The fur trade, as every Oregon school kid knows, is the reason the Hudson Bay Company set up shop near the mouth of the Willamette River way back in the 1820s. But following the arrival of hordes of settlers the fur trade gave way to the more practical commodities of lumber and wheat. By the late 1840s Portland was well under way to becoming an important commercial center. A new plank road connected the city with the rich farmlands of the Tualitin Valley. This allowed horse drawn carts to cross the West Hills giving farmers of the region access to sell their produce in world markets. In 1849 gold was discovered in California creating a huge demand for grain and timber. Portland became a boom town.
Read more: Portland waterfront