R. S. Neale writes:
I must have missed the earlier issue, or just didn't notice your query about the Dalles (almost) mint. It was one of the places considered by folks who responded to the question, which ran a few months ago, of how many places were authorized to mint coins for the US. None of last week's responses appear to mention the following, which does bear on the numismatic connection and which I include below for further information.
The Oregon provisional legislature authorized an 'Oregon Mint' on 16 Feb 1849. It was to be in Oregon City, and missioned to coin $2M from gold dust brought back from California. But Oregon was voted into the Union as a Territory, and the new territorial governor ruled in March that the Oregon Mint would be contrary to the US Constitution, which prohibits the states from coining money.
So the 'Oregon Exchange Company' was formed privately in 1849 near Portland and in 1849 (only) issued some 6000 (combined, I believe) $5 and $10 gold pieces known as 'beaver money.'
It wasn't until 1864 that the US Congress authorized a mint, to be sited at The Dalles. It was begun in 1868 as a 2-story building, 75-ft square. However, the gold flow dried up rapidly in the late 1860s, and the completion of the trans-America Railway at Promontory Point 10 May 1869 linked the coasts and convinced the US government that Denver would be a better central location than The Dalles. As of 1870, only the basement and first floor of the now abandoned 'mint' had been completed. The building was sold to private interests, who added the second floor. As of 2004, the building was in use - as a storage facility for cell phones.
QUICK QUIZ: What do the letters "K.M.T.A.W.R.G.S." AND "T.O." on the beaver coin stand for?