Expeditions

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Expeditions

Almost all U.S. Expeditions were led by army officers.
The need and desire for military reconnaissance certainly helped garner funding from congress.
Assessing resources and the exploitation thereof
also strengthened the need for settlement of the vast western territories…

The Beginning

The Fur Trade

Exploration and Mapping

Expeditions Index

The Beginning

The Escalante Expedition [Spanish] (07/29/1776 – 01/02/1777) from Santa Fe to the Pacific…
Not quite, things got a bit complicated out there in the desert. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah.

OWDR Alexander MacKenzie by Thomas Lawrence (c.1800)

Sir Alexander Mackensie
by Thomas Lawrence

The Peace River Expedition to the Pacific Coast [English]
Led by Sir Alexander Mackenzie (or MacKenzie (1764 – 1820), a Scottish explorer. From Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta (10/1792)… to Bella Coola, BC, on North Bentinck Arm, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean.* First known transcontinental crossing of North America, north of Mexico (via Canada). -[Note: This was ten years before Lewis & Clark.] Painting: U.S. PD, Thomas Lawrence (c. 1800), courtesy National Gallery of Canada.
see also:
Wk. 29, 07/22/1893 – Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie
The Originals Index – Western Forts and Trading Posts

 

OWDR Meriweather Lewis-Charles_Willson_Peale 1807

Meriwether Lewis

OWDR William Clark Web

William Clark

The Corps of Discovery (aka: Lewis & Clark Expedition)
[U.S. Government] (1803-06)
Explore the Louisiana Purchase
Topographical, Geological, Scientific, etc. There was a lot of business interest as a result of the Lewis and Clark Reports, plenty of exploring, trailblazing, and looking for commercial opportunity, etc. as well…
Photos: U.S. PD – LH – Portrait U.S. PD 1810 William Clark by Charles Willson Peale. RH – Portrait U.S. PD 1807 Meriwether Lewis by Charles Willson Peal
see:
Wk. 14, 04/07/1805 – Sacagawea leads
Wk. 38, 09/23/1806 – Lewis and Clark return
Wk. 51, 12/22/1812 – died, Sacagawea

OWDR Zebulon Pike Web

Zebulon Pike

Pike Expedition [U.S. Government] (1804): Exploration and Military Reconnaissance
led by U.S. Army Lt. Zebulon Pike. Kansas, Colorado to Santa Fe… Engraving: U.S. PD c.1810 by David Edwin: Lt. Zebulon Pike.
see:
Wk. 28, 07/15/1806 – Pike Expedition
Wk. 38, 09/23/1806 – Lewis and Clark return
Wk. 46, 11/15/1806 – Pike’s Peak

The Fur Trade

1759Stepan Glotov and the first Russian fur trading expedition arrives in Unalaska, Alaska.

The Hudson’s Bay Company was incorporated by English royal charter in 1670 as The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay. Well before any European states, and later the United States laid claim to some of those territories, the company functioned as the de facto government in parts of North America. Its network of trading posts formed the nucleus for later official authority in many areas of Western Canada and the United States. It was at one time, the largest landowner in the world, managing, to some extent, 15% of North American acreage. Among the earliest explorers, HBC’s traders and trappers forged early relationships with many groups of aboriginal peoples. The company controlled the fur trade throughout much of North America for several centuries, from its long-time headquarters at York Factory on Hudson Bay.

OWDR York Factory -HBCHudson’s Bay Company – York Factory 1853
Manitoba , Canada
Canadian PD, Colored Litho 1853

North West Company – Headquartered in Montreal from 1779 to 1821, the North West Company was a fur trading business which had increasing success as it competed against the Hudson’s Bay Company in what is present-day Western Canada. Finally, in 1821, with the over harvesting of the beaver, political infighting within the company, several minor armed skirmishes with HBC and a little government intervention; tensions between the companies increased to the point where they were forced to merge. At the time of the merger, the amalgamated company consisted of 97 trading posts that had belonged to the North West Company and 76 that belonged to the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The Maritime Fur Trade was a ship-based fur trading system pioneered by Russians, working east from Kamchatka along the Aleutian Islands to the southern coast of Alaska. The British and Americans entered the trade during the 1780s, focusing on what is now the coast of British Columbia. Booming around the beginning of the 19th century; the furs were mostly sold in China in exchange for tea, silks, porcelain, and other Chinese goods, which were then sold in Europe and the United States. Based on acquiring furs of sea otters and other animals from the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and Alaska, a long period of decline began in the 1810s, as the sea otter population was depleted. Then, the maritime fur trade was forced to diversify and it transformed itself, tapping new markets and commodities, while continuing to focus on the Northwest Coast and China. It lasted until the middle to late 19th century.

