Page images
PDF
EPUB

Four miles above this place is Oregon City, situated on the east bank, just below the Great falls. This is a thriving little place of 1,200 inhabitants. Woollen and paper factories are the chief features of the place. Salem is about 65 miles by water from Oregon City, and is the capital of the State. It contains a population estimated at 4,000. Thirty-five miles further up is Albany, a prosperous town and known as the granary of Oregon ; estimated population, 2,500. The next place of importance is Corvallis, a flourishing little city of about 3,000 inhabitants, distant from Albany 15 miles. Eugene City, 71 miles from Corvallis, is the next place of importance, and is located at the head of navigation on the Willamette river; population estimated at 2,000. There are many small towns and neigliborhood landings situated at different points between the places named, all or most of which present evidences of thrift.

The principal towns on the Columbia river are, first, Astoria, about 18 miles from the bar; population estimated at 1,000. Next is Cathlamette, 30 miles; then Oak Point, 12 miles; then Rainier, 15 miles; then St. Helens, 20 miles; then Vancouver, 24 miles; then Cascades, 45 miles. All of these places, except Astoria and Vancouver, are small villages or landings. At Cascades is the first portage on the Columbia. On the north side of tho river, as before stated, is an iron railroad six miles long; on the south side is a wooden trainway of six miles, over which passed all the freight of the upper Columbia prior to April, 1863, at which time the iron road was completed. The next town of any importance is the Dalles, 50 miles further up. This is a busy little place, containing a popuulation of about 2,500. Here another iron railroad of 14 miles connects with the upper boats at Celilo. Eighty-five miles further up is Umatilla, the great landing-place for Idaho and eastern Oregon; its population is about 1,500. Thirty-five miles further up is Wallula, or old Fort Walla-Walla. This is the landing for Walla-Walla and Grande Ronde valleys, and during the season of luw water is the landing for goods shipped to Montana via Pen d'Oreille lake, and for Fort Colville and British Columbia. This place, though one of the oldest, has only a population of about 200. The next and only place of any note above Wallula is Lewiston, in Idaho, distant about 160 miles. This place has a population of about 1,000, is the head of navigation on Snake river west of the mountains, and was formerly the seat of government of Idaho Territory.

SECTION II.

AGRICULTURAL AND MISCELLANEOUS RESOURCES.

Oregon is peculiarly an agricultural and fruit-growing State, though by no means deficient in valuable mineral resources. Possessing a climate of unrivalled salubrity, abounding in vast tracts of rich arable lands, heavily timbered throughout its mountain ranges, watered by innumerable springs and streams, and subject to none of the drawbacks arising from the chilling winds and seasons of aridity which prevail further south, it is justly considered the most favored region on the Pacific slope as a home for an agricultural, fruit-growing, and manufacturing population. As yet it is but thinly settled, a fact owing in part to the injudicious system pursued under the donation act of 1852, by which large tracts of land (320 acres to single settlers, 640 to married couples) were held by persons who were unable to cultivate them; and in part to the insufficiency of munication with the markets of the world. These drawbacks, however, will soon be remedied by the establishment of railroads, the increase of steam navigation, and the consequent accession of population. The wonderful richness of the valleys, the extraordinary inducements to settlement by families, the beauty

com

of the scenery and healthfulness of the climate, must soon attract large immigration. The writer has traversed this State from the Columbia river to the southern boundary, and can safely assert that there is no eqnal extent of country on the Pacific slope abounding in such a variety of attractions to those who seek pleasant homes. The Willamette, the Umpqua, Rogue River, and many others, are regions unrivalled for farming and stock-raising.

The following extracts from a premium essay written by Mr. W. Lair Hill for the State Agricultural Society give a correct idea of the general resources and productions of Oregon. The descriptions of the country and facts stated are entirely reliable :

Oregon is peculiar in climate, especially that portion lying west of the Cascade mountains, wbich is affected greatly by its proximity to the ocean. This portion has a climate in many respects closely resembling that of England. Although in a high latitude, it is mildneither very hot in summer nor extremely cold in winter; is damp and somewhat disagreeable during what is termed the rainy season, corresponding with the winter of the east; but delightful through the summer and autumn.

