Battle Rock, Port Orford

Battle Rock, Port Orford

by | Oct 9, 2018

Battle Rock is a large sea stack in a shallow embayment or bight called Port Orford on the southern Oregon coast. Before the arrival of European settlers, the Port Orford area was inhabited for thousands of years by Tututni people that spoke the Pacific Coast Athabascan language. In 1792, Captain George Vancouver was one of the first Europeans to come into contact with the local Qua-to-mah band.

In 1850, the U.S. Congress passed the Oregon Donation Land Act that allowed white settlers to lay claim to native lands in Western Oregon. The first settlers arrived the following year, under the command of Captain William Tichenor on the steamship Sea Gull. On June 9, 1851, Tichenor anchored in Port Orford and dropped off 9 men to establish the first white settlement. They were armed with muskets and a four-pound cannon. The following morning, as the ship sailed away, the local Qua-to-mah band gathered and confronted the intruders. The settlers were forced to retreat to the sea stack where they set up a defensive position around the small cannon. Ensuing attacks led to the death of 23 natives and the wounding of 2 settlers by arrows.

The tension increased when more natives arrived to support the local band. The 9 men escaped by climbing off the rock, now known as Battle Rock, under cover of darkness and traveled north on foot until they settled on the Umpqua River. Later in the summer, Tichenor returned to deliver a larger contingent of men recruited in San Francisco, who set about building a fort and dwellings that were the beginning of the community of Port Orford, founded in 1851. Read more here and here. Explore more of Battle Rock and Port Orford here:

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