A moment in Oregon History – Rick Steber October




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A Moment in Oregon History




Copyright 2009 – Rick Steber


October



October 1 - In the early years, the Columbia River Bar was considered to be one of the most dangerous crossings in the world. In 1884 Congress appropriated funds to build jetties at the mouth of the Columbia. The South Jetty was built first and after ten years it extended four miles into the sea. Work on the North Jetty began in 1917. The ends of these two jetties, constructed of rock and timbers, stand two miles apart, and as river water and ocean tides rushed between them, a channel 43 feet deep was carved. Building the jetties, which by 1936 had cost the federal government in excess of 20 million dollars, moved the hazardous bar seaward and made the crossing much safer.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 2 - His given name was Henry Clay Vaughan but he was known far-and-wide as Hank. A gunfighter and dangerous outlaw, Hank had his first scrape with the law in Canyon City when he was only fifteen years old. He gunned down a man who refused to pay for a horse. After that, he got in a scrape in Umatilla County, rode with Butch Cassidy and his gang and was involved in a shootout in Arizona. Returning to Oregon Hank continued his outlaw ways until June 16, 1893. On that day Hank was intoxicated, riding a horse wildly up Main Street in Pendleton. His horse slipped and went down. This ended the rough and rowdy life of outlaw Hank Vaughan.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 5 - Portland and Astoria were infamous ports for shanghaiing sailors. Men known as “crimps” used knockout drops, alcohol and other means to obtain crews for sailing ship captains. Once the bodies were delivered on board ship and the crimp was paid the ship set sail. At the height of the shanghaiing days crimps charged as much as $135 per man and stories were told of dead men, and even a cigar store wooden Indian, having been taken aboard by gullible captains. As steamships became more popular, the sailing era began to fade and large crews were no longer necessary. In time the Portland and Astoria waterfront became relatively safe places, where a man no longer needed to worry about waking up with a hangover and being a hundred miles out to sea.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 6 - John Jacob Astor established the Pacific Fur Company and to assure its success he sent two expeditions to the West Coast, one by land and the other by sea. His ship, the Tonquin, departed from New York, sailed south, rounded the Horn and arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River the spring of 1811. After unloading, the Tonquin continued north, up the coast. The ship put in at a harbor on Vancouver Island and the crew began trading with the local natives. But the natives took control of the ship and it was believed that the armorer, Stephen Weeks, blew up the ship. The Tonquin was destroyed, the crew lost their lives and nearly two hundred natives perished in the terrible explosion.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 7 - On the way west Henry Sager was trapped in a buffalo stampede, critically injured and soon died. One of his daughters, Catherine, wrote of what happened next, “After we buried Father, the nights and mornings were bitter cold. Mother was afflicted with the sore mouth that was the forerunner of the fatal fever. She soon became delirious and when she died we buried her beside the Oregon Trail.” The seven Sager children, ranging in age from only a few weeks old to fourteen, continued to travel with the wagon train until they reached the missionary settlement of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. The Whitmans, who had recently lost a baby, took in the Sager children and cared for them.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 8 – In the fall of 1906 the grain‑laden Peter Iredale departed from Salina Cruz, Mexico and sailed up the West Coast in light winds. A few miles shy of the mouth of the Columbia River the canvas suddenly sprang to life and the ship creaked and groaned under the strain of the billowing sails. The sudden squall caught the crew off guard and within minutes the Peter Iredale had run aground on the soft sand of Clatsop Spit. Today the last remains of the Peter Iredale lie rusting on the beach. The metal hull is sunk deep in the sand and the ribs are like a fish stripped to the bone. In time the relentless waves and the shifting sand will claim the last trace of the Peter Iredale.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 9 - Meriwether Lewis was born in Virginia, and when he was of age, enlisted in the army. He became President Jefferson’s private secretary and was appointed by the President to lead an expedition to the Northwest. Lewis chose his good friend, William Clark, as co-commander. Their trek through uncharted territory, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, lasted from 1804 to 1806. Upon Lewis’s return he was appointed Governor of Louisiana. But while traveling to Washington. D. C., and under very mysterious circumstances, he died on October 11, 1809.