In The Wahlamet Valley Of Oregon Continued

The same remarks apply to the sheep, which are annually increasing in numbers and growing in excellence through higher admixture of Merino and Cotswold blood. Sheep-raising, indeed, especially in the southern counties, is one of the most Profitable and extensive of all industries, great flocks being driven every year for sale into California and Nevada, the surplus of those preserved for shearing.

The Wahlamet Valley is separated from the valley of the Umpqua by the Calapooia Hills, connecting the Coast Range with the mountains of the interior, Calapooia being the tribal name of the aborigines here. It is a low divide, and offers no great difficulties to the railway, which winds through Pass Creek Canon, affording an hour of steady delight to the passenger, and scenery for a whole summer of painting to the artist who takes his sketching kit on his back, and threads its old wood roads and cattle trails afoot.

During the past ten years a considerable agricultural settlement has followed the lumbermen into this range. All the prairie and open bottom-lands having long ago been taken, settlers who are unable or unwilling to purchase improved farms are compelled to go into the brush on the foot-hills, where land is to be bought of the railways at about $2 50. This certainly is cheap; for when it has been cleared--devastating fires are greatly aiding this process -- a soil only slightly, if at all, inferior to that of the lowlands (albeit of different character) lies ready for long tillage example, there is a range of highlands near Salem, called the Waldo Hills, the soil of which is red and easily worked. A few years ago this soil was believed sterile and almost worthless, but some adventurous spirits experimented with it, and now those hills are said to produce the best grain in the State, 350,000 bushels having been garnered there in 1880. For cleared farms there you must pay from $30 to $50 an acre, exclusive of improvements.

Volcanic, like all these ridges, the Calapooia Hills are rough, with broken ledges, and the streams pour saucily through narrow gorges or tumble headlong down many a black and white cascade. Mighty firs, clean-shafted and straight, stand as thickly upon the highlands as the crowding triangles of their bushy tops will let them, their outer edges, where the prairie reaches up or the axe has cleared a space, guarded by a thick hedge of youngsters as shapely and ornamental as the pets of a gentleman's park. Thus the hill-tops. Over the streams which knit the hills together in silver seams arch the verdant boughs of ash and maple, the stiff-jointed limbs of oaks, whose bark is hidden in soft swathings of olive-brown moss, the wide-reaching alders, every twig traced vividly white through the green, and many another bright-foliaged tree or bush. The rocks are black and hard, to be sure, but how exquisitely does nature, apologize for them! The grasses lean over the very brink of the precipice; thick mosses rest upon every ledge and projection; vines bearing pink garlands or redstemmed briers starred with snowy blossoms climb its rugged walls; minute lichens, crowding closely, lay a silver tissue over smooth cleavage faces; and in every cleft nod tiny bright flowers, poised delicately as jewellers display gems upon flexible pins that their facets may sparkle fitfully in tremulous light. The cool shadow baths under these huge firs, the sun-lit canopies of hazel and oak (if you like that better), the sorrel-reddened banks of the brooks, and those brilliant rocks, make summer pictures beyond belief beautiful.

The Umpqua region is prominent in agriculture like that of the Wahlamet, the latter, indeed, having nothing to show equal to the beautiful Yoncalla Valley. But in the Umpqua region there is to be had also much mineral wealth, including gold and iron. Coal, however, is tile mineral of greatest importance, immense beds of semi-bituminous and lignite coal underlying portions of the country west of the Cascade Mountains, especially in Douglas and Coos counties. One of the Coos Bay mines alone is said to be capable of an output of a thousand tons a day, and two small steam-colliers, with several sailing vessels, are kept busy taking the coal to San Francisco. The iron region of Oregon lies in the neighborhood of Portland, extending from Kalama almost to Oregon City, and furnishing ore of great value.

It will readily be understood from the description in the foregoing pages that this is a population that lives scattered on farms, so that many towns are not to be expected. There are only half a dozen worth mention in Western Oregon. Jacksonville and Ashland are busy centres of an agricultural and great fruit-growing and wine-making region at the southern edge of the State, beyond our scope. Roseburg, the present railway terminus, is a prettily placed village on the south fork of the Umpqua, settled largely by Germans. Here died the famous Senator Joe Lane, in a little cottage beside the river. At Eugene City is located the State University, the town having given it a fifty thousand-dollar building far more useful, I hope, than it is attractive to the eye.

