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Oregon Development


Portland in 19th century
Portland in 19th century

By 1830 the fur trade was waning and Oregon’s settlers had begun to shift from trapping to farming. When gold was discovered in California in 1848 and in Idaho, Montana, and eastern Oregon in 1860, prospectors brought in much needed capital, allowing Oregonians to expand into other industries. Portland business leaders developed the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, which linked Portland with gold mines of the Inland Northwest. The city found a ready market for Oregon produce in the mining camps and cities of Idaho. Portland soon became the largest commercial city in the Northwest. The Civil War (1861-1865) created a need for manufactured woolen goods, which helped the textile industry in Salem to grow. When the gold rush subsided, the export of wheat enabled Oregon to maintain its growing economy. In 1880 the wheat fleet, based in Portland, carried millions of bushels of wheat to England, Australia, and China.

For a long time, Oregon suffered from a lack of railroad connections with the Eastern states. Some of its cities and agricultural areas were interconnected by local railroads. In 1883 Portland was connected with Saint Paul, Minnesota, by the Northern Pacific Railroad. In 1884 the Oregon Short Line linked the state with the central transcontinental railroad in Granger, Wyoming. Construction of a line linking Portland with California was completed in 1887, giving Oregon products outlets in California, and eastward to Omaha, Nebraska, and Chicago, Illinois. Although the railroad greatly facilitated immigration, Oregon’s population did not grow as fast as that of California and Washington.

When timber was depleted in the Midwest at the turn of the 19th century, the logging industry moved to the Northwest.

In the Cascade and Coast ranges, high-line rigging, powered by steam donkeys, swung huge logs across slopes broken up by gullies that would otherwise have been inaccessible for logging. Oxen or horse teams dragged the logs to the nearest railroad or river. In many cities, sawmills were built for wood processing. The timber cut in Oregon increased 4,000 fold from 1889 to 1909. Douglas fir was cut west of the Cascades, and ponderosa pine was the major timber crop east of the Cascades. "Oregon" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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