Oregon has been home to many indigenous nations for thousands of years. The first European traders, explorers, and settlers began exploring what is now Oregon's Pacific coast in the early-mid 1500s. As early as 1565, the Spanish began sending vessels northeast from the Philippines, riding the Kuroshio Current in a sweeping circular route across the northern part of the Pacific. In 1592, Juan de Fuca undertook detailed mapping and studies of ocean currents in the Pacific Northwest, including the Oregon coast as well as the strait now bearing his name. Spanish ships – 250 in as many years – would typically not land before reaching Cape Mendocino in California, but some landed or wrecked in what is now Oregon. Nehalem tales recount strangers and the discovery of items like chunks of beeswax and a lidded silver vase, likely connected to the 1707 wreck of the San Francisco Xavier.
... that one-third of the structures in Heppner were swept away by Willow Creek in a flash flood on June 14, 1903, killing 247 people in the "most deadly natural disaster in Oregon's recorded history"?
Today, I honor the memory of those brave settlers of Oregon, and pay tribute, as well, to the native Americans already inhabiting this land before pioneers like my great-great-grandparents arrived here in the mid-1800’s. Such dreams those pioneers had for this territory. Some instinct drew them here, a fate a pulling, a desire for deep and lasting change in their lives. They embraced that change. They sought it out. Theirs was a quest for new horizons, for new beginnings. For a new homeland. They rode. They walked. They staved. They forge. And they died. But they kept their eyes westward. They gave us Oregon.