Peter Skene Ogden and the Williamson River

Back to Part 2 – Explorers and Pioneers in Southern Oregon

Peter Skene Ogden was likely the first white man to enter this part of Oregon. As a Chief Trader for the Snake River Country for the Hudson’s Bay Company, he explored large portions of the west as part of the HBC’s efforts to create a “fur desert” and discourage American Trappers from encroaching on what they considered “their” land.

In 1826 he set out from from Fort Nez Perce in what is now Walla Walla Washington. The expedition traveled south exploring the Deschutes River, and following it to Klamath Lake. He ended up as far south as Mt. Shasta in California before turning back in 1827.

During this expedition they traveled pass quite a few landmarks including Crooked River where the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint exists now. In December 1826 he was in the area of the Williamson River.

Peter Skene Ogden History Sign

“Peter Skene Ogden, Chief Trader for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and Thomas McKay, clerk, with a company of 15 employees and 20 freeman and some native families and over 100 horses, left The Dalles, September 19, 1826. They went up the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers to the Harney Basin, exploring and trapping beaver, with little success, returning over Newberry Crater to the Upper Deschutes and south to the Williamson, they encountered head storms and deep snow on Upper Klamath (Clammitte) Marsh and gratefully descended to Spring Creek here December 5, 1826.”

“The game had migrated out of the snow and they were happy to trade the Klamaths out of dog and dried mullet to eat. The part travelled on south till discouraged by the Tule Lake Lava Beds. Turning back to the Klamath and down to Beswick Hot Springs, they trapped and explored on over into the Rogue River Basin. Spreading out their party they trapped the streams North and West of Mt. Shasta which Ogden named with it’s Indian name “Sastise.” In May the party went East and North to the Harney Basin and the Malheur River. Then down the Snake (ed- Snake River,) to Fort Nez Perce (Walla Walla).”

Next: The Pacific Railroad Survey Party

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