| In 1776, when the
United States was declaring its independence, there
had yet to be a written account of what is now the
central Oregon coast. In 1778 Captain James Cook
passed by the southern coast, naming Cape Perpetua,
and then headed northward passing Yaquina Bay to
Cape Foulweather. Cook, inspired by the rough weather
he encountered, named Cape Foulweather. Through
the mid-1800s trappers ventured south from the Hudson
Bay Company, headquartered at Fort Vancouver on
the Columbia River. In 1849 Lt. Theodore Talbot
explored the Oregon coast and recorded only 85 Yacona
Indians living in the Yaquina Bay area.
The history of the central coast was changed
forever in 1855 when the United States established
a 1.3 million-acre reservation. More than 4,000
people from 20 different tribes, including the
remaining Yacona and Alsea, were resettled on
this reservation. The location was chosen because
the government deemed the area unfit for farming
and inaccessible. The natives relocated to the
reservation suffered from lack of food and housing
as well as cultural differences among the tribes.
In 1861, two events again changed the course
of history. A sea captain was shown beds of rare,
delicate oysters in Yaquina Bay. Companies from
San Francisco came to harvest the oysters, creating
conflicts with payment to reservation Indians
and depleting the supply within a few years.
About the same time, regular troops on the reservation
were needed for the Civil War; they were replaced
by volunteer soldiers who saw the possibilities
of the area and lobbied to open up the land.
Responding to this pressure, the government opened
the Yaquina Bay area to non-Indian settlement
in 1866. Reservation employees, fur traders, commercial
fisherman, and others seeking opportunity and
free land staked their claims.