oregon's gold country

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Story of the first city in eastern oregon.

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Into the Unknown

Submitted: August 09, 2017

The clouds drifted overhead and the winter winds moaned through the majestic Ponderosa pines that once stood over the town of Auburn, Oregon, an area that was home to 5,000 to 6,000 inhabitants. This once populated tract of land briefly held the title of Northeastern Oregon’s largest town, second only to Oregon City on the western side of the Cascades in the lush Willamette Valley. The hustle and bustle of this once thriving community now gives way to the mule deer, the majestic Rocky Mountain elk and the passage of time. And it all started with the hunt by 4 gold seekers for the “Lost Blue Bucket Mine”…….

The legends for this mine are rumored to have been found by Stephen Meeks’s wagon train of 1845 while traveling near the Nevada-Oregon border. Stephen Meek was a self-proclaimed explorer, trapper, mountain man who had had his share of experiences in the West. He had hunted and explored in the company of the famed Jim Bridger, Captain Benjamin Bonneville, and trapped for the Hudson Bay Company in the Pacific Northwest. In early 1842, he joined up with a wagon train that numbered close to 500. The leaders of the train must have been inspired by his experience and knowledge of the country that was before them because he was made captain or guide. When the members of Meeks’s wagon train arrived at Fort Hall in early 1845, it was decided that Meeks’s services were no longer needed as a guide. His ability and knowledge of the area beyond Fort Hall were questioned by some member's of the wagon train and it was decided that he had better seek employment elsewhere. Meeks forced departure was due to the fact that two men had died during that trip and their father vowed that the guide should die for this.

"This is the De Shutes River, a tributary of the Columbia . . . After making our way through this broken country for three or four days, along this river we arrived at a part of it where the banks were not too high to swim our cattle to the other shore, this being the direction of our travel; at this point Indians came to us and said we were within two days travel of the Columbia River, which we were rejoiced to hear though not positive of its authenticity…At this place, where we swam our cattle, the current of the river was very rapid, and we regarded it unsafe to launch our water tight wagon beds for ferrying ourselves and property across, so resolved upon another expedient, stretching a large rope from bank to bank and suspending a wagon bed beneath to work on rollers. With a rope attached to it from either side of the stream, we were enabled to cross without being exposed to the water; but before this was put into practicable operation a man rode up in great haste and informed our guide that he would have to leave immediately, as two young men of the company had died, and their father had taken an oath that the guide should die before sundown, attributing the death of their sons to the unsatisfactory way we had been guided through the mountains since leaving Fort Boise.

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