Between 1843 and 1845, thousands of settlers took to the Oregon Trail. ... Most settlers continued west to the promised land of the Willamette Valley, but some stayed on along the river to establish businesses or plant orchards. (Durbin 15-16)
The first Oregon pioneers settled on the west side of the Cascade Mountains. They could have avoided the dreadful travel through the Gorge by staying on the east side, but tales of Oregon's bounty all centered on the west -- the Willamette Valley. Stories of the amazingly fertile farmland, beautiful and bountiful crops and moderate weather had filtered back home in the few letters that gradually became a flood of correspondence... And it all centered on the Oregon west of the Cascades. At this time, Oregon was not a state and had no man-made boundaries. The boundaries were the ocean, the Columbia River and the Cascade Mountains. (Willis 17)
By the time the second generation was reaching maturity, people began to remember the land east of the mountains -- land that had been thought of as only "Indian Infested Wilderness," an obstacle to be overcome on the way to the real Oregon. They remembered the richness of the land, the beautiful prairies, the bunch grass so tall horses' bellies would vanish in it and the great wealth of natural resources. And it didn't rain all the time... But they were isolated. They could grow wheat -- but getting it to the west side was a problem, and importing things like lemons, pineapples, pianos and printing presses was very difficult. (Willis 17)
CLICK HERE to continue exploring the highway.
4. History >