Confluence Library

A variety of contesting claims were made for the Columbia River in the 19th century by explorers from Britain, the United States, and others. Missionaries, scientists, and explorers alike flocked to this “new land.”

In 1791/2 Captain Robert Gray became the first European to sail the Columbia River, entering at Cape Disappointment to trade with local Chinook. Lewis and Clark visited in 1805 and found the Chinook ready to trade.

Cape Disappointment was explored many times in the 18th century but did not show a river, contrary to Spanish explorer de Heceta’s claims. Nehalem legend tells how Tal-a-Pus made the Pacific Ocean wave-beaten and stormy.