Founded in 1836 by Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa, the Whitman Mission was the site of one of the worst tragedies along the Oregon Trail.
The Whitmans, Methodist missionaries, offered religious instruction and medical services to the local Cayuse Indians. They also gave care and supplies to wagon parties travelling along the Oregon Trail.
When a measles epidemic broke out at the mission in November 1847, many of the Indians were killed while the white newcomers survived. The Cayuse suspected that the Whitmans and their foreign religion were the cause of the fatal disease. In retaliation, the Whitmans and eleven other whites were killed by the Cayuse, and the mission was burned down.