CHAPTER XXI.At 11 a.m., September 2nd, Messrs. Eld, Dana, Brackenridge and myself embarked in a canoe paddled by four Indians, to join the expedition I have before spoken of.
FROM VANCOUVER TO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA.
* * *On the 15th our route lay through a broken country, densely covered with pines, spruces, and oaks; some of the former were upwards of two hundred feet in height, and proportionally large in circumference. At 3.30 p.m. we reached the base of the Elk Mountains, which separate the valley of Willamette from that of Umpqua. We estimated the greatest elevation of these mountains to be 1500 feet; they are clothed with trees and underbrush to their summit. We had a severe frost during the night, although the temperature during the day had been as high as 77º in the shade.
On the 16th we encamped on the Elk River. This river is so called because its banks abound in elk; it is about one-half of the size of the Willamette River, and has considerable current. We had scarcely pitched our tents when some of the hunters succeeded in killing an elk and a deer. They were brought into camp and divided among the different messes.
The following morning, Messrs. Emmons, Agate, and sergeant [Simeon] Stearns, with Boileau as a guide, left the camp for Fort Umpqua, for the double object of examining the country and exchanging several of the pack horses, which had nearly given out. This fort belongs to the Hudson's Bay Company, and is constructed after the manner of those of Nisqually and Vancouver. It is situated on the Umpqua River, a fine stream, which empties into the ocean.
The superintendent of the establishment, Mr. Gagnier, gave Mr. Emmons a very unfavorable account of the Indians who inhabited this region. He stated that he had long before heard of the intended journey through the Indians, and that the news had passed on to all the tribes, who were collecting in large numbers to oppose our passage. He also endeavored to dissuade Mr. Emmons from proceeding any further by telling him that these Indians were a brave race, consequently in the event of an attack our party must be destroyed, for he thought it was very small.
According to our hunters, the Umpqua country abounds in beaver, deer and bears. About dusk Mr. Emmons returned, accompanied by Mesdames Boileau and Gagnier, who wished to see the camp and consult the doctor. He communicated to the party what Mr. Gagnier had stated in relation to the Indians, and gave orders for increasing the number of sentries about the camp, to make more cartridges, and to put all the arms in the best fighting condition.
At an early hour on the 18th we resumed our march. Mesdames Boileau and Gagnier accompanied us for a few miles and then left, to return to Fort Umpqua.
On the 19th we deviated from the direct road, in order to avoid any chance of an encounter with the Indians. This brought us to the north fork of the Umpqua, which we forded without any accident, though, before making the attempt, it was reasonably feared that we might meet with many, from the fact that the current was very rapid and the bottom extremely slippery. The rocks observed in this region contain fossils, and occasionally exhibit seams of coal. During this day many friendly Indians were seen, who reported that the hostile tribes were preparing to dispute our passage. We passed one large party, composed entirely of women, who were out gathering roots. They were all passé, and extremely ugly. One old woman can only be described by Juvenal,--
"Such wrinkles see,During the 20th, our route lay through a succession of hills and valleys, intersected by numerous streams. None of the hills are more than four hundred feet in height, and all are susceptible of cultivation, the soil being apparently as good as that in the valleys. We saw, in the course of this day, several grizzly bears, and the hunters fired many balls at them; but they did not succeed in killing any. At sunset we encamped on the south branch of the Umpqua River. During the night our rest was much disturbed by the howling of wolves, which are very numerous in these parts.
As in an Indian forest's solitude,
Some old ape scrubs amidst her numerous brood."
The following day we crossed the Umpqua River; it is not so broad nor so deep as the northern branch. We passed, during this day's ride, a number of Indian graves; they were surrounded with poles, one end of which was stuck in the ground, to the other were suspended the goods of the deceased, such as mats, blankets, bows and arrows. We also met several small parties of Umpqua Indians, who declared themselves to be friendly to the whites, and were anxious to obtain powder and balls, but we refused to furnish them. We expected an attack during the night from the hostile tribes, and had prepared to give them a warm reception, but none appeared.
On the 22nd, at an early hour, we commenced to ascend the Umpqua Mountains. The path was narrow and very steep, so much so, that several of the pack horses stumbled and were considerably injured. At 11 a.m. we halted, for nearly half an hour, to rest the animals. At 4, having reached the summit of the ridge, we again rested for a few minutes, and then commenced descending, and by sunset we arrived at the valley beneath, where we spent the night. We found the greatest elevation of the mountain to be 1750 feet. During the 23rd, we remained at the same encampment, in order to give the horses time to recover from the fatigue undergone, and to afford Mr. Peale an opportunity of finding his camera lucida and drawings, which had dropped out of his carpet bag while crossing the mountains yesterday. At 3 he returned, and brought with him the camera lucida; the other articles he was unable to find. We observed, in the neighborhood of this encampment, a considerable number of the Pinus lambertiana Douglas.
On the 24th we resumed our route. The country looked much less inviting than it did on the other side of the mountain. Perhaps the contrast would not have been so striking had there not been an almost entire destitution of vegetation, the fire having destroyed everything but the trees. The rocks are intersected with veins of quartz, and the soil is sandy and generally of a light red color.
In the course of the day, the hunters discovered the fresh footprints of Indians, and in searching for the savages they came upon three squaws, who had been left when the others fled. It was clear that the savages were closely watching our movements, and only waited for a good opportunity to pounce upon us. At 4 p.m. we arrived, and encamped on the banks of Young's Creek, where we found a party of Klamath Indians; they looked very innocent, and pretended to be glad to see us; but the guide represented them as being the most rascally set in all Oregon--calling them horse thieves, robbers and murderers.
During the 25th and 26th, our road lay through an undulating country, interspersed with forests of the Pinus lambertiana. I tasted the sugar produced by this singular tree, and found it to be slightly bitter. It is a powerful cathartic, yet I was told that the trappers used it as a substitute for sugar; the Indian mode of collecting it is to burn a cavity in the tree, whence it exudes in large quantities. We passed, on the last of these days, Tututnis River, another beautiful stream, upwards of one hundred yards in width, and abounding in salmon and other fish. The land, a few hundred yards from its banks, rises into hills of considerable height, formed principally of granite sand.
Several Indians came about the camp and pretended to be friendly, but we placed no confidence in their professions, and sent them away before night came on. They had canoes with which they navigated the neighboring streams, but they were very rude, and dug out square at the extremes.
During both these days most of the gentlemen of the party and several of the sailors suffered excessively from attacks of the ague. In my own case, the chills were so violent that it was impossible to travel while they lasted.
On the 27th, we reached one of those places where it was said the Indians never failed to make their attacks. We had one man in the party who had been twice assaulted at the same place. It was a steep rocky spot, close by the river Tututnis. As we passed on, many armed Indians were observed on the opposite side of the stream, and, occasionally were heard to utter yells, which were absolutely infernal, but they did not attempt to oppose our progress. We were fully prepared for them, and it was this, no doubt, which prevented their making an assault. Even the wives of the hunters were armed on the occasion.
We saw this day a great variety of game, among which was the antelope. It is said the Indians take this animal by exciting its curiosity; for this purpose they conceal themselves behind a tree, or among the bushes, and making a rustling noise, the attention of the animal is soon attracted, when it is led to advance toward the place of concealment, until the fatal arrow pierces it. The animal strongly resembles the deer, and its flesh is very palatable. According to the hunters, they are found only in the prairies.
On the 29th, we crossed the boundary range which separates Oregon from Upper California. The greatest elevation of the range was found to be 2,000 feet. The ascent was steep and tedious, and every moment we expected to be attacked by hostile Indians. The hunter named Tibbetts was one of a large party which was nearly destroyed by the savages three years before. He flattered himself that he should now have an opportunity to take his revenge on them, but he was not gratified, as not an Indian was to be seen in passing the mountain, although they had evidently intended to attack us; fresh tracks were observable in every direction, and large trees felled across the path to prevent the party from advancing.
On arriving at the summit of the range, we obtained a view which more than repaid us for our trouble. The Shasta Mountains with their snowy peaks were to be seen some fifty miles to the southward, swelling and soaring to the skies, while the Klamath Valley into which we descended, like that in which the poet built his Castle of Indolence, was
"A lonely dale fast by the river side,This valley is watered by the Klamath River, and is bounded on all sides with hills of considerable elevation, rising one beyond the other and covered with forests of oak, which added materially to the picturesque beauty of the scene.
And was, I ween, a lovely spot of ground."
During the 30th, we remained encamped to enable the sick to recover from the fatigue undergone in crossing the mountains. Near this camping place was found an Indian hut constructed of bent twigs; it was small and extremely low. The temperature in the shade during the day was 100º, at night, it was 32º. No doubt these great and sudden changes in the atmosphere tended to aggravate the ague attacks from which we suffered during the journey.
On the 1st of October the sick were much better, and we pursued our way. At 10 a.m. we forded the Klamath River, where it was about seventy yards broad; it was between three and four feet deep, with a beautiful pebbly bottom. There were rapids both above and below the ford, and from the appearance of the banks, it is subject to overflow. After crossing the river, masses of volcanic rock were observable in all directions, and the soil was dry and barren. At sunset we pitched our tents on a spot of green grass, near the southern branch of the Klamath River, which is likewise a beautiful stream, and abounds in fish.
