Correspondence of the Oregon Superintendency
Southern Oregon-related correspondence with the Oregon Superintendency for Indian Affairs.
Oregon Letter.Well, my son Plato and I started for the Pacific Coast, a distance of 60 miles, to a place called big Nestucca, so called because a river of that name comes into the ocean there. Well, as we went we passed through the Indian reservation called Grande Ronde Valley, and we saw the house where Gen. Phil Sheridan had his headquarters when he was there. We saw a number of Indians there and from the number of half breeds, we think a few white men believed in Indian equality. After we crossed the reservation we began to climb the Coast Mountains, and it was over thirty miles before we got to the ocean. Sometimes we would be on fearful heights, creeping on the side of a mountain where there was barely room for the wagon track and if we had slipped off, that certainly would have been the last of us. Then we would be in deep narrow valleys, surrounded by steep high peaks. These mountains have all been covered with a heavy forest of fir timber, but the fire went through it 50 years ago and now there is nothing but naked trees and snags and black logs on the ground. Now and then there is fern and salal in abundance. When these forests burn there must certainly be smoke for hundreds of miles.
We arrived at the ocean late in the evening. We could hear it for four miles off. There was a tall rock, called Haystack Rock, that stood one mile in the ocean. It was 150 feet tall and looked like a large round haystack. Three miles away we camped for the night and next morning we walked over a sand hill and then we had three-quarters of a mile to go before we got to the water and oh, how hot the sun did pour down upon us. We almost sank beneath the intense heat, but when we got near the water we felt a very cool breeze. Then we stood and watched the breakers or waves. They looked like a succession of waterfalls and were from 5 to 8 feet high and if a person would stand where they would roll around him, he would feel very much like going back with them into the sea. We took off our shoes and tried that and when we got out our feet were as cold as if they had been on ice and we thought that would do, so we took a walk along the beach and saw trees, logs and lumber that had been thrown ashore during a storm. That evening while we were in camp, one old man and four young men came in somewhat excited and said they saw 5 whales, a sea horse and a sea lion.
We stayed two nights and one day at the coast. The air was so cool at night that we found an overcoat very comfortable. As we camped near the mouth of the river named above and salmon fishing is carried on several miles up the river, we saw how they caught these; men stretch a net across the river and the salmon, in trying to pass up the river, will get their gills fast in the net and there they stay until the fisherman comes and lifts them into his boat. My son bought a salmon of one of the fishermen that measured 3½ feet long and looked almost as large as a small boy around the body. The meat of these salmon looks like a red watermelon. These fish are canned on the coast and sent out to all the world I suppose.
We went to the state fair at Salem on the 18th. We will say it was a long way behind the Iowa state fair. Oregon does not give encouragement to men of other states. They would not give a premium on machinery that was invented outside of the state. I saw men there with fine horses from other states. Salem claims a population of 10,000, but the town looks like it was at least 50 years behind.
Yours,Perry Chief, Perry, Iowa, October 4, 1889, page 4
J. M. MCFEE.
Last revised October 3, 2019