites visit
this portion of the country, and the Indians all seemed
anxious to see us. The house was literally filled from
morning until night with men, women, and children.
They are usually much better [128] clad than any other
tribe east or west of the mountains, are quite cleanly,
and are an industrious people. They have made considerable advances in cultivating the soil, and have large
droves of horses, and many of them are raising large
herds of cattle. Mr. and Mrs. Spalding have kept up a
school, and many of the Indians have made great proficiency in spelling, reading, and writing. They use the
English alphabet to the Nez Perce* language. Mr.
Spalding has made some translations from the Scriptures, and among others from the  book  of  Matthew.
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236 Early Western Travels [Vol. 30
From this printed copy209 many of the Indians have
printed with a pen fac similes of the translation, which
are neatly executed. I have several copies in my possession of these and other writings, which can be seen at
any time in Laurel, Indiana. They are a quiet, civil
people, but proud and haughty; they endeavor to imitate
the fashions of the whites, and owe much of their superior qualifications to the Missionaries who are among
them.
Mr. Spalding and family have labored among them
for ten years assiduously, and the increasing wants and
demands of the natives require an additional amount
of labor. A family of their own is rising around them,
which necessarily requires a portion of their time; and
the increasing cares of the family render it impossible
to do that amount of good, and carry out fully that policy
which they have so advantageously commenced for the
natives. It is impossible for one family to counteract
all the influences of bad and designing men, of whom
there are not a few in the country. They need more
assistance. There are a sufficient number of establishments, but not a sufficient number of persons at those
establishments. For instance: Mr. Spalding must now
attend not only to raising produce for his own family,
but also to supply in a great measure food to numerous
families of Indians; to act as teacher and spiritual guide,
as physician, and perform many other duties incident
to his situation.    With such a multitude of claims on
209 For the history of the printing press in use at this mission, see our volume
xxviii, p. 333, note 211. The first book in the Nez Perce" language was a little
compilation of texts, consisting of eight pages. The translation of Matthew
was printed at Lapwai; that of John was later published by the American
Bible Society.— Ed. m
1845-1846]
Palmer's Journal
237
his attention, his energies are too much divided, and
on the whole his influence is lessened. Could not the
Missionary board send out an assistant?
There is one thing which could be accomplished with
a small outlay, that would be of lasting advantage to
these people. They are raising small flocks of sheep,
and have been taught to card and spin and weave by
hand, and prepare clothing — but the process is too
tedious. A carding machine and machinery for fulling
cloth would be a saving to the board of [129] missions,
and of lasting benefit to the natives. There are no such
machines in that country. The wood work of those
machines could nearly all be done in the country; the
cards and castings are all that would be necessary to
ship. A mechanic to set up the machines would be
necessary.
Perhaps no part of the world is better adapted to the
growth of wool than this middle region, and it abounds
with water-power to manufacture it. Farmers, mechanics
and teachers, should be sent among these people by the
missionary board, or by the government. A division is
about being made in this nation, which if not counteracted, will doubtless lead to bad consequences. Three
Delaware Indians have crossed the mountains, and settled on the Kooskooskee among the Nez Perce* Indians.
One of them, named Tom Hill, has so ingratiated himself
into the feelings of the Nez Perce* Indians, that he has
succeeded in persuading about one hundred lodges to
acknowledge him as their chief. It was formerly, as
among other tribes, customary for an Indian to have
as many wives as he could maintain; but the missionaries
taught them otherwise, and succeeded in abolishing this
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Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
heathen custom. But Tom Hill tells them that they
can have as many wives as they please. He says to
them, You make me chief, and I will make you a great
people. The white men tell you not to steal — I tell
you there is no harm in it; the bad consists in being
caught at it.    These men will mislead you, &c, &c.
Ellis and the other chiefs have exerted themselves to
recall their people, but they cannot succeed. In conversing with Ellis, I enquired whether cases of insanity were
common among his people. He answered that he never
knew a case of insanity, but this one of Tom Hill's.
