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Santiago was under command of Bruno Heceta with Perez as pilot and second in command. The Sonora was commanded by Bodega y Quadra. On July 14 Heceta landed at a point 47°30'. They erected a cross and planted a sealed bottle at the foot containing a record of
a the event. “This”, says Meany, "was the first known time that civilized man had touched foot to the soil of this State" (Washington)? Because the Indians killed six of Quadra's sailors be named the place Isla de Dolores or Island of Sorrows. The name was later changed to Destruction Island. The place was evidently at the mouth of the Hoh River.
Bancroft says, “Thus the whole extent of the northwest coast from latitude 42° (the eventual boundary between California and Oregon) and 55° was explored and formally taken possession of for Spain by Perez, Heceta, and Quadra, in 1774-75."8
Captain Cook.--Although Capt. James Cook never anchored at any point on the coast of Washington or Oregon his cruises in the waters in close proximity to their shores were of vast significance in the ultimate discoveries, the development of the fur trade and finally of settlement. "Cook in his third and last voyage, coming from the Sandwich Islands, of which he was the discoverer, on March 7, 1778, sighted the northern seaboard in latitude 44°33'.". This was off the southwestern shore of the present State of Oregon. When Cook sailed from England he knew nothing definitely of what the Spanish navigators had accomplished, although he was aware that they had visited the northern coast. He was commissioned to try to find the water route through America by Hudson's Bay or by other routes farther north. He was instructed to avoid encroachment upon Spanish dominions, or trouble with any foreigners. His definite search for the inland passage was not to begin until reaching latitude 650, although he was to cruise the coast from 45° onward. The English Government offered a reward of 20,000 pounds for the discovery of an inland passage to the Atlantic north of 52°.
For 6 days he was in sight of land on the southwest coast of Oregon and gave names to several capes, including Foulweather, Perpetua, and Gregory. On resuming his northward cruise he again sighted the coast in latitude 47°5' on March 22, 1778. In latitude 48°15' he discovered a cape which he named Cape Flattery. His own words which follow explain the apparent appropriateness of the name. “Between this island or rock and the northern extreme of the land there appeared to be a small opening which flattered us with hopes of finding a barbour. These hopes lessened as we rew nearer; and, at last, we had some reason to think that the opening was closed by low land. On this account I called the point of land to the north of it Cape Flattery." 10
* Meany, op. cit., p. 23. Bancroft, op. cit., vol. I, p. 166. Barcroft, op. cit., vol. I, p. 167.
Those familiar with the northwest coast readily recognize that Cape Flattery is the most northwest point of the present State of Washington and that this cape is at the southern side of the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Strangely enough, Captain Cook did not discern this strait, although searching for an inward passage. Upon reaching Nootka to the north, when he landed he recorded in his log book, "It is in this very latitude where we now were that geographers have placed the pretended strait of Juan de Fuca. But we saw nothing like it; nor is there the least probability that even any such thing ever existed." 11
Captain Cook remained at Nootka for a month. While there he studied the surrounding locality, appraising its products and gaining an acquaintance with the natives. Although he had missed the strait, the most important objective, his accurate descriptions later published were of great value in subsequent developments. Not much had be. come known to the world at large through the Spanish discoveries because they were so tardy in publishing. Cook took with him a small quantity of furs whose values soon became known in China and Siberia, This established the beginning of the great fur trade which for a century was one of the incentives of all American and English expeditions to this region. Cook returned for winter quarters to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaiian), where he was killed by the natives.
Captain Barclay.-In 1787 Captain Barclay (sometimes spelled Berkely) of the Austrian East India Company, landed at Nootka in June. After a period of trading he coasted southward. He entered the mouth of a river in latitude 47°43'. Six of his men who went ashore were killed by the Indians. He named the river Destruction River. This river was just opposite Quadra's Isla de Dolores. The river now is known as the Hoh River. Barclay's wife was with him and was the first civilized woman to visit these northwest shores. 12
4. Cruising in the Puget Sound Lt. John Meares.—In 1788 Lt. John Meares, a retired officer of the British Navy, landed at Nootka and remained there some months build. ing a small vessel and trading with the Indians. Sailing southward, he discovered a great inlet on June 29 in latitude 48°39'. Touching the southern shore, he received a visit from Chief Tatooche. To the island at that point he gave the name Tatooche. That is now known as Tatoosh and on which are located the United States lighthouse and weather station.
10 Cook, James. A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, 1784. vol. II, p. 263. 11 Meany, op. cit., p. 24. 13 Bancroft, op. cit., vol. I, p. 182.
On July 4 he espied a snow-capped peak in latitude 47°10' which he named Mount Olympus. The next day he discovered Shoalwater Bay, now known as Willapa Harbor. On July 6 he discovered a cape in latitude 46°10' which he hoped would be the Cape San Roque, mentioned by Heceta. Finding breakers in the bay beyond, he named it Deception Bay and the cape Cape Disappointment. He did not realize that this bay was the Oregon River, the Great River of the West, the St. Roc for which he was searching—the one now known as the Columbia. He wrote: “We can now with safety assert that no such river as St. Roc exists, as laid down in the Spanish chart.” 13
Meany comments: “Again the Great River of the West held to her face the veil of ocean spray, although Jonathan Carver had invented for ber the beautiful name of Oregon some 22 years before. The existence of the river was simply a guess on Carver's part while traveling among Indians in Minnesota, and the name itself seems, in the light of subsequent research, a pure but valuable invention." 14. Bancroft says that “The name sounded well, was adopted by the poet Bryant in his immortal Thanatopsis, and became permanent." 15
Capt. George Vancouver.—The explorations of Capt. George Vancouver, of the British Admiralty, left more definite evidence of his activities in western Washington than that of perhaps any other navigator. His expedition also strengthened the British claim to the Oregon country more than that of any other single explorer. These results were accomplished because of his accuracy in exploration and map-making and also because his reports were promptly published and widely distributed.
