Walla Walla
Walla Walla is a city in Washington State, just east of the Columbia River. What would become Old Fort Walla Walla began its life in 1811, as a pole in the ground, thanks to David Thompson passing through the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers on behalf of the North West Company.1 In 1818, the North West Company shifted its trade centre from Spokane House to Thompson's site, and built Fort Nez Perces.2
Largely, the North West Company traded with Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla people, but a rise in commerce saw a rise in tensions that would, ultimately, result in ongoing conflicts, which started early with the Cowlitz. As Rich argues, the fort's position soon had less to do with fur trade and more to do with the security of the route to Snake Country,3 particularly as the US government muscled its politics into the region.4
The HBC took over the fort, following the merger with the North West Company, in 1821; it was destroyed by fire in '41, then rebuilt of adobe, but it burned again during conflicts with indigenous groups in 1855.5 The HBC abandoned the fort in 1857, and the US military built an new Fort Walla Walla several km upstream—the military would go on to build two more Fort Walla Wallas.6
  • 1. D. W. Meinig, The Great Columbia Plain, (Washington: University of Washington Press, 1968), 61-73.
  • 2. Establishment of Fort Nez Perces, Trail Tribes: Umatilla, Walla Walla & Cayuse.
  • 3. E. E. Rich, Hudson's Bay Company 1670-1870, vol. 3, 1821-1870 (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1961), 619.
  • 4. Our History & Culture: Part 2, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
  • 5. Joseph Drayton, Fort Nez Perce, The Oregon History Project.
  • 6. Lyn Topinka, Fort(s) Walla Walla…, The Columbia River: A Photographic Journey.
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Thompson, David

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Columbia River