In 1810, Alexander Ross joined John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company to explore the northwest region of America and gain control of the fur trade.
For the next three years the Company and its men would face extreme hardships in the quest to create a monopoly in this potentially lucrative enterprise.
Ross provides fascinating details on the Native American tribes of the Columbia River in the early nineteenth century. He was in frequent contact with the Chinooks, but also came across Clatspops, Cathlamux, Wakicums, Wacalamus, Cattleputles, Clatscanias, Killimux, Moltnumas and Chickelis.
Throughout the book Ross provides a day by day account of what the Company did, where they explored, who they traded and fought with, even to smaller details of how they hunted and what they ate.
Life was extremely difficult for the adventurers. At points conflicts broke out with Native Americans, the deadliest of which was when the Captain Thorn of the ship Tonquin insulted a Native American causing the Natives to kill all those on board and destroy the ship. This action left the Company’s outpost without seaborne transport for the next year.
The conflicts with Native Americans, brutal forces of weather and geography, along with the tough competition from the more experienced rivals such as the North West Company, meant that the Pacific Fur Company did not survive past 1813, and during its three-year existence sixty one people lost their lives.
Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River is a brilliant first-person account of the trials and tribulations that early nineteenth century explorers met when attempting to delve deeper into the uncharted areas of America.
After 1813, Ross joined the North West Company until it was merged with the Hudson Bay Company in 1821. Eventually he settled in Red River Colony, present-day Manitoba, where he served as Sheriff, Post master, and a member of the council. He published this book in 1849 and died in 1856.