This university is the highest institution of learning in the State, and has about one hundred and fifty students (not countlng the preparatory department), about one-third of which are young women, and it is old enough to have graduated three classes. These students come from all parts of the State, and are admitted up on the strength of a local competitive examination, entitling the winner to a scholarship, of which there are as many as there are members of the Legislature. Such scholarships are free, and it is considered that an expenditure of four dollars a week ought to supply a pupil at the university with all the privileges and comforts he could ask. The equipment of the school, except in the matter of a library, is very fair, and Professor Condon has placed there a local paleontological collection which is unique and of great value.

Further down the Wahlamet, Albany on the eastern and Corvallis on the western bank are farmers' villages, having flouring and woollen mills, together with factories run by water-power for various small wares. From Corvallis a railway is building to the coast, finding a harbor at Yaquina Bay. This railway has a large land grant, is supported by New York men, asserts its harbor a better one than the Columbia can afford, and proposes to build straight eastward through Lebanon Pass to a junction with the Union Pacific Railway in Idaho. Corvallis boasts an academy, dignified by the title of State Agricultural College, and aided by the State.

The capital of the State, Salem, is the largest village in the valley, having about six thousand people. There is a curious coincidence in the name, which means a place of peace, for, strangely enough, the Indians dwelling there were the Chemeketas, or peace-makers. It is only recently that civilization has obliterated the old circular embankment, like a circus ring, where the councils of all the valley Indians used to be held, the pipe passing from hand to hand around the grave circle, while the orator of the moment spoke in the centre. What a pity the town was not named Chemeketa, and that the metropolis was not called Multonomah, Salem and Portland having about as much real significance in their situation as if they were simply lettered A and B.

Salem is chiefly of consequence as a flour-making place, possessing the largest mills in the State now, and looking forward to another great mill just begun. These establishments contain improved machinery, and all their flour is intended for export, being sent to Liverpool in ships of their own chartering, and sold in England by one of the owners, who lives there.

Salem stands at the head of navigation on the Wahlamet, except at very high water. Several miles below, a volcanic ledge crops up square across the river's course, making a heavy cataract. The ledge has broken in the middle, so that the main body of the stream rushes into big notch, making far more noise and turmoil by its leap of forty feet in this ragged crevice than a sheer, smooth fall would occasion. The banks of the river here are cliff-like and forest-hidden, and the scene is almost grand, reminding one somewhat of the Falls of St. Anthony.

A practical view of its water-power advantages led to the placing of the first settlement in the State here -- Oregon City. The narrow river-bank is now given up to woollen and flouring mills and other factories chiefly, most of the dwelling-houses standing upon a high cliff, which is scaled by picturesquely contrived stairways. For many years a portage was necessary about these falls, the steamboats all transferring their cargoes; but lately, and at great expense, a canal with locks has been opened on the western side of the river, through which steamers pass and repass.

The lower part of the Wahlamet Valley, especially on the western side, is solidly timbered, many firs there reaching 250 feet in height. Prairies and oak-openings occur here and there nevertheless, such districts showing settlements of long standing, and now threaded together upon the west side branch of the Oregon and California Railway.


One of these villages, the little town of Forest Grove, where you can scarcely see how pretty the white houses are for the crowding of bountiful orchards, and the wide-reaching shade of oaks and evergreens, is the seat of one of the government's Indian training schools, in charge of Captain William C. Wilkinson, of the Third Infantry, U.S.A. Captain Wilkinson has been on staff duty in this department for several years, and has added to a wide knowledge of the Indians a deep interest in their regeneration. It is only by untiring exertions that he has been able, within the last three years, to begin this school for Indian youth; but his enthusiasm is sufficient to brush away obstacles that would stagger another man. Not the least of these obstacles is that miserable spirit of intolerance so constantly met with on this coast, and particularly from the old settlers and their sons. When this spirit is unrestrained, it manifests itself in a ruffianly bullying of everything not within the pale it chooses to erect, and a very narrow pale that is.