He looks upon him as a crazy man. The two other Delaware Indians are young men, and are industrious and
peaceable. They have commenced cultivating the soil,
and are raising a fine herd of cattle. Ellis is considered
wealthy. He has about fifteen hundred horses, a herd
of cattle, some hogs, and a few sheep. Many persons
in this nation have from five to fifteen hundred head of
horses. In traveling from Dr. Whitman's to this place,
I saw more than ten thousand horses grazing upon the
plains.    They are good looking, and some of them large.
In the fall I had made enquiries as to whether it was
practicable to obtain the necessary supplies at these
missions for our home journey; and in the winter Mr.
Spalding wrote to us that he could furnish us with flour
and meat. We had accordingly [130] contemplated procuring a part of our outfit at this place. A few bad
designing Indians had frequently given Mr. Spalding
trouble about his place, and had made severe threats.
At one time they had threatened to tie him, and drive
his family away. They complained that the whites never
came through their country, giving them the advantages
fcfc£^ i845_I846] Palmer's Journal 239
of trade; but that the white men passed through the
Cayuse country, selling their cattle, clothing, &c.; and
that if they could not have all the benefits of trade, the
whites should leave the country.
Early in the spring some of them had got into a fit of
ill humour, and had ordered Mr. Spalding from the
place, cut open his mill-dam, threw down his fences,
broke the windows of the church, crippled some of his
hogs, and took possession of the whole premises. This
time they seemed to be determined to carry their threats
into execution. Mr. S. allowed them to take their own
course, putting no obstacle in their way. The principal
men seemed to look on with indifference; but they
evidently saw that it was likely to injure them, more
than it would Mr. Spalding; for they relied upon the
mill and farm for their support to a great extent.
In the meantime Mr. Spalding had written a letter
to us, informing us of his situation, and that we could
not rely on him for furnishing us with supplies. He
gave the letter to an Indian to carry to Dr. Whitman's,
that it might be forwarded to us. The Indians being
apprised of the contents of the letter, stopped the carrier,
and took from him the letter, and after a consultation
determined to abandon their rash course; as it would
be likely to deprive them of the benefit of our trade, and
be a barrier against the white men ever coming to trade
with them. They accordingly brought the letter to Mr.
Spalding, acknowledging they had done wrong, and
placed him in full possession of his premises, promising
to behave better for the future; and when we arrived
he was enjoying their full confidence.
The Indians informed us that there was a good pass- »!»
240
Early Western Travels
[Vol. 30
way upon the north side of Lewis's fork, by proceeding
up the Kooskooskee some sixty miles, and then striking
across to Salmon river, and then up to Fort Bois. By
taking this route in the winter season, we would avoid
the deep snow upon the Blue Mountains, as the route
is mostly up the valley of Lewis' river, and it is undoubtedly nearer to Puget Sound than by the old route. Those
wishing to settle about the Sound would do well to take
this route, or at least the saving in the distance [131]
would justify an examination of the route, to ascertain
its practicability.
We were very hospitably entertained by Mr. Spalding,
and his interesting family. With the exception of Mr.
Gilbert, who is now engaged on the mission farm, and
Mr. Craig, who has a native for a wife, and lives six
hundred yards from Mr. Spalding's dwelling, the nearest
white families are Messrs. Walker and Ellis, who have a
mission one hundred and thirty miles to the north, among
the Flathead nation; and Dr. Whitman, nearly one hundred and fifty miles distant, among the Cayuses.210
In this lonely situation they have spent the best part
of their days, among the wild savages, and for no compensation but a scanty subsistence. In the early part
of their sojourn they were compelled to use horse meat
for food, but they are now getting herds of domestic
animals about them, and raise a surplus of grain beyond
their own wants.   At Mr. Spalding's there is an excuse
210 For this mission and its missionaries see our volume xxvii, p. 367, note
187. The farmer at Lapwai mission was Isaac N. Gilbert, who was born in
New York (1818). He early emigrated to Illinois, and came to Oregon with
the party of 1844. Late in 1846 he proceeded to the Willamette valley, and
settled near Salem, where he was county clerk and surveyor, dying in 1879.
See Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions, 1878, pp. 82, 83.— Ed.
ikl
—
=-— ST
1845-1846] Palmer's Journal 241
I a grist ^ which answers to chip up the grain, but * 1
they have no bolting cloth;  in place of which they use
a  sieve.    The  meal  makes  very  good  bread.   There
was formerly a saw mill, but the irons have been taken
and used in a mill which Dr. Whitman has recently
built about twenty miles from his dwelling, at the foot
of  the  Blue  mountains.    The  Catholics have  several
missionary establishments upon the upper waters of the
Columbia.211        | §    I if
On the ioth of April we had made the necessary
arrangements, and started on our return to Dr. Whitman's, where we arrived on the 14th. On my way
down in the fall, I had left a horse and a heifer with the
Doctor. They were now running on the plains. Several
persons were engaged in hunting them up; the horse
was found and brought in, and was in good condition.
The Indians had concealed the horse, in order to force
a trade, and offered to buy him, they to run the risk of
finding him; but as he was a favorite horse, that I had
brought from home, I felt gratified when he was found.
The heifer I traded for a horse, the purchaser to find
her. My two oxen, which I had left at Mr. Spalding's,
I traded for a horse. An Indian who had stolen a horse
from a company in the fall, had been detected, and the
horse taken to fort Wallawalla. He had again stolen
the horse, and traded him off. He was at Dr. Whitman's, and as the owner was of our party, he made a
demand for the horse, and the Indian gave up a [132]
poor old horse in its stead. This was the same fellow
that had bought my heifer.
211 For these missions see De Smet's reports in our volumes xxvii, p. 365,
note 184; xxix, p. 178, note 73.— Ed.
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We remained at Dr. Whitman's until the 17th, when
all was prepared, and we made a formal start. Our
party consisted of eighteen persons, and fifty-one horses
and mules. We traveled about eight miles, and
encamped. On the 18th, we traveled to the Umatillo.
On the way the fellow who had bought the heifer overtook us and demanded the horse, as he said he had
not time to hunt up the heifer. I refused to give it up,
and he insisted. At this juncture Dr. Whitman overtook us, and the Indian made complaint to him. It was
arranged that we should all go on to Umatillo, where
several of the chiefs resided, and have the matter amicably settled. We reached the river in the afternoon,
and repaired to the chief's. The Indian told his story,
and I told mine. The chief decided that I should give
up the horse, and he would give me a horse for the heifer.
I agreed that in case the heifer could not be found, to
give him another on my return to Oregon. The Indian
set out with his horse, and the chief soon brought me
one in its place, worth at least two such as the first. Of
course I was much pleased with the exchange.
At night it commenced raining, and then snowing,
and in the morning the snow was four or five inches
deep on the ground. We were then immediately at
the foot of the mountain, and as we expected the snow
had fallen deep upon the mountain, we remained in
camp all day. The 20th was unfavorable for traveling,
and we remained in camp.
On the 2 ist we took up the line of march, ascended the
mountain, and advanced about twenty-five miles, which
brought us over the dividing ridge. We found the snow
in patches,  and sometimes three feet deep — that is,
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the old snow, for the new fallen snow had all melted
away. The grazing was poor, but at night we found
a prairie upon the south side of the mountain, which
afforded a scanty supply of grass; here we encamped
for the night,
The 22d was very blustery, sometimes snowing; very
disagreeable traveling. We reached the Grand Round
at 2 o'clock P. M. and encamped. Here we found an
abundance of good grass, and halted for the night.
During the night the horse which I had obtained of
the old chief broke from his picket, and in company
with one that was running loose, took the back track.
In the morning we dispatched two men, who followed
them about four miles, when it was found that the [133]
horses had left the road. The two men went back ten
or twelve miles, but could see nothing of the horses.
They then returned to camp. We in the mean time
had packed up, and traveled across Grand Round
about eight miles, when we encamped. In the morning we started back four men to hunt for the horses.
On the evening of the 24th our men returned, but without the horses.
On the morning of the 25th we packed up, traveled
about twenty-six miles, and encamped on Powder river,
near the lone pine stump.212
On the 27th we traveled about twenty-five miles.
On the 28th we traveled about twenty-three miles, and
encamped near Malheur.
On the 29th we reached fort Bois. The people at
the fort, and the Indians in the vicinity, were evidently
much alarmed.    Before reaching the fort, I saw at a
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For this landmark see our volume xxviii, p. 324, note 204.— Ed.
