As It Was: Federal Government Seeks Bids for Fort Klamath Staples

May 3, 2017

It was expensive in the 1800’s for the federal government to feed soldiers at remote outposts such as Fort Klamath in Southern Oregon.

The Army sought bids in April 1876 for providing flour and beef at Fort Klamath and several other military posts in the Pacific Northwest.  Bidders submitted sealed offers in triplicate to an Army office in Portland, where agents reviewed them and tested samples.

Bidders factored in the cost of hauling commodities on freight wagons pulled by horses or mules.  Prices tended to be high in the Klamath Basin, where commercial farming was still in its infancy and wagon roads through the mountains were snowed in for more than half the year.

Newman Fisher of Jacksonville won the contract for providing 41,000 pounds of wheat flour at Fort Klamath.  His price of 3.8 cents a pound was nearly double the price of flour delivered to Fort Walla Walla in the heart of the Columbia Basin wheat country.

James Calahan (cq), also of Jacksonville, won the contract for providing fresh beef to soldiers at Fort Klamath.  His price was 5.81 cents per pound, about the same price paid by other forts in the region.
 

Source: "Proposals for Army Supplies." Oregonian, 6 Apr. 1876 [Portland, Oregon] , p. 4. Genealogy Bank. Accessed 4 Apr. 2017; "Military Supplies." Oregonian, 3 June 1876 [Portland, Oregon], p. 3. Genealogy Bank. Accessed 4 Apr. 2017.