Captain Robert Grey is the man who went down in history for an important discovery. It started with fur trading and the love of sailing. It started in 1788, when he became the first American to sail around the world. He went to the Northwest Coast, now known as Oregon, to trade with the Indians for fur and to explore the coast. Then he was sent to trade the fur he got form the Indians, for goods in China. He also traded his ship, the Lady Washing ton, for another ship called, the Columbia Redidiva.
Three years later he set out of Boston to go back to explore the Northwest Coast. He spent the winter of 1791- 1792 there, to build the first American sailing ship built on the Pacific Ocean. He called it Adventure.
In 1792, after the ship was built, he started sailing south along the coast in his other ship, the Columbia.
After sailing south of the Oregon coastline, he turned around and headed north, looking for a safe place for his ship. He saw a river and wanted to go there, but the sea was to rough. So he kept going north and found a safe harbor which is now known as Grey's Harbor.
After the sea became calm Grey started back south to look for the river again. This time he sent a little boat to find a safe channel at the mouth of the river. It showed the way for the Columbia.
Captain Robert Grey named the river, the Columbia River, after his boat. He also named the cape to the south, Adams, and the one to the north, Hancock, which we now call Cape Disappointment.
The discovery of the Colombia River by an American was really important. The United States had not participated in the naval explorations on the Northwest Coast. The United States, England, and Spain all hold rights for the discovery and the exploration.