National Geographic : 1960 Apr
sionaries and settlers. Great Britain and the United States had agreed on joint occupancy, and the race was on. As early as 1838, settlers petitioned Congress to extend its jurisdiction over the region: "We flatter ourselves that we are the germ of a great state." The Great Migration of 1843 fanned the Oregon Territory crisis to flame. The United States claimed a boundary near Prince Rupert in present-day Canada; England called the Columbia River the dividing line. The stri dent slogan "Fifty-four forty or fight" swept James K. Polk into the White House and both nations sent warships to the Columbia. But war was averted when, in 1846, the con flicting claims were compromised at 49°N. Ambiguity in the treaty left the San Juans a two-man's land. This source of friction almost sparked a Pickett's charge four years before Gettysburg. George Pickett, then an impetuous captain, stood ready for action as he defiantly blocked a British force from landing on San Juan Island. Calmer heads, however, prevented battle, and American and British camps were set up at opposite ends of the island. At the State Historical Society Museum in Tacoma, Director Bruce Le Roy showed me the gun that dispatched the near-war's only casualty -a pig. In 1872 the Emperor of Germany, as arbiter, ended the joint occupation (which had thawed into a round of banquets!) by awarding the archipelago to the United States. To commemorate this peaceful solution, Washington's two Senators, Jackson and War ren G. Magnuson, have introduced a bill estab lishing a Pig War National Monument. Besides Pickett, other officers destined for Civil War fame put in hitches in the Pacific Northwest: McClellan and Sheridan in Yak ima Indian country; Ulysses S. Grant at Fort Vancouver, where he raised potatoes on the side. One figure was invited but never came: Abraham Lincoln declined the opportunity to be governor of Oregon Territory. If Rails Won't Come to the City In the feverish 1870's and '80's dreams of a transcontinental railroad through Washington took on reality with the rails and spikes of brawling crews. But even the tracklayers played second fiddle to promoters in this era of financial high jinks and higher hopes. The coveted prize was the tidewater ter minal through which all the region's wealth supposedly would funnel. The most improb able villages lived in bubbling expectancy; citizens of several marched out with picnic 466 baskets and laid a token mile of rails before Apple Blossom Queen Inspects a Laden Bough Washington, the leading apple State, grows a quarter of the Nation's crop. Harvesting of Delicious apples, the most popular va riety, runs from late Sep tember through October. Growers pick them just be fore maturity; cold storage completes the ripening. Trees begin to bear five to eight years after planting and reach peak production in a quarter century. A large tree may yield 40 bushels. Orchards surround Wenat chee, which calls itself the apple capital of the world. Beverly McKoin, queen of Wenatchee's 40th apple blos som festival, beams her pride over these perfectly formed Red Delicious apples, a des sert type marketed from coast to coast. Cold fall nights bring out the healthy red color. giving up. When the Northern Pacific by passed inland Yakima, outraged inhabitants put their town on rollers and moved it bodily four miles to where the city stands today astride the rails. By public demand, saloons stayed open as they rolled across the sage. To attract investors from as far off as Europe, promoters dreamed up whole paper cities of the projected terminals and spared no imagination on names and claims: Boston Harbor, Union City, Napoleon, mighty Frank fort-on-the-Columbia. I tracked down several of these mirages in western Washington, where the saying used to be: "We're as big as New York, only the town ain't built yet!" Near the present village of Ocosta on Grays Harbor, I perused a brochure that lyricized an other New York of the Pacific. It pictured ele gant streets where stylish carriages moved past hotels, thriving businesses, and docks of "this remarkable city"-all amid a happy land where strawberries grow "10 inches in circumference" and coal comes in lumps "weighing 16,860 pounds!"