views updated May 18 2018


ASTORIA. John Jacob Astor dreamed of an organized continent-wide fur trade well before American occupation of the upper Missouri country. To his American Fur Company, chartered in 1808, he added the Pacific Fur Company, organized in 1810, and proceeded to extend his organization from Saint Louis, Missouri, to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. Astor's company sent two expeditions to Oregon: one by sea, and one along the route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The seagoing party, under Capt. Jonathan Thorn, embarked 6 September 1810 in the Tonquin and, after a stormy voyage, reached the Columbia on 23 March 1811. Within three weeks, Astoria was established under the direction of Duncan McDougal, acting resident agent. In June, Capt. Thorn and a trading party clashed with local Indians in Nootka Sound, resulting in the death of Thorn's entire party and a number of Indians.

On 15 July 1811 a party of Canadians, sent by the rival North West Company to forestall the Americans, arrived at Astoria. In January 1812, a second party came from the North West Company post on the Spokane River. Then came the Astor Overlanders (the group traveling by land), thirty-four in number. They had left Saint Louis on 12 March 1811 under the leadership of Wilson Price Hunt and had traveled up the Missouri River and westward through the country of the Crow Indians, over the Continental Divide to the Snake River, then to the Columbia and the Pacific, where they arrived 15 February 1812. In May an Astor ship, the Beaver, arrived. Company representatives extended their activities inland to the mouth of the Okanagan, to the Spokane, and to the Snake rivers. Robert Stuart and a small party of eastbound Astor Overlanders set out with dispatches for Astor in New York on 29 June 1812. They ascended the Snake River to its head, became the first white men to cross the South Pass, wintered on the Platte River, and arrived in Saint Louis on 30 April 1813. They never returned to the West, for news of the War of 1812 sounded the doom of the Astor enterprise. On 23 October 1813, while Hunt was absent, McDougal and his associates, whose sympathies were with the British, sold all the Astor interests on the Columbia to the North West Company. Hunt returned to find Astoria in rival hands, the post renamed Fort George, and the British flag flying. The Treaty of Ghent restored Astoria to the United States in 1818.


Mackie, Richard S. Trading beyond the Mountains: The British Fur Trade on the Pacific, 1793–1843. Vancouver, Canada: University of British Columbia Press, 1997.

Wishart, David J. The Fur Trade of the American West, 1807–1840: A Geographical Synthesis. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

Carl P.Russell/c. w.

See alsoFur Companies ; Fur Trade and Trapping ; Ghent, Treaty of .


views updated Jun 27 2018

Astoria ★★ 2000 (R)

The Astoria section of Queens is heavily Greek-American with all its ethnic traditions. Alex (Stear) is 28 and wants to escape his stagnant life by joining an archeological expedition to find the lost tomb of Alexander the Great. His father Demo (Setrakian) expects Alex to help with the family business. Alex isn't happy until Greek art restorer Elena (Turco) pays a visit and suddenly things look a lot brighter. 103m/C DVD . Rick Stear, Ed Setrakian, Paige Turco, Joseph (Joe) D'Onofrio; D: Nick Efteriades; W: Nick Efteriades; C: Elia Lyssey; M: Nikos Papazoglou.

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