For the rest of the decade between the 1850s and the 1860s you might call this

For the rest of the decade between the 1850s and the

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and Portland, that was 1850. For the rest of the decade between the 1850’s and the 1860’s you might call this the steamboat era of transportation in Northwest history. Now steamboats had trouble making it up and down the rivers, the Columbia and the Snake in particular because there were a series of obstacles that had to be overcome, I mentioned those earlier. It wasn’t until 1961 steamboat traffic made it here to Lewiston, Idaho. That was the beginning of the gold rush and there was a need for getting people and goods as far inland as possible and steamboats had been going up as far as Fort Walla Walla, but in 1861 they established a port here at the confluence of the Snake and the Clearwater [picture of early Lewiston] which became the city of L ewiston. It wasn’t until 1914, however, that steamboat traffic was made easy up to Lewiston by the development of
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6 canals around the Cascades of the Columbia, The Dalles and Celilo Falls which were very serious obstacles. We had canals going around those and some of the rapids on the Snake were made navigable and by 1914 it was pretty easy to get a steamboat or any kind of boat up here to Lewiston. It was still seasonal though, if the water was too high there were dangerous currents, if the water was too low, that was when it was really dangerous. When the water was too low many of the rocks were showing and it was much harder to navigate the rapids, so really it wasn’t until after World War II in the 20 th century that the Snake River becomes fully navigable on a full year basis up to Lewiston, Idaho. Now with a few more people and a little more economic development came the demand for more organized and improved transportation in the Northwest and this spawned the rise of private companies investing in the business of navigation and transportation. These businesses [slide: Types of Private Transportation Businesses] included stagecoach companies, which got their start up here in the 1840’s and Wells Fargo, by the way, is a direct descendant of an early stagecoach company from those days. Ferries, businesses that ferried people back and forth across the rivers, the Columbia and Snake in particular. Indians used to provide that service, a lot of ferries were actually run by Indians that lived in the region, but eventually private companies would set up ferries and charge a toll. Portage companies to get people around the hazards on the lower Columbia. Eventually we get conglomerates, investors or groups of investors who merge together a whole series of transportation companies into a conglomerate to try to monopolize or rationalize, as the case might be, transportation in the Northwest. Two of the big ones, the Oregon Steam and Navigation Company and a guy named Ben Holiday [photo of Ben Holiday] who had his own big transportation conglomerate. He got started in the stagecoach business and then expanded into railroads and steamships and eventually got to sort of monopolize the transportation system, the private for profit transportation systems in the Willamette Valley in particular and also the lower Columbia as well. Now
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  • Test, Rail transport, Columbia River

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