The Indians found here were well disposed and better looking than any we had seen before. They supplied us with some salmon which were of a whitish color, and greatly inferior in flavor to those taken in the Columbia. They were also willing to sell their bows and arrows, which were neatly made, and several were purchased for the government.
October 2nd, 9 a.m., we bade adieu to Klamath River, and directed our steps to the southward. The country was now more undulating, and apparently more fertile, than that we passed over the preceding day. We did not meet with any water till late in the day, in consequence of which, the poor animals suffered excessively from thirst. Large herds of antelopes and mountain sheep were seen; the latter are of a grayish color, have long spreading horns, and are much larger animals than the ordinary sheep.
From the 3rd and up to the 10th, we were engaged in crossing the Shasta Range. These mountains may be represented as being a succession of a range of high hills, separated from each other by narrow valleys, traversed by streams that are fed by the melting snows which cover the tops of the highest peaks. The path was serpentine and difficult, and several of the horses broke down before the summit of the last range could be gained. In the valleys the Pinus lambertiana was seen flourishing in all its glory; several trees were measured, and found to be three hundred feet in height.
The day after we commenced to ascend these mountains we fell in with the head waters of the Sacramento, which flow to the southward. At this point it was an insignificant stream, being not more than thirty feet broad and two feet deep.
The weather, with the exception of that of a single day, was cool, clear and bracing, and we all enjoyed much better health than while traversing the plains. Nor was there any want of game; indeed, some days our hunters killed more than it was possible for the company to consume. The scientific gentlemen made large collections in their respective departments.
We saw many Indians, and as we knew they were friendly; we permitted them to enter our camp. They are a large, fine-looking race, and of a sociable disposition. They do not compress their heads, and they allow their hair, which is fine and glossy, to hang down to their shoulders in natural ringlets. Their food consists of game, fish and acorns, which they make into bread. Their huts are small, and devoid of comfort. They have bows and arrows, with which they shoot admirably. An ordinary-sized button was set up as a mark thirty yards off, and they hit it three times out of five; they can also kill birds on the wing. The arrows are nearly three feet long, and feathered from six to ten inches. In shooting, the bow is held horizontally, braced by the thumb of the left hand, and drawn by the thumb and three fingers of the right hand; and to obviate the disadvantage of drawing to the breast, the chest is thrown backwards on discharging the arrow; they throw out the right leg, and stand on the left.
The few women we saw were much inferior in personal appearance to the men, which we attributed to hard work, for they seemed to be constantly employed, while the men did nothing but eat, drink and amuse themselves. The artist of the party had much difficulty in taking their portraits, as they imagined that he was a medicine man, and desired to practice some enchantment upon them.
It was calculated that the width of the range we passed over was one hundred miles. We were allured from height to height by many splendid views of land and water, which open at every turn of the pass; still we felt quite relieved when we reached the Sacramento Valley on the other side of the mountain, and reflected that the remainder of our journey would be comparatively easy, and devoid of the anxiety caused by the constant anticipation of being assaulted by hostile tribes.
On reaching the Sacramento Valley, a material difference was observed in the character of the vegetation. Few pines or firs were now to be seen, while the oak, the sycamore, and the cottonwood trees were abundant. Most of the plants were also unlike any we had been accustomed to see, and some were found which were not described in any of the botanical works.
Lieut. George M. Colvocoresses, Four Years in the Government Exploring Expedition Commanded by Captain Charles Wilkes, R. T. Young, New York, 1853, pages 273-299
The last chapter closed with the arrival of Lieutenant Emmons and his party at San Francisco. I shall now give some account of the operations of this party, and of the country they passed through. The difficulties which were experienced in the organization of the party have already been alluded to in another place, and need not be repeated. There remain to be described some of the articles of his equipment, in the preparation of which much time was consumed, and which were absolutely necessary for the success of the expedition. The principal part of the provision was flour; this is packed in sacks; the sacks are again enclosed in a "parfleche" made of hide, to protect them from being torn to pieces by the boughs of trees and underwood; this rests upon a pack saddle, by which the load is firmly secured on the horse; while, to protect his back from injury, a thick saddle cloth called "appichemens" lies beneath the pack saddle. These articles are represented in the annexed cut.
To these are to be added the trail rope and lash cord, six or eight fathoms in length. These trails drag on the ground, and are intended for the purpose of catching the horses. Now, all these articles were to be prepared in a country where no mechanic is to be found, and so indispensable are they that any party which sets out without them would in all probability be compelled to return.
Our gentlemen, when they left Vancouver, proceeded by the way of the Hudson Bay Company's farm on Multnomah or Wapato Island, which is near the place where Captain Wyeth had erected his fort. They then crossed the river and went towards the Tualatin Plains, passing on their route a large grazing farm belonging to the Company, and those of many settlers. From these they were supplied with fresh horses. They found the country beautiful, and the land rich. Their route lay over hills and through prairies. The hills were wooded with large pines and a thick undergrowth of rose bushes, rubus, dogwood and hazel. The prairies were covered with variegated flowers, and abounded in nuttallia, columbines, larkspurs, and bulbous-rooted plants, which added to the beauty as well as to the novelty of the scenery.
Some sickness had made its appearance among the members of the party. Messrs. Emmons, Peale, Rich and Agate all had attacks of ague and fever, and the two last-named gentlemen suffered much from this disease. Dr. Whittle ascribed these attacks to the length of time, nearly five weeks, during which they had been encamped on the Willamette, and particularly to the position of the camp, immediately on the bank of the river, where it was subject to the damp and fogs.
When the party set out, new difficulties arose from the fact that the horses had for some time been unused to saddles or packs, and from the awkwardness of the riders. Corporal Hughes of the marines, one of the party, was thrown from his horse, which took fright at some wild animals crossing his path. The pack horses were missing and caused much difficulty in hunting them up; one, when found, had waded into a creek with pack and all, and stood there with only his head out of water. At this an old hunter became enraged and, springing into the water, thrust his thumb into the horse's eye, the pain of which treatment caused the animal to leap up the opposite bank with great agility, leaving part of his load behind. The part thus left proved to be the medicines prepared for the party, but these were recovered and being in vials were not materially injured. On reaching the first encampment, Smith the marine and his horse were both missing: to guide him, guns were fired during the night, but he did not make his appearance. In the morning, parties were sent in search of him and the pack animals. In the afternoon, the marine made his appearance, without any other loss than the ramrod of his musket; he had passed the night in the woods. This same man, a day or two after, reported to Lieutenant Emmons that he had lost his riding horse: he was very properly told to go in search of him, and if he could not find him, to return to Vancouver, as he was too helpless to be of any use. This had the desired effect, and from that day forth he proved a useful man. There were many other annoyances and difficulties that Lieutenant Emmons' patience and perseverance overcame.
During the time of their stay Mr. Agate made many sketches. One of these is of a burying-place, which I have thought worth inserting, as exhibiting one of the peculiar features of a race which is now fast disappearing. The mode of burial seems to vary with almost every tribe: some place the dead above ground, while others bury their departed friends, surrounding the spot with a variety of utensils that had been used by the deceased.
The graves are covered with boards, in order to prevent the wolves from disinterring the bodies. The emblem of a squaw's grave is generally a camas root digger, made of a deer's horns, and fastened on the end of a stick.
From the delay of the party in the Willamette Valley, they became well acquainted with the various characters of the people who were settled there. They generally consist of those who have been hunters in the mountains, and were still full of the recklessness of that kind of life. Many of them, although they have taken farms and built log houses, cannot be classed among the permanent settlers, as they are ever ready to sell out and resume their old occupation when an opportunity offers. Our party found them, with one or two exceptions, well disposed.
The gentlemen of the party, who had more time and opportunity to become acquainted with the operations of the missionaries than I had, were less favorably impressed than myself. One of the principal complaints of the settlers against the members of the mission was that they never had any religious service, although several ministers of the mission were unemployed. This complaint, however, could not be made on our part; for the first Sunday the party was encamped the Rev. Mr. Leslie invited them all to his house for that purpose, which invitation was accepted. Tibbetts, one of the party, was sitting by an open window during the sermon, and, as many have done before him, was nodding, in which motion he threw his head back and struck the stick that supported the sash, which coming down suddenly, caught him by the neck. This accident occasioned no small disturbance in the congregation, but no injury resulted from it to the man, who was inclined to join in the laugh that unavoidably took place after he was extricated. This anecdote will show the character of the class of settlers which the missionaries would have to deal with, and I am inclined to believe that for the neglect of duty imputed to them, those who make the charge are themselves chiefly to blame.
It was the general impression of our party, however, that the field for a mission was but small, and not sufficient to warrant the expenses that have been lavished upon it. Their school was in operation, and included twenty pupils in all, Dr. Babcock mentioned to one of our gentlemen that he had a native boy for a servant, of whose qualifications and education he spoke, saying that it was a great trouble to get him into cleanly habits, such as washing his face and hands in the morning, before he milked the cow. He next taught him to make a fire, boil a tea kettle, and make tea; he then taught him to fry and bake; he could wash clothes, and would in a short time be able to iron.
All our gentlemen experienced the same kind treatment and good fare that I have before spoken of, and nothing seemed to be wanting in the way of substantial comforts.
