Spirits of the past are present everywhere. They dwell in our lands, haunt our historic buildings and cemeteries, and inhabit our songs, literature, films and holy texts. From ancient Egypt to today’s pop culture, stories of ghosts, apparitions and spirits— whatever you call them—are found in nearly every society and every religion.
As devastating as the more recent disasters were, the waters of the Willamette River have never risen higher than they did in June 1894. Turn-of-the-century Portland sprung up as a vital economic hub due to its position at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers, a location that could be precarious when torrential rains fell. Severe spring snow melt and summer downpours combined that year to push the river deep into downtown, setting a record 33-foot high watermark that still stands today.
For many, the words “Oregon Trail” conjure happy childhood memories of hopping on old-school computers to transform oneself into a fearless wagon leader. Hours swiftly passed as we guided settlers from Independence, Missouri to Oregon’s Willamette Valley along the 2,170-mile emigrant wagon trail. On a good day in this wildly popular fantasy-land set in the 1850s, you’d hunt enough game for a hearty bison dinner for you and your team; on a really bad day, you’d die of cholera or a pesky snakebite.
In 2018, the Oregon Trail celebrates its 175th anniversary. Traders laid the 2,170-plus-mile wagon route from about 1811 to 1840. Between the boom years of 1840 and 1860, more than 400,000-plus pioneers traveled its path. Connecting the Missouri River to Oregon’s lush valleys, the east-west trail was only passable on foot or by horseback, and those who braved it faced challenges like wagon accidents, disease outbreaks and rushing river crossings.