The Pioneer Falls

Extending upstream from where you stand is Inspiration Point and the monuments to the so-called Christian Pioneers. Funded and dedicated by an ecumenical collection of local churches, the monument was meant to inform visitors at Expo 74 of the contributions of the earliest Christian residents of the Inland Northwest. But, like many monuments to the pioneers, the plaques try to squeeze whole, completed lives into a few sentences.

The journeys of the early Protestant missionaries over the Rockies predated cameras, so when you look at Cushing and Myra Eells of Tshimkain, they appear perpetually old. But, when they crossed the American continent, they were young adults who kept diaries and notes of their journeys. Soon after their departure for the Northwest, Myra began to note and comments on the presence of Indians. In late April and early May, she marvels at the Indians coming to see them cross rivers. Writing tersely on May 1, "Meet Indians at every encampment." Despite meeting Indians to share her religion being her purpose, their appearance seemed to pique her curiosity even until the end of the crossing.

By contrast, Mary Walker dwelt on the natural world frequently and even interpreted it in a fanciful light. Passing through the country around Chimney Rock at the end of May, she writes, "Scenery beautiful. The bluffs resemble temples, castles, forts, &c. As if nature tired of waiting the advances of civilization had erected her own temples &c." Thus, she hopes that the natural world anticipates her own work.

Images

The Rev. Cushing and Myra Eells

The Rev. Cushing and Myra Eells

The Rev. Cushing and Myra Eells were early Protestant missionaries to the Pacific Northwest and contemporaries of the Whitmans. They occupied the mission at Tshimakain with the Rev. Elkanah and Mary Walker until it was abandoned during the Cayuse War. This illustration combines two portraits taken later in their lives. Source: Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room. View File Details Page

Elkanah Walker

Elkanah Walker

A later view of Elkanah Walker. His wife Mary, and the Eells were missionaries to the Spokanes and other Salishan speakers at Tshimakain in the later 1830s and early 1840s. Their mission was abandoned in the wake of the Whitman tragedy and the Cayuse War. Source: Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room. View File Details Page

"Chemakane Mission" after a painting by Henry Mix Stanley

A view of the Tshimakain mission grounds as drawn by Henry Mix Stanley, one of the Pacific Railroad Survey artists in the late 1850s. The mission grounds lie near the present day site of the town of Ford in Stevens County. Source: Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room. View File Details Page

Tshimakain mission

Tshimakain mission was established in 1838 by two Congregational missionary couples, Elkanah and Mary Walker and Cushing and Myra Eells. The mission was on the banks of the creek of the same name near the present day town of Ford, and closed in 1847. Source: Spokane Public Library, Northwest Room. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Clayton Hanson, “The Pioneer Falls,” Spokane Historical, accessed June 23, 2017, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/96.
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