Tuesday, March 3, 2009

TC: Apparitional Canoe 2: The Commercial Phase

(The "Discovery" of the Mouth of the Columbia)

John Boit of Boston (aetat.17), "Log of the Second Voyage of the Columbia" (1792)

Captain Robert Gray at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1792.
Oregon State Capitol mural

12 [May 1792] We saw an appearance of a spacious harbour abrest of the Ship, haul'd our wind for it, observ'd two sand bars making off, with a passage between them to a fine river. Out pinnace and sent her ahead and follow'd the ship under short sail, carried in from 1/2 three to 7 fm.and when over the bar had 10 fm. water, quite fresh. The River extended to the NE as far as eye cou'd reach, and water fit to drink as far down as the bars, at the entrance. We directed our course up this noble River in search of a Village. The beach was lin'd with Natives, who ran along shore following the Ship. Soon after, above 20 Canoes came off, and brought a good lot of Furs, and Salmon, which last they sold two for a board Nail. The furs we likewise bought cheap, for Copper and Cloth.

Cargo in Trading Goods: The Columbia

Columbia Hoes 36
Shingling Hatchets 91
Large Axes 73
Small Axes 34
Adzes 49
Pole Axes 2
Bill Hooks 52
Drawing Knives 78
Rat Traps 18
Snuff Bottles 78
Butchers Knives 117
Cod Hooks 52 Gross

Jews Harps 22 3/4 Dozn.
Tin Soldiers 6 Boxes
Trinkett 5 Boxes
Beads 116 lb
Necklaces 15 Dozn.
Tobacco Boxes 72
Tin quart potts 72
Tin pint potts 191
Tin half pint potts 125
Dippers 23
Tile potts 38
Tin Kettles 12

They appear'd to view the Ship with the greatest astonishment and no doubt we was the first civilized people they ever saw. At length we arriv'd opposite to a large village, situate on the North side of the River, about 5 leagues from the entrance. Capt. Gray named this River Columbia's and the north entrance Cape Hancock, and the South Point, Adams. This River in my opinion wou'd be a fine place to set up a Factory for skins.

Pepper Boxes 16
Pudding pans 2
Polish'd Iron pint potts 8
Sail Needles 600
Looking glasses 461
Pint Basons 12
Combs 50 Dozn.
Awl Blades 6 Gross
Awl Hafts 6 Dozn.
Cuttoes 1476
Shering Knives 55
Reaping Hooks 3
Pump Hamers 8

Hand Saws 72
Pewter Porringers 72
Basons 72 [Quart]
Elegant earings 14 Dozn. pr.
Large Saws 7
Lott Wire 1 (Bale)
Cloathing 12 Suits
Brass Tobacco Boxes 9
Tinder Boxes 34
Skillitts 90
Spiders 95
Iron Potts and Kettles 84
Kane Knives 37
Chizells 1600

15 [May 1792]. N. Latt. 46º 7’ W. Long. 122º 47’. On the 15th took up the Anchor, and stood up River but soon found the water to be shoal so that the Ship took the Ground, after proceeding 7 or 8 miles from our 1st station, however soon got off again. Sent the Cutter and found the main Channel was on the South side,[1] and that there was a sand bank in the middle, as we did not expect to procure Otter furs at any distance from the Sea, we contented ourselves in our present situation[2] which was a very pleasant one. I landed abrest the Ship with Capt. Gray to view the Country and take possession,[3] leaving charge with the 2d Officer.[4] Found much clear ground, fit for Cultivation, and the woods mostly clear from Underbrush. None of the Natives come near us.

In the Northwest, Native American cultures lived in a shelter known as the plank house.

First map of the mouth of the Columbia River, discovered and drawn by Bruno de Hezeta and named Bahia de la Asuncion, August 17, 1775
Courtesy Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla

18 [May 1792]. Shifted the Ship’s birth to her Old Station abrest the Village Chinoak, command’d by a cheif name Polack.[5] Vast many Canoes full of Indians from different parts of the river where constantly along side. Capt. Gray named this river Columbia’s, and the North entrance Cape Hancock, and the South Point Adams.[6] This River in my opinion, wou’d be a fine place for to sett up a Factory. The Indians are very numerous, and appear’d very civill (not even offering to steal). During our short stay we collected 150 Otter, 300 Beaver, and twice the Number of other land furs. The river abounds with excellent Salmon, and most other River fish, and the Woods with plenty of Moose and Deer, the skins of which was brought us in great plenty, and the Banks produces a ground Nut, which is an excellent substitute for either bread or Potatoes, We found plenty of Oak, Ash, and Walnut trees, and clear ground in plenty, which with little labour might be made fit to raise such seeds as is nessescary for the sustenance of inhabitants, and in short a factory set up here and another at Hancock’s River in the [34] Queen Charlotte Isles, wou’d engross the whole trade of the NW Coast (with the help [of] a few small coasting vessels).

"We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning" (Heisenberg)

20 [May 1792]. This day[1] left Columbia’s River, and stood clear of the bars, and bore off to the Northward The Men at Columbia’s River are strait limb’d, fine looking fellows, and the women are very pretty. they are all in a state of Nature, except the females, who wear a leaf Apron (perhaps ‘twas a fig leaf). But some of our gentlemen, that examin’d them pretty close, and near, both within and without reported that it was not a leaf but a nice wove mat in resemblance!! and so we go—thus, thus—and no Near!—!

I landed abrest the Ship with Capt. Gray to view the Country and take possession, leaving charge with the 2d Officer. Found much clear ground, fit for Cultivation, and the woods mostly clear from Underbrush. None of the Natives come near us.

The American flag that
circumnavigated the
globe with Captain
Gray on the Columbia


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