The reader having now arrived in Oregon, he is, no doubt. anxious to enter upon an exploration of that much admired region. I will therefore, proceed with him, to take that brief view of the country, which the titlepage contemplates. The extreme brevity of this description will, however, undoubtedly, render it more or less unsatisfactory; yet I shall endeavor to crowd together, as much useful and practical matter as possible, upon the few pages, which, from the very narrow limits of this little work, I am allowed to devote to this branch of my subject.
Oregon territory is bounded on the east by the Rocky mountains; on the south by Upper California; on the west by the Pacific ocean; and on the north by the British possessions. The southern boundary was determined in the year 1819, by a treaty between the United States and Spain, which is commonly called the Florida treaty. It stipulates that the boundary between the possessions of the two nations, west of the Mississippi river, shall be as follows: "following the course of the southern bank of the Arkansas to its source, in latitude 42 degrees north, and thence, by that parallel of latitude, to the South sea." This boundary was confirmed by Mexico, as the successor of Spain, in the year 1828, consequently, there is no dispute or difference as to the southern boundary. The northern boundary was settled in 1823, by treaty between the United States and Russia, at 54 degrees and 40 minutes north latitude. These treaties then, fix and determine the boundaries, as between the United States, Spain, Russia and Mexico, which are, in truth, the only powers that ever had any just claim, to any portion of that territory. Great Britain, however, latterly asserts a pretended claim, adverse to that of the United States, to a portion of that country. But so far from having any valid claim to any portion of it, she has no right even to occupy it; other than that right guaranteed to her, by the convention of 1818, the third article of which, provides, "that any country that may be claimed by either party on the northwest coast of America, westward of the Stony mountains, shall, together with its harbors, bays and creeks, and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open for the term of ten years, from the date of the signature of the present convention, to the vessels, citizens and subjects of the two powers. It being well understood, that this agreement is not to be construed to the prejudice of any claim, which either of the two high, contracting parties, may have to any part of said country." The same provisions were indefinitely extended by the convention of 1827; with the further agreement, however, "that it should be competent for either party, at any time after the 20th day of October, 1828, on giving due notice, of twelve months, to the other contracting party, to annul and abrogate said conventions." It is my purpose here, however, merely to state the boundaries of Oregon, to give the authority by which they are established; and to give the authority by which, the subjects of Great Britain occupy that country, conjointly with citizens of the United States. Having done which, to an extent sufficient for ordinary purposes, I will now, enter upon a more detailed description of Oregon territory.
This territory is naturally divided into three distinct divisions or sections, which, for convenience, I shall call the Eastern, Middle and Western sections. The Eastern section includes all that country between the Rocky and the Blue Mountains; the Middle section that between the Blue and the Cascade mountains; and the Western section, that between the Cascade mountains and the Pacific ocean. These ranges, which thus divide this country into distinct sections, together with their spurs, will now receive a more particular notice; commencing with the Rocky mountains. The course of this range is, generally, from the southeast to the northwest; and its distance from the sea is, generally, from 500 to 1000 miles: it is of great altitude, and is usually covered with perpetual snow. The greatest elevations in all Oregon, are found in this range, many of which are more than 25,000 feet above the level of the sea. From the foregoing remarks, and from the well known fact, of the entire sterility of all this range, it will be readily seen, that it is in no wise, adapted to the support of man or beast. Instead of vegetation and timber, in the more elevated regions of this range, nothing but mountains of eternal snow are any where seen. From the extraordinary altitude and sterility of this range, it would be utterly impassable, were it not for certain gaps, or passes. Of these, there are five, which are known, and through which emigrants, traders, trappers and Indians annually pass, in greater or less numbers, depending upon the inducements, and the practicability of the pass. The principal of these, is the well known great southern pass, at latitude 42 deg. north, through which companies of emigrants and others, are annually passing, from the United States to Oregon and California. That through which the fur-traders of the Hudson's Bay Company annually pass, is situated between Brown's and Hooker's peaks; a third between the sources of Maria's and Clarke's rivers; and a fourth is near the southern head waters of the Missouri; and the fifth is between Henry's fork of Lewis' river, and Big-horn, a branch of Yellowstone. The first of these passes is much the most important, and hence, it will receive a further notice upon a subsequent page.