The party, including Passed Midshipmen Eld and Colvocoresses, Messrs. Dana, Brackenridge, and the sergeant, proceeded up the Willamette River. They reached Champoeg on the 3rd, where they disembarked. In the morning they were taken to the house of Thomas McKay, who is one of the most noted persons in this valley, particularly among the mountain trappers. He is a man of middle age, tall, well-made and of muscular frame, with an expression of energy and daring, and a deep-set, piercing black eye beneath a full, projecting eyebrow. Among the trappers he is the hero of many a tale, and is himself prone to indulge his guests with his personal adventures. He lives in a house that answers both for a dwelling and grist mill, and is said to be the best belonging to a settler in the valley. This man was engaged to go as guide and, what speaks little for his veracity and principles, at the last moment refused to do so, and afterwards made his boast that he had fooled the party, as he had not intended to go from the first. His harvest had just been reaped, which he said had produced him twenty-five bushels to the acre. McKay furnished them with horses and accompanied the party to the camp, where they arrived early in the afternoon. Here all was preparation for a speedy departure, and everyone fully occupied with packs, saddles and trappings. On the 7th, the party made their final move, and after traveling only six miles encamped near Turner's, known as the mission butcher. He owns a farm, in the acceptation of the word in Oregon, having a log hut, an Indian woman to reside in it, and an undefined quantity of land. The hut contains no furniture to sit or lie upon, and only the few articles most needed in cooking. He does not cultivate anything, but supports himself by killing cattle semi-weekly. Report says that he was formerly a drummer in the United States service, but for upwards of thirteen years he has led the sort of life he now does. He seems both contented and independent, and appears an honest and good-natured fellow. He has had several narrow escapes, having been twice with parties that were attacked by the southern Indians, in the passage to and from California. The last time he was one of four who escaped, subsisted on berries and roots for a fortnight, and was obliged to travel only at night, to avoid the Indians who were in search of him. He furnished our party with fresh beef of his own stock, refusing to receive pay, and seemed very much incensed that the mission should have charged for what had been obtained from them.
The country in the southern part of the Willamette Valley stretches out into wild prairie ground, gradually rising in the distance into low, undulating hills, which are destitute of trees, except scattered oaks; these look more like orchards of fruit trees, planted by the hand of man, than groves of natural growth, and serve to relieve the eye from the yellow and scorched hue of the plains. The meanderings of the streams may be readily followed by the growth of trees on their banks as far as the eye can see.
They were detained here by the straying of their animals and did not succeed in getting off until the next day, when Turner gave them two of his horses, being willing to run the risk of recovering the lost ones in their stead.
On the morning of the 9th they had a severe frost. In the course of the day they passed Creole Creek, and encamped on the Ignas. The atmosphere during the day had become quite thick, owing to the smoke arising from the burning of the prairie. Here they prepared themselves fully for their journey by trimming their horses' hoofs and taking a full account of them. The soil was a red decomposed basalt, well adapted for grazing and wheat lands.
On the 10th the country was somewhat more hilly than the day previous, but still fine grazing land. During the day they crossed many small creeks. The rocks had now changed from a basalt to a whitish clayey sandstone. The soil also varied with it to a grayish-brown, instead of the former chocolate-brown color, which was thought to be an indication of inferior quality. The country had an uninviting look, from the fact that it had lately been overrun by fire, which had destroyed all the vegetation except the oak trees, which appeared not to be injured.
On the 11th, after passing during the day Lake Guardipii, which is about five hundred yards long, they encamped on the Lumtumbuff River, which is a branch of the Willamette. This river is a deep and turbid stream, branching out in places like a lake, but being in general narrow and fordable.
On the 12th the route was across a parched-up prairie, some portions of which were composed of gravel and white sand, mixed with clay. The paths were very rough, owing to the soil, which was much cut up by the herds that had been driven through, and which, on becoming hard, was exceedingly fatiguing to the horses. Bands of wolves were met with, and were heard throughout the night howling in various parts of the prairies. The cry of these animals is peculiar: one sets up a long shrill whine, three or four join in, and in a few moments afterwards, the whole pack utter a sort of sharp yelp, which gives the idea of a half-laughing, half-crying chorus. The party had hitherto made from fifteen to twenty miles a day, and in traveling this day the animals suffered a great deal from want of water. They encamped on the Malé Creek, which was about thirty feet wide, and ran in a northerly direction.
On the 13th they had much difficulty in finding their horses, which had escaped the guards at night, owing to the thick fog that prevailed. They were in consequence unable to go forward until three o'clock in the afternoon; some of the animals had gone six miles back on the trail in search of water, and were found in the vicinity of marshy places. Messrs. Emmons and Eld had employed the hours of this detention in getting dip and intensity observations. In consequence of this mishap, they were unable to make more than two miles during the day, which continued hot and foggy.
Some wandering Calapooias came to the camp, who proved to be acquaintances of Warfield's wife: they were very poorly provided with necessaries. Mr. Agate took a characteristic drawing of one of the old men.
These Indians were known to many of the hunters, who manifested much pleasure at meeting with their old acquaintances, each vying with the other in affording them and their wives entertainment by sharing part of their provisions with them. This hospitality showed them in a pleasing light, and proved that both parties felt the utmost good will towards each other. The Indians were for the most part clothed in deer skins, with foxskin caps, or cast-off clothing of the whites; their arms, except in the case of three or four, who had rifles, were bows and arrows, similar to those I have described as used at the north; their arrows were carried in a quiver made of sealskin, which was suspended over the shoulders.
On the 15th they reached the base of the Elk Mountains, which divide the valley of the Willamette from that of the Umpqua. The ascent and descent of this ridge are both gradual, and the hills were covered with pines, spruces and oaks, with a thick undergrowth of hazel, arbutus, rubus and cornus. Through these thickets they were obliged to force their way along the back of one of the spurs, and were three hours in reaching the top, which was fifteen hundred feet above the level of the plain. A species of castanea was met with, whose leaves were lanceolate and very rusty beneath; the cup of the nut was very prickly.
The route over the Elk Mountains was very serpentine, owing to the obstruction caused by fallen timber, many of whose trunks were four and five feet in diameter. Previous to ascending the mountain, they had crossed several small streams over which the Hudson Bay Company had constructed bridges for the passage of their sheep. Much trouble was caused by the necessity of dragging a number of their pack horses with lassos from a miry pool into which they had plunged. At the encampment, during the night, ice made on the pools to the thickness of a quarter of an inch, and the thermometer had fallen to 26°. The soil on the Elk Mountains is hard and dry; on the ridge, rock is nowhere exposed to view, and only a few fragments of sandstone lie on the surface; where they made their descent, however, and in the banks of the streamlets, they saw the rock finely developed in horizontal layers. The soil also was more sandy and of indifferent quality, and the grass in consequence is thin and occasionally mixed with ferns.
On the 16th, they encamped on the Elk River. The hunters were successful in killing a large elk, which was brought into camp and divided. Lieutenant Emmons, Mr. Agate and Sergeant Stearns, with a Canadian as guide, left the encampment for Fort Umpqua, which was fourteen miles distant. The country for the first five miles was hilly, with scattered patches of pines, and it appears in places to be suitable for cultivation; the rest of the distance was over a country much broken. The trail carried them over a succession of steep hills and through deep ravines, which at times appeared almost impassable to their broken-down beasts, four of which Lieutenant Emmons was taking with him to exchange. They did not reach the bank of the river opposite the fort until between eight and nine o'clock. On the opposite side they perceived a fire, with some figures passing to and fro. By firing guns, and employing the stentorian voice of their guide, it was made known that our party was in want of two canoes to cross the river. The person in charge of the fort, Mr. Gagnier, had suffered much alarm until he recognized the voice of Boileau, their guide, which had served to quiet him, and he at once directed the canoes to cross over; while these were sought for, the horses were hobbled and the accoutrements made up, ready for transportation. Fort Umpqua was, like all those built in this country, enclosed by a tall line of pickets, with bastions at diagonal corners; it is about two hundred feet square, and is situated more than one hundred and fifty yards from the river, upon an extensive plain; it is garrisoned by five men, two women and nine dogs, and contains a dwelling for the superintendent, as well as store houses and some smaller buildings for the officers and servants' apartments.
At the time of the visit, an unusual number of Indians of the Umpqua tribe had collected around and, Mr. Gagnier said, had shown a strong disposition to attack and burn the fort. He stated that hostility to the Company and the whites generally arose from the losses they had met with from the smallpox, which they said had been introduced among them by the Company's parties under Michel and McKay, and their anger was much increased by his refusal to supply them with ammunition. So critical did he consider the state of affairs that he was about to dispatch a messenger to Vancouver, to inform Dr. McLoughlin of his situation; he had not ventured to leave the fort for many days.
Mr. Gagnier, besides entertaining Messrs. Emmons and Agate with tea &c., gave them an account of the dangers they had to pass through. He informed them that he had long before heard of the intended journey, through the Indians, and that the news had passed on to all the tribes, who were collecting in vast numbers to oppose their passage, having sworn vengeance against all the whites, or those connected with them. He also stated that within a short time they had murdered two half-breeds who had been living peaceably among them, but who had been formerly employed by the Hudson Bay Company. By way of making his story more credible, he said that the Shasta Indians had sent him word that they were lying in wait for the whites when they should come. Large numbers of the Umpquas, according to him, had assembled at the usual crossing to arrest the progress of the party, and he advised Lieutenant Emmons to cross the river at a place higher up. Mr. Gagnier furthermore thought their numbers so small that he was sure they would be all killed.
