George Atkinson arrived in Oregon at the right time. A turbulent, energetic period of scattered settlement and political uncertainty was about to end. An officially sanctioned government was about to be formed. He came expecting to stay, and to make a difference. His wide-ranging skills and irrepressible optimism made valuable contributions during the formative stages of the region and state.
He arrived in 1848 with the expectation of spreading Congregational churches across the Pacific Northwest. That was slow to occur. He saw little growth in numbers of members or of churches until the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1884. Those long years were a disappointment to his sponsoring mission society, but he used the time effectively to advance the cause of education. The staid newcomer who had hoped to plant the institutions of the East soon came to adapt appreciatively to his new setting. Whether it was settlers staking mile-square claims, neighbors rushing off to newly opened mines, extemporaneous ‘stump speakers’, climbing a mountain, planting his garden or building his house, he accepted life in Oregon on its own terms. He rarely passed up an opportunity to take part in it, sing its praises and trumpet its potential.
-Excerpt from Chapter 17
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