This range, like all the ranges of this country, has numerous spurs, many of which, are also of extraordinary altitude. The principal of them, I will now briefly describe. The first, which I shall notice, is that lying north of Frasier's river, and in which that river takes its rise. It has many high peaks, several of which are covered with snow the greater part of the year. It is a vast concatenation of peaks and heights, which are covered here and there, with a small growth of firs and pines. From this spur, another puts out for a considerable extent, down the Columbia river; and another branch of the same spur, extends down Frasier's river, about the same distance. The altitude of both branches of this spur, is less than that at the source of Frasier's river, yet it has several high peaks, near the Columbia. It is generally rather sparsely timbered; but in many places, it is covered with dense forests of low pines. A spur of lofty elevations, and of extraordinary sterility, lies south of mount Hooker, in the great bend of the Columbia; it is slightly covered with vegetation and shrubs, but, generally, it produces no kind of vegetation whatever. Between the Flat-head and the Flat-bow rivers, there is another spur, which is quite similar to that just described, or, if possible, more sterile and worthless. Between the Flat-head and the Spokan, there is also another spur, which has several very elevated peaks. The greatest part of this spur, is thickly covered with trees, shrubs and the grasses. The only remaining spur, worthy of notice, in connection with this range, is that ranging near the Kooskooske river. It consists of high, rugged cliffs and peaks, many of which are entirely destitute of timber, or vegetation, yet the less elevated portions of them, are thickly covered with firs, pines, and a thick undergrowth of shrubs and bushes. This spur appears to be connected with the Blue mountains, and to form a portion of that range.
The Blue mountains commence between the forty-fifth, and the forty-sixth degrees of north latitude, and runs south, to the southern boundary of Oregon, where they intersect the Klamet range. They constitute a very irregular range, and are thought by many not to be a distinct range, but to consist entirely of spurs of the Rocky mountains; but the better opinion is, that they are, of themselves, a distinct range; for they are entirely separated from the Rocky mountains, by several large valleys. The general direction of this range is about north and south, and its distance from the coast is usually, from three to five hundred miles. Its altitude is much less than that of either of the other ranges mentioned, yet it has several peaks, which are about ten or eleven thousand feet above the level of the sea, and which are covered with perpetual snow. This range is much less sterile than the Rocky mountain range; it has numerous depressions, elevated plains, and valleys of limited extent, which produce an abundance of grass, and most excellent timber; consisting principally of fir, pine and cedar of the best quality. This range, like that before described, has numerous spurs, some of which are immediately connected with the range, and others appear to have little or no connection with it; but upon examination, are found to be spurs of that range.
The Cascade mountains constitute that range which lies nearest the coast, and which is called the Cascade, or President's range. The course of this range is nearly parallel with the coast; its average distance from which, is from one to two hundred miles; and it is surpassed in altitude only by the Rocky mountains. It has twelve lofty peaks, several of which are from twelve to eighteen thousand feet above the level of the sea, rising in perfect cones, and covered perpetually with snow. Five of these have received the names of the former deceased presidents of the United States. These names were given them, by a Mr. Kelley, a traveler from the United States, several years ago, and they have ever since retained them; hence it is that this range is now called the Presidents' range. The other seven of these extraordinary conical peaks, have received their names from various English travelers and navigators. But five of this seven, have latterly, received the names of five other presidents of the United States. These names, I will also adopt, as I much prefer our own names, for our own property. The remaining two of these singular elevations, are called mount Fareweather, and mount St. Elias, both of which, are situated north of the northern boundary of Oregon. Now having our own names for each of these, which are within our own territory, I will proceed to give a brief description of them, in their proper order. Mount Washington is situated near latitude 44? north, about seven leagues south of the cascades; it is conical in form, rising about eighteen thousand feet above the level of the sea, and covered with perpetual snow, at least 12 thousand feet from its top downwards. Mount Adams is near the parallel of 45? north latitnde, about eight leagues north from the cascades. About five hundred feet of its surface from its top, are covered with snow perpetually. Mount Jefferson is a vast and lofty peak, situated near latitude 42? north; it is also covered perpetually with snow, several thousand feet downward, from its top, and is seen from almost any part of the southern country. Mount Madison is near latitude 46? north; it is a vast massive peak, covered with snow to a very great depth. Mount Monroe is also a vastly elevated peak, extending far into the snowy region; it lies near latitude 43? and 30' north, and is seen at a great distance. Mount John Q. Adams, situated at latitude 42? and 10' north, is also a vast peak, towering high above the snow line. Mount Jackson is among the most elevated peaks, and is surpassed only by mount Washington; it is situated near the forty second degree of north latitude. Mount Van Buren is a very high peak, situated on the isthmus, between the Pacfic and Puget's sound. Mount Harrison is also a very lofty peak, terminating in regions of perpetual snow; it lies about forty miles west from Puget's sound. Mount Tyler, being vastly elevated and covered with snow, is seen at a very great distance; it lies about eighty miles north from mount Harrison. All these are most extraordinary conical formations; some of which are seen from every part of the country. Here, wherever you are, you behold these ancient pyramids of eternal ice and snow, fearlessly rearing their majestic heads, high in the ethereal regions, amid the howling tempest, the flashing lightnings, and the roaring thunders above; presenting their eternal battlements, in bold defiance of the foaming billows, the raging floods, and the quaking and volcanic earth below. Enduring monuments of time! All this range of mountains, is much less sterile than those before described. It has numerous elevated plains and valleys, and extensive depressions, all of which, abound with vegetation of various kinds; lofty trees of fir, pine, cedar and oak, of most extraordinary growth.