Lieutenant Emmons places the fort in latitude 43° 24' N. From the account given by Mr. Gagnier, the river pursues a northwesterly course, and runs a distance of thirty miles before it enters the sea. It is navigable from the ocean to the place where the Umpqua and Elk rivers unite, about three miles below the fort, for vessels drawing not more than six feet water. The mouth of the Umpqua offers no harbor for seagoing vessels, and has only nine feet water on its bar. Its entrance is very narrow, with low sands on the north and south sides.
The Umpqua country yields a considerable supply of furs, and principally of beaver, most of which are of small size. The regulations of the Company do not seem to be so strictly in force here as to the north of the Columbia, in relation to buying the small skins. These, I have understood, they refuse to purchase there, and every Indian who is found with a small skin is refused supplies of ammunition, which has been found sufficient to prevent the killing of the young animals. Here they also obtain from the Indians some land and sea otter, deer and bear skins.
Mr. Agate made a sketch of one of the girls of the Umpqua tribe, of which the above woodcut is a copy.
The agent at this post obligingly exchanged the horses and supplied Lieutenant Emmons with some bear and deer skins, which several of the party were in want of to make into shirts and trousers, Dr. McLoughlin having kindly sent Lieutenant Emmons, before he left the Willamette, a letter to his agent, desiring that he would afford the party all the assistance in his power.
Lieutenant Emmons and Mr. Agate were accommodated in the store with beds made of blankets. After arranging them Mr. Gagnier wished them good night, locked the door, put the key in his pocket, and went to his lodgings. In the morning, at daylight, they were released.
The day was cold, damp and foggy, preventing them from seeing any distance from the fort. The river is here one hundred and twenty yards wide, quite rapid, filled with rocks, and only navigable for canoes. The soil in the vicinity is very good, producing plentiful crops of corn, wheat and potatoes. In the garden attached to the fort are grown all the common vegetables of the United States, with melons, both water and musk. Cattle are said to thrive well.
In the morning it was found that a number of the Indians had departed, which relieved the agent's fears for himself, but increased those for our party. He was satisfied that it was too small in number to pass safely through, or overcome the resistance the Indians had prepared to oppose to them.
Few of these men seem to know the reason of the whites meeting with so few mishaps in passing through an apparently hostile country, and many deem that it is owing to their own skill and prowess. The truth is, that as soon as the Indians have traded with the whites, and become dependent on them for supplies, thenceforward they can be easily controlled. If disposed to be hostile, the fort at Umpqua would offer no resistance to their attack, but they are aware that all their supplies of ammunition, tobacco, blankets and other articles of necessity would be at once cut off; which would reduce them to great distress. They also know that in all probability they would receive a severe chastisement for such aggression, from an armed force that would forthwith be sent among them. The self-interest of the Indians is, therefore, the true safeguard of the white traders.
After effecting the exchange of horses, they discovered that two of those they had hobbled the evening before had escaped; after a three hours' search, they were finally found on the back trail, several miles from the fort. About noon they set out on their return, having under their escort the Indian wife of the agent, who wished to visit the camp to consult the doctor. Their fresh horses enabled them to get over the bad road with less difficulty than they had found on their way to the fort.
The party, in the meantime, had not been idle: preparations had been made for the probable encounter with the Indians; cartridges filled, and balls run, to the amount of fifty rounds apiece; the elk and deer meat had been jerked over a slow fire, and put into packs for transportation.
The examination of the country surrounding the camp engaged the attention of the naturalists; many seeds and plants were collected. A species of oak, new to our gentlemen, was first seen here: in its size and appearance, it resembles that of the Willamette, excepting the lobes of the leaves, which have a spire at their termination, and the acorns, which are larger and more deeply set in the cup. A yellow honeysuckle was also found on the banks of the river.
The bed of the river is here composed of sandstone and clay-slate; a few hundred yards higher up the stream, the slate disappears, and beyond it is found basalt. The basaltic hills are only half a mile distant from the sandstone range which they had just passed. A few nodules of limestone, similar to that found around Astoria, occur in the shale. This rock contains a few fossils, and the sandstone exhibits some indistinct impressions of vegetables, and seams of coal or lignite. Mr. Dana, however, is of opinion that it is not probable a large deposit of the last-named mineral will be found here.
Many friendly Indians had come into the camp, who reported that the hostile tribes were preparing to attack them and dispute their passage. Some alarm seems to have existed among the trappers which manifested itself in sullenness, accompanied with threats of leaving the party. The ostensible reason for their dissatisfaction was that they were not permitted to fire their pieces at all times about the camp. Their real motive was the hope of retarding our party until it should be overtaken by the Company's trappers under Michel, who were about sixty in number. Boileau's fears had been so worked upon that he determined to leave his wife at Fort Umpqua until Michel should pass by. As usual, they suffered some detention in the morning from the straying of their horses.
Soon after leaving their camp, Corporal Hughes was taken with such a violent chill that he was unable to proceed. The doctor, with a party under Mr. Colvocoresses, waited until the chill had subsided, and then rejoined the party.
Their guide now expressed to Lieutenant Emmons his desire to leave the party, on the plea of solicitude for his little child, but, in reality, because they were now about entering into the hostile country. After some talk, however, his fears were quieted, and he consented to go on.
During the day they passed over some basaltic hills, and then descended to another plain, where the soil was a fine loam. The prairies were on fire across their path, and had without doubt been lighted by the Indians to distress our party. The fires were by no means violent, the flames passing but slowly over the ground and being only a few inches high.
They encamped on Billey's Creek, named after a man who had been killed here by a grizzly bear, whilst passing through with a party belonging to the Company. Large game was seen in abundance, and Guardipii brought in an elk as large as a good-sized horse.
On the 19th, Burrows and his squaw, who had the night before made up their minds to leave the party, determined to continue with it. Lieutenant Emmons, in order to avoid any chance of an encounter, now deviated from the direct road, and took the upper ford or pass across the Umpqua, as he had every reason to believe that the Indians had made preparations at the lower one to obstruct his passage. About noon they reached the north fork of the Umpqua, and succeeded in fording it without accident, though they experienced some difficulty in consequence of its rapid current and uneven, slippery bottom. Its breadth is about eighty yards, between banks from fifteen to twenty feet high; its depth varies from one to five feet.
As many of the party were very unwell, Lieutenant Emmons determined to halt, and the party encamped in a beautiful oak grove. With the geological features of the country, the botany had also changed; and this was also found to be the case with the animals. A new shrub was met with, resembling the shrubby geranium of Hawaii. A beautiful laurel (Laurus ptolemii) with fragrant leaves; a ceanothus, with beautiful sky-blue flowers of delightful fragrance; a tobacco plant (Nicotiana), of fetid odor, with white flowers. For further information, I must refer to the Botanical Report.
On the Umpqua, the first grizzly bears were seen; here also the white-tailed deer was lost sight of, and the black-tailed species met with. Elk were seen in great numbers.
Two Indians made their appearance on the opposite bank of the river and were desirous of coming into the camp, but deeming that their object was to spy out the strength of the party it was thought more prudent not to permit this; they were accordingly motioned off. At this encampment the horses fared badly, for it became necessary to fetter them to prevent them from being stolen, as these Indians are notorious thieves.
On the 20th they resumed their route at an early hour and passed, during the day, through valleys and over narrow plains that afforded good pasturage for cattle. In the course of two hours, they reached the south fork of the Umpqua, which is similar in character to the northern.
During this day's ride they saw one grizzly bear, and had an encounter with another. On the first being perceived chase was given, but he escaped, and while pursuing him the second was seen. He was of large size, and approached within one hundred yards of the party, in their usual slow pace. As they came nearer to him, he raised himself on his hindquarters and looked, with a cool indifference, upon the party. Mr. Peale dismounted and fired at him, upon which he ran off, under a shower of balls from the rest of the party, many of which hit him. They did not, however, succeed in killing him, and he finally made his escape.
They encamped on the south branch of the Umpqua River, after having passed along its eastern bank for some miles.
On the 21st their route along the bank of the stream was through a country of the same description as before. They were approaching gradually the Umpqua Mountains and stopped at the place where it is usual to encamp, previous to making the ascent. During the day they passed several deserted Indian huts and met with some Indians, who were desirous of joining the camp. They declared themselves friendly to the whites and were anxious to obtain powder and ball, which, however, were not furnished them. They were armed with guns, bows and arrows, and were very particular in their inquiries about the time that Michel's party was to be expected.
During the night, an armed Indian was found lurking about the camp. He was recognized as an acquaintance by Warfield, one of the trappers, and on expressing his desire to accompany the party to California, permission to do so was given him by Lieutenant Emmons.
It now became evident that the Indians were on the watch to take advantage of any want of vigilance. The trappers had all become contented and seemed quite willing to do their duty. They well knew that they had now entered a hostile country, and that it would be dangerous for anyone to straggle or desert.
On the 22nd they began their route across the Umpqua Mountains. The ascent was at first gradual and easy; the path was quite narrow and lined with dense underbrush, through which they were at times obliged to cut their way. The party were obliged to follow each other, and formed a line of nearly a mile in length. The path was continually rising and falling, until they came to a steep bank, ascending very abruptly to the height of one thousand feet. This occasioned many of the pack horses to stumble, but without any material accident.
