The Discovery of the Oregon Trail: Robert Stuart's Narratives of His Overland Trip Eastward from Astoria in 1812-13

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9780803292345: The Discovery of the Oregon Trail: Robert Stuart's Narratives of His Overland Trip Eastward from Astoria in 1812-13
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Robert Stuart saw the American West a few years after Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and, like them, kept a journal of his epic experience. A partner in John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company, the Scotsman shipped for Oregon aboard the Tonquin in 1810 and helped found the ill-fated settlement of Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River. In 1812, facing disaster, Stuart and six others slipped away from Astoria and headed east. His journal, edited and annotated by Philip Ashton Rollins, describes their hazardous 3,700-mile journey to St. Louis. Crossing the Rockies in winter, they faced death by cold, starvation, and hostile Indians. But they made history by discovering what came to be called the Oregon Trail, including South Pass, over which thousands of emigrants would travel west in mid-century. Besides Stuart’s narrative, this volume contains important material about Astoria and the fate of the Tonquin, as well as the harrowing account of Wilson Price Hunt, who headed a party of overlanders traveling east to join the Astorians.

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Review:

Robert Stuart, a partner in John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company, helped found an ill-fated trading post in Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River. The post fell to disease and hostile attacks, but by then, Stuart had left, heading back east to report to corporate headquarters. In making his way overland across mountains and vast prairies, Stuart blazed what would become the Oregon Trail. His journal, reproduced here, recounts his hardships and observations along the way, and it makes for fascinating reading. In this University of Nebraska Press edition, the noted Western historian Howard Lamar provides an introductory essay that discusses the significance of Stuart's trek to the later settlement of the Pacific Northwest.

About the Author:

Introducing this Bison Book edition is Howard Lamar, editor of the Reader’s Encyclopedia of the American West and a professor of history at Yale University.

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