© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Trailblazer Peter Skene Ogden Explores Oregon and California


Oregon and California trailblazer Peter Skene Ogden has been described as a man of “of great endurance, courage, and modesty.”

Born in Quebec in 1794, Ogden crossed the Rockies in 1817.  After leading a massacre of the Cowlitz tribe, Ogden seemed to turn a corner, becoming an able leader. Though he often found himself at odds with various tribes and openly detested a number of them, he married a Nez Perce woman, who accompanied him on several expeditions.

After the Northwest Company and Hudson’s Bay Company merged in 1821, Ogden became its chief trader for the Snake River region in 1823.

From 1824 to 1830, Ogden led several expeditions to explore the Snake River country.  The Hudson’s Bay Company had a scorched-earth policy of taking as many beaver pelts as possible, thus discouraging competing American fur trapping companies.

Ogden was considered an outstanding explorer, or “a man of great leg.”  When Dr. John McLoughlin hired him to survey, explore, and “tie the Snake River to the Willamette,” Ogden outdid himself.  He explored the Klamath Lakes Basin, the Siskiyou and Shasta regions, the Central Valley of California, and the Colorado River.

Source: Dillon, Richard. Siskiyou Trail: The Hudson's Bay Company Route to California. San Francisco: McGraw-Hill, 1975. 1-79. Print.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.