On the top was a small, grassy plain, along which they traveled for a short distance, after which they descended rapidly into a valley where water was found. The most difficult part of the day's journey was the ascent from this valley, to effect which they toiled for three hours. The woods had been lately on fire here, and many of the trees were still ignited. This fire had evidently been lighted by the Indians for the purpose of causing the trees to fall across the path; they had also tied some of the branches together, and interlocked others. Everything was charred, and the more annoying on that account, as our people were completely covered with charcoal dust. From the summit of this ridge, a view is had of a confused mass of abrupt ridges, between which lie small and secluded valleys. The whole range is thickly wooded, with a variety of trees, among which are the Pinus lambertiana (the first time it had been met with it), oaks, arbutus, prunus, cornus, yews, dogwood, hazel, spiraea and castanea. In different directions, dense smoke was seen arising, denoting that these savages were on the watch for the party and making signals to muster their forces for an attack, if a favorable opportunity should offer.
The Pinus lambertiana, of Douglas, was not found quite so large as described by him. The cones, although fourteen inches long, were small in circumference.
They encamped on the plain of the Shasta country, which is divided by the mountains which they had passed, from the Umpqua Valley. The greatest elevation of those mountains, by the boiling temperature of water, was one thousand seven hundred and fifty feet. On reaching the encampment, it was discovered that Mr. Peale had met with the loss of a considerable part of his luggage, in consequence of the pack having been torn open by the bushes. It was therefore resolved to remain half a day at this place, in order to send back and seek for it, as well as to give the horses time to recover from the fatigue they had undergone. The 23rd was therefore passed quietly, while a small division went back to search for the missing articles, but the only one which they succeeded in finding was the camera lucida. Some Indians were met with, who no doubt had picked up all the rest of the missing articles; but as their language was unintelligible to the guides, no questions could be asked, nor any information received from them.
The rocks in this neighborhood are here and there intersected with veins of quartz, and masses of that mineral are found strewn over the whole country. The soil that lies above the talcose rock is gravelly, and generally of a red brick color. Our botanists collected, during the day, many seeds. In the way of plants, they found the bulb which is used in California in the place of soap.
Their journey was resumed at an early hour on the 24th. The route passed through thickets, and in some places they discovered the fresh track of Indians, in searching for whom they discovered three squaws, who had been left when the others fled. It thus appeared that the Indians were watching them closely, and it was certain that in this country, a very small number of them would have been able to cut off the whole party without much injury to themselves, if they had possessed any courage.
The greater part of the day's journey was over undulating hills, and after making a distance of twenty-three miles they encamped on Young's Creek. This is a run of water, a few yards wide and a foot or less deep; it may be traced for a long distance by the trees which border it. They had now reached the country of the Klamath Indians, better known as the Rogues or Rascals, which name they have obtained from the hunters from the many acts of villainy they have practiced. The place of encampment was only a short distance from that where Dr. Bailey was defeated.
On the 25th they continued their journey over a country resembling that traversed the day before, with the exception that the wood was not so thick. The Pinus lambertiana was more common; the trees of this species were not beyond the usual size of the pine tribe, but their cones were seen fifteen inches in length. Some of the sugar produced by this tree was obtained: it is of a sweet taste, with a slightly bitter and piny flavor; it resembles manna, and is obtained by the Indians by burning a cavity in the tree, whence it exudes. It is gathered in large quantities. This sugar is a powerful cathartic, and affected all the party who partook of it, yet it is said that it is used as a substitute for sugar among the trappers and hunters. The soil passed over was loose and light, approaching a sandy loam.
In the afternoon they entered on the plains of Rogues' or Tututnis' River, and encamped on its banks. This is a beautiful stream, upwards of one hundred yards in width, with a rapid current, flowing over a gravelly bottom at the rate of three miles an hour: it abounds in fish, on which the Indians principally subsist; the banks are low and overgrown with bushes for some distance from the stream; the soil is poor and sandy. Two or three hundred yards from the river there is a sudden rise of ten feet, and another at the same distance beyond, from the last of which the land rises into hills from six hundred to a thousand feet in height. On these hills the soil changes to granitic sand.
Inass, the Indian hunter, being in search of game at some distance from the camp, killed a deer, and while in the act of skinning it was surprised by a party of Indians, who shot a flight of arrows over him; he at once sprang to his horse, seized his rifle, and, according to his own account, killed one of them. The utmost haste was necessary to effect his escape, and he left his game behind.
Towards night, a canoe with two Indians approached the camp, which they were not suffered to enter. These canoes were dug out square at each end, and quite rude.
In the morning they found within their camp an Indian basket with roots, which they supposed to have been left there during the night by some Indian whose curiosity was so great as to induce him to peril his life to satisfy it.
The 26th, they passed along the banks of the Rogues' River, which runs on in a westerly direction; upon it the Indians were seen spearing salmon from their canoes.
Within a short distance of their camping place, they came upon a party of about fifty Indians, who seemed to be surprised that their hiding place had been discovered. They appeared to be unarmed, and looked very innocent.
During the day their course was northeasterly, along the banks of the river. About a mile from the camp, granite of a light color and a fine grain, that would serve as a beautiful building stone, was seen in places. As they proceeded, the valley of the river was encroached upon by the mountains, and the ground became very much broken. The river, also, flowed in rapids, owing to the same cause, and its banks became projecting and jagged rocks. A place was pointed out [Rock Point] where a former party had been attacked and defeated with great loss, in consequence of the Indians being able to conceal themselves behind the rocks. Our party found no one to oppose their passage. In the afternoon they reached the forks, and took the southern one [Bear Creek], which brought them to Turner's encampment [Willow Springs?], where his party were attacked, and most of them massacred. They had allowed the Indians to enter the camp in numbers, when they suddenly rose upon the whites, who were but nine in all, and were, at the time of the attack, attending to the horses. Two of the party were killed immediately. Turner, who was a strong athletic man, was seated by the fire when the fray began; he snatched up a brand, and defended himself, dealing destruction around him, until his wife brought him his rifle, with which he killed several. A large fallen tree lies near the spot, at one end of which Turner stood, while the Indians occupied the other, and whence, assisted by his wife, he made such havoc among them that they at last retreated, and allowed Turner and his wounded companions to make good their retreat to the north. They returned to Willamette with the loss of all their horses and property. There are still human bones, and among them parts of skulls, that mark the spot where this deadly strife took place.
Two Indians came into the camp, who were said to be friendly, having often visited the Company's parties. One of them had a kind of coat of mail, to protect himself from arrows. It resembled a straitjacket and only covered the body, leaving the arms free. It was made of sticks as large as a man's thumb, woven together so closely as to resist the force of arrows. It consisted of two parts, fastened together with shoulder straps at the top, and secured around the waist at the bottom.
On the opposite bank of the Rogues' River some Indians were seen at a fire, but on the discovery of our party they removed farther from the river. Shortly afterwards, a small dog belonging to them came down to the riverbank, when a man, by the name of Wood, took his rifle, and, contrary to the orders and rules of the camp, shot it. Lieutenant Emmons had discharged the man a few days before for some misbehavior, and he would have been turned out of camp if there had been any place of safety for him. It was now sufficiently evident why the Indians had removed immediately out of gunshot. During the night the Indians collected within hearing of the camp, and had a war dance.
Most of the gentlemen of the party had suffered exceedingly from attacks of the ague; the chills were very violent while they lasted, and several were obliged to stop for an hour or two during their continuance. This became a source of uneasiness to the whole party, for it was necessary to pass on rapidly, and not delay the main body more than was unavoidably necessary: the sudden and great atmospheric changes which constantly occurred tended to aggravate, if they did not produce, these attacks: the thermometer during the day frequently standing above 80°, and at night nearly as low as the freezing point.
On the 27th, they proceeded along the bank of the river. The Indians were observed to be gathering and were heard to utter yells on the opposite bank. After a while, a large band of them were seen near a rocky point which encroaches upon the river [This must be Rock Point; the sequence of events seems to be confused in the retelling.], and where the path came within the reach of their arrows. The party now had strong reason for apprehending an attack; Lieutenant Emmons, therefore, took such precautions as were necessary to clear the path from any dangers, by throwing a detachment on foot in advance of the main party. Here the high perpendicular bank confined the path to very narrow limits, rendering a passing party liable to be seriously molested by an attack from Indians, who might conceal themselves from view among the rocks on the opposite side of the rapid and narrow river. No attack, however, took place, as the Indians perceived the disposition that was made to prevent it. After the party had gone by and were beyond rifle shot they again made their appearance and began to utter taunts, which were coolly listened to, except by the females of Mr. Walker's family. The squaws (wives of the hunters) had prepared themselves for an attack, apparently with as much unconcern as their husbands. Michel La Framboise with his party had been twice assaulted at this place. A few miles beyond they left the banks of the Rogues' River, taking a more easterly route, over a rolling prairie [the Bear Creek valley] which is bounded by low hills, resembling the scenery of the Willamette Valley. The soil in some few places was good, but generally gravelly and barren. On the plain, some Indians were seen at a distance, on horseback, who fled like wild animals the moment they discovered the party. Some of the horses began now to give out, and they were obliged to abandon them. In the afternoon, they encamped on Beaver Creek, so named by Lieutenant Emmons, from the number of those animals that were seen engaged in building dams.
