Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Alderdale, Washington"
Includes ... Alderdale ... Alder Creek ... Glade Creek ... Alder Ridge ... Campsite of April 25, 1806 ...
Image, 2005, Alder Creek, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Alder Creek, Washington. View at mouth, looking upstream, at the backwater effect of the Columbia River on Alder Creek. Alder Ridge is in the background. Image taken May 24, 2005.

Alderdale ...
Alderdale is located in T4N, R23E, Sec.9, Klickitat County.

From the Tacoma Public Library's "Washington Place Names" database (2019):

"Alderdale (T4N, R23E, Sec.9) ... Alderdale is a community on the Columbia River at mouth of Alder Creek, on its left bank, in southeast Klickitat County. The name was borrowed from the creek when the town was platted by William Warner of the Western Investment Company. Alder Ridge is northwest of the community south of Sixprong as shown on the Metsker Map of Klickitat County."

Early Alderdale ...
Henry Landis wrote in "A Geographic Dictionary of Washington" (1917, Washington State Bulletin No.17):

"Alderdale ... a station on the S. P. & S. Ry., in southeaster Klickitat County; elevation, 249 feet."

Edmund S. Meany wrote in "Origin of Washington Geographic Names" (1923, University of Washington Press):

"Alderdale ... station and village in Klickitat County. William Warner, Robert Warner and Mrs. M.L. Warner, constituting the Western Investment Company, platted the townsite and named it Alderdale because it is near the mouth of Alder Creek."

Robert Hitchman wrote in "Place Names of Washington" (1985, Washington State Historical Society):

"Alderdale ... a town on Columbia River, at mouth of Alder Creek, extreme southeast Klickitat County. The name was borrowed from Alder Creek when the town was platted by William Warner of Western Investment Company.

Lewis and Clark and Alderdale ...
Lewis and Clark traversed along the top of Alder Ridge in 1806 and spent the night of April 25 in the Alder Creek/Alderdale/Glade Creek area.

Campsite of April 25, 1806 ...
According to Lewis and Clark's journal entries of April 25, 1806, the men journeyed 20 miles on April 25, 1806, and camped near Alder Creek.

Gary E. Moulton (2002, editor, "The Definitive Journals of Lewis and Clark") suggests that the camp could even be closer to Glade Creek.

"Clark says they "encamped below the mouth of a Small Creek" and that they made twenty miles that day. The lack of geographic reference points and the impoundment of water by Lake Umatilla creates difficulties in locating this campsite. Based on the locations of their camps of April 24 and 26 it seems that the camp of this day would be in Klickitat County, near present Alderdale. It is also possible that the camp could be in Benton County at Glade Creek, several miles upstream. The camp is also shown on [the map] but is of little help in locating it in modern terms. The "run" on that map would be either [Alder Creek or] Glade Creek." [Moulton, comments on April 25, 1806 entry]

From the Lewis and Clark journals:

"This morning we collected our horses and set out at 9 A.M. and proceeded on 11 ms. to the Village of the Pish-quit-pahs of 51 mat lodges where we arrived at 1 P.M. ...   at 4 P.M. we set out accompanyed by eighteen or twenty of their young men on horseback.    we continued our rout about nine miles where finding as many willows as would answer our purposes for fuel we encamped for the evening. ..." [Lewis, April 25, 1806]

"This morning we Collected our horses ... and Set out at 9 AM and proceeded on to a village of Pish-quit-pahs of 52 mat Lodges 11 miles ...   we passed a house a little above the place we encamped on the 20th of Octr. 1805. ...   at 4 P.M. Set out. ...   we proceeded on about 9 miles through a Country Similar to that of yesterday and encamped below the mouth of a Small Creek ... [Clark, April 25, 1806]

"we Continued our rout about 9 miles, where finding as maney Willows as would answer our purpose for fuel we encamped for the night. ..." [Clark, April 25, 1806]

"... We went 13 miles and encamped at a small grove of willows. There being no other wood for a considerable distance." [Gass, April 25, 1806]

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was located at Roosevelt, Washington and their camp of April 26, 1806, was near Plymouth, Washington.

Alderdale, etc.

  • Alderdale Treaty Fishing Access Site ...
  • Alderdale to Boulder Ferry ...

Alderdale Treaty Fishing Access Site, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission ...
All four Columbia River treaty tribes enjoy fishing rights along the Columbia from the Bonneville to McNary dams. This 147-mile stretch of the river is called Zone 6. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) operates and maintains 31 fishing sites (2015, Note: the website map only shows 30 sites) in Zone 6. These sites were set aside by Congress to provide fishing locations to Indian fishers whose traditional fishing grounds were inundated behind dams.

