Wagon Passage Successful!
The average American would not have considered heading west
with only a few pack mules. To emigrate without a wagon meant
leaving behind the possessions acquired during a lifetime to start
anew in the wilderness. When missionary emigrants Marcus and
Narcissa whitman left their one-horse wagon at Fort Boise in 1836,
great excitement was generated in the States: emigration to Oregon
via wagon was within the realms of possibility! Two years later,
Thomas Jefferson Farnham would exclaim that "a safe and easy
passage has lately been discovered by which vehicles of the kind may
be drawn through to Wallawalla."
This being a fishing post of the Indians, we easily found a conoe made of rushes & willows
on which we placed ourselves & our saddles...
Perhaps you will wonder why we have left the
waggon having taken it so near through. Our
animals were failing & the route in crossing the
Blue Mountains is said to be impassable....
August 22, 1836
Fort Boise in Decline
The beaver population was decimated by the 1840's; fur trade was
in decline, and so too was Fort Boise. Although friendly Indians were
still available to assist crossing the Snake River, many emigrants
were shocked by the dilipapidated condition of the oasis described so
lavishly by those who had gone before them. Charlotte Stearns
Pengra, emigrant of 1853, called Fort Boise "that world renowed Spot
of one miserable block house all going decay..." For emigrants in need
of provisions, the Fort's demise was a serious matter.
A great many had depended on getting
provisions here but failed entirely of getting
anything except fish—There is little sugar for
sale here at .75 pr pound $#151; Prospects seem to
darken entirely around us a good deal for some
families are already entirely out of breat and
many more will be in the course of one or two
weeks &151; We have enough to last us through but
we shall have to divide if necessary.
Cecilia Adams and Parthenia Blank,
September 20, 1852