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Fort Rains

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The site of Fort Rains (Steve Hart)



Before Bonneville Dam was built, navigation on the Columbia River was blocked by the a set of rapids known as the Cascades. Historically, the area was inhabited by Chinookan Indians. When Europeans began settling in western Oregon and Washington, the Cascades became a natural bottleneck to immigrants. An early portage trail was replaced with a primitive tramway.

Fort Rains was built in late 1855 at the lower end of the upper portage, to defend the Middle Cascades. Fort Rains was named for Major Gabriel Rains. Fort Cascades was built at the Lower Cascades.

In March 1856, a group of Yakama Indians arrived from the north and stirred dissent in the local Indians. On March 26, they attacked the white settlers. The settlers took refuge at Fort Rains. Fort Cascades was burned the same day. After relief troops arrived from The Dalles on March 28, the Yakamas fled to the north and the local Indians surrendered.

Today the site of Fort Rains is marked by a sign on the south side of the freeway and a supply area for the highway maintenance crews on the north side of the highway. The Crest Trail passes the north side of the supply area.

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Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

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