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As It Was: Indian Agent Recommends Purchase of Klamath Lands

In the year that Oregon became a state, 1859, a group of men left Jacksonville on an expedition into the still unsettled Upper Klamath River Basin.

Led by government Indian Agent G.H. Abbott, the men headed east and over the mountains roughly along the route of the Applegate Trail.

After a difficult crossing of Lower Klamath Lake, described by Abbott as a mass of marshes and tule swamps, he concluded such worthless land was suitable for an Indian reservation.

The flat and fertile lands surrounding Upper Klamath Lake, by contrast, might contain as many as 600 quarter-sections of first-quality lands for settlement by what Abbott described as “our people.”  He said lush grass covered the land, despite nightly frosts.  Trout-filled streams and pockets of timber added to the area’s riches.

The Jacksonville Sentinel newspaper reported that Abbott secured a promise from Indians in the area that there would be no further harm to emigrants or settlers passing through the area.  Still, he recommended establishment of a military presence to ensure no further hostilities.

Abbott did recommend paying the Indians for relinquishing their valuable Klamath lands.

Source: San Francisco Bulletin, 15 Nov. 1859, p. 1.

Todd Kepple has been a Klamath Basin resident since 1990. He was a reporter and editor the for the Herald and News from 1990 to 2005, and has been manager of the Klamath County Museum since 2005. He enjoys volunteering at Crater Lake National Park, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also a founding member of the Klamath Tree League.