To that sort of man (and unfortunately he is in tremendous force among the people still influential in Oregon) the Indian is merely something to be kicked out of the way. He is never spoken of save as a "damned Injun," and never conceded to be "good" until he is dead. The man who asserts the red man's humanity and immortal worth in the eyes of his and our Creator goes flatly against the theory and practice of this class, and must expect much the same treatment as martyrs to other unpalatable truths have received.

Fighting his way through opposition from this and other circumstances, Captain Wilkinson secured two years ago an appropriation of $5000, out of which he was to establish a school to embrace not less than twenty-five Indian children. This put him up a wooden building on land loaned by the Pacific University (a struggling academical school at Forest Grove), and gathered his children. The next year he was given $15,000, while this year the appropriation is increased to $30,000, but he is required to teach 150 pupils. This gives $200 a year a piece, out of which the superintendent must house, feed, clothe, and teach his wild young household, and pay the travelling expenses to and fro of all recruits or graduates. The government paid a single bill of $80,000 for a steamer to carry troops and munitions of war to the front at Lewiston, Idado, during the Nez-Perce war of 1879!

What has been the success so far? At Forest Grove you will see where the first building was set right in the unhewed woodland, a large, well-fenced clearing, from which all the stumps have been grubbed, and every inequality levelled and turfed or ploughed. This the boys did unaided, their strong young arms bending eagerly to the task -- but never was such playing heard of as they make the oaks ring with when work is done! You will see also, instead of one building, two. The second, used as a school-house for nearly one hundred youngsters, and as a domitory for the boys, and which is two and a half stories in height, was built wholly by the boys; not a white workman did a day's job upon it, except in the way of a few preliminary directions. Then furniture was needed--desks for the school-room, tables and drawers and shelves for the office, bedsteads for the dormitory. The lumber was bought, the tools provided, and the boys did the rest; it is not ornamental and costly, but it is strong, neat, and answers every purpose. The young carpenters learned something of the use of tools, saved wages for the general fund, and have the satisfaction of sleeping and eating on their own handiwork. These necessities provided for, the girls' quarters are beginning to be enriched by little cupboards, small bureaus, and a variety of such conveniences, which there is no money to buy, and which it pleases both giver and recipient to get in this way. It was gratifying to find in a governmental institution a carpetless, paintless frugality that Puritans and ascetics might have admired, until I recalled that this was not the creditable economy of newly conscientious politicians, but an enforced simplicity in order to make a pittance about the size of a campaign committee's stationary bill do all the philanthropic service possible to be squeezed out of it.

To get the children together, Captain Wilkinson visits the different tribes in Oregon and Washington Territory, and receives recruits, which are selected by the principal men of their tribe, and are usually their own sons and daughters. The first doubts the Indians had in respect to the school were dispelled by coming to see it; now they are anxious to send more than can be accommodated. From Alaska, even, has come a large squad, whose home is on the Stickeen River. Some have been in the school two years, others only a few weeks; some are approaching eighteen years of age, others are under ten; all are thorough Indians, save a few half-bloods, who might as well be, so far as manner of life is concerned. They are wigwam babies in a Christian nursery.

The details of school life are uninteresting. The children are set at once to learn English, and if you should hear the school recite in concert, or sing, you would not suspect that in nearly every case the language had been learned within a year or two, so fluently and distinctly is it uttered, or read and written. Apt to learn, they have advanced rapidly in their books, -and are equally quick at their trades, every one being set at blacksmithing, carpentering, wheelwrighting, or at making shoes, as soon as he has strength or capacity. All work more or less at farming, but arrangements for this branch of education and profit are sadly inadequate as yet. Shoemaking has been carried so far that money is earned every day by the boy-cobblers in pay for outside job-work. The girls make straw hats, and sew in various ways.

It is not this sort of thing, however, that tells so well as their social, domestic education. Here rare wisdom is required to get proper results. The discipline and home life of a hundred young Indians fresh from the squalor and unrestraint of the wigwam were problems requiring careful handling. The effect must be not merely to teach civilized methods, but to make these methods so appeal to the good judgment and affection of the children that, when they return to be lights to their race, they shall not be tempted to relinquish them for their old savagery.

Captain Wilkinson thinks that the Indian must be wholly separated from his people and their influences in order to reconstruct and educate him. Accordingly, every child receives an English name, and its own, or its home tongue, is never heard.

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