1788 – The first American traders, Robert Gray and John Kendrick, arrived in the Pacific Northwest by sea in the ships Columbia Rediviva and Lady Washington. After the 1789 fur trading season, Gray sailed the Columbia Rediviva to China via Hawaii, then to Boston via the Cape of Good Hope. Their arrival in Boston, completed the first American circumnavigation of the world. Gray made a second voyage from 1790 to 1793 during which he found the mouth of the Columbia River* (named it for his ship). {001}
see:
*Wk. 19, 05/11/1792 – Columbia River

American traders dominated the maritime fur trade from the 1790s well into the 1820s. Between 1788 and 1826, American merchant ships made at least 127 voyages, via the Northwest Coast, between the United States and China. During the late 1810s, return on investment ranged from 300% to 500%. In the first decade of the 19th century, even higher profits were common, returns of 2,200% or higher were not unusual. However, taking into account the cost of buying and outfitting vessels, the actual return was probably closer to 525%. American maritime fur traders took their furs to the Chinese port of Guangzhou (Canton), where they worked within the established Canton system.
The fur trade’s boom years ended around 1810, after the supply of sea otter pelts had fallen due to overhunting. A long decline was marked by increasing economic diversification; Sandalwood, mainly from Hawaii, and numerous other items from the Pacific area became important items of the China trade. While American trade declined somewhat during the War of 1812, after 1815, Americans resumed and expanded the maritime fur trade and continued their dominance. The Americans, the British, the Spanish and the Russians, continued to jostle each other along the Pacific coast for the next 20 or 30 years.

Henry-Menard Expedition for The Missouri Fur Company (1809-11)
Missouri River above the Platte for the Fur Trade.

Pacific Fur Company 1810 – 1813

OWDR Astor John Jacob1810 – The Pacific Fur Company (1810 -13) founded in New York by John Jacob Astor, Wilson Price Hunt, Duncan McDougall and Alexander McKay with assets of $200,000. U.S. PD – Detail from a portrait by Gilbert Stuart 1870’s – 80’s – John Jacob Astor.  {001}

1811 – The Pacific Fur Company‘s trading vessel, the Bark Tonquin, commanded by Lieutenant Jonathan Thorn establishes Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River.
see:
Wk. 17, 03/22/1811 – the Bark Tonquin

1811 – Wilson Price Hunt Expedition, whose goal was to scout routes for the growing fur trade, traveled down the Snake River at least as far as present-day American Falls, but most likely did not make it to Shoshone Falls due to the increasingly dangerous river conditions downstream, ultimately turning back at a place they called “Devil’s Scuttle Hole”. However, the route they pioneered would become part of the Oregon Trail, which would later bring many emigrants from the eastern United States to the Shoshone Falls area. The falls were also called “Canadian Falls” by some early explorers, though the origin of this name is not certain.

OWDR Donald Mackenzie Web

Donald McKensie

The Pacific Fur Company’s Overland Party; aka: The Astor Expedition (1810-11)
or the Overland Astorians or the Hunt party (Wilson P. Hunt – leader)
from St. Louis, MO to the mouth of the Columbia River .
They had intended to retrace the route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
No joy. Numerous problems beset the expedition,
more was accomplished by various members their way back east.
(The discovery of South Pass was momentous.)
Only 45 of the original 60 expedition members actually reached Fort Astoria.
Donald Mckenzie was a leader of one of these groups. Portrait: U.S. PD c. 1840’s Donald McKenzie.  {001}
see:
Wk. 03, 01/20/1851 – Donald Mackenzie
The Originals Index – Western Forts and Trading Posts

A curious side story:
It is likely that the results of this expedition and the company’s subsequent sale
to the Northwest Company in 1813 saved the Oregon County for the growing U.S. Look it up!