"For fisheries management purposes, the 292-mile stretch of the Columbia River that creates the border between Washington and Oregon is divided into six zones. Zones 1-5 are between the mouth of the river and Bonneville Dam, a distance of 145 miles. Oregon and Washington manage the commercial fisheries that occur in these zones. Zone 6 is an exclusive treaty Indian commercial fishing area. This exclusion is for commercial fishing only. Non-commercial sports fishers may still fish in this stretch of the river." [Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission website, 2016]

The Zone 6 sites include 19 Treaty Fishing Access sites (Bonneville, Wyeth, White Salmon, Stanley Rock, Lyle, Dallesport, Celilo, Maryhill, Rufus, Preacher's Eddy, North Shore, LePage Park, Pasture Point, Roosevelt Park, Pine Creek, Threemile Canyon, Alderdale, Crow Butte, and Faler Road), five "In-lieu" sites (Cascade Locks, Wind River, Cooks, Underwood, and Lone Pine), two "Shared-use" sites (Avery and Sundale Park, for both Tribal use and Public use), and four "Unimproved" sites with no services (Goodnoe, Rock Creek, Moonay, and Aldercreek).

Alderdale to Boulder Ferry ...
At one time a ferry crossed the Columbia River between Alderdale, Washington, and Boulder, Oregon. Boulder was located approximately four miles upstream of Heppner Junction and Willow Creek. It is now under the waters of Lake Umatilla, the waters behind the John Day Dam.

November 6, 1921:
City Gets Route to Columbia River Highway Near Heppner Junction.

"GOLDENDALE, Wash., Nov. 5. -- (Special.) -- A new ferry that will give residents of Alderdale and vicinity direct connection with the Columbia river highway near Heppner Junction on the O.W.R. & N. railroad, has been established at Alderdale by residents of the town and vicinity. Alderdale is the last station on the North Bank road in Klickitat county and a trading point for a large portion of the Horse Heaven country.

The new ferry will open up a direct route for automobile travel from Pendleton to the Yakima valley over a road through the Horse Heaven country and is practically an all-season route."

Source:    "The Sunday Oregonian", November 6, 1921, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016.

November 11, 1921:

"A long-needed ferry system has been established on the Upper Columbia River at Alderdale, in eastern Klickitat, and a franchise and rates will be fixed by the present session of the board of County Commissioners. Alderdale is the last station on the Spokane, Portland & Seattle in Klickitat County and a trading point for a portion of the Horse Heaven country. Prior to the establishment of the ferry the residents have had to go to Roosevelt to cross the Columbia River. In addition to getting residents of the Alderdale section a direct connection with the Columbia River Highway, a new ferry will open up a direct route for automobile tourist travel from Pendleton to the Yakima Valley over a road through the Horse Heaven country that is practically an all-season route. The connection with the Columbia River Highway is made near Heppner Junction on the O.W. R. & N. Railway. The new Alderdale ferry boat has a capacity for transporting 300 head of sheep or 8 automobiles."

Source:    "The Klickitat County Agriculturist", November 11, 1921, courtesy "Rootsweb.com" website, 2016.

May 25, 1922:
Will Celebrate Opening of Ferry At Boulder, Oregon

"A.B. Strait, who now has his ferry in full operation across the Columbia river between Alderdale, Wash., and Boulder, Ore., is planning to celebrate the event by a big basket dinner to be given in the willow grove on the Boulder side of the river on Sunday, May 28.

The people from both sides of the river will gather on this side for dinner, and it is expected that there will be a large number present. A special invitation is extended to Heppner and Morrow county people to drive down to Boulder on Sunday and participate in the feed and other ceremonies. Well filled baskets may be brought along, but it is understood that whether this is done or not there will plenty of good eats provided by the people of both Boulder and Alderdale. The object of the picnic is to celebrate the opening of the ferry, and it will be possible for people over this way to cross over to the Washington side and get acquainted with the good people there and take a run over the good roads leading out from Alderdale into the Horseheaven and Mabton sections.

A trip down Willow creek highway to the Junction and then a short run up the Columbia highway will bring you to Boulder. ..."

Source:    "The Gazette-times (Heppner)", May 25, 1922, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016.

