Territorial Timeline

The Columbia River discovered by Robert Gray

On May 11, 1792, Captain Robert Gray crossed the bar into the river that he named "Columbia" in honor of his ship, Columbia Rediviva. Gray's explorations and discoveries later proved to be of great importance in America's claims to the Pacific Northwest

After completing his first voyage to the Pacific Northwest in 1790, Captain Robert Gray set out in the ship Columbia once more and arrived at Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island on June 5, 1791. After exploring and trading along the shores, he attempted to go south for the winter but rough weather forced him back to Clayoquot Sound. On October 3, 1791, Gray laid the keel for a schooner which he and his men built during the winter.

They launched the little schooner Adventurer on February 23, 1792. Gray gave command of Adventurer to his first mate, Robert Haswell, and in the spring they sailed in search of furs. Gray traveled south in the Columbia and on May 7, 1792, he found a great bay that he named Bullfinch Harbor, later re-named Gray's Harbor. While sailing to Deception Bay, Gray crossed the bar into the river that he named Columbia. Gray's explorations and discoveries would later prove to be of great importance in the negotiations over claims to the Pacific Northwest. After obtaining many furs from the Native Americans, Gray sailed to China where he sold the furs, bought tea and then returned to Boston.