The climate in the eastern portion of the State has some resemblance to that of the older northwestern States, excepting the frequent rains wbich fall in those States during the late summer months.

As a whole, the State of Oregon presents so great a variety of climate that it cannot be accurately exhibited under any general description, and which will more fully appear from special descriptions and tables hereafter presented. It is a matter to be regretted that the compass of a brief essay does not permit the presentation of minute and extensive details of observations on this, as well as many other subjects connected with this infant State, so far as the same are obtainable; but it is much more to be regretted that no record has been kept from which statistical information might be collected, showing the industrial and commercial capabilities of the State, except to a very limited extent.

Oregon was admitted into the Union in February, 1859, and in 1861 began to give additional promise of future prosperity by the discovery of rich and extensive gold mines on its northeastern border and the contiguous districts of Wasbington Territory.

PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY, &c.-All the country in North America lying west of the Mississippi river has a common axis of elevation, which is the great chain of the Rocky mountains, and their southern continuation, the Cordilleras of Mexico. The Sierra Nevada range, with its northern extension, the Cascade mountains of Oregon and Washington Territory, constitutes a secondary axis which materially affects the entire country of the Pacitic coast, both in soil and climate. To the volcanic forces of these two great central lines of subterraueous commotion is originally due the physical geography of Oregon.

It is generally known that the Rocky mountain range is chiefly of igneous composition. Some portions of this range are of plutonic character, while some bear unmistakable evidences that their upheaval was prior to the process of consolidation. Sandstone abounds in many places in these mountains, and very considerable silurian deposits are also found. Gold-bearing rocks occur in various localities. Where sedimentary rocks are found they are frequently regular in their stratification; generally, indeed, distorted from their original position, but nevertheless retaining perfectly their stratified character. These rocks are usually interlaid with micaceous slate, and rest on masses of granite and gneiss. Mica is so abundant in some places that it may be found in extremely thin flakes in all the water of the mountain streams.

Of the same general character is the geological structure of the Cascade range, except that there is less of stratified rocks, and stronger indications of recent volcanic action are observed. Basaltic and granitic rocks constitute the geological basis of the country. Slate and other argillaceous rocks, and a sort of irreducable limestone, also characterize the western slope of the continent. Metamorphic features become more marked the nearer we approach the Pacific coast, until, arriving at the Cascade range, this characteristic is seen in its most clear and unmistakable aspects.

Certain differences between the soil and vegetation on the east and those on the west side of this second volcanio axis of the country may, it is thought, be satisfactorily explained by atmospheric or meteorological peculiarities ; so that the upheaval of this ridge, notwithstanding those differences, was probably contemporaneous with that of the Rocky moun. tains, or at least at no earlier period. Whether this be so or not, it is certain that the Cascade range has undergone much more recent convulsions; and, indeed, of the numerous vents standing along the summit line, some might be properly classed, at present, as active volcanoes.

Between the Cascade and Rocky mountain chains, the country is composed of immense plateaux, interspersed with numerous unconnected mountain ridges, of recent volcanic origin. Some of these are covered with immense forests, while others are merely sterile masses of

trappean rocks, piled together in rugged heaps by the elevatory force of internal fires. By some of these less noted elevations and by spurs projecting from the two main ranges, the broad table lands above mentioned are divided into three distinct valleys, or rather basius ; namely:

The Utah basin, centring at Great Salt lake, but having many undulations forming minor geographical centres, to which its rivers flow and disappear in the sandy plains, or discharge their currents into inland lakes. This basin has no outlet to the sea.

The Klamath basin, lying to the northwest of the Utah, and drained by the Klamath river, running to the Pacific ocean, and the river Des Chutes, emptying into the Columbia.

The Columbia River basin extends over a vast area of country, including all that portion of Oregon lying east of the Cascade mountains, and known as eastern Oregon, except the small surface occupied by the Klamath, a part of which is in California, and an almost equally small portion of the Utah basin, which lies principally in Utah Territory.