An antelope was killed, which was one of four that the hunters had seen; it was of a dun and white color, and its hair was remarkably soft. The Indians take this animal by exciting its curiosity: for this purpose they conceal themselves in a bush near its feeding grounds and, making a rustling noise, soon attract its attention, when it is led to advance towards the place of concealment, until the arrow pierces it. If there are others in company, they will frequently remain with the wounded until they are all in like manner destroyed. This species of antelope, according to the hunters, only inhabit the prairie, being seldom seen even in the open wooded country. The flavor of the meat was thought to be superior to that of the deer.
A species of rabbit or hare was seen in great numbers on the high prairie; their large ears had somewhat the appearance of wings. The Indian mode of capturing them is by constructing a small enclosure of brush, open on one side, and having a small hole through the opposite side, into which they are driven.
It was observed too that many of the pine trees had their bark pierced in many places, with cylindrical holes about an inch and a half deep. In some of these an acorn, with its cup end inwards, was inserted, which was supposed to be the provision stored away by some species of woodpecker.
On the 28th they advanced to the foot of the Boundary Range, where they encamped. The soil and country resembled that passed over the day before, and the woods were also oak and pine, but none of the lambertiana. On the hills granite is seen to crop out, and in the distance was observed a singular isolated rock [Pilot Rock], which stands like a tower on the top of the ridge, rising above the surrounding forest with a bare and apparently unbroken surface. This peak, according to Lieutenant Emmons' observations, is on the parallel of 42° N.; from its top an extensive country is overlooked, and as soon as the party came in sight of it a dense column of smoke arose, which was thought to be a signal made by the Klamath Indians, to the Shasta tribe, of the approach of our party.* (*This I have designated as Emmons' Peak, after the officer who had charge of this party, as a memorial of the value of his services in conducting it safely through this hostile country.)
On the way, they met an old squaw, with a large firebrand in her hand, with which she had just set the grass and bushes on fire; when surprised, she stood motionless, and appeared to be heedless of anything that was passing around her. She was partly clothed in dressed deer skins, one around her waist and another thrown over her shoulders, both fastened with a girdle, and having long fringes made of thongs of deer skins braided; there were no other Indians in sight. The party encamped in a valley among the hills, in which were found many boulders of granite and syenite.
The hostility of the Indians, and their having been successful in stealing the horses of former parties, induced Lieutenant Emmons to have an unusually strict guard kept during the night.* (*The Klamath Indians took the pains to send word to Fort Umpqua that they were prepared to kill any whites who should attempt to pass through their country.)
On the 29th, they set out to ascend the Boundary Mountains, which separate Mexico [i.e., California] from the United States. It is a range of hills from twelve hundred to two thousand feet high, some of whose summits have a mural front [the Table Rocks]; the features of all the ridges wear a basaltic appearance, though some of them are of sandstone and contain fossils. As they ascended, they every moment expected to be attacked, particularly at a steep and narrow path, where a single horse has barely room to pass. The man Tibbetts was one of a party of fifteen which was defeated here by the Indians some three years before. One of their number was killed, and two died of their wounds on the Umpqua, whither they were obliged to retreat, although they had forced the Indians back with great loss. He showed great anxiety to take his revenge on them, but no opportunity offered, for the party had no other difficulty than scrambling up a steep path, and through thick shrubbery, to reach the top. Not an Indian was to be seen, although they had evidently made some preparations to attack the party; the ground had been but recently occupied, some large trees felled across the path by burning, and many other impediments placed to prevent the party from advancing. The whole mountainside was admirably adapted for an ambuscade.
At the summit of this range, they got their first view of the Klamath Valley. It was beneath them, walled on both sides by high basaltic hills, one beyond another. Mount Shasta, a high, snowy peak, of a sugar loaf form, which rose through the distant haze, bore southward, forty-five miles distant. They descended on the south side, and encamped on the banks of Otter Creek, within a mile of the Klamath River.
This ridge divides the waters flowing to the north and south. The soil seemed to change for the worse, becoming more sandy.
In consequence of the illness of some of the party, it was concluded to remain stationary on the 30th: the others made excursions around the camp. The country they saw was a broad prairie valley, dotted with oaks and pines, with a serpentine line of trees marking the edges of the streams till they are lost in the distance. This valley lies in the midst of hills, clothed with a forest of evergreens, and through this the waters of the Klamath flow, passing beyond it through a narrow valley on the west. The most remarkable object in this place is the isolated conical peak, which rises immediately from the level plain to the height of one thousand feet, and is destitute of trees, except on its summit.
Near their camp was the remains of an Indian hut, which had been constructed of bent sticks: this is represented at the end of the chapter.
Lieutenant Emmons, during the day, obtained both dip and intensity observations. The thermometer, in the shade, rose to 100°. At dawn the following morning, it was 32°. The hunters did not succeed in procuring any game.
On the 1st of October, they were enabled to take an early start. The weather was, however, sultry, and the atmosphere again so smoky as to shut out the Shasta Peak from view. In about two hours they crossed the Klamath River, where it was about eighty yards wide, with low banks, destitute of bushes. It was about four feet deep, with a pebbly bottom. Both above and below the ford, there were rapids; the volume of water was about equal to that of the Umpqua. From the appearance of its banks, it is subject to overflow. The prairie, after crossing the river, became dry and barren, from which a solitary butte, by which term these hills are known, occasionally rose up, from one to five hundred feet high. These are peculiar to this country. Heaps of volcanic rocks, consisting of large masses of grayish or reddish porphyritic lava, in blocks of from one to ten cubic feet in size, were lying on the surface in disorderly piles. Beyond, to the eastward, the lava heaps became still more numerous.
They encamped on the southern branch of the Klamath River, which is a beautiful, clear and rapid stream, where they met with a small spot of grass, the only one they had seen during the day. Two Indians were discovered on the lookout from one of the lava heaps. Lieutenant Emmons, taking the guide with him, succeeded in preventing their escape, and was enabled to approach them. They were at first under great fear, but soon became reconciled, and sold two salmon they had with them, which they had taken in the river with their fish spears. The salmon were of a whitish color, and not at all delicate to the taste; their tails were worn off, and the fish otherwise bruised and injured. Many salmon are caught in all these rivers. The Indians were thought to be better-looking than those before seen about the villages, and were quite naked, excepting the maro. After having disposed of their fish, they were willing to sell their bows and arrows, which they had hid in the grass. These, which were all neatly made, were bought for a knife. They then pointed out some more of their tribe, who were seated on the side of a distant hill, and were very desirous that they might be permitted to come into the camp, but permission was refused them. Here our gentlemen saw large bundles of rushes, made up in the form of a lashed-up hammock, which the Indians are said to use instead of canoes.
On the 2nd, they traveled all day over a rolling prairie, without water; the low ground was encrusted with salts, notwithstanding which the land was better than that passed over the day before. Some patches of spiraea and dogwood were met with, and a better growth of grass, although it was still very scanty.
Large herds of antelopes were seen, but none of them were killed; the hunters also recognized the mountain sheep, which are of a dark color, much larger than the common sheep, and having large horns. Towards the afternoon they came to some holes containing water, and such had been the suffering of some of the animals from thirst that they rushed into them with their packs, and it required much labor to extricate them, for which purpose it was necessary to use the lasso. About midday they left the Klamath Valley, which is far inferior to any portion of the country they had passed through, and as they crossed the hills which enclose it they found that the outcropping rocks were composed of a dark green serpentine. They encamped a little beyond the hills, and in the vicinity of their camp boulders of a coarse syenite, forming the bed of the creek, and lying along its course, were seen. The hornblende crystals of the latter rock were often two inches long, and were set in a white granular paste of feldspar.
At their camp they were visited by a party of Shasta Indians, who were allowed to enter it, and for some time there was a brisk trade for their bows and arrows. These Indians are a fine-looking race, being much better proportioned than those more to the northward, and their features more regular. One of the boys was extremely good-looking. He had a bright black eye and pleasing expression of countenance; he was clad in dressed deer skins over his shoulders and about his body, but his legs were bare. They all wore their black hair hanging down to their shoulders, and they do not compress their heads. Mr. Agate had much difficulty in getting them to stand still for the purpose of having their portraits taken, and gave them a miniature of his mother to look at, hoping that this would allay their fears, but it had a contrary effect, as they now believed that he desired to put some enchantment upon them and thought that he was the medicine man of the party.
They obtained an exhibition of the archery of the Indians by putting up a button at twenty yards distance, which one of them hit three times out of five: the successful marksman was rewarded with it and a small piece of tobacco. They use these bows with such dexterity as to kill fish, and launch their arrows with such force that one of the gentlemen remarks he would as leave be shot at with a musket at the distance of one hundred yards as by one of these Indians with his bow and arrow. Their bows and arrows are beautifully made: the former are of yew and about three feet long; they are flat, and an inch and a half to two inches wide: these are backed very neatly with sinew, and painted. The arrows are upwards of thirty inches long; some of them were made of a close-grained wood, a species of spiraea, while others were of reed; they were feathered for a length of from five to eight inches, and the barbed heads were beautifully wrought from obsidian: the head is inserted in a grooved piece, from three to five inches long, and is attached to the shaft by a socket; this, when it penetrates, is left in the wound when the shaft is withdrawn; a very shallow blood channel is sometimes cut in the shaft. In shooting the arrow, the bow is held horizontally, braced by the thumb of the left hand, and drawn by the thumb and three first fingers of the right hand. To obviate the disadvantage of drawing to the breast, the chest is thrown backwards; on discharging the arrow, they throw out the right leg and stand on the left. Their quivers are made of deer, raccoon or wildcat skin; these skins are generally whole, being left open at the tail end.
