The name of this beautiful valley comes from the military post established in the valley in October 1857. Fort Ter-Waw was located in the Klamath Reservation on the North Bank of the Klamath River about six miles from the mouth of the river, and established by 1st Lieut. George Crook and Company D, 4th U. S. Infantry. On recommendation of Lieut. Crook, the fort was given the Indian name of this locality, the spelling “Ter-Waw”, being that used by the military. In the Yurok language the word signifies a “pretty” or “nice” place. From the journal of Pvt. George E. Young we get this description of the fort: “Opposite the Agency or on the North side of the River is located Fort Ter-waw, a name derived from the Indian Dialect signifying a ‘pretty’ or ‘nice’ place. Amidst this grand old forest of such mammoth trees, this post formed a conspicuous and important spot of uncommon beauty. It was situated upon a peninsula of land formed by a sharp bend of the river, of about twenty or twenty-five acres of land in extent, with a soil of surpassing fertility.”
Unfortunately, the history of the fort was anything but pretty. The fort was one of many established in California during the late 1850s, when confrontations were festering between Native residents white settlers who saw the lands as “available.” The Indians quickly saw the newcomers occupying traditional homelands, squandering life-giving resources, and initial good feelings quickly turned to ugly encounters and deadly retaliations from both sides.. These exchanges began on the Klamath River in the spring of 1851. Unfortunately many were killed unnecessarily because both whites and Indians were unable to discriminate between who were friends and who were enemies. The local stories of white/Indian confrontations mirror the ones that had been playing out across the entire U.S. since settlers started punching westward. Local tribes had no recourse but to push back, even though they were outnumbered by an armed foe .
One of the best sources of information on Ter-Waw is found on-line in a study commissioned in 1968 by the National Park Service: History Basic Data, Redwood National Park by Edwin C. Bearss. It can be found at http://www.nps.gov/history/online_books/redw/history7f.htm.
The post was evacuated on June 11, 1861, but reoccupied on August 28, 1861. Flooded four times during the winter of 1861-62, with 17 of its 20 buildings undermined and washed away, plans were made to relocate the camp on a new site. However, during the following late spring, on June 11, Brigadier General George Wright countermanded the order to rebuild the post since any site on the river would be subjected to flooding. The post’s troops were moved to the Smith River Valley where Camp Lincoln was being constructed six miles north-east of Crescent City. No evidence of the fort is visible today; the site is engulfed by the community of Klamath Glen.
For More Information, Contact:
Klamath Chamber of Commerce
16030 Hwy 101 N, Klamath, CA 95548