Besides the main ranges of mountains here described, there are several other smaller ranges, worthy of notice, which appear to have very little connection with the main ranges, yet in some instances, may be traced as spurs of those ranges. Among them is the Claset range which lies on the north side of the Columbia, running in a north westerly direction, along the straits of Juan de Fucas, to the waters of Pugets' sound. This range has many high peaks, a number of which rise very considerably above the snow line, but from their proximity to the sea, they are covered with snow, only about nine months of the year. It is generally covered with dense forests of fir, pine and cedar of immense growth. A small range also extends from the cascades, on the north side of the Columbia, to cape Disappointment on the coast. This range has many depressions and elevated plains, and is, generally, covered with dense fir and pine forests. There is a similar range to that just described, also on the south side of the Columbia, which commences at the cascades, and running nearly parallel with that river, terminates near its mouth. It is a continuous succession of low mountains and hills, having no elevations of more than about three thousand feet above the level of the sea, the greatest of which, are near the cascades. This range is also covered with stately pines and firs, of centuries growth, and of unparalleled dimensions. There is still another range, which extends along the coast, from the straits de Fucas, to Upper California. Its greatest elevations are immediately upon the coast, where they present high, dark cliffs of basaltic rock, which are seen at a very great distance from the ocean. This range descends gradually from the coast to the east, terminating in undulating plains. That portion of it nearest the coast, is generally entirely destitute of timber or vegetation, and presents a very irregular, broken and stony surface; but the east side presents those dense forests, undulating plains and prairies, peculiar to this section of Oregon. The last range I shall notice, is that called the Klamet range, which is perhaps, properly a spur of the Rocky mountains. It extends from the Rocky mountain range, in latitude 42? north, in a direction west by north, to the Pacific ocean, and has many high peaks covered with snow. In its course from the Rocky mountains to the Pacific, it is intersected by the Blue mountains and the Cascade or Presidents range. It is usually destitute of timber, and in many places, entirely devoid of all kinds of vegetation.
