Traveling The Oregon Trail
through the Blue Mountains

      Imagine the early day pioneers driving their loaded covered wagons down the steep grade of the Blue Mountains. Today, as you drive along I-84, down from Meacham to Pendleton, the winding and steep grade may not seem so bad with paved highway.  That was not the case back in the 1800's.  Here you will find first impressions of the early day settlers.
     The information comes from  "The Grande Ronde Valley and Blue Mountains: Impressions and Experience of Travelers and Emigrants, The Oregon Trail, 1812-1880," a report by Stephen Dow Beckham for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, La Grande, Oregon.  February 16, 1991.  Beckham found his resources from historical societies, libraries and archives from Oregon, California, Washington, Indiana and Connecticut.  See below for a complete list of those resources.  There are hundreds of entries such as this in the report. I intend only to provide a smattering of these entries.
    Tuesday, (August) 4th-Not long after daylight we continued down the Creek till 9A.M., when finding a deep hole with some salmon in it, we halted 4 hours, and speared seven. Proceeded on again at 1 P.M., thro' a most enchanting tract (for a few miles) where the gloomy heavy timbered mountains subside into beautiful hills, chequered with delightful pasture grounds, which, when combined with the numerous rivelets murmuring over their gravely serpentine beds towards the glade below, afford a scene truly romantic, and such as is seldom to be met with in these regions of solitude and gloom (Stuart 1953:70).--Robert Stuart, an eastward-bound fur trapper from Astoria, approached the Blue Mountains from the west on McKay Creek. He wrote about his party's transit of the mountains on August 4, 1812.     Here I noticed in the western horizon something stationary, although it looked like a cloud in the bright sky.  It proved (afterwards I found) the grand and snowy Mount Hood. I called the attention of  the men to it.  This we hailed as a discovery, and the grandest sight we had yet seen. (Ball 1902:96-97)--John Ball wrote about sighting Mount Hood from atop the Blue Mountains on Octoer 14, 1832.
    This afternoon we travelled the Blue Mountains covered with beautiful pines & spruce trees, 20 miles.  Encamped on the summit of hte mountains were we found beautiful grass for our animals. (Drury 1966 {3}:108).--Sarah White Smith wrote on August 29, 1838, about the Blue Mountains.
    Nature stretched her bare and might arms around us!   The moutnains hid hte lower sky, and walled about the lower wrold!  We looked upon the beautiful heights of the Blue Mountains, and ate among its spring blossoms, its singing pines, and holy battlements, ten thousand feet above the sea.--Thomas Jefferson Farnham, September 21, 1839.    We passed 3 graves today, one was marked Mrs. Theresa S. McLaddon died Aug. 11, 1851 aged 22 years. We past one dead ox.--Jared Fox, July 29, 1852
Here we began climbing the Blue mountains, and if they don't beat the devil.--Samuel James, September 2, 1850 worse Road then yesterday  O the condition this road plaecs men in this the Sabath & I have never though[t] of it till the children told me after the Sun was down.--Rev. Jesse Moreland, September 5, 1852

Emigrant Hill on the Oregon Trail. Pendleton.; PicturesNOW!

Library Resources used in the Report P.O. 40-04M3-1-0324

Oregon Historical Society, Portland, OR Aburey Watzek Library, Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR
Department of Special Collections and Northwest Collection, Knight Library, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR Oregon State Library, Salem, OR
Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Lake Oswego Public Library, Lake Oswego, OR
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA Washington State Libary, Olympia, WA
Northwest Collection, Sauzallo Library, University of Washington, Seattle, WA Lilly Library, University of Indian, Bloomington, IN
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT  


Related Links about Oregon Trail History

List of Immigrants to Oregon Taken at the Umatilla Agency, 1853, by Thomas K. Williams. These records cover the immigrants arriving between July 20, 1853 - Sept. 30, 1853. The Umatilla Agency was located about 150 miles east of The Dalles.
1854 Roster of Macy Train - Cut-Off
Immigration Rosters of the Elliott Cut-Off: 1853 & 1854

All three sections can be found at the Linn County ORGenWeb site, and can also be purchased at the Linn County Historical Museum, P.O. Box 607, Brownsville, OR, 97327. The price is $15, with $3 postage and shipping.

The Oregon Trail
Oregon National Historic Trail
Independence, Missouri
Oregon-California Trails Association
The Overland Wagon
Oregon Trail Interpretive Centers
Soldiers of the Westward Expansion
The Oregon Territory   the page is broken down into 3 sections. The first section is called THE SETTLING OF OREGON and is a compilation of information [including pioneer lists by year of emigration] extracted from a variety of sources. The second section lists the UPDATES that are in progress. The third section is devoted to RESEARCHING THE PIONEERS and provides links to research and historic sites that may be of interest.
The National Oregon/California
Trail Center
Have your sound turned on!
The Oregon Trail Time Frame 1792-1843
Links to The Oregon Trail Resources

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