Vancouver had been an officer with Cook, whose voyages had stimulated an interest in the fur trade. The British Government decided to send out a scientific exploring expedition and placed it in charge of Vancouver. On April 27, 1791, Vancouver examined Deception Bay and Cape Disappointment at the mouth of the Columbia, then not definitely discovered. Vancouver denied the existence of a river at that point. On the 28th he discovered a point farther north near the present village of Moclips. He named the point Grenville after Lord Grenville. He followed through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the inland gulf which he named the Gulf of Georgia. To the southern end of this gulf he gave the name of Puget Sound in honor of Lt. Peter Puget who explored that region. The stretch of water between Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca he called Admiralty Inlet in honor of the British Board of Admiralty. On June 4 Vancouver landed on the site of the present city of Everett. He took possession of the whole territory around and named it New Georgia. The bay washing the shore immediately in front he called Possession Sound.
11 Bancroft, op. cit., vol. I, p. 198. 14 Meany, op. cit., p. 27. i Bancroft, op. cit., p. 133.
On April 30 his Lieutenant Baker called attention to a snow-capped peak which Vancouver promptly named Mount Baker. On May 8 Vancouver himself descried a lofty peak further south which he named in honor of his friend, Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. On his return trip southward he discovered and named Mount St. Helens.
Meany has traced the origin of some 75 names given by Vancouver in this northwest region. Among the additional prominent ones are Vancouver Island, Bellingham Bay, Hood Canal, Port Orchard, Port Towns(h)end, Whidbey Island. It is remarkable that so many of the names have persisted.
5. First American Explorers
Up to 1787 there is no account of any American discovery or exploration of the Northwest region. New England had many sailors and some of them were making history in voyages to the Orient and the Sandwich Islands. John Ledyard of Connecticut had been with Cook on his voyage to Nootka. Boston shippers began to hear of the profitable fur trade with the northwest.
Capt. Robert Gray.-In 1787 a company was organized to send two ships, the Columbia Rediviva, under Capt. John Kendrick, and the Lady Washington, under Capt. Robert Gray. It was to be primarily a trading expedition. They took especially copper and iron implements which they expected to barter for furs. The Indians were so eager for the metal implements that on one occasion Gray received $8,000 worth of sea otter furs for an old iron chisel. On the cruise northward on August 14, 1788, they anchored in a bay at 45°27' north latitude. As there was a dangerous bar at the mouth, they thought it must be the Ensenada de Heceta or the River of the West. It was doubtless Tillamook Bay, off the northwest coast of Oregon. On the expedition Kendrick and Gray were at Nootka for some time. They made trips to the Orient, Gray being the first American to carry the Stars and Stripes around the globe.17
* Meany, op. cit., p. 35.
6. Crossing the Columbia Bar In 1791 while coasting southward, Gray, then in command of the ship Columbia, after considerable difficulty crossed the bar at the mouth of the River of the West, and promptly named it the Columbia, in honor of his ship. 18 That was on May 11, 1792. Four days before he had discovered a harbor about 60 miles to the north which he named Bulfinch Harbor, in honor of Dr. Charles Bulfinch, of Boston, one of the trading company sending the expedition.19 Appropriately that has since been changed to Grays Harbor. It is at the site of Aberdeen and Hoquiam. The entire county also has been named Grays Harbor County.
7. Across the Rockies to the Pacific Alexander Mackenzie (British).—The first trek by white men from the midwestern plains of America across the Stony Mountains to the Pacific Ocean was accomplished by Alexander Mackenzie of the Northwest Company of fur traders. His feat was very significant in revealing the geographical relations of the East and the West and also the great difficulties to be surmounted by traveling the transmontane route. His discoveries and the British claims based upon them were destined to be of great importance in the later struggle over territorial sovereignty. Inasmuch as his journey was entirely in the territory allotted to Canada and not at all in the Oregon country no further discussion will be included here.
Lewis and Clark (American).—The second expedition made by white men westward across the Rocky Mountains, or Stony Mountains as they were earlier known, to the shores of the Pacific Ocean was made by Lewis and Clark in 1804-06. This was the first transmountain expedition to the Northwest by Americans. This venture was conceived by Thomas Jefferson. As early as 1783 Jefferson had been trying to have such an expedition conducted. Prof. Frederick J. Turner discovered a letter dated December 4, 1783, written by Jefferson to George Rogers Clark, in which he said:
I find they have subscribed a very large sum of money in England for exploring the country from the Mississippi to California. They pretend it is only to promote knowl.
1 Meany, op. cit., p. 41. 19 Bancroft, op. cit., vol. I, p. 260. Is Bancroft, op. cit., vol. I, p. 259.