The rivers next deserve our attention. The principal of these, is the Columbia, which is a grand and majestic stream. It is about fifteen hundred miles in length, including its meanders, entering the Pacific ocean, at latitude 46 degrees north. The general course of this river, from the confluence of its two great branches, is about west by south. Its northern branch takes its rise in the Rocky mountains, at latitude 50? north, and longitude 116? west. The course of this branch, from its source to McGillivarys' pass, at the base of the Rocky mountains, is generally, about northwest. This pass is at latitude 53? north, where those traveling from Oregon to Canada, make a very extensive portage, which is attended with much difficulty and danger. The river, at the base of the Rocky mountains, is 3,600 feet above the level of the sea, and its waters are urged down with great rapidity. Here, bearing to the south, it runs but a few miles, when it passes through a very narrow rocky channel, which is called the Upper dalles, through which, the waters are thrown with such tremendous force, that they whirl and dash with such violence as to produce a most frightful appearance. About thirty miles below the Upper dalles, are the Lower dalles, which like the Upper dalles, is a narrow channel, walled in by immense ledges of rocks, through which also the waters pour with great force. These dalles, seriously interrupt the navigation of the river, and detract very much from the importance of the surrounding country. From the Lower dalles, the river continues the same course, to Fort Coliville, in its course to which place, it receives several tributaries, among which are Kootanie, or Flat-bow, and the Clarke rivers from the east, and that of Coleville from the west. In its course to this place, it also forms a line of lakes, two of which I will now briefly describe. They are called the Upper and Lower lakes, the former of which, is about twenty miles in length, and about five in width. It is situated in an extremely rough and mountainous country, surrounded by high towering cliffs, and dense forests of pines. Between this and the Lower lakes are the "straits," as they are called. Here, for an extent of about five miles, the waters are compressed into a very narrow channel, through which they are thrown with great impetuosity. The Lower lake is about twenty five miles in length, and six in width. It has, in its vicinity, forests of beautiful timber, and limited prairies and plains, of fertile land. Clarkes' or Flat-head river, enters the Columbia but a few miles above Fort Coleville. It takes its rise near the head waters of the Missouri river. It is a large stream, and has as mueh the appearance of being the main river, as does that portion which is called the Columbia. The lake Kullerspelm is formed by this river, in its course, about one hundred miles above its junction with the Columbia. This lake is about thirty-five miles in length, and eight in width. The immediate country through which this river passes, is extremely mountainous and sterile, with the exception of that in the vicinity of the lake, much of which is fertile and delightful. Hootanie or Flat-bow river, also has its source in the Rocky mountains, and running in a westerly direction to the Columbia, it passes through a high broken region, yet it passes through some tolerably extensive and fertile valleys. Its length, following its meanders, is about three hundred and fifty miles, a very small portion of which, is navigable, for any other craft than canoes and barges.
From Coleville, the Columbia continues a westerly course, receiving a tributary from the east, called the Spokan, which takes its rise in the Lake Cauer d'Alene, among the spurs of the Rocky mountains. This river has worn its way through a vastly mountainous and sterile region. Its banks are generally high basaltic cliffs, covered in some places, with sturdy pines and lofty cedars. In the surrounding country, are found some limited valleys and plains, many of which produce abundance of vegetation, and are surrounded by dense forests of good timber. This river, can not be said to be navigable, for any kind of craft, except such as barges and canoes. The lake in which it takes its rise, is about thirty miles in length, and ten in breadth. There are some very fertile plains and valleys in the vicinity of this lake, which produce an abundance of grass and timber, as well as a great variety of wild fruits. The Columbia still tends westward, about sixty miles below its junction, with the Spokan, to its conflux with the Okanagan, above which point, it receives several small tributaries. The Okanagan takes its rise in a line of lakes of the same name, which are situated in the mountains, about one hundred and twenty miles from its mouth. These lakes are all navigable to considerable extent, for canoes, barges and boats. The country through which this river passes, is usually extremely sterile, with the exception of a very few small plains which are covered with vegetation, and a few hills, which are thinly timbered. From the mouth of the Okanagan, to Fort Wallawalla, the course of the Columbia, is about south southwest. In this distance it receives the Y'Akama, the Piscous, and the Entyatecoom, from the west; all of which take their sources in the Cascade range. Within the above distance also, it receives the great Saptin, or Lewis' river from the east, which flows into Columbia at latitude 46? and 8' north. This great tributary of the Columbia, has its source in the Rocky mountains, near latitude 42? north. Its general course is about north west, and its length is about five hundred miles, following its meanders. It lies between the Rocky and the Blue mountains, dividing the one from the other, by its extensive valleys. It is navigable only for canoes and barges, and for them only between its various rapids and falls, which are very numerous. It winds its tortuous way alternately through high perpendicular cliffs, sterile mountains, limited, yet fertile, valleys, barren hills and plains. In its course it receives the Kooskooke river from the east, and the Salmon river from the west. The Kooskooske rises in the Rocky mountains, near latitude 46? north, and is navigable only for canoes and boats, for a very short distance. The Salmon river takes its rise in the Blue mountains; it is not navigable even for canoes, but is a very beautiful little stream. At Fort Wallawalla, the Columbia is about 1280 feet above the level of the sea, and about 200 rods wide. Near this place, it receives the Wallawalla river, from the south; a small stream, which is not navigable, nor is it of any particular importance for any purpose other, than to water the country through which it passes; it is, however, a very beautiful stream. The course of the Columbia from Fort Wallawalla, is very nearly due west. Between Wallawalla and the dalles, it receives the Umatilla, Quisnels', John Day's, and de'Chutes rivers, from the south, and Cathlatates from the north. Neither of the last mentioned streams is navigable, yet they all water some very rich and productive, but small valleys. About eighty miles below Fort Wallawalla, the Columbia is much interrupted in its course, by rapids, falls and cascades. The first fall of importance, is that about ten miles above the dalles, where the water falls about fifty feet perpendicular, over vast ledges of rocks, down which it leaps and whirls with thunder's roar; then rushing, thundering and foaming through a deep narrow channel, formed by high ledges of massive rocks, it winds its noisy, tortuous way onward to the dalles; pouring its mighty volumes over cliffs, into cavern, after cavern, and trench, after trench, with such tremendous force, as to cause the very earth to groan and quake.
