A River of Settlers


Before 1846 American immigrants traveling the Oregon Trail to Fort Vancouver had to make a choice at The Dalles (80 miles upriver from here). They could navigate their own handmade raft or take a Hudson's Bay Company boat down the Columbia River to here. Many travelers chose to complete these last 80 miles on a Company boat.

Fort Vancouver's manager, Chief Factor John McLoughlin, generously offered food, supplies, and medical treatment to the weary Americans when they arrived here. He then directed them to settle south of the Columbia River in the Willamette Valley. The Company hoped that by discouraging settlement north of the Columbia River, the river would become the international boundary between the United States and British North America. The plan failed.

[Map of the two route options available to Oregon Trail travelers from The Dalles is included with the following caption]:
After 1846 immigrants took either a land or water route from The Dalles to Fort Vancouver. Eventually, the arrival of many thousands of new American settlers helped to tip the balance in favor of the United States' boundary claims.

Near SE Columbia Way, Vancouver,
Official (Historical Marker Database)
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