OTE - Oregon Travel Experience

Gray, Captain Robert

Posted on: September 19th, 2011 by Annie Von Domitz in Historical Marker Details | 2 Comments


Captain Robert Gray, commanding the sloop Lady Washington, left Boston in October 1787 on a trading voyage to the West Coast of North America, seeking otter furs. To his small crew of about a dozen men, Gray soon added Markus Lopeus, who boarded at the Cape Verde Islands off West Africa. Rounding the tip of South America and sailing north, the Lady Washington traded along the coast, and reached Tillamook Bay in August 1788.


Trading with the native Tillamook went on for several days, until a dispute over a cutlass led to the death of crewman Lopeus and the hasty departure of the Lady Washington. Lopeus was the earliest documented person of African descent to enter present-day Oregon. Gray returned to Boston via China, the first American to circumnavigate the globe. On a return voyage aboard the Columbia Rediviva in 1792, Captain Gray entered the Columbia River, now named for his ship.



Gwen Carr

- Comment left on: March 29th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I would like to know who I can talk with about revising this sign to include the fact that the “one crewmen” killed at Tillamook Bay was Marcus Lopius; the earliest documented man of African descent to set foot in Oregon. This is an important part of Oregon’s black history and worth sharing with all visitors.

Gwen Carr
Research and Education Chair
Oregon Northwest Black Pioneers

Madeline MacGregor

- Comment left on: March 29th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Hi Gwen, Thanks for your comment. Our Heritage Administrator will contact you on Monday. (She is out of the office right now.) We could really use your knowledge!

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