The dalles, is a name applied to an elevated section of country, of about ten miles in extent, of solid dark rock, rising in irregular, high cliffs, hills and mountains, which have braved the fury of this great river for ages past; but have finally given way to its repeated assaults. Stratum, after stratum, has given way, until it has worn a deep, frightful, cavernous channel, the walls of which are solid rock, from fifty to four hundred feet in height. Into this deep, narrow channel, are all the waters of the great Columbia compressed; but averse to confinement, they force their way through these narrow defiles, with the velocity of lightning, and the roar of thunder. The course of the river is not materially varied by these repeated interruptions, nor is its navigation entirely destroyed. Provisions and merchandise are annually transported, in great quantities, by the Hudson's Bay Company, from Fort Vancouver to all the interior forts, which is effected by repeated portages. The last and most formidable obstruction to its navigation, are the cascades, at the base of the Cascade mountains, about one hundred and twenty miles from the ocean. From the dalles to the cascades, the Columbia pursues its onward, noisy course, and forcing its way through the vast, massive, solid rocks of the elevated Cascade range, it pours its immense volumes down the rocky declivity, four hundred feet perpendicular. The roar of this unparalleled cataract, is heard at a great distance, and to those who are near it is almost deafening. The volume of water and its fall are so great, that its whole bed, dashes and thunders down, with such fury, as to make the very earth quake and tremble, with such violence, as to cause you very much to doubt the permanency of that upon which you stand. From the cascades to Fort Vancouver, a distance of about thirty miles, the river assumes a much milder character, and spreads, and extends its water, to a much greater extent. At Fort Vancouver, which is ninety miles from the coast, it is three hundred and sixty rods wide, and of great depth. Between the fort and its mouth it receives the Wallammette from the south, and the Cawlity from the north, both of which, aid much in increasing the volume of its water. From its mouth to the cascades, it is a beautiful, and grand stream, and is navigable to that extent, at the lowest stage of water, for ships drawing two fathoms. It enters the ocean between mount Adams and cape Disappointment, where several sand bars are formed, which are a great and dangerous obstruction to its navigation, and which render it extremely difficult and hazardous of entrance.