A disease was observed among them which had the appearance of the leprosy, although the doctor did not recognize it as such; one of the six had wasted away to almost a skeleton from its effects.
The old man was pointed out as the father-in-law of Michel La Framboise, who, as I have said before, has a wife in nearly every tribe.
As to dress, they can scarcely be said to wear any except a mantle of deer or wolf skin. A few of them had deer skins belted around their waists with a highly ornamented girdle.
On the 3rd, they continued their route up the plain, and soon reached its termination, after which they entered the forest on the slopes of the Shasta Range; the path was rendered very broken and uneven by the knolls of trachyte which were seen in every direction. On arriving at the top of the ridge, they had a magnificent view of the snowy peak of Shasta, with a nearer and intermediate one destitute of snow, with tall pines growing nearly to its top. Where the surface could be seen, it appeared as though it was covered with large blocks of rock: its conical shape proved its volcanic character, although no crater could be perceived.
The Shasta Peak is a magnificent sight, rising as it does to a lofty height, its steep sides emerging from the mists which envelop its base and seem to throw it off to an immense distance; its cleft summit gave proof of its former active state as a volcano. The snow lies in patches on the sides and part of the peak of this mountain; but there is a great difference in the position of its snow line from that of Mount Hood or St. Helens. Its height [14,179 feet] is said to be fourteen thousand three hundred and ninety feet, but Lieutenant Emmons thinks it is not so high. After passing this ridge, they soon met the headwaters of the Sacramento, flowing to the southward, and their camp was pitched on the banks of another stream that came from the Shasta Peak.
Our party now had their prospects somewhat brightened, having passed safely through the country of the "bad Indians." I cannot but regret that they should at this time have been found in so hostile a state that it rendered it not only prudent, but necessary for the safety of the party, that all intercourse should be avoided, and consequently one of the objects of the Expedition, that of acquiring some knowledge of their actual condition, numbers &c., was frustrated.
On the 4th, they had fairly entered into the district of pines: again some of the lambertiana were measured, and found to be eighteen feet in circumference, with cones sixteen inches long.
They encamped on Destruction River, which runs from this mountain range toward the south, in a place where they found food for their horses and water in abundance. The air was delightful; the forest protected them from the rays of the sun, and besides this the game was plentiful. Near the encampment, in a northwest direction, was a mountain ridge shooting up in sharp conical points and needle-shaped peaks, having a precipitous front. One of these peaks almost overhangs the valley, presenting a gray surface of naked rock two thousand feet high. The valley which adjoins is strewn over with boulders of white granite, similar to that already described. From this, there is little doubt that the ridge is formed of the same material. At meridian they reached a small valley bordering on the Destruction River, where they found a chalybeate spring. The water oozes out from the rocks, bubbling up freely, and is highly charged with carbonic acid gas. In taste it was found agreeable to both the riders and the animals. Its temperature was 50°, that of the air being 75°; about a gallon per minute is discharged. Around it there is a thick deposit of iron rust, and a few yards distant a small pond, the bottom of which was also coated with a ferruginous deposit. The rocks in the vicinity of the spring were of the trachytic and slightly cellular lava, which is speckled with grains of feldspar. The hunters said that the spring was in all respects similar to that on the Bear Creek, which empties into the Youta Lake [Utah Lake--Great Salt Lake], known in the Rocky Mountains as the Soda Spring. Mr. Dana found some difficulty in accounting for this emission of carbonic acid, as no limestone was found or known to exist in the neighborhood; yet he is inclined to believe that it may be owing to the decomposition of sulphuret of iron. For further information upon this subject, I would refer to his Geological Report.
On this night they had a severe storm from the westward, and occasionally heard the crash produced by the falling of large pines.
The character of the country had now changed, and afforded a new and more extended botanical field, as well as new geological features. The general tendency of the ridges is north and south, but the whole may be classed as a series of valleys and hills thrown in all positions. The hills are, for the greater part, covered with soil, when it can find any place of deposit; and all are richly clothed with vegetation. The principal timber consists of pines and oaks, and there are many smaller plants, of which the flowers must be abundant in the proper season. As it was, our botanists reaped something of a harvest, for information respecting which the Botanical Report is referred to.
They continued to follow Destruction River until the 9th, when it was joined by a stream from the northward and eastward, which was taken to be the northeast branch of Pit River: it was larger than the stream they had been following for the last few days, and is supposed by some to take its rise in Pit Lake; but this I very much doubt, as it lies on the other side of the Cascade or Californian Range, and the two united form the Sacramento.
Though I have dignified these two streams with the name of rivers, it must not be supposed that they are really such, in our acceptation of the word. The party are generally of the opinion that they should be called creeks.
They encamped late in the evening near a small rivulet, to the westward of the Sacramento. They had much difficulty with their horses, which had now become tired out. For this reason it became necessary to abandon one of them, as he was unable to proceed any further.
On the 10th they made an early start, and left the mountains. The width of the range they had passed through was upwards of one hundred miles. At one place Guardipii, their guide, lost his way; but on applying to Warfield's Indian wife, she pointed out the trail without difficulty.
Charles Wilkes, Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, 1845, vol. 5, pages 217-242
SOUTHWESTERN OREGON.I am indebted to the notes of Mr. Agate and Mr. Brackenridge for the following particulars respecting the natives seen on the journey from the Columbia to San Francisco in California.
"The party left the Willamette settlement on the 9th of September, and on the same day met with some Klickitats from the neighborhood of Vancouver, who had come on a hunting excursion. This tribe is distinguished by having the lower part of the septum of the nose cut away. 10th. Crossed a creek near a large native burial place, where wooden utensils and other articles were deposited. On the 13th, footsteps of natives were seen, and also a fish weir.
"On the 14th the party fell in with an old Calapooia, whose portrait was sketched by Mr. Agate. He wore moccasins, an elkskin dress, a cap of foxskin with the ears remaining, and his quiver was of sealskin. Mr. Agate remarked, further, that the costume of the Calapooia women is not unlike the Polynesian. For the last four days the prairies were found to be stripped of herbage by fires, some still burning; that had been kindled, it was said, to facilitate the gathering of sunflower seed." No marks of fire had been observed in Interior Oregon.
"On the 15th the party crossed the Calapooia or Elk Ridge, which is upwards of a thousand feet in elevation and separates the waters of the Willamette and Umpqua rivers," and likewise, to all appearance, the Calapooia from the Umpqua tribe. "16th. Mr. Agate was of the party that visited the Fort. The Canadian in charge was in daily expectation of an attack from the natives, partly in consequence of a refusal to supply them with ammunition: he attributed the hostile disposition of the natives south of this place to the circumstance of the smallpox having been accidentally introduced among them, and he discouraged any attempt to proceed further. 17th. In the meantime, the camp was visited, both on this and on the preceding day, by different natives, who appeared friendly and inoffensive, and soon went away.
"On the 18th the journey was resumed, and the party crossed a prairie that was still burning. 19th. Two unarmed natives were seen, who wished to come into the camp, but this was not permitted. The bark of the Arbutus procera appeared to be made use of in this quarter, for some purpose not ascertained. 20th. Fell in with four or five natives, who said that the people on the Umpqua were waiting for Michel's party (trappers of the H. B. Company), intending to attack them. 21st. Encamped at the foot of the Umpqua Ridge, which divides the waters of the Umpqua and Rogues Rivers. The pass is very steep and difficult, and is also considered dangerous on account of the bad character of the natives who, according to report, sometimes shoot arrows at travelers or their horses, from places of concealment.
"On the 22nd the party crossed the ridge without accident and without seeing natives, and encamped at its southern base. 23rd. Rested for the day. Three men of the Klamath tribe would have passed us without speaking, had not our guide addressed them. All the natives seen since leaving the Willamette have been a squalid, miserable set of beings, shy in approaching white men. 24th. Resumed the journey, and in the course of the day several natives were seen hiding among the trees and bushes, but they did not appear disposed to molest us. 25th. Encamped on the banks of Rogues River. One of the hunters reported that after having killed a deer he had been shot at with arrows and forced to abandon it. 26th. Some natives* were seen, and also canoes, which were excavated from logs, and appeared to be used principally for spearing fish in the shallow waters. (*A native was reported to have been seen, wearing a species of cuirass; in all probability similar to the one obtained from the same tribe through the Hudson Bay Company. This cuirass is composed of flattened parallel slicks, woven together by means of twine, most of which is of vegetable fiber, and the residue of human hair. The shoulder straps are of the usual soft leather, but with the hair remaining on. Apart from the peculiarities in the manufacture, this, and the slight leather shield of the Missouri, form the only examples I am acquainted with of the use of defensive armor by the American tribes.) Reached Turner's Camp, where a party of traders had formerly been defeated, and compelled to return. Human bones were strewed around. 27th. Continuing along the river, natives were heard shouting on the opposite bank. At a place where a former party had been annoyed, several of the company dismounted and scoured the bush. Some natives at a great distance took shelter behind a tree, and it was evident that the rifle was much dreaded in this vicinity. After leaving the river, three mounted natives were seen, making off at a rapid rate." The horses had doubtless been derived from some trading party, and were the only ones seen on the route." The mistletoe was abundant, and in many instances formed the only foliage on the trees. 28th. Some natives again were heard shouting. Encamped at the base of the Shasta or Boundary Ridge, which very nearly coincides with the forty-second parallel of latitude, or the political boundary between Oregon and California. Another trading party had been defeated at this place and compelled to return. On the following day, however, the ridge was crossed without seeing natives." [pages 39-41]
To go back a little in the narration: we left the same party on the 29th of September, at the ridge which divides Oregon from California. The political boundary proved to be also a natural one: for "a change took place in the general appearance of the country, which was now mostly bare, the vegetation having been dried up by the heat of summer; while the northern slope was well wooded as far as the eye could reach." A difference also was soon apparent in the habits and disposition of the natives; who belonged to the Shasta tribe.