“The misfortunes which befell the Pacific Fur Company were great, but such as might be expected at the initiation of an enterprise in a distant land whose difficulties and whose problems lay beyond the experience of the traders.”
Historian Arthur S. Morton

End Pacific Fur Company references

Upper Missouri Expedition (1822)
led by Robert Jones for The Missouri Fur Company
Fur Trading with the Blackfeet Indians, disastrous outcome.
see:
Quotes Index – Indian Quotes – first quote

Jedediah Smith (1827) crossed the Great Basin, from the Sierra Nevada near Ebbetts Pass.

OWDR Peter Skene Ogden

Ogden

Peter Skene Ogden for the Hudson’s Bay Company
These “Fur Brigades” were intended to expand HBC’s influence in the West
and compete/contend with The American Fur Company.
Accomplished by making “fur deserts”, trapping the country “explored” completely out. Photo: U.S. PD c. 1854 Oregon History Project (crop)
1824-25: Along the Snake River east to Montana’s Bitterroot River and south to the Bear River in modern Utah.
1825-26: South from the Columbia River to the Deschutes River in Oregon; then east through the Blue Mountains to the Snake River.
1826-27: Starting from Walla Walla (today, WA) the expedition explored the Deschutes River to Klamath Lake and then near Mount Shasta in Northern California.
1828-29: Explored the Great Salt Lake and the Weber River drainage. Then several parts of the Great Basin: following the Humboldt River to its dry sink in modern-day Nevada; along the eastern Sierra Nevada, through the Mojave Desert (Alta California) and finally reaching the north shore of the Gulf of California in Baja California. (Don’t think this one was completely about fur, so much as knowledge. – Doc)
see:
Wk. 39, 09/27/1854 – Peter Skene Ogden

OWDR Benjamin Bonneville Web

Benjamin Bonneville

The Bonneville Expedition (1832-35)
At the time, French born, West Point Graduate (1815), Benjamin Bonneville was a captain in the U.S. Army with a strong desire to explore the west. He convinced General Alexander Macomb of the value of some reconnaissance in the Oregon Country, which was supposedly under joint occupation by the U.S. and Britain, but, the fact was, the English Hudson’s Bay Company had control.
Given a 26-month leave, from August 1831 to October 1833; Bonneville certainly had instructions to scout and report on government/military matters in the Oregon Country. However, unlike clearly military led exploration missions before him, he was to pose as a fur trader and find out the natural history of the region, its climates, soils, geography, topography, mineral production, geology, and the character of the local tribes. Expenses for his 110 man exploration/trading party were paid by private donors, including Astorian Alfred Seton and likely John Jacob Astor himself.
The expedition actually lasted from May 1832 to August of 1835. Bonneville himself made several trips back and forth from Fort Bonneville on the Green River (WY), exploring, locating trail routes, and attempting trade with the British and the Indians along the way and in the Oregon Country. The British refused all trade and blocked any with Indians in their sphere of control. The various sub-group explorations were far more profitable: finding better routes for portions of the Oregon Trail; developing the route that became the California Trail; exploring the great western desert and the area around the  Great Salt Lake. Numerous locations in the West are named after Bonneville as a result of this expedition. Photo: U.S. PD pre-1878.  {001}
see also:
The Originals Index – Western Forts and Trading PostsFort Bonneville
Wk. 25, 06/12/1878 – Benjamin Bonneville
Wk. 24, 06/15/1846 – Oregon Treaty
Wk 33, 08/14/1848 – Oregon Territory
References – Books – Novels and History (non-ref) – Washington Irving

Numerous other private fur trading expeditions 1810 to about 1840
The American fur traded waned for several reasons:
Intentional over trapping the beaver in some areas for competitive purposes.
A major decline in the demand for the furs.
Fierce competition from the North West Company/Hudson’s Bay Company
While a foundation issue to The Reader‘s West, coverage here is very basic,
this one needs a lot of time and focus to follow, look it up!

for more information in Old West Daily Reader related to the Fur Trade…
see also:
The Originals Index – Western Forts and Trading Posts
References – Dictionary
FactorFactory – Mountain Man – Rendevous, etc.
The Originals Index – Resources & Hazards – Animals Index
Mammals – for the fur-bearers
The Originals Index – Trade in the Old West
Commerce in the Old WestThe Fur Trade)

Exploration and Mapping

Often the government seeking information on the new lands, cataloging resources, locating the native inhabitants, finding routes for the military, settlers and trade. Soon they were scouting routes for stage coaches and then the railroads. Private enterprise was always present as well, beginning with the Mountain Men and the traders who served them. It was always private enterprise which put settlers and freight wagons on the trail west.

