Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

The Columbia River

We had come within sight of the Columbia River, which was not more than four miles away, and farther than this I had never gone, for my father in his trading trips had generally halted in the Umatilla Valley, where he remained until having gathered a large supply of furs.

Now that the river was in full view, any of the party might have led the way, for the trail was fairly well defined; but there were so many chances of wandering out of the most direct course that I urged John Mitchell to hire one of the Walla Walla Indians to serve us until we arrived at Oregon City.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

To my surprise he refused, but insisted that I finish the task.

It is true that I could continue as guide while we had the river near at hand to mark out the general course, and it pleased me much that he should be willing to put so much confidence in me, for I understood, or believed I did, when we left Independence, that he was more than doubtful whether a lad of my age could properly do that which might be required.

As I learned from the Indians, we had but one more difficult passage to make before the journey would be finished, and although the cattle and the horses were worn nearly to the verge of uselessness, I believed that by making slow marches, if the winter did not come upon us too suddenly, it would be possible to make our wav through.