First Advisor

Gordon B. Dodds

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History




Transportation -- Oregon -- Umatilla County -- History



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, v, 196 p.)


An examination of the history of transportation in Umatilla County, Oregon, will provide an understanding of its role in the colonization and economic development of this remote and arid reg10n. This study begins with a description of the movement of Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Cayuse Indians in the Umatilla Country to establish the patterns of transportation at the beginning of the nineteenth century. From this basis, significant changes in transportation technology and patterns of movement can be identified and analyzed. Primary sources are reviewed to establish existing routes and conditions of travel. Immigrant accounts and pioneer reminiscences reveal that difficulties with transportation were identified very early as the major obstacle to the development of an agriculture-based market economy. Umatilla County archives provide a clear record of the actions taken by the county government to lay out and maintain wagon roads. Three significant changes are identified in nineteenth century transportation in Umatilla County: introduction of the horse, introduction of wheeled vehicles, and the coming of steampowered vessels and trains. Each of these three developments were revolutionary, adding to the capacity and range of the existing transportation system. The sudden demands for transportation as a result of gold strikes east and south of Umatilla County created the need to expand the regional transportation system. That expanded system was then available to new settlers. As the dominant land use was transformed from livestock grazing to dryland wheat farming, the need for railroads, in addition to Columbia River steamboats, became clearly evident. Feeder roads remained very important, as did animal traction to pull the wagons to the warehouses and loading docks along the rail lines. The location of major routes of travel across the Umatilla Indian Reservation resulted in significant problems for the transportation system. The system to establish and maintain county roads, mandated by state law, involved direct participation of individuals residing adjacent to the roads. Throughout the nineteenth century, the patterns of movement remained remarkably unchanged. Based on ancient Indian trails, the transportation system was the crucial element m the economic development of Umatilla County.


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL

Persistent Identifier

Included in

History Commons