Weatherby in Baker County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
Weatherby Oregon Trail Kiosk
Emigration on the Oregon Trail peaked in 1852 with 10,000 would-be Oregonians. Poor sanitation and contaminated water along the trail led to epidemics of fever, cholera, and dysentery. Those too weak to walk were jostled about in wagons like baggage. On this segment of the trail, the Blue Mountains looming ahead, sick emigrants could not afford time to recover, and many died.
... Our dear little 'Willie' is not expected to live 12 hours as he evidently has the 'Cholera Infantum' or Dropsy in the brain the Doctor tells us it is in vain to administer any medicine as he must surely die. This to us is heart rendering, but God's ways are not our ways neither is his thots (sic) our thoughts'! O! may we bow with submission to his will.
... Last night our darling Willie was called from earth, to vie with angels around the throne of God. He was buried to-day upon an elevated point, one hundred and fifty feet above the plain in a spot of sweet seclusion ... He
The Burnt River, also known as Riviere Brule, took its name from the fire-blackened hillsides, probably produced from the fire ecology of local Indians. In 1843 explorer John C. Fremont noted "wherever the fire had passed, there was a recent growth of strong, green. and vigorous grass." Many, like Thomas Jefferson Farnham, emigrant of 1839, trekked through this canyon and found "The atmosphere all the day smoky." Some emigrants, like James Cayman in 1844, believed that "Some Indians as is their habit when they discover Strangers in their country set fire to the grass." Whatever their cause, the fires of the Brunt River Canyon provided an amazing and frightening spectacle.
This river takes its name from the blackened and burnt appearance of the hills and mountains on either side of it, and the frequent burnings on them. They are mostly covered with high bunch grass. This often gets on fire, burning for miles and days together. One of these burnings is in sight of us today. It is on the opposite side of the river from, or I should feel alarmed.
The fire in the mountains last night as was truly grand. It went to the tops of them spreading far down their sides. We were obliged to go over after our cattle
The ascent of the Burnt River Canyon required up to six days of back-breaking labor over what Joel Palmer, emigrant of 1845, considered "the most difficult road we have yet encountered." In 1848 Riley Root traveled eight miles up the river and exclaimed "Oh, when shall I view, once more, a verdant landscape!" In 1849 William J. Walton entered the steep-walled canyon and described it as "a hole among the hills." Emigrants chopped their way through brush along the streamed, crossed the river several times, and in several places ascended the steep walls of the canyon - accidents were common.
Traveled 15 miles crossing several spring branches yesterday and to day our road has been very crooked and hilly to day we had another wagon tip over on a very sidling hill ... broad the wagons bows all up the only damage done got some willows and soon twisted up some and went on. -- Susan Cranston, August 7, 1851
Covered wagons were not the only means of transportation employed during the emigration era. A few
... passed a wagon and yoke of oxen dead by it. one wagon and family ... campt with us night before last. they went off and left us very lively, and it is their oxen dead, and they had fixed a cart of the 4 wheels, and gone on. ... 3 of our cows are sick this eve we are tented to night on a branch of burnt river, and pretty good many dead cattle to day that had died the last day or two ... our case looks desperate but some of us have faith strong enough to believe we shall get to Oregon. -- Sarah Sutton, August 10, 1854
Oregon Trail emigrants trekked from Farewell Bend on the Snake River through the Burnt River Canyon to Virtue Flats, then around Flagstaff Hill into the drainage of the Powder River - today known as Baker Valley.
"This day we traveled about twelve miles, The road exceeded in roughness that of yesterday. Sometimes it pursued its course along the bottom of the creek, at other times it wound its way along the sides of the mountains, so sidelong as to require the weight to two or more men on the upper side of the wagons to preserve their equilibrium. The creek and road are so enclosed by the high mountains, as to afford but little room to pass along, rendering it i some places almost impassable. Many of the mountains viewed from here seem almost perpendicular. ... -- Joe Palmer, September 7, 1845
Despite fantastic tales of savagery on the frontier published in more than 300 "Incian Captivity Narratives," violent encounters between Oregon Trail emigrants and Indians were rare prior to 1849. Although emigrants were ever wary of Indian attack, the most common complaint was thievery - especially horses. To the warrior, stealing livestock was a game of skill and one-upmanship,
... on a creek called Brule, we found one family consisting of five Snake Indians, one man, two woman, and two children. They had evidently but very recently arrived, probably only last night, and as they must certainly have passed our camp we feel little hesitation in believing that my lost horse is in their possession. ... We cannot even question them concerning it, as our interpreter, McCarey, left us with the trapping party. -- John Kirk Townsend, Naturalist, August 26, 1834
Erected by Oregon Highway Commission.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Roads & Vehicles • Settlements & Settlers.
Location. 44° 29.7′ N, 117° 21.942′ W. Marker is in Weatherby, Oregon, in Baker County. Marker can be reached from Interstate 84 near Gate Road/Sisley Creek Road, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Durkee OR 97905, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 15 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Durkee (approx. 7.7 miles away); Van Ornum Wagon Train MassacreThe Last Spike (approx. 11.1 miles away); Van Ornum Massacre (approx. 12.6 miles away); a different marker also named Van Ornum Wagon Train Massacre (approx. 12.6 miles away); Farewell Bend Oregon Trail Kiosk (approx. 14.9 miles away); Farewell Bend (approx. 14.9 miles away).
More about this marker. The kiosk is located at the Weatherby Rest Stop just off of north/west bound Interstate 84 at Exit 335.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 9, 2017. It was originally submitted on September 9, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 216 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on September 9, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.