Nor Was The Pacific Shore Of The Country Any Better Known To Civilized
Man Than Was The Region Lying Between That Coast And The Big Muddy,
Or Missouri River.
Spanish voyagers, in 1602, had sailed as far north
as the harbors of San Diego and Monterey, in what
Is now California;
and other explorers, of the same nationality, in 1775, extended their
discoveries as far north as the fifty-eighth degree of latitude.
Famous Captain Cook, the great navigator of the Pacific seas,
in 1778, reached and entered Nootka Sound, and, leaving numerous
harbors and bays unexplored, he pressed on and visited the shores
of Alaska, then called Unalaska, and traced the coast as far north
as Icy Cape. Cold weather drove him westward across the Pacific,
and he spent the next winter at Owyhee, where, in February of
the following year, he was killed by the natives.
All these explorers were looking for chances for fur-trading,
which was at that time the chief industry of the Pacific coast.
Curiously enough, they all passed by the mouth of the Columbia
without observing that there was the entrance to one of the finest
rivers on the American continent.
Indeed, Captain Vancouver, a British explorer, who has left his name
on the most important island of the North Pacific coast, baffled by the
deceptive appearances of the two capes that guard the way to a noble stream
(Cape Disappointment and Cape Deception), passed them without a thought.
But Captain Gray, sailing the good ship "Columbia," of Boston, who coasted
those shores for more than two years, fully convinced that a strong current
which he observed off those capes came from a river, made a determined effort;
and on the 11th of May, 1792, he discovered and entered the great river
that now bears the name of his ship.
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