The Columbia River; or, Scenes and adventures during a residence of six years on the western side of the Rocky mountains among various tribes of Indians hitherto unknown: together with a journey across the American continent
Author: Ross Cox (1793-1853)
Publisher: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley
2 volumes. xx+333 pages; vi+350 pages. Octavo (8 1/2" x 5 1/4") bound in half leather with gilt lettering to spine over marbled boards. (Wagner Camp 43:3; Howes C822; Sabin 17267; Hill 390) The second London edition, preceded by the first London edition of 1831 and the first American edition of 1832, with a slightly different title.
Ross Cox arrived in New York as a teenager. His arrival coincided with preparations for The Beaver, a supply ship owned by John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company, to embark on a voyage to the west Coast of North America. Cox, who had an adventurous spirit signed on as a clerk with the company and set sail in October 1811. The Beaver arrived at Fort Astoria trading post on the Columbia River in May 1812. Less than two months later, Cox and three other clerks left with fur trader John Clarke to set up a trading post adjacent to the North West Company's Spokane House. Cox returned to Fort Astoria in May 1813, only to fine that financial and other difficulties caused by the war between Great Britain and the United States had forced the Pacific Fur Company to terminate his contract. He promptly signed on with the competing NorWesters. He spent the next year at posts in Spokane and the Okanagan, returning to Fort Astoria in time to witness purchase of John Jacob Astor's holdings by the North West Company. Over the ensuing years Cox made several trips along the Columbia to service the Company's forts. In 1826 he was given charge of Fort Okanagan. He spent only one winter at the post before resigning and joining the overland party headed for Fort William and to Montreal in the spring of 1817. While in Montreal he tried unsuccessfully to obtain a position with the Hudson Bay Company. He left for Dublin in 1818 and found work as a post office clerk and Dublin correspondent to London's Morning Herald. In his Adventures on the Columbia River, he often credits himself with deeds out of proportion to his position; however the book is historically valuable. His astute observances of the day-to-day activities of both Astor's company and the North West Company, coupled with descriptions of the hardships traders faced and the Native bands they encountered along the Columbia, provides insight into the poorly documented period of history.
Corners rubbed with some scuffing, previous owner's book plate to front paste-down, marble rubbed to boards else a very attractive copy.