AS is the case with most of the other states, the literature of
Oregon may be said to begin with the accounts of the first explorers
and travelers. In 1775, twenty years before the historic overland journey
of Lewis and Clark, Captain Bruno Heceta, a Spanish navigator,
sighted the Tillamook coast and recorded his impressions of its rugged
outlines in his diary. Three years later the English Captain James
Cook remarked in the log of his voyage to the Northwest that Sir
Francis Drake had mentioned the severity of the climate hereabouts in
June, whereas in March he found it mild enough; but ten days later
Cook himself confessed that cold and snow prevailed along the coast
later to be known as Oregon.

When Captain Robert Gray discovered the Columbia River in 1792,
a log was kept by one of his young sailors, John Boit, Jr. Among other
shrewd observations the lad noted the fine stature of the Indian males
and the comeliness of the females. The Lewis and Clark journal, besides
its historic significance, has great claim to literary value. With the
reports concerning the trappers and traders of the Hudson's Bay Com-
pany, historical accounts began to be flavored with legend. And even
the dry commercial records of the fur company helped Washington
Irving vividly to reconstruct in Astoria, published in 1836, the setting
of its far-reaching empire.

Jason Lee, the indefatigable Methodist missionary of the Willamette
Valley, through his eloquence was able to interest Easterners—particu-
larly the religious minded—in the primitive wonders of the Oregon
region. His wife, Anna Marie Pittman, is credited with being Oregon's
first poet. Her farewell poem to her husband, written in 1838 when he
was starting east, is marked rather by intense conjugal devotion and
pious fervor than by literary excellence.

During the same year the Reverend Samuel Parker, who had accom-
panied Dr. Marcus Whitman on his first trip to the Northwest, pub-
lished a Journal of an Exploring Tour Beyond the Rocky Mountains
(1835), which had an astonishing success for that time, selling some