An Unexpected Encounter
by Renee Rusler, Park Ranger
Restrooms, gasoline, and flat tires are concerns for modern travelers. Fodder, broken axles, steep terrain and swollen rivers would have made the list in 1836. As much as we plan to make our trips go flawlessly, something always seems to go astray. Sometimes it is something very small.
In 1836, Narcissa Whitman and her missionary colleagues were making the arduous trip across the continent in order to establish a new mission in the Oregon Country. They had traveled with a caravan to the fur-trappers’ Rendezvous in the Rocky Mountains. They were now going even farther west, traveling to Fort Vancouver with members of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The final leg of the journey was by boat. At The Dalles the missionaries debarked because the boat had to be portaged around the rapids. Narcissa shared what happened next with her mother:
Their journey west was nearly over. The missionaries had worked very hard to get to the Oregon Country.
Whitman, Narcissa. Letter to Marcus's Family. Started June 27, 1836. From The Letters of Narcissa Whitman, Narcissa Whitman. Ye Galleon Press, Fairfield, Washington. 1986.
Did You Know?
On her 29th birthday Narcissa gave birth to a daughter, Alice Clarissa. The Cayuse called her “Cayuse Te-mi” (Cayuse girl) because she was born on Cayuse land. Some historians see her as a potential bridge between the two cultures. Unfortunately Alice Clarissa drowned when she was 2 years old.