Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fort Dalles *~* Circa 1857

Fort Dalles Museum (1857)

The site was first occupied in 1850 and was called Camp Drum. In 1853 the name was changed to Fort Dalles. By the late 1850's the Indian frontier had moved east and after temporary use in 1867-68 there was no longer a need for a fort in The Dalles. The museum, Oregon's oldest, has been in operation since 1905 preserving the historic Fort Dalles site. The original Surgeon’s Quarters is the fort’s last surviving building. Pioneer and military artifacts from 1860s, antique vehicles are on display.


Wascopam Mission was abandoned in 1847 and sold to Dr. Marcus Whitman for $600. After the Whitman Massacre, the property was returned to the Methodists. Neither the Whitmans nor the Methodists attempted to keep up the property, and emigrants of 1849 found the mission in ruins and decay. After Fort Dalles was built, the old mission was burned and the U.S. government paid $24,000 to the Methodists for title to the land. Various lawsuits proved that the Methodists had never obtained legal title to the property, and $23,000 was returned to claimants.

Major H.A.G. Lee, of the Provisional Government's Oregon Rifles, arrived in The Dalles during the 1847-48 Cayuse War. He built a stockade around the old mission buildings that became known as Fort Lee or Fort Wascopam. In 1849, Colonel Loring of Fort Leavenworth established several posts along the Oregon Trail to protect the emigrants, including Cantonment Loring near Fort Hall and Fort Drum at The Dalles. Starting in May, 1850, crude log buildings were constructed a short distance west of the old Wascopam mission. The fort was redesignated Fort Dalles.

Fort Dalles was the headquarters for Army operations during the 1855-56 Yakima Indian Wars. Eight companies were assigned to the garrison. The Surgeon's Quarters that now serves as the Fort Dalles Museum was built at that time. In 1861, Fort Dalles was downgraded to a quartermaster's depot before being abandoned in 1867.With Army regulars to serve, a town began growing around the fort in 1852. It was incorporated in 1857 as Fort Dalles. The land claim was entered at the U.S. Land Office at Oregon City. The name was later changed officially to Dalles City.