Across the Umpqua River from Reedsport, a sign tells the story of Jebediah Smith:
Jebediah Smith, making the first recorded overland trip from California, followed the Oregon Coast northward and on July 13, 1828 camped with seventeen trappers on the north bank of Smith River channel five-eighths of a mile northeast of this point. The following morning, while Smith and two companions went forward to find a river crossing, the Indians came into camp and massacred all but one man. Smith and the survivors escaped to Fort Vancouver, whereupon John McLoughlin sent an expedition to the Umpqua, recovering some of Smith’s furs and equipment. Jebediah Smith had three ambitions: to serve his God, to provide for his family, and to become a great American explorer. In all three things he succeeded.
Hopefully, I don’t forget myself as a rich white male when I recall that history is written by the winners, despite the bald eagles and roadside animals. Since the economy crashed, times are tough in this neck of the Oregon coast: shops are shuttered, the tourist trade has dried up, and local restauranteurs yearn for a little colour to brighten up empty dining rooms.
In the wake of Jebediah’s success, there still seems like plenty to mourn about.
So what’s your point?