August in Oregon History


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On August 17, 1775, Hezeta became the first to map and record a written description of the entrance to the Columbia River at observed latitude of 46° 11´: "a large bay that I named Bahia de la Asunción. . . ." Hezeta's map names Cavo de San Roque, which corresponds to today's Cape Disappointment (actual latitude 46º 17´), and Cavo Frondoso, which corresponds to Point Adams or Tillamook Head. Hezeta wrote: "These currents and the seething waters [lead me] to believe that [the bay] may be the mouth of some great river or some passage to another sea." 


lewis and clark       In August 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition crosses the Continental Divide.



Botanist Thomas Nuttall, part of Nathanial Wyeth expedition to the Pacific Ocean, crossed the Snake River on August 24, 1834, entering what is now Malheur County. From there they traveled through the Blue Mountains toward the Columbia.


On August 21, 1852, the U.S. Senate held hearings on the nineteen treaties Anson Dart had negotiated with Oregon tribes. The issue was tabled, and the treaties were never ratified.


In August 1848, following the ratification of the Oregon Treaty, Oregon became a territory of the United States. Seven months later, the first territorial judge, Orville C. Pratt, arrived at Oregon City.


Abigail Scott married Benjamin C. Duniway in August 1853 and settled on Ben's donation claim in Clackamas County. She is remembered as Oregon's "Mother of Equal Suffrage" and "the pioneer Woman Suffragist of the great Northwest."


Physician and health advocate Harry Lane, who served as Portland’s mayor and Oregon’s U.S. senator, is born in Corvallis on August 28, 1855.


In August 1857, a convention met in Salem to frame a state constitution. Matthew Deady was elected its president.


Portland fire  





On August 2, 1873, a mere month after Henry Failing took office as Portland’s mayor, the largest fire in the city’s history engulfed twenty-two blocks along the Portland waterfront in the vicinity of Southwest Alder Street.




The Columbia River Fishermen's Beneficial Aid Society was organized on August 16, 1875.


William Lovell Finley—biologist, photographer, writer, Fish and Game Commissioner, and advocate for the protection of wildlife, especially birds—is born on August 9, 1876. His efforts led to the creation of three National Wildlife Refuges in Oregon, and a fourth was named in his honor.


Photographer Maud Baldwin is born in Linkville (now Klamath Falls) on August 8, 1878.


The Second Regiment, Oregon U.S. Volunteer Infantry takes part in the surrender of the Spanish army in Manila on August 13, 1898. The regiment had provided the first U.S. Army unit to land at the Philippines and the first unit to enter the Walled City of Manila. It was the first time that members of the Oregon National Guard fought on foreign soil. When the United States war with Spain ended three days later, the regiment took up provost guard duty, playing the role of police in the city of Manila.



Moses Williams, leader of the 9th U.S. Cavalry’s Buffalo Soldiers and recipient of the Medal of Honor, dies on August 23, 1899. In 1991, General Colin Powell dedicated a monument to Williams and three other Medal of Honor recipients on Officers Row on the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. In 1989, the Moses Williams Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers was chartered in Portland, as an affiliate of the National 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association.


The first Carnegie library in Oregon opened in Eugene in August 1906.


ying lee             streat
Hazel Ying Lee, the first Chinese American woman to fly for the U.S. military and one of two Chinese Americans in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), is born in Portland on August 24, 1912.       Thelma Johnson Streat, a multi-talented African American artist who focused on ethnic themes in her work, is born on August 29, 1912, in Yakima, Washington. Streat began painting at the age of seven and received art training at the Museum Art School in the mid-1930s. She was a frequent local exhibitor who worked in tempera, oil and watercolor.


Rabbi Yonah Geller, who led Congregation Shaarie Torah in Portland for forty years, is born in Houston, Texas, on August 15, 1920.


Edison Chiloquin, who earned international attention in 1974 when he refused to accept a $273,000 payment from the federal government as compensation for terminating the Klamath Tribe, is born on August 31, 1923, in the town of Chiloquin.





Virginia Euwer Wolff, winner of a National Book Award for True Believer, a novel for young readers, is born in Portland on August 25, 1937.





Kathryn Clarke, the first woman to serve in the Oregon Senate, dies on August 19, 1940.


The U.S.S. Astoria, which had delivered the remains of Hirosi Saito, Japan's ambassador to the United States, to Yokohama Harbor, was sunk by Japanese forces at the Battle of Savo Island in August 1942.

The U.S. Maritime Commission formally approves the building of Vanport on August 18, 1942. The site was 650 acres of the Columbia River flood plain west of Denver Avenue and east of the North Pacific railroad line, a location that was roughly equidistant between Kaiser facilities at Swan Island, St. Johns, and Vancouver.


On August 20, 1950, Governor Douglas McKay dedicates a stone monument to the six people who died from an explosion of a Japanese balloon bomb near Klamath Falls in May 1945.


Susan Castillo, the first Latina elected to the Oregon State Legislature and the first to hold statewide elected office as superintendent of public instruction, is born on August 14, 1951.


President Dwight Eisenhower signed Public Law 588, which terminated the Siletz, Grand Ronde, Coquille, Coos, Lower Umpqua, Siuslaw, and other Oregon tribes on August 13, 1954.


  omsi       After Ernest and Fred Swigert donated $50,000 and ninety leading citizens guaranteed a $150,000 loan, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry opened its new museum to the public on August 3, 1958. The star attraction was the $12,500 Transparent Lady exhibit.




In the early morning hours of August 7, 1959, a parked truck—loaded with two tons of dynamite and over four tons of ammonium nitrate—caught fire outside a supply store on the edge of downtown Roseburg. The resulting explosion, known locally as The Blast, sent a ball of flame and a mushroom cloud of smoke over two thousand feet into the air.


The Kingsmen, the most successful and influential rock and roll band Oregon has produced, disbanded in August 1963. The band’s recording of "Louie Louie" was a nationwide hit in 1964, and it has remained one of the most popular rock songs of all time.

The Britt Music Festival, founded by Sam McKinney and John Trudeau, opened in Jacksonville on August 11, 1963. It was the only outdoor summer music festival in the Northwest.



The Oxbow Ridge Fire began on August 20, 1966, caused by road construction workers using equipment on Oxbow Ridge, twenty miles southwest of Eugene. Before the fire was contained a week later, some 42,274 acres had burned, about 66 square miles.











The first Hood to Coast relay, a nearly 200-mile relay from Timberline Lodge to Pacific City, was held on August 7, 1982.




Celebrated bassist Leroy Vinnegar, a central figure in the international and local jazz scene, dies from cardiac arrest on August 3, 1999.


Clive Charles, a soccer player and coach of the University of Portland men’s and women’s soccer teams and the U.S. men’s Under-23 National Team, dies on August 26, 2003.