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distance numerous columns of smoke, alternately rising
and disappearing; and then another column would
rise at a great distance. These columns of smoke
seemed to be signals that enemies were in the country.
The people at the fort were seemingly friendly, and
supplied us with milk and butter. We selected our
camping ground with caution, and with an eye to the
defence both of horses and men. Our guard was
doubled. We were visited by many Indians, but no
hostile demonstration was exhibited. Here the wagon
road crosses the river, but as there were no canoes at
the upper crossing, and the river was too high to ford,
we decided upon traveling up the south side of the river.
On the 30th of April we packed up, and left fort Bois.
The trail led us up to the mouth of a stream coming
in on the south side of Lewis river, about one hundred
yards in width. This we reached in about three miles.
Immediately at the crossing is an Indian village of the
Shoshonee tribe. When within one fourth of a mile
from the crossing, an Indian who had been at our camp
the evening before, was seen riding furiously towards
us. He came up directly to me, extending his hand,
which I took of course; two or three were riding in
front with me, who all shook hands with him. He
then turned and led the way through the bushes to the
crossing. At the point where we came out, the bank
was some fifteen feet high. A narrow place had been
cut down, so as to admit but one horse at a time to go
up the bank; the village was immediately upon the
bank, and I discovered some thirty or forty Indians
standing near the point where the trail ascended the
bank.   I rode [134] to the top of the bank, where about ^p
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fifteen ugly looking Indians were standing, all striving
to shake hands, but my horse would not allow them to
approach.
I passed on, the company following, and as we formed
a long train, being in single file, by the time those behind
were out of the creek, those in the lead were five or six
hundred yards from the bank, and over a ridge. I
halted the front, for all to come up, when I discovered
that Buckley, who was in the rear riding one horse and
leading another, had not appeared over the ridge. Two
of the men who were in the rear went back for him.
The horse which he was leading soon came running
over the ridge, and as Buckley did not make his appearance, we supposed that something was wrong. Others
started back, but they all soon returned, and we went
on. In a few minutes, however, one of the party came
riding up, and stated that the Indians were going to
charge upon us.
At this instant a gun was fired by them, and a hideous
yelling was heard at our heels. The Indians were drawn
up in line upon the rid^e, all armed, some with muskets,
and others with bows and arrows. The fellow who
had met us, was still mounted, and running his horse
from one end of the line to the other, and all were yelling
like fiends, ft I thought it could not be possible that
they would charge upon us, and ordered all hands to
move along slowly but cautiously, to have their arms
in readiness, and to keep the pack animals together, so
that they could be stopped at any moment. We marched
along slowly in close order, and paid no further regard
to the Indians, than to carefully watch their movements.
They followed along a few hundred yards, and halted,
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their yells then ceased, and we saw nothing more of
them.
When the two men returned to Buckley, the mounted
Indian spoken of had Buckley's horse by the head;
he had proposed an exchange, but Buckley did not
wish to swap, and asked him to let go the bridle: the
Indian held on, Buckley pulled and he pulled; Buckley
rapped his knuckles with a whip, and in the scuffle the
horse that B. was leading broke loose, and ran over
the ridge, they not being able to catch him. At this
juncture the two men arrived; one of them raised his
rifle in the attitude of striking the Indian on the head.
but he paid no regard to it; the other, seeing his determined manner, rushed at him with his bowie knife;
he then let go the bridle, and our men came up to the
company. What his object was, or what their object
in rallying their forces, I could not conjecture: but it
[135] put us on our guard. At our night encampment
there were Indians prowling about, but they were afraid
of our riding too near them, and made no attempt to
steal, or otherwise molest us, The country was extremely
dry and barren: Grazing was very poor.
On the 5th of May we arrived at the upper crossirig
of Snake river. On our way we had seen several villages
of Shoshonee Indians, but were not disturbed by them.
The grazing was poor, and the country very barren.
We crossed several warm streams running down from
J
the mountains, which appeared at a distance of from
five to ten miles on our right. A wagon road can be
had along the south side of the river, by hugging the
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base of the mountains for twenty or thirty miles, when it
would take down the low bottom of Snake or Lewis If'
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Palmer's Journal
247
river; but the distance is greater than by crossing the
river.
