Thomas Ives Dodge|
From "Pioneer Reminiscences" - pg. 357 discussing the Natchez Pass, Cascades
The ancestry of this family is still a mystery
In the spring of 1853 Mr. and Mrs. Himes with their family of four children,
George H. Helen Z., Judson W. and Lestina Z., and four other persons, Joel
Risdon and his son, Henry, a youth of 12 years, Charles R. Fitch and
Frederick Burnett, and the additional family of John Dodge, wife Sarah and
five children, Robert Bruce, Francis Marion, Daniel, Samuel Ives and
Desdemona, started across the plains to Oregon. The two families separated
at the immigrant camp ground on the Umatilla River, the Dodge family going
to Marion County, Willamette Valley, and the Himes family and the four
persons mentioned went to Puget Sound, via Natchez Pass, 25 miles morth of
Mt. Rainier, in company with a number of other families and single men, the
total number being 170--the first direct immigration to the Puget Sound
basin. Late in 1853 Robert Bruce Dodge left the Willamette Valley and
settled on Mima Prairie; his parents and the remainder of the family soon
followed him and settled in the same locality.
The main party continued on into what is now called Wasington following the Yakima river and the American river. Much of the trail was in the river because of the rough terrain. They continued on till they reached government meadow ad didcovered about a 30 to 50ft shear wall this was Natchez Pass and to continue on they would need to lower their wagons down this very steep terrain.
All the ropes in the party were not long enough, and Biles ordered one of his steers to be killed and a rope made of his hide to lengthen those they had. One hide was not enough. It took three to get rope enough to lower the wagons over the bluff.
"After each wagon was lowered," sais Mr. Himes, "the oxen were hitched on and by locking the wheels and attaching behind small logs with the branches left on, the wagons were taken down the slope about a quarter of a mile and across Greenwater river, where we camped that night."
It took almost two days to get all the wagons down this slope. Two of the thirty-six wagons were hopelessly wrecked and had to be abandoned and some of the provisions were lost. The latter was a serious matter, for we suffered for lack of food before supplies could be had at Connell's prairie, probably 40 or 50 miles southwest of the present city of Tacoma.