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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Baker Bay, Washington"
Includes ... Baker Bay ... "Haleys Bay" ... Sand Island ... Ilwaco ...
Image, 2005, Baker Bay from Chinook Point, Washington, from Cape Disappointmetn, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Baker Bay from Chinook Point, Washington. At high tide. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Baker Bay ...
Baker Bay, Washington, is the first large indentation on the Washington side of the Columbia River after passing Cape Disappointment. The town of Ilwaco, Washington is located inside of Baker Bay, as well as the mouth of the Wallacut River and the mouth of the Chinook River. The upstream end of Baker Bay is at Chinook Point, home of Fort Columbia and Fort Columbia State Park. At the entrance to Baker Bay is located Sand Island.

Captain James Baker ...
The name "Baker Bay" comes from 1792, when William Broughton, of the Captain George Vancouver expedition, named the bay, "Baker's Bay", after a British merchant, Captain James Baker, whose ship was anchored inside the Columbia's mouth when Broughton crossed the bar to explore the river.

Image, 2005, Baker Bay as seen from Fort Columbia, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Baker Bay as seen from Fort Columbia. The tide is out. Cape Disappointment is in the far distance. Image taken April 19, 2005.


"Haley's Bay" ...
As Lewis and Clark left their Megler camp and rounded Point Ellice, they reached a spot which was to become Station Camp. They saw Baker Bay in front of them, with Cape Disappointment in the distance, and Point Adams across the way.

"... as the tide was Comeing in and the Seas became verry high imediately from the Ocian (imediately faceing us) I landed and formed a camp on the highest Spot I could find between the hight of the tides, and the Slashers in a Small bottom     this I could plainly See would be the extent of our journey by water, as the waves were too high at any Stage for our Canoes to proceed any further down.     in full view of the Ocian from Point Adams to Cape Disapointment, I could not See any Island in the mouth of this river as laid down by Vancouver. The Bay which he laies down in the mouth is imediately below me. This Bay we call Haleys bay from a favourate Trader with the Indians which they Say comes into this Bay and trades with them ..." [Clark, November 15, 1805]

They called the bay "Haley's Bay", after the Indians favorite trader, as reported, had anchored in the protected inlet behind Cape Disappointment.


Views of Baker Bay ...
At the eastern end of Baker Bay is Chinook Point, the location of Fort Columbia State Park. At the western end of Baker Bay is the Washington community of Ilwaco and Cape Disappointment.

Image, 2004, looking downstream from Station Camp, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Looking downstream from Station Camp. Chinook Point is visible on the right, with Baker Bay just behind. Cape Disappointment is in the far distance. Image taken April 9, 2004.
Image, 2004, Baker Bay from Chinook Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Baker Bay, as seen from Chinook Point, Washington. View from outside Fort Columbia State Park. Image taken April 9, 2004.
Image, 2005, Baker Bay from Chinook Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Baker Bay, as seen from Chinook Point, Washington. View from outside Fort Columbia State Park. Image taken February 19, 2005.
Image, 2004, Baker Bay from Ilwaco, Washington, from Cape Disappointmetn, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Baker Bay from Ilwaco, Washington. At low tide. Saddle Mountain, Oregon, is visible in the distance. Sand Island is on the right. Image taken April 9, 2004.
Image, 2004, Baker Bay and Ilwaco, Washington, from Cape Disappointmetn, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Baker Bay and Ilwaco, Washington, from Cape Disappointment. Image taken April 9, 2004.
Image, 2005, Baker Bay from Cape Disappointmetn, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Baker Bay from road to Cape Disappointment. Image taken November 9, 2005.


Early Baker Bay ...
Lewis and Clark named Baker Bay "Haley's Bay" on November 15, 1805.

"This Bay we call Haleys bay from a favourate Trader with the Indians which they Say comes into this Bay and trades with them." [Clark, November 15, 1805]

From the "Coast Pilots" ...
The 1858 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot":

"... Baker's Bay lies between Cape Disappointment and Chinook Point. It runs 2 1/2 miles to the northward of the cape, and receives the waters of the small streams which head toward Shoalwater bay, and connect with it by a small portage. The western and largest stream is the Wal-la-khut; the eastern, half-way between the cape and Chinook Point, is the Wap-pa-loo-che. Two or three houses on the shore of the bay, and a saw-mill, are all that remain of the settlement once designated as "Pacific City". The bay was named in honor of Captain Baker, whom Broughton found anchored here in the schooner Jenny, of Bristol, when he entered. ... "

The 1862 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot" also lists the Chinook River as simply the "Wap-pa-loo-che".

The 1889 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot" identifies the river as the "Chinook River" with "Wap-pa-loo-chee" in parentheses.

