Resources 1984 – B. New Land Routes Through Southern Oregon Studied

Historic Resource Study, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, 1984

II. White Men Slowly Penetrate the Southern Oregon Wilderness


B. New Land Routes Through Southern Oregon Studied

A land route had been opened along the Oregon coast all the way from San Francisco Bay by Alexander McLeod during the winter of 1828-29, following the watershed of the Eel River across the Trinity Mountains and north through the Rogue Valley to the Willamette. Another expedition followed the Oregon coast to the Umpqua River, swung south toward California, and passed through the Rogue Valley to Klamath Lake. An Oregon-California land route was definitely established by 1833, with many persons taking advantage of this trail despite frequent confrontations with the Indians. [4]

In 1841 Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, commander of the U.S. Navy South Seas Surveying and Exploring Expedition, ordered a detachment under George F . Emmons to explore the land route between the Columbia River and San Francisco Bay. Accompanied by a party of thirty-nine that included several soldiers and seamen, an artist, a geologist, a naturalist, two botanists, guides, and hunters, Emmons crossed the Umpqua Mountains, passed Rocky Point, continued on over the ridges near present Gold Hill, followed northeast up the Rogue River to the vicinity of present Ashland, turned off from Bear Creek, and ascended the Siskiyous on over to the Klamath River and into California. [5]In the spring of 1846 John C. Fremont came through the area on his third official exploring expedition to the West and camped on the west edge of Klamath Lake during a survey mission for the government. The camp was surprised by a band of Klamath Indians who killed three of his scouts, and in reprisal the Fremont party attacked a large village or rancheria of Indians in the direction of Tule Lake. Several tribesmen were killed, the rest driven away, and their wickiups and racks of dried fish burned. This incident perhaps set the tone for future white-Modoc relations. [6]


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