David Thompson - OBServations

OBServations from the Saleesh River Country

Explorer David Thompson's 1809 and 1812 Travels:

Welcome to the OBServations pages. Since the release of Sometimes Only Horses to Eat in 2008, we have continued our efforts to locate and identify the routes David Thompson traveled while in the Saleesh River Country. Thompson was a fur trader, explorer and surveyor extraordinaire. Using his journal as our guide Linda and I have gone to the field with maps, compass and GPS tracker to see if we could locate the sites where Thompson actually stood.

Saleesh House

David Thompson at Saleesh House
Cricket Johnston, Artist

By the time the book was published, we had learned a lot about Thompson. Understanding more about the way he looked at the country through which he was traveling, learning more about his navigation methods and especially in getting a better grasp on understanding the notes found in his journal. Once we began to understand the man, we also began to better understand how he stayed on-point as he made his way across tens of thousands of miles of unmapped and uncharted wilderness.

David Thompson was a extraordinary man, perhaps one of the greatest explorers and surveyors who ever lived. Five of his 28 years in the fur trading business was focused in what are now the states of Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Unfortunately, because he was from Canada, relatively few Americans even recognize his name. Our little town, a river, a nearby mountain and a mountain pass are named after him. Yet, if you were to ask those you pass on the sidewalk who he was, few would be able to provide little, if any, information about him. Why? Most likely because he was not an American.

Saleesh House

Saleesh House
Cricket Johnston, Artist

Many urban legends exist about the locations of Thompson's trading posts and the routes of the Indian roads he followed in 1809–1812. One of the major goals of Sometimes Only Horses to Eat was to provide our best analysis about the location of trading posts established by him and to locate the trails he most likely followed as he explored what is now the Pacific Northwest.

Like earlier writers and historians, we made mistakes along the way. This section of the website will provide updated and new information as we read and re-read Thompson's journal entries then head for the mountains to have another look. So ... if you are interested in our latest thoughts and field information, be sure and check this page periodically.

The buttons below will take you to pages related to several different aspects of Thompson's time in this region. Most is supplemental to what is in the book. If so, we will provide you with a chapter reference so you can compare the two. We are always interested in feedback. There are so many variables involved when attempting to track Thompson that ignoring or even simply misinterpreting one can change everything. If we have, we're always ready to take another look at the journal and, if necessary, head for the field yet again.

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Last updated: 5/12/21