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 12 – The last great train robbery in the United States took place October 11, 1923. The DeAutremont brothers, twins Ray and Roy and their younger brother Hugh, stopped the southbound train in tunnel number13, located in the Siskiyou Mountains above the town of Ashland. They tried to blow the door off the mail car but used too much dynamite and the car was blown apart. Four men were killed in the botched robbery and the brothers fled into the woods. For a time they were able to elude capture, but after one of the most extensive manhunts in history, they were captured, stood trial, were found guilty and sentenced to life terms in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 13 - The fur trade in the Northwest was initiated in the late 1700s. East coast companies loaded ships with brightly colored cloth, blankets, scrap iron, nails, pocket mirrors and buttons and sent the ships around the Horn and into the Pacific Ocean. Upon reaching the Northwest, the American sailors traded with the native people for furs. The furs were transported to the Orient and exchanged for tea, silk and other valuables. The ships continued sailing east, and after having been away from home for more than a year and traveling around the world, the sailors returned home as wealthy men. This trade was so lucrative that, in one year alone, more than 18,000 animal skins were exported from the Northwest.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 14 - Elijah Davidson and his faithful dog Bruno were on a hunting expedition in the Siskiyou Mountains. Elijah killed a deer but Bruno kept hunting and was soon barking scent. From his excited tone, Elijah figured Bruno had jumped a bear. He went in search and found that Bruno had gone inside a cave. Elijah investigated the underground cavern and was amazed at what he found. For a time he called this place Elijah Caves, later it was referred to as Marble Halls and then Josephine Caves. In l909 President Taft signed legislation creating a national monument and giving it the official name of the Oregon Caves.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 15 - William Overton has only a brief footnote in Oregon history. He came west and in 1844 and staked out 640 acres on the west side of the Willamette River. He lacked the two-bit fee needed to file his claim and sold half interest in the property to Asa Lovejoy who had just arrived from Boston. Lovejoy paid the fee and set out to make the site into a harbor town. Overton sold his remaining acreage to Francis Pettygrove from Portland, Maine and soon departed from Oregon. By 1845 there were four streets and 16 blocks in what was then called Stump Town. That year Pettygrove won a coin toss and named the new town in honor of his hometown, calling the growing settlement, Portland.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 16 - Before the steel rails reached Oregon, beef cattle were driven overland to eastern markets. Cattle drives were organized to coincide with the emergence of the grass in early May and followed the general route of the Oregon Trail. The cattle herds, numbering several thousand head in each drive, were moved at a leisurely pace and the cattle were allowed to graze as they traveled. The 1,500-mile drive from Eastern Oregon to the railheads in Montana and Wyoming generally took five or six months and required an outfit of 40 cowboys with a remuda of several hundred horses. It is estimated that nearly a million head of fat Oregon cattle were driven to eastern markets between 1875 and the arrival of the railroad in 1884.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 19 - Sidney Moss was a surveyor, stonecutter, hotelkeeper, storeowner and author. He came west with the Hastings expedition in 1842 and was called on to survey the new town of Oregon City. He performed this duty with nothing more than a pocket compass and a piece of rope that he claimed, “Is exactly a rod long, on a dry day.” Moss purchased a lot in Oregon City and constructed and operated the first hotel west of the Rocky Mountains. By 1850 he had amassed a fortune and sent a partner east with $63,000, a fortune in those days, to purchase merchandise for his store. But the money was lost along the way, and although Moss lived to be 91 years old, he never recovered financially from this setback.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 20 - On October 20, 1818 the United States and Great Britain signed a treaty to share the Northwest. It was called The Treaty of Joint Occupancy and it permitted “all territories and their waters claimed by either power west of the Rocky Mountains are to be free and open to the vessels, citizens and subject of both for ten years.” At the end of 10 years The Treaty of Joint Occupancy was renewed. It was finally terminated in 1846 when the United States was granted sole rights to all lands south of 49 degrees.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 21 - Tillamook Rock is a tiny island of basalt situated in the ocean a half-mile offshore and 20 miles south of the entrance to the Columbia River. On October 21, 1879 quarrymen were landed on the rock and nearly two years later, having battled high seas and crashing waves, extreme cold, hurricane force winds and even hostile sea lions, they completed building Tillamook Lighthouse and living quarters. It was a remarkable engineering feat, and as the keepers moved in they found the 100 by 80 foot chunk of rock to be one of the loneliest spots in the world. Over the years several lighthouse keepers suffered from mental illness and had to be removed. Tillamook Lighthouse was officially abandoned and the light turned off September 1, 1957.