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Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River, 1810-1813

Alexander Ross

Introduction by William G. Robbins.

Northwest Reprints

6 × 9 inches. 320 pages.

2000. ISBN 978-0-87071-528-0. Paperback, $17.95.

Four years after Lewis and Clark stimulated American interest in the far western reaches of the continent, John Jacob Astor, a New York businessman, dispatched an overland expedition to establish a fur-trading post on the Columbia River. A second group traveled by sea aboard the Tonquin, among them Alexander Ross, a clerk in Astor's Pacific Fur Company.

Adventures of the First Settlers is a vivid account of the expedition and its struggles to establish a successful trading venture. Ross details the Tonquin's dangerous voyage and documents the Astorians' painstaking struggles to clear the land and build a new trading post. Their settlement, Astoria, became the first American outpost on the Pacific Slope.

Although the Astorians were aggressive in expanding their presence in the Columbia River country, their enterprise was short-lived. Ross chronicles their competition with the rival North West Company for furs and empire, the colorful and hazardous exploits of the fur trappers, and the eventual transfer of Astoria to the north West Company in the midst of the War of 1812. His detailed descriptions of the Columbia River Indians reveal Ross to be an astute and informed observer.

In a new introduction to a book he calls "one of the charter literary documents for the Pacific Northwest," historian William Robbins considers the relationship between exploration, commerce, and empire in the Astorians' experience.

The OSU Press edition, like the Bison Book edition, omits an appendix containing a Chinook vocabulary and a table of weather conditions at Astoria in 1811.

A version with the Chinook vocab can be found online:


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