After crossing the ridge, the party remained during the 30th at their encampment by the side of a small stream. At this place "an old feather dress was found hanging near the remains of two huts; the only ones seen on the whole route," and which, according to Mr. Agate's drawing, were similar to those of the San Francisco tribes. On the 1st of October, the party soon "reached the main river; and continuing over a level plain, again struck it towards evening, and encamped on its banks. An interview was had with some natives, who sold us a species of white-fleshed salmon, which abounds in this river."
One of these natives (whose portrait was taken by Mr. Agate) wore a hemispherical cap, of the same kind of manufacture as the water baskets, and his quiver, in the drawing, resembles those of the Sacramento tribes, and is carried in the same manner. "Another native had a dress of leather, devoid of hair," and of the usual aboriginal manufacture.
"On the 2nd, the party proceeded over a gently undulating prairie abounding in saline efflorescences, and encamped on a small stream." The encampment was "visited by several natives, who sold bows and arrows," and Mr. Agate likewise obtained a sketch of one of these individuals.
Both Mr. Agate and Mr. Brackenridge think the Shasta should be associated with the Oregon tribes, and they were first struck with the physical change on arriving at the Sacramento. I would observe, however, that the complexion in the drawings is too dark for the Mongolian race, and among other variations in habits that "the bundles of rushes for canoes, in the form of a lashed-up hammock" (mentioned in the Narrative), entirely correspond with Choris' representation of the Californian canoe.
On the 3rd the party crossed the commencing ridge of a mountainous tract of country, "and encamped on a small stream, which was said to be one of the tributaries of the Sacramento. On the 4th the forest was at first rather open, the undergrowth having been recently burned by the natives, and the trunks of some of the large pines were still on fire. Fires were also remaining at some native camps, but the people kept out of sight, and in one instance the retreat had been so precipitate that a woman's basket and bag had been left behind. According to one of the Canadians, 'these natives subsist principally on seeds and small fruits, have no huts, but take shelter behind rocks and trees and clothe themselves in undressed deerskins.' The route for the two following days, continued through a rugged mountainous country, full of deep ravines and covered with boulders and angular fragments of rock, the natives still avoiding the party, although from the frequent occurrence of trails they must be numerous. The horses having suffered from the want of food, the party encamped early at a patch of grass; and remained there during the 7th. The journey was resumed on the 8th, and during this and the succeeding day the country continued much of the same character. On the 10th, however, the ridges were observed to be less steep, with the general surface declining gradually towards the south and west," and on the same day, as already mentioned, the party reached the main Sacramento.
On reviewing now this account, it would seem that the natives who avoided the party may have been women collecting food. The description, however, of the Canadian seems to indicate the existence of a separate tribe. [pages 110-111]
Charles Pickering, The Races of Man and Their Geographical Distribution, 1848
Avoiding the usual detail of a mere geographical sketch, and passing over the long list of stations which the country presents, and which are seldom anything more than mere trading posts, slightly fortified as a protection against the Indians, it is proposed to give an account of some of the principal expeditions for discovery and exploration which have of late years been sent to the wilds of Oregon. Of these the first that presents itself to our notice is an overland expedition sent by Captain Wilkes, when in command of the U.S. Exploring Expedition in Southern Oregon and California. The party left Fort Vancouver and proceeded by the way of the Hudson's Bay Company's farm on Multnomah Island, through the Willamette Valley to Champoeg. Some of them suffered from fever and ague, which they rather attributed to the bad position of their camps than to any other cause. The settlers in the valley were mostly old trappers, who were ready at any time to sell their improvements and return to the business of trapping. In the southern part of Willamette Valley the country stretches out into wild prairie ground, rising in the distance into low undulating hills, which are bare of trees, with the exception of a few scattered oaks. From the Willamette they marched by a tedious and difficult route over the Elk Mountains to Fort Umpqua, a station enclosed by a line of high pickets with bastions at diagonal corners. The area is about two hundred feet square, inhabited by five men, two women, and nine dogs. A large number of the Umpqua Indians were collected in the vicinity of the fort, and manifested an intention to attack it. The river Umpqua flows from this station a northwesterly course for thirty miles to the sea. It is navigable for vessels drawing six feet of water, but has only nine feet of water on its bar, and no harbor for seagoing vessels.
The district around the Umpqua fort yields a considerable supply of furs, principally beaver of small size. The superintendent of the fort exchanged some fine horses for the exhausted steeds of his visitors, and gave them some bear and deer skins to be made into shirts and trousers. The agents of the company seemed to feel no concern at their exposed situation, a fact upon which Mr. Wilkes remarks, that few of them seem to know the reason of their meeting so few mishaps in passing through an apparently hostile country; and many deem it owing to their own skill and prowess. The truth is, that as soon as the Indians have traded with the whites and become dependent upon them for supplies, thenceforth they can be easily controlled. If disposed to be hostile the fort at Umpqua could offer no resistance to their attack, but they are aware that all their supplies of ammunition, tobacco, blankets, and other articles of necessity would be at once cut off, which would reduce them to great distress. The self-interest, therefore, of the Indians is the safeguard of the white traders.
After leaving the fort, the party marched to the south branch of the Umpqua River, noticing by the way grizzly bears, and white-tailed and black-tailed deer. They crossed the Umpqua Mountains and came into the plain of the Shasta country, noticing by the way the bulb used as a substitute for soap in California and Mexico. Their march over the mountains was obstructed by Indians, who set fire to the woods for the purpose of causing the trees to fall across the path, and sometimes tied branches of trees across the trail, with a view to impede the party. Their signal fires were seen on every side.
The party next reached the country of the Hamath or Klamath Indians, known among the hunters by the name Rogues or Rascals, which they have merited by their villainy. During this part of their journey, the travelers investigated the character of the Pinus lambertiana, whose cones were found to be fifteen inches long. Some of the sugar produced by this tree was obtained. It has a sweet taste, with a slightly bitter and turpentine flavor. It resembles manna, and is obtained by the Indians by making a cavity in the tree, whence it exudes. It is a cathartic, and affected all of the party who used it; although the less delicate old hunters are in the habit of using it as a substitute for sugar. Passing along the banks of the Tututnis, or Rogues River, a part of the expedition was attacked by a band of Indians, who massacred the most of them. Mr. Turner, who was with the party, was a strong athletic man. The Indians surprised his companions by a stratagem, and the affray began while he was seated by the fire. He snatched up a firebrand and defended himself until his wife brought him his rifle, with which several of the wily enemy were made to pay the penalty of their treachery. [The Turner fight took place in 1835, six years before the Wilkes expedition.]
The antelopes which are found in Oregon were here first seen and shot by the expedition. Their hair is remarkably short, and their flesh superior in flavor to that of the deer. It only inhabits the prairie, being seldom seen even in the open-wooded country. Leaving the Rogues River, the expedition ascended the Boundary Mountains, which then separated the United States and Mexican territories, and descended on the south side into the Klamath Valley, the formation of which appeared to be composed of a dark green serpentine, inferior to any portion of the country they had passed over. In this valley they found the Shasta Indians, a good-looking, well-proportioned race, who wore their black hair hanging down to their shoulders, but no clothes save an ornamental girdle and a mantle of wolf or deer skin. They drove a brisk trade with the expedition for their bows and arrows. These were beautifully made: the bows of yew, about ten feet long, flat, an inch and a half to two inches wide, backed very neatly with sinew, and painted. The arrows were about thirty inches long, some made of close-grained wood, others of reed. They were feathered from five to eight inches, and the barbed heads were made of finely wrought obsidian. The head is inserted in a grooved piece from three to five inches long, and is attached to the shaft by a socket. This barb when it penetrates is left in the wound when the shaft is withdrawn. One of the party put up a button at twenty yards distance, and an Indian exhibited his powers by hitting it three times in five. He was rewarded for his dexterity with the button and a plug of tobacco. They use their bows and arrows so dexterously as to kill fish, and one of the men remarked after watching their performances that he would as leave be shot at with a musket at one hundred yards as with one of those Indians with his bow and arrow.
Thomas Jefferson Farnham, Life, Adventures and Travels in California, New York 1851, pages 435-439 According to the Foreword, this digest of earlier descriptions of Oregon was added by an editor sometime after Farnham's death in 1848.
Last revised August 11, 2018