To the Pacific Northwest by Land and Sea


Reaching the Pacific Northwest, for emigrants from the American Midwest and the upper South, usually meant crossing most of the continent by land. Historian Frederick Jackson Turner saw the frontier as a westward-moving line, something like an advancing weather front. But beginning in the 1840s, many emigrants from places such as Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee, raced ahead of that moving line, and headed straight for the Oregon Country or California. They were attracted by opportunities for free farmland and the promise of an equable and healthful climate. These pioneers found a different frontier from that experienced by immigrants to Kansas, Texas, and the Dakotas.

Emigrants came to the Pacific Northwest by covered wagon, and later by train as well. The region first came to the attention of seafarers from Britain, Spain, Russia, and the United States, and the sea became an important route for emigrants. The sea also provided the major artery for shipping the Pacific Northwest's bulky cargoes of timber, canned fish, and coal, to markets in California, the East Coast, and Asia and the Pacific islands.

The Northern Pacific Railroad issued Fruitful Washington in 1888, the year it completed its Stampede Tunnel route to Tacoma.


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