09/01/1821: a pack train trading party led by Captain William Becknell departs Arrow Rock, MO bound for Santa Fe (NM) following a combination of well established trails pioneered by Indians and later by French and Spanish explorers/traders. This one is not government or military, it’s about commerce*. In 1822 he rerouted a bit, made a few improvements and made the Santa Fe Trail passable for wagons drawn by mules or oxen. He made a third profitable trip in 1824 and by 1825 had assisted government surveyors in mapping the trail for the military, commerce and settlers. The Indians did not view the trail with the same enthusiasm.  {001}
see also:
*(see: Wk 35, 09/01/1821 – Captain William Becknell departs
*Wk. 46, 11/16/1821 – Becknell arrives in Santa Fe
Wk. 18, 04/30/1865 – died William Becknell
Photo Gallery Index – Transportation Photos
The Originals Index – Resources and Hazards
– Animals Index – Mammalsmules & oxen
The Originals Index – Trade in the Old West – Commerce in the Old West

John C. Fremont

OWDR John C Fremont

Photo: U.S. PD

John C. Frémont (1842) First Expedition (U.S.) – Guided by Kit Carson; 1st. half of Oregon Trail mapping (South Pass, WY), surveyed the Platte “up to the head of the Sweetwater”. (Five months, 25 men)

John C. Frémont (1843-44) Second Expedition (U.S.) – Guided by Kit Carson & Thomas Fitzpatrick; 2nd. half of Oregon Trail mapping west of South Pass; traveling north of the Great Salt Lake, following the Snake River to the Columbia, then south on the east side of the Sierras until turning west again and viewing Lake Tahoe and into Alta California at Sutter’s Fort. Returning via Tehachapi Pass, crossing what would be present day Nevada near Las Vegas and back across Utah to South Pass. A circuit of the entire West, including launching his India-rubber boat on the Great Salt Lake on the outbound trip and examining Utah Lake on the return. It also confirmed The Great Basin had no outlet to the sea.  (14 months).

John C. Frémont (1846) Third Expedition (U.S.) –  Kit Carson – explored to the headwaters of the Arkansas River and then mysteriously raced across the Salt Lake Desert into Alta California and involvement in the struggle to wrest California from Mexico. This, embroiled him in a dispute between two American military leaders, Stephen W. Kearny and Commodore Robert F. Stockton. Frémont backed Stockton and was later arrested and court-martialed on charges of mutiny and insubordination. He was found guilty, but pardoned by President Lincoln. This ended his government-sponsored explorations. (55 men)

John C. Frémont (1848-49) Fourth Expedition (private) – Guided by “Uncle Dick” Wooton and “OldBill” Williams. A winter expedition designed to ascertain the feasibility of a central railroad route, taken against the advice of experienced men at Bent’s Fort, became stranded in the snows of the rugged San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Some members of the group were reported to have resorted to cannibalism.

John C. Frémont (1853) his fifth expedition (private, at personal expense); seeking a rail route over the mountains around the 38th parallel, in the winter of 1849. Lost in the Sierras, a disaster, which cost ten lives,  Rescued by the Mormons of Parowan.

