OREGON COAST In 1846, the USS Shark sank near the mouth of the Columbia River, leaving behind cannons that wouldn’t be found until they washed ashore at Arch Cape in February.
That was a remarkable year for Oregon and its nascent economy. In 1846, the Americans and the English signed the treaty that gave Oregon Country to the U.S. It was the year that the final section of the Oregon Trail was built around Mount Hood, opening the Willamette Valley to covered wagons for the first time.
And it was the year that John McLoughlin, also known as the “Father of Oregon,” resigned from the English fur-trading Hudson’s Bay Company and began selling farming tools to new settlers from his store in Oregon City.
If not for its cannons, the sinking of the Shark would be a footnote in history. The year 1846, as farming replaced fur trading and the seeds of modern Oregon were planted, will not.
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