The Wallammette rises in the Cascade mountains, near latitude 41? north; its course is generally north, northwest, to its mouth, where it enters the Columbia river at two distinct points, and thus forms a large triangular island, called the Wappato island. The upper mouth of the Wallammette, is about fives miles below Fort Vancouver, and the lower mouth is about twenty miles below that place; which shows the extent of the Wappato island, to be fifteen miles on the Columbia. The Wallammette receives the Klackamus and the Putin rivers from the east, and the Fualitine and the Yam-hill rivers from the west. Besides these rivers, it also receives numerous less important tributaries, both from the east and the west. The Wallammette is navigable for vessels of a light draught, to the mouth of the Klackamus, which is about twenty miles from its conflux with the Columbia. Here, its navigation is seriously obstructed by rapids and sand bars, the latter of which, are formed by the waters of the Klackamus, which annually wash down immense quantities of sand, and which are deposited at the junction of the two rivers. The falls, which are a few miles above the mouth of the Klackamus, are a further, and more serious obstruction to its navigation. Here, its vast volume of water, is poured precipitately down a ledge of rocks, of about thirty feet perpendicular; and although this fearful cataract, forms a great obstruction to its safe navigation, yet it is highly important, as it affords an almost inexhaustible water power. Above the falls, the Wallammette is again navigable, for vessels and steam-boats of ight draught, for one hundred miles, or perhaps more, with little or no obstruction. This river and its tributaries, water one of the most fertile and delightful regions in all Oregon. From its source to its mouth, a distance of about three hundred miles, it passes alternately through high mountains and hills, undulating, rich plains, and fertile and beautiful valleys. The Klackamus takes its rise in the Cascade mountains, near latitude 43 degrees north. It is a very rapid stream, and is navigable only for boats and barges of light draught, and for those only during high water. The Fualitine river enters the Wallammette about a mile above the falls; it takes its rise, in the elevated and mountainous regions near the coast, and is about one hundred miles in length, a greater part of which distance, it is navigable for boats, barges, and steam-boats of light draught, of a greater part of the year. The Yam-hill empties into the Wallammette about twenty miles above the falls; it also has its source in the mountainous region near the ocean, and is about one hundred and twenty miles long. About one half of its length, is navigable, perhaps, two thirds of the year, for boats, pirogues and the like crafts. The Putin river empties into the Wallammette, about twelve miles above the falls, after having wound its tortuous course, about one hundred miles from its source, which is in the Cascade range, near latitude 44 degrees north. This stream is navigable only a small portion of the year, and then only for small crafts of very light draught. The Cawlitz is a beautiful little stream, which enters the Columbia below the Wappato island; it can not be said to be navigable, for any kind of crafts, only during high water, and even then only for those of the lightest draught; though it is highly important, as it waters a large extent of country, which is well adapted to grazing purposes. I will give no further description of the tributaries of the Columbia, as most of them have already been partially described, in the description of that river; but I shall proceed to give a brief description, of those which lie north, and south, of that great river.
The largest and most important river north of the Columbia, is Frasier's river, which rises in the Rocky mountains, near latitude 55 degrees north. Its general course is about north by west, a distance of seventy or eighty miles, when it changes to south southwest, which course it continues, to the parallel of 49 degrees of north latitude, at the Cascade mountains. In its course to this place, it receives Stewart's river, which takes its rise in a chain of lakes, near latitude 55 degrees north, then passing through a sterile mountainous region, it receives the Chilcotin and Pinkslitsa from the west, and the Thompson's and Quesnells' rivers from the east. The last mentioned rivers water an extremely broken and mountainous country, yet they are said to be navigable to some extent, though with repeated interruptions, which arise from their numerous falls, rapids and cascades. Frasier's river cuts its way through the Cascade range, and thundering down cataracts, and over falls and rapids, it pursues a westerly course, to the gulf of Georgia, near latitude 49 degrees and 7 min. north, where it finally empties, its vast floods of water into that great gulf. The whole length of this river is about three hundred and sixty miles, but a small portion of which is navigable. That portion of it, above the Cascade range, is navigable only for canoes, boats and the like, and for those only during high water, and even then, with numerous obstructions; but that portion below the Cascade range, a distance of about eighty miles, is navigable without interruption, for vessels of two fathoms draught. No obstruction whatever, is found any where in this portion, except a bar which is found at its mouth, and which, is a serious obstruction to those unacquainted with its entrance. The country through which this stream lies, is, with some exceptions, rough, mountainous and sterile; studded occasionally with those lofty pines of ages, and towering, icy monuments of time! I shall notice but one other river lying, north of Columbia, which is the Chilkeelis, and which heads in the mountainous region north of the Columbia, by three distinct heads. Receiving several other streams, which have their sources in the mountainous region, near the head of Pugets' sound, it runs westward, pursuing a winding and circuitous course, through elevated plains and high mountains, forming numerous falls, and rapids, and finally, empties