End Fremont entries

Hayden (1853): The Dakota Badlands; Topographical, Geological, Scientific
-early dinosaur tooth discoveries along the Judith River in Montana
sent to Joseph Leidy in Philadelphia.
see also:
Hayden 1871 Expedition – below
Wk. 51, 12/23/1883 – Dr. Ferdinand Vanderveer Hayden

Warren Expedition (1856-57) led by Lt. G.K. Warren: Black Hills (WY)
Topological, Geological (minerals)

Beal’s 35th Parallel Trade Route (1857)
Ft. Smith, AK to Los Angles, CA
see:
Photo Gallery Index – Transportation Photos
Beal’s 35th Parallel Trade Route

U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers
First attempt to explore the Grand Canyon.
see:
Wk. 09, 02/26/1919 – Grand Canyon National Park
Quotes Index – Commentators Quotes – Legends Begin
Wk. 04, 01/27/1863 – John James Abert

Reynolds Expedition (1859-60), led by Capt. William F. Reynolds
Northern Rockies; Topological, resources
Jim Bridger as Guide and F.V. Hayden as naturalist.

Bierstadt/Byers (1863); Colorado (Front Range)
Exploration and locales for paintings.
see:
Wk. 7, 02/18/1902 –

Theodore Judah (186?): Railroad Routing
see:
Wk. 09, 03/04/1826 – born, Theodore Dehone Judah
Wk. 44, 11/02/1863 – died, Theodore D. Judah

Prof. J.D. Whitney & Party (1869) Colorado
measured and named some of the peaks in the Collegiate Range in Colorado.

OWDR D.E. Folsum Web

Cook-Folsom-Peterson Expedition (1869)
Private – First to explore the Yellowstone area.
Sponsored from Diamond City, Montana, a gold camp
in the Confederate Gulch area of the Big Belt Mountains east of Helena, Montana.
Photo: U.S. PD, David E. Folsom, The Discovery of Yellowstone 1870 (1905)

 

 

OWDR Powell John WesleyJohn Wesley Powell explores and names The Grand Canyon. (1869)
Photo: U.S. PD c. 1869, unknown – Powell and an unknown Indian.
see:
Wk. 21, 05/24/1869 – Powell Expedition departs
Wk. 33, 08/13/1869 – Powell Expedition survives

 

Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition (1870): U.S. Government.
Generally followed Cook-Folsom-Peterson route but gathered more detail.
This is the expedition that named the geyser “Old Faithful”.
Langford’s Wonders of the Yellowstone published in in Scribners (May 1871)
It caught the attention of the Public.

 

414px-Custer_Portrait_Restored[1]

Custer

Custer’s Black Hills Expedition (1874)

Photo: U.S. PD c. 1860-65
see:
Wk. 27, 07/22/1874 – Black Hills Expedition
Wk 31, 07/31/1874 – “…gold among the roots of the grass.”
Wk.35, 08/30/1874 – sshh, GOLD!
Players – Timelines Index – Timelines A-L Index
Lt. Col. George A. Custer Timeline

 

Dr. Ferdinand Vanderveer Hayden
Topographical, Scientific, Geological and Geophysical
1870 and several others up thru 1878

OWDR Hayden Expd packtrain 1871 WebHayden Geological and Geophysical Survey (1871)
Geological, Topographical, Scientific
This one secured Yellowstone Park.
Photo: U.S. PD 1871 William Henry Jackson.
…en route with pack train upon the trail between the Yellowstone and East Fork Rivers “showing the manner in which all parties traverse these wilds.”
see:
Wk. 09, 03/01/1872 – Yellowstone National Park
Wk. 51, 12/23/1887 – Dr. Ferdinand Vanderveer Hayden

 

Heap-Barlow Expedition (1871)

Northern Pacific Railway Survey of 1873
Working the north side of the Yellowstone River west of the Powder River in eastern Montana. A train of 275 mule-drawn wagons carrying supplies, equipment and 353 civilians. Protected by Colonel David Stanley and his troops, consisting of  a 1,300 man force of cavalry, infantry, and two artillery pieces (3″ rifled Rodman cannons), guided by 27 Indian and mixed-blood scouts. Lt. Col. George Custer and his 7th Cavalry were included in the fighting force.  {001}
see also:
Wk. 31, 08/04/1873 – The 7th meets the Lakota

Belknap Tour of 1876

 

OWDR Clarence King

Clarence King

U.S. Geological Expedition of the Fortieth Parallel (1867-69)
Led by Clarence King – Map making, Geological, Resources
LH Photo: U.S. PD c. 1879-81 unknown
RH Photo: U.S. PD 1868 LOC
“Expedition Camp at Salt Lake City”
by Timothy H. O’Sullivan
see:
Wk. 02, 01/14/1882 – O’Sullivan