"... Baker's Bay -- This is the deep recession of the shore to the northward of Sand Island between the extremity of Cape Disappointment and Chinook Point. The western shore of this bay is the east side of the Cape for nearly three miles in a general northerly direction; thence the shore sweeps to the eastward and southeastward for six miles to Chinook Point. The latter stretch of shore is low, bordered by extensive marshes, and receives the waters of the Wallacut and the Chinook Rivers. The Wallacut River (Wal-la-khut) enters at the northernmost bend of the bay shore; it is a small stream coming through marshes from the direction of Shoalwater Bay, which it very nearly reaches. The Chinook River (Wap-pa-loo-chee) enters two miles farther to the eastward; it has more character of a slough, three or four miles long. ..."

From the 1909 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot":

"... Baker Bay is a shoal, open bight eastward of Cape Disappointment formed by the cape and the recession of the land northward. Sand Island, low, lies in front of the bay; a narrow channel immediately eastward and northward of the island leads to Ilwaco, a small town, the terminus of the railroad extending northward to Willapa Bay. The bay is full of shoals and fish traps, and the channel is not navigable at low tide even for light=draft steamers. ..."

From the 1942 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot":

"... Baker Bay is a shoal, open bight, eastward of Cape Disappointment, formed by the cape and the recession of the land northward. Sand Island, low and flat, lies in front of the bay. A channel redredged to 10 feet in 1939 lies eastward and northward of the island. In July 1942, the controlling depth was 8 feet. This channel leads to Ilwaco, a small town on the northern shore. ... Ilwaco is the base for a large fishing fleet. Fuel oil, gas, and water are available; there are facilities for hoisting out 8- to 10-ton fish boats on small marine railways and for making some repairs. There is another channel of shoal depths to the westward of Sand Island. The remainder of the bay is covered with shoals and old, abandoned fish traps, and at low tide, is not navigable even for light-draft river steamers. ..."


Baker Bay, etc.

  • Chinook River ...
  • Ilwaco ...
  • Sand Island ...
  • Wallacut River ...

Chinook River ...
The Chinook River is a small salmon bearing stream in Southwest Washington that flows into Baker Bay at approximately Columbia River Mile (RM) 6, three miles (as the crow flies) upstream of Ilwaco, Washington, and four miles (along the shoreline) from Chinook Point. Just downstream from the Chinook River is the Wallacut River. The Chinook Indians controlled trade on the Columbia from their village on the north shore; during the winter they migrated to Willapa Bay, protected from southwesterly storms. The name "Chinook" came from the Chehalis Indian name for the Chinook summer village, "cinuk." A hybrid version of the Chinook language came to be known as the Chinook jargon, the language of maritime and river traders.
[More]

Image, 2004, Chinook River, looking upstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Chinook River, looking upstream. Image taken April 9, 2004.


Ilwaco ...
Ilwaco, Washington, is located in Baker Bay, approximately three miles from the mouth of the Columbia River. Just upstream are the mouths of the Wallacut and Chinook Rivers, and further upstream is Chinook Point. Downstream the Baker Bay shoreline curves towards Cape Disappointment, and Sand Island is located in Baker Bay south from Ilwaco and Black Lake lies to the north.
[More]

Image, 2012, Ilwaco, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Ilwaco, Washington. View from the boat dock looking back towards the town. Image taken March 8, 2012.
Image, 2005, House, Baker Bay, from Ilwaco, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
House on Baker Bay, from Ilwaco, Washington. View from the Ilwaco Marina. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Sand Island ...
Sand Island, Washington, is located in Baker Bay across from Ilwaco, Washington and Point Adams, Oregon. Cape Disappointment is located to the west of Sand Island. It was often depicted as "Sandy Island" on early maps. Good views of Sand Island can be had from Chinook Point on the east side of Baker Bay, and from the boat dock below Cape Disappointment.
[More]

Image, 2005, Sand Island at Baker Bay, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sand Island at Baker Bay. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Wallacut River ...
The mouth of the Wallacut River enters Baker Bay just upsream of Ilwaco, Washington. The Chinook River and Chinook Point are upstream. The name "Wallacut" is from the Indian "Walihut" meaning "place of stones". The north side of the river near its mouth is lined with small smooth stones. The Hudsons Bay Company used the short 3-mile stream as a portage to Willapa Bay.
[More]

Image, 2005, Wallacut River looking upstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wallacut River, Washington, looking upsteam. View from Stringtown Road Bridge. Image taken April 19, 2005.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 18, 1805 ...
A little cloudy this morning I Set out [from their camp at Station Camp] with 10 men and my man York to the Ocian by land. i. e. Serjt. Ordway & Pryor, Jos. & Ru. Fields, Go. Shannon, W. Brattin, J. Colter, P. Wiser, W. Labieche & P. Shabono one of our interpreters & York. [according to Moulton, Clark gave the other men's names in two inconsistent lists --- those named included Clark, Ordway, Charbonneau, Pryor, the Field brothers, Shannon, Colter, Weiser, Labiche, Bratton, and York.] I Set out at Day light and proceeded on a Sandy beech

