Volunteers excited to find special coins on winter rim
An exciting discovery was made near Fremont Point on winter rim in the fall of 2001. A routine maintenance activity near the point by volunteers resulted in the discovery of six old coins. The coins were in a conglomerate of pitch and pine needles. It was an exciting find for the discoverers.
John C. Fremont is known to have visited this point on his 1843 expedition through Central Oregon. He even described the site in his journal. His expedition crew stood on the steep upper reaches of a snow-covered rim looking east down to a pleasant open basin with a large lake. He named the geographic features Winter Rim and Summer Lake.
The cluster of coins included four British and two American coins. The coins added up to 55 cents and dated from 1797 to 1839. It is believed that the coins would be similar to those that may have been carried by Fremont's explorers and within the time frame he was there. Although it does not seem like much money an explorer could buy a variety of items along their trek as 55 cents was worth a lot more than it is today.
Finding the coins at a site that Fremont was known to have stopped and visited makes the discovery of the coins with their mint dates within the time frame of his visit a significant archeological surface find. Although the coins do not absolutely verify that they were from members of the Fremont expedition, it does provide a good case that they were from a member of the expedition. Other explorers and fur expeditions did pass through the area at various times from 1832 to 1838 but it is most likely that they were not at the same location as Fremont recorded in his journal.
Fremont was traveling from the Columbia River south to California. His expedition was having difficulty passing through deep snow in the forested region. Some Native Americans pointed him in the direction of a rim that overlooked a snow-less valley. This led him to what is now known as Fremont Point. An overlook on the Fremont National Forest at this point provides an excellent view from the high elevation ridge of Winter Rim down to the Summer Lake Valley.
There is some questions about whether the coins are indeed from the Fremont Expedition and it may remain a mystery until seem further evidence is discovered to link the coins to the Fremont party, but the discovery of the coins is still an exciting addition to the history of Central Oregon and Fremont lore.
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