September 4, 1924:
"A.B. Strait and wife came to Heppner on Wednesday evening, Mr. Strait being interested in the proceedings concerning the ferry at Boulder. He has been residing for several months at Tacoma where he had work, having been compelled to close down the ferry until such time as he could comply with the government regulations. The boat that Mr. Strait was using required him to employ at least three men in its operation, and it did not pay to do this, so according to his statement he tied up the boat and was out to get money to build a smaller craft that could be operated at less expense. In the meantime other parties are seeking to get a franchise for the operation of the ferry at this point."

Ferry at Boulder to Pass into New Hands

"A change in the ownership of the ferry across the Columbia from Boulder, Oregon, to Alderdale, Wash., has been effected, A.B. Strait disposing of what interests he had in the ferry to Messrs. Smith and Hogue of Stevenson, Wash. These gentlemen have been here for a couple of days conferring with the county court ... They made a successful deal with Mr. Strait, who consented to the cancellation of his franchise, and today our county court granted a franchise to Smith and Hogue, who will soon have a new boat in operation across the river. Mr. Hogue will have charge of the ferry and considerable improvement will be made in the approaches to the ferry on both the north and south sides of the river, and from now on the traveling public can be assured that they can get over the river at Boulder. ..."

Source:    "The Gazette-times (Heppner)", September 4, 1924, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016.

October 9, 1924:

"The ferry across the Columbia river between Boulder, Oregon, and Alderdale, Washington, is now in operation and doing business daily. The new management, Messrs. Smith & Hogue, have placed a splendid boat on the river at this ferry and they are rendering prompt service.

On last Sunday the people of Alderdale arranged a picnic in celebration of the opening of the ferry. The good folks over there prepared a lot of fine eats and an invitation was extended to Heppner folks and others on the Oregon side of the river to join in with them. ... It had been planned to spread the east in the grove at Boulder, but the wind coming up strong started the sand blowing a little too lively for pleasure and the folks were ferried over to the Washington side where a more secluded spot was found and a real picnic enjoyed.

Judge Campbell reports that the people of Alderdale are greatly pleased over the installation of the ferry and they are pulling as hard as they can to direct traffic across the Columbia to intersect the Columbia highway at Boulder. They look for a lively business to be worked up from the Yakima country and other points in Washington to the east, as by coming across this way the distance to Portland will be very materially shortened. They can guarantee the best of service."

Source:    "The Gazette-times (Heppner)", October 9, 1924, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016.

February 27, 1930:
30 Miles
When Traveling to
Yakima Valley
Alderdale Ferry
Landing located four miles east of Heppner Junction.
Recent road improvements make this the
Ideal Route

Source:    "Heppner Gazette-Times", February 27, 1930, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016.

Map detail, 1950, Klickitat County, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Klickitat County map detail, 1950, showing the North Bank Railroad (SP&S), the North Bank Highway (Route 8), and two ferries, and the area from Roosevelt to Alderdale. Original Metsker map courtesy "HistoricMapWorks.com" website, 2016.

Roosevelt, Moonax, McCredie, and Alderdale ... the Arlington to Roosevelt Ferry and an Oregon to Alderdale Ferry.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 20, 1805 ...
A cool morning wind S. W. we concluded to delay untill after brackfast which we were obliged to make on the flesh of dog. after brackfast we gave all the Indian men Smoke, and we Set out leaveing about 200 of the nativs at our Encampment [near Irrigon, Oregon]; passd. three Indian Lodges on the Lard Side a little below our Camp [Irrigon, Oregon] which lodges <we> I did not discover last evening, passed a rapid at Seven miles one at a Short distance below we passed a verry bad rapid, a chane or rocks makeing from the Stard. Side and nearly Chokeing the river up entirely with hugh black rocks [Lewis and Clark called these rapids "Pelican Rapids"] an Island below close under the Stard. Side on which was four Lodges of Indians drying fish,- here I Saw a great number of pelicons on the wing, and black Comerants [American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants]. at one oClock we landed on the lower point of <Some> an Island at Some Indian Lodges, a large Island on the Stard Side nearly opposit and a Small one a little below on the Lard Side on those three Island I counted Seventeen Indian Lodges, ...

