Touring the Grounds
The Original Mission Site. Today no structures are standing. The original buildings were burnt down in 1848 in retaliation for an Indian village which had been destroyed. Archeologists located the foundations of the mission buildings, which are now marked with concrete blocks. A flat, paved, self-guiding trail goes through the mission site. Walking along the path one sees
The Great Grave. The Whitmans and eleven others were buried in one mass grave, located at the bottom of the hill. On the 50th anniversary of the attack a marble slab was put on top of the grave.
Marker for Alice Clarissa. On the evening of her 29th birthday (March 14, 1837) Narcissa Whitman gave birth to the Whitmans’ only child, Alice Clarissa. A short 2 years and 3 months later Alice Clarissa tragically drowned in the nearby river. According to Catherine Sager, when her family arrived at the mission in 1843 Narcissa pointed to a nearby hill and said, “The only child I ever had sleeps there.” Evidence suggests that the original grave marker was made of wood. By the late 1850’s the marker was gone, possibly destroyed in a grass fire. A new marker for Alice Clarissa Whitman was dedicated on May 8, 1968. That marker is located at the base of the hill.
The Monument. In addition to the marble slab, a monument to the Whitmans was erected on the top of the hill during the 50th Anniversary event. Paved paths on either side of the hill lead to the monument.
Reconstructed Oregon Trail Ruts. For a few years the Whitmans' mission was important to Oregon Trail emigrants. Reconstructed ruts are located in the general area those wagons would have traveled. A replica of the type and size of wagon that the emigrants took to this area sits on top of the ruts. Typically the emigrants walked alongside their wagons. Today one can walk along these ruts to reach the base of the hill.
Did You Know?
The Whitmans’ mission was important to early Oregon Trail travelers. Those who were sick, tired, or hungry or who needed a wagon fixed would make the side trip to the mission. Some would spend the winter with the Whitmans before continuing on to the Willamette Valley.