Page:History of Oregon volume 1.djvu/62

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

village and within the walls of the fort, McLoughlin secured the services of an American as teacher, one Solomon Smith, left objectless by the failure of Wyeth's expedition; and the school thus organized, the first in Oregon, was a good one, wherein were taught the English branches, singing, deportment, and morality. It was the heart and brain of the Oregon Territory, though there were other places pulsating in response to the efforts at Fort Vancouver.

The most western establishment was Fort George, the Astoria of 1811-14. It no longer deserved to be called a fort, the defences of every description having disappeared, while at a little distance from the old stockade, now in ruins, was one principal building of hewn boards, surrounded with a number of Indian huts. Only about four acres were under cultivation, and only one white man, the trader in charge, resided there. It was maintained more as a point of observation than as a post affording commercial advantages.

A place of more importance was Fort Nisqually, situated on a little tributary of the river of that name, and less than a mile from the waters of Puget Sound. It consisted of a stockade about two hundred feet square, guarded by bastions well armed, enclosing a dozen small dwellings and the magazine and warehouses of the company. The situation was unsurpassed, on an open plain, yet convenient to exhaustless forests of good timber, within a short distance of navigable waters, and with the grand Mount Rainier in full view. The fort had only been established about one year, at this time. Away to the north, on rivers draining the valleys of British Columbia, were several trading posts, Fort Langley and the rest, owing allegiance to the Oregon governor, but not requiring mention in this connection.

The only other post of the Hudson's Bay Company, in what is now Oregon, was situated near the confluence of Elk Creek with the Umpqua River, two hundred miles south of the Columbia, and occupying