Steamboat Slough, Along the Lower Columbia River
The Columbia—“The Great River of the West”—has linked people from great distances through the vehicle of trade for centuries. Early native inhabitants did business with tribes far inland thanks to the river’s 1,200-mile reach. Although European sea captains had sighted the mouth of the river as early as the 16th century, the first to sail over the bar was Capt. Robert Gray, a Bostonian on a fur-trading expedition in 1792, who named the river after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva. Thirteen years later, the Lewis and Clark Expedition entered from the other direction. Less than 10 years later John Jacob Astor built the first permanent U.S. settlement west of the Rockies at Astoria.