 

 

OWDR George Montague Wheeler

George M. Wheeler

The Wheeler Expedition
Survey West of the 100th Meridian
(1872-79)
Led by U.S. Army Lt. George Montague Wheeler
(10/09/1842 – 05/03/1905)
Mapping, Geological, and Resources
Exploration to encourage settlement.
Portrait: c. 1910 Alice Pike Barney
see:
Wk. 05, 03/1905 – Wheeler

 

Snake River Expedition (1876)
Weather delays, a bad boat design and poor leadership
led to a near catastrophe and aborted failure (just in time!).

 

OWDR Chester A Arthur Yellowstone Expedition 1883 WebChester A. Arthur Presidential Expedition (1883)
The first sitting U.S. President to visit
Yellowstone National Park (two weeks).
Encouraged by Senator George Vest (MO), accompanied by Frank Jay Haynes,
official photographer for the park and the expedition.
The President’s visit brought national attention to the park.
Photo: U.S. PD 1883 Frank Jay Hayes

 

Hague Geologic Surveys (1883-1889)

 

OWDR Frank J. Haynes 1887 WebSchwatka Winter Expedition (1887)
sponsored by the New York World newspaper and The Century magazine.
Artic Explorer Fredrick Schwatka, Frank Jay Haynes
and eleven other guides accomplished a 29 day, nearly 200 mile
winter odyssey in the wilderness, replete with the expedition leader
dropping out because of altitude sickness
and Haynes and his three guides who continued on,
nearly freezing to death on Mt. Washburn.
Haynes brought back the first ever photographs
of Yellowstone in winter, 42 in all.
Photo: U.S. PD 1887; Expedition photographer F. Jay Haynes

for more information in Old West Daily Reader related to Expeditions
see also:
The Originals Index – Trails
The Originals Index – Landmarks and Registers
PLAYERS – Timelines Master Index – Timelines M-Z – Oregon Trail Timeline
PLAYERS – Timelines Master Index – Timelines M-Z – Santa Fe Trail Timeline
Photo Gallery Index – Transportation Photos
Photo Gallery Index – Transportation Photos – Railroads in the West
The Originals Index – Western Forts and Trading Posts
Photo Gallery Index- Military Photos
The Originals Index – Trade in the Old West
The Originals Index – Trade in the Old West – Commerce in the Old West
The Originals Index – Trade in the Old West -Commerce in the Old West – Beads in Old West Trade
References – Dictionary
Individual RR listings in PLAYERS:
ex. Denver & Rio Grande Western, Union Pacific, etc.

Expeditions Index

The Beginning

Escalante Expedition (1776-77)
Peace River Expedition to the Pacific Coast (1792)
The Corps of Discovery (1803-06)
Pike Expedition (1804)

The Fur Trade

Stepan Glotov
Hudson’s Bay Company
Northwest Company
The Maritime Fur Trade
Henry-Menard Expedition
Pacific Fur Company
Wilson Price Hunt Expedition
Pacific Fur Company’s Overland Party; aka: The Astor Expedition (1810-11)
Upper Missouri Expedition

Exploration and Mapping

Captain William Becknell
John C. Fremont
Hayden 1871 Expedition
Beal’s 35th Parallel Trade Route (1857)
U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers
Bierstadt/Byers (1863)
Theodore Judah (186?)
Cook-Folsom-Peterson Expedition (1869)
John Wesley Powell (1869)
Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition (1870)
Custer’s Black Hills Expedition (1874)
Hayden Geological and Geophysical Survey (1871)
Heap-Barlow Expedition (1871)
Northern Pacific Railway Survey of 1873
U.S. Geological Expedition of the Fortieth Parallel (1867-69)
The Wheeler Expedition – Survey West of the 100th Meridian (1872-79)
Snake River Expedition (1876)
Chester A. Arthur Presidential Expedition (1883)
Hague Geologic Surveys (1883-1889)
Schwatka Winter Expedition (1887)

OWDR-barbed-wire-divider2End: Expeditions

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