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 22 – Due to a shortage of coins during the early days of Oregon, business owners found it difficult to conduct financial transactions. The Provisional Legislature approved a plan to mint gold coins. But Joseph Lane, the newly appointed first territorial governor, arrived and declared the Oregon law in conflict with federal statutes. To circumvent the law, a private company was formed and by September of 1849 nearly 60 thousand dollars of five and ten dollar gold pieces had been minted. Each coin was stamped with the replica of a beaver imprinted on the face. The coins were given the nickname of “Beaver Money.” Very few exist today.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 23 - The Ku Klux Klan became a prominent force in Oregon during the 1920s and was joined by an auxiliary known as the Ladies of the Ku Klux Klan. Rallies were held around the state and white crosses were burned atop Mt. Tabor in Portland, Skinner’s Butte in Eugene and Pilot Butte in Bend. The Klan had its greatest power in Portland and after a large march of men dressed in white Klan regalia, the City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting parades by masked persons. By the mid-1930s the era of the Klan had passed and the organization collapsed because of negative public opinion, and internal disunion among Klan members.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 26 - The Southern Route of the Oregon Trail brought pioneers into the Rogue River Valley and the discovery of gold in Jacksonville brought more settlers to the region. The native people resented the newcomers and open warfare broke out in what has become known as the Rogue River Indian Wars. It is estimated that 200 white residents and soldiers lost their lives and at least that number of Indians were killed. The war ended in 1856 when the Indians of that region were force-marched to the Grande Ronde Reservation. The soldiers who fought in the war were not paid pensions until 1913. By that time, most of the soldiers had already died.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 27 - The Reverend Joab Powell was an imposing figure, standing over six feet tall and weighing in excess of three hundred pounds. He came west in 1852 to preach to the settlers, as well as the Indians, claiming, “I shall preach to anyone who will listen.” He carried the word of the Lord to the far reaches of the state and although he had difficulty reading, he had managed to memorize, and could recite, long passages from the Bible. During the two decades he preached in Oregon Reverend Joab baptized more than 3,000 people. One time the reverend was asked to give the invocation for the Oregon legislature. In his simple style he addressed the dignitaries by bowing his head and praying, “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 28 - Earl Snell was born and raised in Eastern Oregon. He fought in World War One, and after returning home he opened an automobile dealership and began to dabble in politics. He was ultimately elected as Oregon’s 23rd governor. On October 28, 1947 Governor Snell, along with Secretary of State Robert S. Farrell, Jr. and President of the Senate Marshall E. Cornett, had scheduled a duck-hunting trip to Southern Oregon. As they were departing Salem in a Beechcraft Bonanza a reporter asked Governor Snell if he had any fear of flying. The Governor laughed and replied, “My mark isn’t up yet.” That afternoon, in a severe storm, the plane crashed in Lake County near Dog Lake, killing all aboard.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 29 - Aaron Rose came to Southern Oregon in 1851 and was able to trade a horse for a land claim along the Umpqua River. For many years his house was also a public tavern and from the tavern Rose conducted a number of businesses. He operated a hotel, butcher shop and general store. On the side he traded horses. Rose platted a town around his tavern, named it Roseburg, and after giving three acres of land and $1,000 toward building a courthouse, and throwing a lavish party for voters at election time, Roseburg was able to steal the county seat from the nearby settlement of Winchester.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)


October 30 - Sacajawea was a Shoshone Indian woman, born along the Salmon River and taken as a slave to the east side of the Rocky Mountains. She was known as Bird Woman and was either bought as a slave, or won in a gambling game by French-Canadian trapper, Toussaint Charbonneau. She married Toussaint and accompanied him when Lewis and Clark employed him as a guide. Sacajawea proved to be a very valuable member of the expedition. Upon completion of the journey, Sacajawea left her husband because of his cruel treatment and married a Comanche brave. It is believed that Sacajawea lived to be nearly 100 years old, and died in 1884 in Wyoming.

By Rick Steber (To preview Rick’s new novel visit www.secretsofthebull.com)

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