Oregon

A great name has been found. Rogers was to make it Ourigan in his second proposal, 1772, and in 1778 Carver was to use the spelling that endured, Oregon. No one knows its provenance. And no one can mistake its reference: this was no actual river, it was that product of pure thought, the Great River of the West.  In Rogers’s mind, presumably, it was associated with the Strait of Anian, the entrance of De Fonte, or something else he had got from Dobbs. When after seven years of turmoil, calumny, and disgrace Rogers again proposed his exploration, he had refined his ideas in the light of Carver’s. He now intended to go to the source of the Minnesota River, whose latitude he missed by less than one degree, and thence “to cross a twenty-mile Portage into a branch of the Missouri, and to stem that north-westerly to the Source: To cross thence a Portage of about thirty Miles into the great River Ourigan; to follow this great River through a vast and most populous Tract of Indian Country to the Straits of Anian …. ” This later proposal would be of only speculative interest, since Tute and Carver acted on the first and vaguer one, except for the positive statement that only a thirty-mile portage separates the Missouri waterway from the Oregon. As a generalized concept this idea was almost immortal, dating back to Verrazano, and it had had concrete embodiment since J olliet, but this is the form that was to be a fixture till 1805. Presumably it is due here to Dobbs, who probably got it from Coxe. Coxe made the “land carriage” even shorter, half a day “between the River Mechsebe [the Mississippi, not the Missouri] and the South Sea Stretching from America to Japan and China.”