Although Jedediah Smith is overshadowed by Lewis and Clark in the exploration of the American West, his influences and impacts on the American West are perhaps no less significant. During his eight years in the West, Smith made the effective discovery of South Pass and was the first American to travel overland to California, the first to cross the Sierra Nevadas and the Great Basin, and the first to reach Oregon by a journey up the California coast. These accomplishments were coupled with involvement in the three greatest disasters in the fur trade. He survived the Arikara defeat of 1823, the Mojave massacre of 1827, and the Umpqua massacre of 1828 — battles which cost the lives of 40 trappers.
Jedediah Smith is regarded as one of America’s trailblazers, yet his expedition to Oregon and its disastrous end is not commonly known to Oregonians.