Umpqua River, 1850-51

Indians in Canoe, Umpqua River. Sketch by Capt. Lyman, 1850-51

Indians in Canoe, Umpqua River. Sketch by Capt. Lyman, 1850-51

Captain Albert Lyman was captain of the ship Samuel Roberts which briefly explored the Rogue and Umpqua Rivers in 1850.  He settled on the Umpqua for a year or two, kept a journal and made some sketches.  Photos of the sketches are available at the Douglas County Museum in Roseburg.  There is also a typescript of his journal there & at the Oregon State University library.

Above is his sketch of Indians in a canoe on the Umpqua.  I thought it might be a northern type but as I look at it more, both ends are ‘high’ but equal so perhaps it is the kind of canoe known in Coos as maxmax and in Siuslaw/Lower Umpqua as hlqwa or hlqwá’a – the ‘double ender’ canoe.  Notice too there is a mix of paddles and poles that they are using.

Indian fish dam at rapids near Scottsburg

Indian fish dam at rapids near Scottsburg

The picture is dark so it is hard to see, but near where the bridge is at Scottsburg, there used to be some rapids and it was a major fishing site for Lower Umpqua people.  It was dynamited in the hopes of making the Umpqua navigable upriver – which never came to pass.  So thanks for nothing blowing up the rapids, settlers!  (Argh)

Women digging Camas

Women digging Camas

His sketch of women digging camas appears to be right below his sketch of his home near Elkton.  So I am assuming the women digging camas are also in that area, which would likely have made them  Yoncalla.  However, depending on exactly where he was sketching, could have been Upper Umpqua or Lower Umpqua women, or a mix of tribes.  It is kind of interesting to note that the people in the canoe above are wearing a lot of cloth type clothes they got in trade, but the women here seem to be wearing mostly traditional clothes, like the cedar or maple bark skirts (I think in some parts of southern OR they might have used cottonwood fibers to make skirts too, but I am not sure).  They have digging sticks and pack baskets, and they have a dog with them too.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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One Response to Umpqua River, 1850-51

  1. Bob Zybach says:

    Patty: This is a great site. I’d like you to participate in an anthology I am working on, regarding the Yoncalla. Bob (

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