Eastern Oregon, besides containing several large lakes, is traversed by numerous rivers, but none are navigable except the Columbia and the Snake or Lewis river ; which two streams, however, afford facilities for steamboat travel from the ocean, across the whole extent of the State in its greater dimension, from west to east.

That portion of the State lying west of the Cascade mountains is divided into three principal valleys, the Willamette, the Umpqua, and Rogue river, draiued by the rivers bearing these respective names. This country is quite different from eastern Oregon in respect to its physical geography, geology, and climate.

Although the general character of this region is indicative of its having had formerly & volcanic origin, still there is found here a large proportion of sedimentary rocks, especially sandstone and a sort of conglomerate of highly silicious composition, which often contaius shells and other indications of its sedimentary formation. In the Willamette valley this feature is chiefly observed on the westem side of the river ; and in the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys it becomes more marked on approaching the sea-coast. Shales and a sort of argillaceous limestone, irreducable by the ordinary process of heating and slaking, also abound in many places. The country here is of a much less mineral character than that east of the Cascade mountains, or even than those mountains themselves. Notwithstauding the evidences of volcanic origin common to all the western coast of America, and of which this region presents many, the rocks here, and especially on the Coast mountains, are often found regularly stratified, and in some instances their parallelism remains undisturbed for considerable distances.

The geological basis of the Coast mountains is sandstone. Scoriaceous and trappean masses occur in the more volcanic localities. At the intersection of these mountains by the Umpqua river, sandstone prevails, and the strata remain uninterrupted, except at long intervals.

Numerous bays and estuaries of different magnitudes intersect the shore along the western border of the State, and several streams having their sources in the Coast mountains flow into the ocean through small valleys of great fertility and beauty.

CLIMATE.-Eastern Oregon possesses a climate much resembling that of the Upper Mississippi valley, but not so cold." It is dry and open; usually somewhat bleak, owing to the large proportion of prairie land, but seldom bitter cold, the mercury rarely falling below zero in the extreme of winter. Last winter, however, it was exceedingly cold in this region; but that was a winter unexampled in severity everywhere in the Pacific States.

Spring in eastern Oregon is fine, early, and open. Summer is hot and generally dry, with cool nights. Variations of temperature, corresponding with differences of altitude, are observed, sometimes amounting to several degrees at places only a few leagues apart. Autumn frosts begin some time in October, but it does not become wintry till very late. "Little rain or snow falls except in the mountains. Eastern Oregon is exposed to an almost continuous breoze which sometimes swells into quite a gale, but storms never occur. The wind in summer is from the southwest.

Western Oregon has a moist, mild, and peculiarly uniform climate. Except in rare cases the winter is not cold nor the summer hot more than two or three days in succession, and extreme heat or cold never occurs.

It is rarely necessary to feed stock for more than a fortnight, and frequently not at all during the whole year.

The amount of rain which falls in this part of the State during the rainy season has been greatly exaggerated, as will be seen by reference to the annexed tables, which exbibit more specifically the climatical peculiarities of the State.

Observations taken in several other States are inserted in some of the tables for the purpose of making comparisons. The first table is compiled chiefly from the Smithsonian report; the rest are from various reliable sources.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The only point in eastern Oregon whose temperature is exhibited in this table is the Dalles, which, situated as it is, immediately at the base of the Cascade mountains, does not fairly represent the temperature of the extensive valleys further east, which constitute the agricultural region of that country. The summer, in most of those valleys as well as on the table lands, is much warmer than at the Dalles. The winter temperature, it will be observed, is much higher than that of other States in the same latitude, while that of the spring is nearly the same, and the summer not quite so high.

TABLE II.-Showing the number of rainy days during the winter, at Astorin, Oregon, Willa

mette dalley, Oregon, and Peoria, Illinois, respectirely.

