Page:Oregon Historical Quarterly volume 12.djvu/223

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RESULTS FROM ASTOR EXPEDITIONS 215 Astoria June 30, 1812, with a larger party, who were bound for the interior posts of the Company. July 31, the Stuart party set out, from near the mouth of Walla Walla River, on its overland journey. After being- robbed by the Indians of its horses and supplies and staying all winter in temporary quarters, the party arrived at St. Louis, Missouri, April 30, 1813. The important result of this trip, by the Stuart party, is that it traveled south of the route taken by the Hunt party, in 1811, and along the Platte River, and practically discovered the Oregon Trail, or at least a large part of it. As to whether it discovered the great South Pass, by which wagons were able to cross through the Rocky Mountains, there is some ques- tion. Marshall, in his "Acquisition of Oregon," says the Stuart party discovered South Pass ; Chittenden, in his work, "The American Fur Trade of the Far West," says this party passed near but did not discover it. This question is not material, for, as Chittenden wrote of the Stuart party (Vol. I., page 214): "The route pursued on the return journey was, with three exceptions, that of the Oregon Trail of later years. Stuart's party kept south of Snake River, instead of crossing and fol- lowing the line of the Boise. They also missed the line from Bear River to the Devil's Gate, although near it a good deal of the way. From Grand Island to the mouth of the Kansas they followed the rivers, instead of crossing the angle between them, as the Trail afterwards did. All of these variations from the true route would have been avoided on another journey. The two Astoria expeditions, therefore, are entitled to the credit of having practically opened up the Oregon Trail from the Missouri River at the mouth of the Kansas to the mouth of the Columbia River." The importance of this discovery, of what became the Ore- gon Trail, is great. It is true it would have been discovered some time, probably by trappers or fur-traders. It appears to have been first used, after its discovery, by W. H. Ashley, of the Missouri Fur Company, with his party, in 1824. The