[Lewis and Clark are passing through the Blalock Islands area. Today most of the islands are beneath the waters of Lake Umatilla, the reservoir behind the John Day Dam. In this vicinity are today's Boardman, Whitcomb Island, Canoe Ridge, slightly downstream is Crow Butte and Oregon's historic Castle Rock, along with the many lands of the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge.]

after diner we proceeded on to a bad rapid at the lower point of a Small Island on which four Lodges of Indians were Situated drying fish; here the high countrey Commences again on the Stard. Side [Alder Ridge] leaveing a vallie of 40 miles in width, from the mustle Shel rapid [Umatilla Rapids at the McNary Dam]. examined and passed this rapid close to the Island at 8 miles lower passed a large Island near the middle of the river a brook on the Stard. Side [Alder Creek] and 11 Islds. all in view of each other below, a riverlit [Willow Creek] falls in on the Lard. Side behind a Small Island a Small rapid below. The Star Side is high rugid hills [Alder Ridge], the Lard. Side a low plain and not a tree to be Seen in any Direction except a fiew Small willow bushes which are Scattered partially on the Sides of the bank

The river to day is about 1/4 of a mile in width; this evening the Countrey on the Lard. Side [area around Arlington, Oregon] rises to the hight of that on the Starboard Side [ridge above Roosevelt], and is wavering- we made 42 <days> miles to day [to Roosevelt, Washington]; the current much more uniform than yesterday or the day before. Killed 2 Speckle guls Severl. ducks of a delicious flavour.

Clark, April 25, 1806 ...
This morning we Collected our horses very conveniently [downstream of Roosevelt, Washington] and Set out at 9 A M and proceeded on to a village of Pish-quit-pahs of 52 mat Lodges 11 miles [across from and a few miles downstream from Willow Creek, Oregon]    this village Contains about 700 Soles here we turned out our horses and bought 5 dogs & some wood and dined here we met with a Chief and gave him a Medal of the Small Size [Jefferson Peace Medal].   we passed a house a little above the place we encamped on the 20th of Octr. 1805 [Roosevelt, Washington]. ...    at 4 P. M Set out. I <had not> was in the rear and had not proceeded verry far before one of the horses which we had hired of the Chopunnish, was taken from Hall who I had directed to ride. he had fallen behind out of my sight at the time. we proceeded on about 9 miles through a Country Similar to that of yesterday and encamped below the mouth of a Small Creek [Alder Creek] ...     we passed at 4 miles [approximately across from Willow Creek, Oregon]   a Village of 5 Mat Lodges of the War-war-wa Tribe [Moulton states the Walla Walla Tribe]. We made a Chief and gave a metal to a Chief of each of those two tribes. great numbers of the nativs accompanied us to our encampmt. ...     the Winds which Set from mount hood [Mount Hood, Oregon, which is visible to the southwest in this area] or in a westwardly direction are much more cold than those from any other quarter. there are no dews in these plains, and from the appearance of the earth there appears to have been no rain for Several Weeks. ...   

[This village of 52 mat Lodges is not shown on their route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#76], however the "Pish-quit-pah" Village is shown on three islands upstream of their campsite at Alder Creek. Seventeen lodges are shown on the map with the comment "17 Lodges of Mat   Drying fish".]

we Continued our rout about 9 miles, where finding as maney Willows as would answer our purpose for fuel we encamped for the night [Alder Creek]. the Country we passed through was Sandy indifferent rocky and hills on the left. proceeded up on the North Side the river hills are about 250 feet high [Alder Ridge] & generally abrupt and Craggey in maney places faced with a pirpendicular and Solid rock. this rock is black and hard. leavel plains extend themselves from the top of the river hills to a great distance on either Side of the river. the Soil is not as fertile as about the falls tho it produces low grass on which the horses feed very Conveniently. it astonished me to See the order of their horses at this Season of the year when I know they had wintered on dry grass of the plains and at the Same time rode with greater Severity than is Common among ourselves. I did not See a Single horse which Could be deemed pore, and maney of them were verry fat. their horses are generally good. this evening after we had encamped we traded for two horses with nearly the Same articles we had offered at the Village. ...     I think those plains are much more Sandy than any which I have Seen and the road is a bed of loose Sand. made 20 miles

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*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

  • Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission website, 2016;
  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016;
  • Landis, H., 1917, "A Geographic Dictionary of Washington", Washington State Bulletin No.17;
  • Meany, E.S., 1923, "Origin of Washington Geographic Names", University of Washington Press, Seattle;
  • Moulton, G.E. (editor), 2002, "The Definitive Journals of Lewis & Clark", University of Nebraska Press;
  • "Rootsweb.com" website, 2016;
  • Tacoma Public Library, "Washington Place Names" database, 2019;

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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January 2016