[blocks in formation]

This table includes all rainy days, without reference to whether it rained all day or only a part. It also includes snowy days, very few of which are seen in Oregon in an ordinary winter.

in 1846–47, Hugh Burns, esq., of the Willamette valley, kept a diary from which it appears there were four days of continuous rain in November, three in December, three in January, and two in February, making only 12 in the four months of the rainy season. During the same time there were 66 entirely clear days, viz: 12 in November, 17 in December, 16 in January, and 21 in February. From the first of November, 1845, to the first of March, 1846, there were 20 rainy and 40 clear days; the rest were variable.

TABLE III.-Showing the amount in inches, at Astoria, Oregon, and Peoria, N., respectively.

[blocks in formation]

From this table it would appear that the amount of rain at Astoria is a little less than dou. ble that at Peoria ; the one in a country where the only winter known is a rainy season, and the other in a country distinguished for its cold and dry winters.

SOIL AND EXTENT OF AGRICULTURAL LANDS.--The two natural divisions of Oregon differ in respect to the quality of their soil as well as in climate. The plateaux of eastern Oregon have a moderately rich soil whose chief component is silicia, and containing but a small amount of vegetable matter. Little effort has been made to test its capabilities for agricultural purpose until very recently. The experiment, so far as tried, has proved exceedingly gratifying, and many persons maintain that these uplands are destined to be the first grain lands in the State. But the natural adaptation of these immense tracts is to grazing, cattle herding, and bucalic pursuits. Rolling prairies and level pleins of almost illimitable extent stretch out from the foot of the Cascade mountains almost to the eastern border of the State, and are covered with luxuriant bunch grass, (festuca,) affording an inexhaustible pasture for any amount of stock. This grows in large tufts not joined together by their fibrous roots, as is the case with most other grasses. It grows to different heights, from six to 18 inches, according to the quality of the soil. In rutritive properties it is not excelled by any grass known. Attaining its full growth about the time the dry season commences, it cures into a fine, flavorous hay, which, owing to the absence of dew in this region in the summer, remains excellent until the autumn rains come, when the whole country is again covered with green grass.

Mountain streams, having their sources in the mountain chains, intersect these table lands fowing through valleys and rondes of various dimensions and amazing fertility. The valleys of the Des Chutes and its tributaries are all that have been extensively tested with cereals, and they have yielded very large crops. Vegetables of nearly all varieties yield almost fabulous crops. Indian corn does as well in eastern Oregon as in any State in the Union, and will soon become a staple production. Fruit promises finely. This is thought to be as good a fruit country as that west of the Cascade mountains, so justly denominated the "fruit garden of America."

Its hot summers admirably adapt eastern Oregon to the culture of sorghum or Chinese sugar-cane; and sufficient trial has been ma-le to warrant the assertion that this plant can be produced here as successfully as in any of the northwestern States. Judge Laughlin, of Wasco county, who has paid some attention to the cultivation of this plant, in a published letter of his dated January 12, 1861, says: “I have cultivated some (sorghum) the past two years, and find it grows remarkably well.

It will produce double as much food as anything (else) I can raise on the same amount of land.

Mr. Phelps, of this county, has made some very nice sirup, and intends cultivating a crop for that purpose next season.

The cost of making this sirup will not exceed 50 cents per gallon. Its market value cannot be less than one dollar per gallon throughout the country, and two or three times as great in the mines. Planted in April the sugar-cane matures well, and yields a large per cent. of saccharine juice. A farmer, who would give his entire attention to cultivating sorghum and manufacturing sirup in eastern Oregon, could not fail of amassing a large amount of money in a very short space of time. The extent of these valley lands is not definitely known, as no official survey has ever been made of the region in which they lie, excepting comparatively small bodies in the vicinity of the Des Chutes. This stream, the largest aftuent of the Columbia in Oregon east of the Cascade mountains, flows through a valley large enough to maintain a population of many thousand persons. It has already some considerable settlements, mostly composed of stock raisers.

John Day river waters a valley much larger than that of the Des Chutes, and of equal fertility. It is unsettled, and offers great inducements to farmers desiring homes near the mines,

[ocr errors]

*

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »