Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Arlington, Oregon"
Includes ... Arlington ... Alkali ... Alkali Canyon ... Oregon Trail ... Arlington-Roosevelt Ferry ...
Image, 2004, Arlington, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Arlington, Oregon. View taken from Oregon Interstate 84, downstream of Arlington, Oregon. Image taken September 26, 2004.


Arlington ...
Arlington, Oregon, is located on the southern banks of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 243, directly across from Roosevelt, Washington. Twenty-five miles upstream is the Oregon community of Boardman, and 23 miles downstream is the John Day Dam. Arlington lies at the mouth of Alkali Canyon, and, in pioneer days the town was known as Alkali.

Image, 2004, Arlington, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Arlington, Oregon. Image taken September 24, 2004.


Early Arlington ...
The post office of Alkali was established in November 1881. The town of Alkali became the town of Arlington in November 1885, and in December 1885 the Post Office followed suit. According to Oregon Geographic Names (McArthur and McArthur, 2003):

"Local residents did not consider the name Alkali suitable for a growing community, and at a town meeting N.A. Cornish suggested that the town be named Arlington, supposedly because there were a number of southerners living in the community at the time and it was the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. However, an ulterior motive lay hidden, for many years later his daughter, Nellie C. Cornish, in Miss Aunt Nellie, p.28, says the name was selected to honor her father, whose full name was Nathan Arlington Cornish. Cornish apparently neglected to mention this connection, and the honor went unknown, at least during his lifetime."

Arlington "A" ...
Arlington's "hillside letter", a big letter "A", is located on the hillside on the southeast side of town and is prominently visible when approaching the city from the west (Interstate 84).

Image, 2004, Arlington, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Arlington, Oregon, with large "A" on slope. View taken from Oregon Interstate 84, downstream of Arlington, Oregon. Image taken September 26, 2004.
Image, 2006, Arlington, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Arlington, Oregon. View from Interstate 84 heading east. Image taken September 29, 2006.
Image, 2004, Arlington, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
The "A", Arlington, Oregon. Image taken September 24, 2004.


Lewis and Clark and Arlington ...
Lewis and Clark went past the Arlington area twice, however they never stopped. They first entered this reach of the Columbia on October 20, 1805, and camped across the river near Roosevelt, Washington. On their return in 1806 they were on horseback on the north side of the river and they once again camped near Roosevelt.

"... the Countrey on the Lard. Side rises to the hight of that on the Starboard Side, and is wavering ..." [Clark, November 20, 1805]

The hills on the right ("Starboard Side") rise above the Washington community of Roosevelt.


Arlington and the Oregon Trail ...
The main route of the Oregon Trail passed approximately eight miles south of today's community of Arlington, staying on the plateau before dropping into Alkali Canyon and heading west to the John Day River. Many wagons however turned north at Alkali Canyon, reaching the Columbia River at the location of today's Arlington. From there the settlers rafted down the Columbia in Hudson's Bay Company bateaux (boats) or Indian canoes.
[More]

Arlington in 1940 ...
From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"... ARLINGTON, 46.5 m. (224 alt., 601 pop), first known as Alkali, was given its present name by N.A. Cornish in commemoration of the home of Robert E. Lee. The first dwelling was erected on the site in 1880 by Elijah Ray, and the town of Alkali was platted two years later by J.W. Smith. The town was incorporated in 1887. Ducks and geese are plentiful in the vicinity; the open season is from October 21 to November 19, inclusive. Hunting rights are often rented from the ranchers at $8 to $10 a day. The Arlington Ferry (cars, $1 ; round trip, $1.50) makes connections with Roosevelt, Wash. At Arlington is a junction with State 19. ..."


Arlington-Roosevelt Ferry ...
A ferry once connected Arlington, Oregon, with Roosevelt, Washington.

From the 1942 U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor Coast and Geodetic Survey's "United State Coast Pilot, Pacific Coast", Serial No.649:

"Four ferries cross the Columbia River above The Dalles as follows: Biggs-Merryhill, 16 statute miles; Arlington-Roosevelt, 50 statute miles; Boulder-Alderdale, 65 statute miles; and Irrigon-Coolidge, 88 statute miles."

A passage from the 1940 publication "Oregon, End of the Trail", by the Works Projects Administration (WPA) of the State of Oregon:

"... The Arlington Ferry (cars, $1 ; round trip, $1.50) makes connections with Roosevelt, Wash. ..."

Image, 2004, Roosevelt Park, Roosevelt, Washington, from downstream Arlington, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Roosevelt Park, once the location of the Arlington-Roosevelt Ferry, as seen from downstream Arlington, Oregon. The Washington side of the Arlington-Roosevelt Ferry across the Columbia River was located at Roosevelt Park. Image taken September 26, 2004.


Alkali Canyon Spillway ...
Alkali Canyon extends south from Arlington, Oregon and then heads west to Rock Creek, a tributary of the John Day River. Flood waters of Lake Condon of the Missoula Floods spilled over the southern bank of the Columbia River and headed south through Alkali Canyon to Rock Creek to the John Day River and then the John Day River drainage back to the Columbia River.
[More]

Columbia River Banks at Arlington ...

Image, 2004, Upstream of Arlington, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bank of the Columbia River just upstream of Arlington, Oregon. Image taken September 26, 2004.


Views from Arlington ...

A good view of Roosevelt, Washington and the Washington hills upstream and downstream can be had from Arlington.

Image, 2004, Roosevelt, Washington, from Arlington, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Roosevelt, Washington, from Arlington, Oregon. Image taken September 24, 2004.
Image, 2004, Washington hills downstream Roosevelt, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Washington hills downstream of Roosevelt, Washington, as seen from downstream Arlington, Oregon. Image taken September 24, 2004.
Image, 2004, Washington hills downstream Roosevelt, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Washington hills downstream of Roosevelt, Washington, as seen from downstream Arlington, Oregon. Image taken September 26, 2004.


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 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.





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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

Sources:    Allen, J.E., and Burns, M., 1986, Cataclysms on the Columbia: Timber Press, Portland, Oregon;    McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society, Portland;    Oregon State Archives website, 2005, "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon";    "VisitEasternOregon.com" website, 2014, "Follow the Trail";  nbsp;

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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May 2014