Official explorers came, at first, primarily by sea, in many cases seeking the Northwest Passage, and later over land, but missed many areas of the state now known as Oregon. Fur traders and trappers, initially from the Hudson’s Bay Company, explored the land more thoroughly, documenting encounters with most of the local Indian tribes. Christian missionaries, and later immigrants planning to settle permanently in Oregon.
The Spanish exploration team led by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sighted southern Oregon off the Pacific coast in 1543. In 1592, Juan de Fuca undertook detailed mapping and studies of ocean currents. Exploration was retaken routinely in 1774, starting by the expedition of frigate Santiago by Juan José Pérez Hernández. the coast of Oregon became a valuable trading route to Asia.British explorer James Cook explored the Oregon Coast in 1778 in search of the Northwest Passage. Beginning in the late 1780s many ships from Britain, America, and other countries sailed to the Pacific Northwest to engage in the region’s emerging Maritime Fur Trade business.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled through the region during their expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase. They built their winter fort at Fort Clatsop, near the mouth of the Columbia
In the 1830s, several parties of Americans traveled to Oregon, further establishing the Oregon Trail. Jason Lee was the first, traveling in Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth‘s party in 1833 and establishing the Oregon Mission in the Willamette Valley; the Whitmans and Spaldings arrived in 1836, establishing the Whitman Mission east of the Cascades.
The Oregon Territory was officially organized in 1848. Settlement increased because of the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850, in conjunction with the forced relocation of the native population to Indian reservations. The state was admitted to the Union on February 14, 1859.