On the 6th of May we reached Salmon falls, and went
up six miles to Salmon Fall creek, and encamped. On
the 8th and 9th it rained and snowed, so that we were
compelled to lay by most of the time. On the 10th
it cleared up, and in the afternoon we had fair weather
and pleasant traveling. On the 12th we reached Cassia
creek.   At this place the California trail turns off.
On the 14th we arrived at Fort Hall. On the 16th
we reached the Soda Springs. On the 18th we met
about six hundred lodges of Snake Indians; they were
moving from Big Bear river to Lewis' fork. On the
23d we reached Green river, taking the northern route.
Much of the time the weather has been cool with frosty
nights, and several days of rain and snow.
On the 24th we crossed Green river, and traveled
about forty miles to the Big Sandy. The day was
blustering, with rain and snow. Along the bottoms
of the Sandy we found very good grazing for our
animals.
On the 25th we traveled to the Little Sandy. On
the 26th we arrived at the South Pass, and encamped
on Sweet Water. Here we saw a few buffalo. The ride
from Little Sandy to Sweet Water was extremely unpleasant on account of the wind and snow. We were sometimes compelled to walk, in order to keep warm. We
here found a horse, which we supposed had been lost
by some emigrants the year before. He came running
to our band, and exhibited signs of the greatest joy,
by capering and prancing about. He was quite fat,
and seemed determined to follow us.
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[136] On the 27th we traveled down the valley of Sweet
Water about twenty-five miles. On our way we saw
some hundreds of buffalo and antelope, and two grizzly
bears. We gave the latter chase, but did not succeed in
taking them. We had some difficulty in preventing
our pack animals from following the numerous bands
of buffalo which came rolling past us.
We traveled down this valley until the 30th, and
encamped about four miles east of Independence Rock,
at a spring near a huge mountain of gray granite rock.
Soon after encamping it commenced raining, which
turned to snow, and in the morning we had about five
inches of snow upon us. We were uncomfortably
situated, as we could procure but little fuel, and had
no means of sheltering ourselves from the "peltings
of the pitiless storm."    Our horses too fared poorly.
On the 31st of May we remained in camp. By noon
the snow had disappeared, and we succeeded in finding
a few dry cedar trees, built a fire, and dried our effects.
We had an abundance of buffalo marrow-bones, tongues,
and other choice pieces, on which we feasted. We saw
large droves of mountain sheep, or big-horn, and thousands of antelope.
On the 2d of June we arrived at the north fork of
Platte. The plains during this day's travel were literally
covered with buffalo, tens of thousands were to be seen
at one view; antelope and black-tailed deer were seen
in great abundance, and a few elk and common deer.
One panther, and hundreds of wolves were also seen.
We found the river too high to ford. Soon after encamping, snow commenced falling, which continued all night,
but melted as it reached the ground.    The grazing on w
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the bottom was excellent, the grass being about six
inches high. This was the best grass we had seen since
leaving Burnt river.
On the 3d we succeeded in finding a ford, and in
the evening we crossed. On the 4th we reached Deer
creek, having traveled about thirty miles. On the way
we saw a band of Indians whom we supposed to be of
the Crow nation, and as they are generally for fight,
we prepared to give them a warm reception; but it
seemed that they were as fearful of us, as we were of
them.218 They were soon out of sight. After traveling
about five miles, we saw them drawn up into line two
miles from the road. As they were at a respectful
distance, we did not molest them. We however kept
a sharp look out, and at night were cautious in selecting
camp ground. The grass was good, and our animals
fared well.
\j37l On tne 5*h we traveled about fifteen miles,
and encamped on Mike's-head creek.214 Here we
found two trappers, who had been out about three
weeks. They accompanied us to Fort Laramie, which
we reached on the 8th of June. In the morning H.
Smith, one of our party, in catching a mule was thrown,
and  his  shoulder dislocated.215   We  attempted  to  set
213 For the Crow Indians see our volume v, p. 226, note 121.— Ed.
214 Mike's Head is probably a popular name for the rush of the Equisetum
species, known as "horsetail." The creek is known by the Fre