Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sept 19: Astorian Horses Stolen

This being a Saturday, I didn’t accomplish a lot on the computer -- my wife and I are big college football fans.

On This Day
In 1812, a small party led by Robert Stuart awoke on the morning of September 19 at a camp that today would be under the waters of Palisades Reservoir near the Idaho-Wyoming border. Stuart wrote, “We were all up at dawn, and I had just reached the river bank when I heard the Indian yell raised in the vicinity of our camp and the cry, ‘To Arms’.”

Unfortunately, they were unable to save their horses; the band of Crow Indians ran off all of them. Stuart’s party carried dispatches from Pacific Fur Company officials at Astoria, Oregon to be delivered to the company’s senior partner, John Jacob Astor, in New York. Because they had to abandon much of their baggage and walk out of Idaho, they were forced to winter along the North Platte River about 25 miles from Scotts Bluff.

The party did not arrive in St. Louis until the end of April. By then they had learned that the War of 1812 had started between the U. S. and Great Britain. (Ultimately, the War doomed Astor’s fur trade enterprise in the Pacific Northwest.) Stuart’s party was just the second white expedition to cross southern Idaho: Pacific Fur Company parties led west by Wilson Price Hunt the year before were the first.

Remarkably, much of Stuart’s route from near today’s Pocatello west to the Oregon border and beyond proved not that different from what would later be called the Oregon Trail.

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