into Gray's harbor. This river waters one of the most barren and broken regions in all Oregon; it is navigable only for boats of light draught, between its numerous cataracts and rapids. There are several other rivers on the north side of the Columbia, which however, are unimportant. I shall, therefore, proceed to the description of those on the south side of that river. Besides the tributaries of the Columbia, there are but three rivers on the south side of that river, which deserve particular attention. The first which I shall notice, is the Umpqua, which rises in the Cascade mountains, near latitude 43 deg. north, pursuing a westerly course, it enters the ocean at latitude 43 deg. 30 min. north. It is generally about a half of a mile wide, and is confined, in many places, within high banks of basaltic rock. Having a very large bar at its mouth, the entrance is very difficult, and the harbor very unsafe. The water upon this bar is about two fathoms deep, yet the channel is subject to such sudden changes, that at times, it is with the greatest difficulty it can be found. The tide flows up this stream, about forty miles from its mouth, which would aid in its navigation, very much to that extent, were it not for the vast bar at its entrance. The country through which this stream passes, is, generally, broken and hilly, but in many places, there are valleys and undulating plains, which are very rich, and of very considerable extent. With the exception of the valleys and plains, it is usually covered with thick forests of lofty pines, firs and oaks. This stream is perhaps, navigable for steam-boats, about forty miles from its mouth, beyond which, its navigation is repeatedly interrupted, by falls and rapids, yet it is navigable still above, for boats and barges to considerable extent. The river lying next south of the Umpqua, is the Rogue's river, which has its source in the Klamet and Cascade ranges, near latitude 42 deg. north. It pursues a course about west by north, winding its way through alternate sterile mountains, high hills, rich, fertile valleys, and beautiful plains, and finally, empties into the ocean, at the parallel of 43 deg. north latitude. The entrance of this river, is also much obstructed by a vast sand bar, at its mouth, which is entirely impassable, the greater part of the year. This river is about the same width of the Umpqua; its current is very rapid, and it has numerous falls and rapids, which much obstruct its navigation, even for boats and canoes. Its bed is generally about fifteen or twenty feet below the surface of the earth, hence its waters are very difficult of access. It is navigable, perhaps, about eighty miles, for boats and canoes. The country through which it passes, is usually, very well timbered, well watered, and much of it is very rich and productive.
The only river which remains to be noticed, is the Klamet, which rises in the Klamet range, near latitude 41 deg. north, whence it runs a northwest course, about ninety miles, where it changes its course to west, and pursues a very serpentine course for many miles, when, finally, it runs about west by north, to the ocean, where it empties, near latitude 41 deg. 40 min. north, in California. This river waters the most barren and mountainous portion of country, in the southern part of Oregon. With the exception of a few small valleys and plains, it is everywhere walled in, with high mountains and cliffs of solid rock, most of which, are entirely destitute of timber. But a very small portion of this stream, is navigable for any crafts larger than canoes and boats; but that portion of it near its mouth, is, perhaps, navigable for steam-boats, a distance of thirty or forty miles, without serious obstruction. As is the case, with all those streams emptying into the Pacific, it has an extensive bar at its mouth, which entirely prevents the safe entry of vessels, although there is a sufficient depth of water. All those rivers putting into the Pacific, south of the Columbia, have from two to eight fathoms of water upon their bars; but it is hazardous in the extreme, for a vessel to attempt an entrance, at many seasons of the year, because of the tremendous surf, that sets in from the ocean; and the extreme narrowness, and variableness of their channels.
All the various rivers of Oregon, are subject to extraordinary rises and overflows, which take place, in those heading in the different ranges of mountains, at different seasons of the year. In those which rise in the Cascade range, the rise takes place in November and February, annually. These rises are produced by the great quantities of rain, which fall in those regions, of which, more will be said, upon a subsequent page. The rise of those rivers having their sources in the Blue and Rocky mountains, is generally, in the months of May and June, of each year; it is occasioned by the melting of the snows of those mountains. The rise in all these streams is very great, especially in those, having their sources in the Cascade range. The Columbia usually rises from ten to fifteen feet, and of course, inundates much of the surrounding country. The Wallamette frequently rises from twenty to twenty-five feet perpendicular, and thus, submerges large sections of the adjacent country, and occasions very great damage. Such is also the case with the Cawlitz, Umpqua and Rogue's rivers; and in fact, all those rivers which are in the vicinity of the low lands. There is also a rise in the Wallammette and the Cawlitz, which is occasioned by the backing of their waters, during the rise in the Columbia. The rise in the rivers heading in the Cascade range, is, generally, very sudden, but that in the Columbia, and other rivers which have their sources in the Rocky mountains, is usually, gradual, unless there happens to be very heavy rains in the interior, about the time of their annual rise, which is not generally the case, though it sometimes happens, and when it does occur, the country is submerged to a great extent; both man and beast are driven to the hills and mountains for their safety, and irreparable losses are frequently sustained.
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