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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Abernethy Creek, Washington"
Includes ... Abernethy Creek ... "Abernathy Creek" ... "Nequally Creek" ...
Image, 2007, Abernethy Creek, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Abernethy Creek, Washington. View from moving car on Washington State Highway 4. Image taken January 28, 2007.

Abernethy Creek ...
The 10-mile-long Abernethy Creek is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 54, just upstream of Mill Creek and Oak Point and downstream of Germany Creek and Stella, Washington.

Early Abernethy Creek ...
Abernethy Creek was named for Alexander S. Abernethy, brother of George Abernethy, an Oregon pioneer. George built a mill near Oak Point, Washington before 1850 and worked with his brother Alexander. Alexander settled on nearby property and filed for a Donation Land Claim.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office Records (GLO) database, Alexander Abernethy and Eliza Abernethy were granted title to 636.87 acres of T8N R4W, parts of Sections 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11 on September 20, 1867 (1850 Oregon-Donation Act). The database also shows Alexander S. Abernethy and Hiram Carnahan being granted title to 162.75 acres of T8N R4W, parts of Sections 1 and 12, on December 1, 1869 (1855 Scrip Warrant Act).

Name Chronology ...

The 1858 Cadastral Survey (tax survey) for T8N R4W had Mill Creek named "North Fork of Abernethy's Mill Creek" and "South Fork of Abernethy's Mill Creek", while today's Abernethy Creek was depicted but not named. A "Store" was shown on the right bank of "Abernethy's Mill Creek" at its mouth, and the Abernethy home was shown upstream, about half way between today's Mill Creek and today's Abernethy Creek. Germany Creek, upstream of today's Abernethy Creek, was labeled "Nequally Creek".

The 1878 U.S. Coast Survey's Chart No.6142, "Columbia River, Sheet No.3", had today's Mill Creek labeled "Negisticook Cr." and today's Abernethy Creek labeled "Nequally Cr.". Germany Creek was depicted but not named. A "Light (White)" was located at the location of today's Stella.

The U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database shows the following progression of the names for Abernethy Creek.

  • 1905, "Mill Creek", Columbia River through the Cascade Mountains. to the Pacific Ocean, by O.R.R. & N. Co.
  • 1908, "Ordway Creek", Post Route Map of Washington.
  • 1912, "Nequally Creek", Channel Maps of Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascade Locks by the National Colortype Co.
  • 1914, "Nequally Creek", U.S.C. & G.S. Chart 6152.
  • 1914, "Mill Creek", U.S.G.S. Map of Washington.
  • 1918, "Mill Creek", Map issued by Bureau of Statistics & Immigration of the State of Washington.
  • 1918, "Negisticook Creek", Bulletin 18, Washington Geological Survey, Geographic Dictionary of Washington.
  • 1918, "Mill Creek", Heald's New Authentic Classified Road Map of Washington.
  • 1924, "Mill Creek", G.L.O. Map of Washington.
  • 1925, "Abernathy Creek", Map of Southwestern Washington by Chas. S.B. Henry.
  • 1927, "Mill Creek", Map of Western Washington by Kroll Map Co.
  • 1927, "Mill Creek", Atlas of Cowlitz County by Kroll Map Co.
  • 1929, "Mill Creek", Metskers Atlas of Cowlitz County (on index map).
  • 1929, "Abernathy Creek", Same as above (shown on detailed map).
  • 1935, "Abernathy Creek", Map of Cowlitz County in Metsker's Atlas of Pacific Northwest.
  • 1935, "Abernathy Creek", Local usage, Cowlitz County Engineer, March.

The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Abernethy Creek" official in 1938.

In 1853 that decision was revoked and the Board made "Abernathy Creek" official.

In 1987 that decision was then revoked and the Board corrected the spelling and made "Abernethy Creek" official.

Views ...

Image, 2011, Abernethy Creek, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Abernethy Creek at mouth, Washington. View from moving car on Washington State Highway 4. Image taken August 7, 2011.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 6, 1805 ...
A cool wet raney morning we Set out [from their camp at Prescott Beach] early at 4 miles pass 2 Lodges of Indians in a Small bottom on the Lard Side I believe those Indians to be travelers. opposit is <the head of a long narrow Island close under the Starboard Side [Cottonwood Island], back of this Island two Creeks fall in about 6 miles apart,> [Cowlitz River delta, Longview, Washington. Today the "two Creeks" are the Cowlitz River and Coal Creek Slough.] and appear to head in the high hilley countrey to the N. E. opposit <this long Island is 2 others one Small and about the middle of the river> the other larger and nearly opposit its lower point [today the location of Walker Island and Lord Island complex], and opposit a high clift of Black rocks [Green Point, location of Mayger, Oregon] on the Lard. Side at 14 miles; ...     here the hills leave the river on the Lard. Side, a butifull open and extensive bottom [Clatskanie River delta] in which there is an old Village, one also on the Stard. Side a little above both of which are abandened by all their inhabitents except Two Small dogs nearly Starved, and an unreasonable portion of flees— The Hills and mountains are covered with Sever kinds of Pine— ...     Some willow on the waters edge,   passed an Island 3 miles long and one mile wide [Crims Island ... Crims Island is separated from the Oregon shore by the Bradbury Slough.], <one> close under the Stard. Side below the <long narrow Island> below which the Stard Hills are verry from the river bank and Continues high and rugid on that Side all day, ... [Lewis and Clark pass, but do not mention today's Germany Creek, Abernethy Creek, and Mill Creek]     we came too to Dine on the long narrow Island [Crims Island] found the woods So thick with under groth that the hunters could not get any distance into the Isld. ...     river about one mile wide hills high and Steep on the Std. [cliffs of Oak Point] no place for several Miles suffcently large and leavil for our camp we at length Landed at a place [Eagle Cliff and Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County] which by moveing the Stones we made a place Sufficently large for the party to lie leavil on the Smaller Stones Clear of the Tide     Cloudy with rain all day we are all wet and disagreeable, had large fires made on the Stone and dried our bedding and Kill the flees, which collected in our blankets at every old village we encamped near     I had like to have forgotten a verry remarkable Knob [Mount Coffin, Longview, Washington, now destroyed] riseing from the edge of the water to about 80 feet high, and about 200 paces around at its Base and Situated <on the long narrow Island> [Longview, Washington area, the Cowlitz River delta] above and nearly opposit to the 2 Lodges we passed to day, it is Some distance from the high land & in a low part of the Island [Cowlitz River delta]

Journey to the PacificReturn to




*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

  • Bureau of Land Management website, 2007;
  • Hitchman, R., 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society;
  • NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2007;
  • U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) website, 2006;

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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September 2008