N. 80 W. 1 Mile to a point of rocks about 40 feet high [Chinook Point, now the location of Fort Columbia], from the top of which the hill Side is open and assend with a Steep assent [Scarboro Hill] to the tops of the Mountains, a Deep nitch and two Small Streams above this point, then my course was

N. W. 7 Mile to the enterance of a creek [Chinook River] at a lodge or cabin of Chinnooks passing on a wide Sand bar the bay to my left [Baker Bay] and Several Small ponds Containing great numbers of water fowls to my right; with a narrow bottom of alder & Small balsam between the Ponds and the Mountn. ...     This Creek appears to be nothing more than the conveyance of Several Small dreans from the high hills and the ponds on each Side near its mouth. here we were Set across all in one Canoe by 2 Squars to each I gav a Small hook

S. 79 W. 5 Miles to the mouth of Chin nook river, [today's Wallacut River] passed a low bluff of a small hite at 2 miles below which is the remains of huts near which place is also the remains of a whale on the Sand, the countrey low open and Slashey, with elivated lands interspersed covered with pine & thick under groth This river [Wallacut River] is 40 yards wide at low tide- here we made a fire and dined on 4 brant and 48 Pliver which was killed by Labiech on the coast as we came on. ...     after dineing we crossed the river in an old canoe which I found on the Sand near Som old houses & proceeded on-

S. 20 W. 4 Miles to a Small rock island in a deep nitch     passed a nitch at 2 miles in which there is a dreen from Some ponds back, the land low opposite this nitch a bluff of yellow Clay and Soft Stone from the river to the Comencement of this nitch     below the Country rises to high hills of about 80 or 90 feet above the water- at 3 miles passed a nitch- this rock Island is Small and at the South of a deep bend [near Illwaco, Washington] in which the nativs inform us the Ships anchor, and from whence they receive their goods in return for their peltries and Elk Skins &c. this appears to be a very good harber for large Ships. here I found Capt Lewis name on a tree. I also engraved my name & by land the day of the month and year, as also Several of the men.

S. 46 E. 2 Miles to the inner extremity of Cape Disapointment passing a nitch [location of Fort Canby] in which there is a Small rock island, a Small Stream falls into this nitch from a pond [today O'Neil Lake lies between Fort Canby and McKenzie Head] which is imediately on the Sea Coast passing through a low isthmus. this Cape is an ellivated <Situat> Circlier point [location Cape Disappointment Lighthouse] Covered with thick timber on the iner Side and open grassey exposur next to the Sea and rises with a Steep assent to the hight of about 150 or 160 feet above the leavel of the water <from the last mentioned nitch-> this cape [Cape Disappointment] as also the Shore both on the Bay & Sea coast is a dark brown rock [basalt]. I crossed the neck of Land low and of a mile wide to the main Ocian [today Waikiki Beach is located on the ocean side of this isthmus], at the foot of a high open hill projecting into the ocian, and about one mile in Sicumfrance. I assended this hill [McKenzie Head] which is covered with high corse grass. decended to the N. of it and camped. I picked up a flounder on the beech this evening.-

from Cape Disapointment to a high point of a Mountn. which we shall call [the Nicholas Biddle version has Clarke's Point of View inserted here. "Clarke's Point of View" is today's Tillamook Head, a name received when Clark visited and climbed the formation in Janaury 1806.] beares S. 20 W. about <40> [WC?: 25] miles, point adams is verry low and is Situated within the direction between those two high points of land, the water appears verry Shole from off the mouth of the river for a great distance, and I cannot assertain the direction of the deepst Chanel, the Indians point nearest the opposit Side. the waves appear to brake with tremendious force in every direction quite across a large Sand bar lies within the mouth nearest to point Adams [Point Adams] which is nearly covered at high tide. I suped on brant this evening with a little pounded fish. Some rain in the after part of the night. men appear much Satisfied with their trip beholding with estonishment the high waves dashing against the rocks & this emence ocian.



Ordway, November 18, 1805 ...
Cloudy. Capt. Clark myself and 10 more of the party Set out [from their camp at Station Camp] in order to go down and see the passiffic ocean [Pacific Ocean]. we proceeded on round Hailys bay [Bakers Bay] crossed two Rivers [Chinook River and Wallacut River] in Sd. bay [Bakers Bay] . ...     we proceeded on round high clifts of rocks where we had much trouble to pass.- towards evening we arived at the Cape disapointment [Cape Disappointment] on the Sea Shore. went over a bald hill [McKenzie Head] where we had a handsom view of the ocean. we went on a Short distance on the coast and Camped for the night.




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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: NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2004.

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