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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Biggs and Biggs Junction, Oregon"
Includes ... Biggs ... Biggs Junction ... Sam Hill Memorial Bridge ... Oregon Trail ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2012, Biggs Junction, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Biggs Junction, Oregon, as seen Maryhill Museum, Washington. Image taken May 29, 2012.


Biggs and Biggs Junction ...
Biggs, Oregon, located on the south bank of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 208, was the junction of the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad and its branch south into Sherman County, Oregon. Biggs and Biggs Junction were named for W.H. Biggs, pioneer landowner and legislator. Biggs Junction is the southern end of the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge (Interstate 97) which crosses the Columbia River to Maryhill, Washington. Five miles upstream of Biggs/Biggs Junction is the town of Rufus and seven miles upstream is the John Day Dam. Five miles downstream of Biggs and Biggs Junction is the mouth of the Deschutes River.

Early Biggs and Biggs Junction ...
According to Oregon Geographic Names (McArthur and McArthur, 2003):

"... Biggs is a station on the Union Pacific Railroad main line at what was the junction with the now-abandoned branch south into Sherman County. It was named for a nearby landowner, W.H. Biggs, who was born in Belmont County, Ohio, May 12, 1831, and who came to Sherman County in 1880. The small, local community is known as Biggs Junction because this is where US-97, running north and south, makes an important intersection with I-84. Biggs post office operated from June 1886 to July 1954. The original name of the OR&N station was Spanish Hollow. It should not be confused with Spanish Hollow post office, which was at the town of Wasco. ..."

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office Records (GLO) website (2011) shows William H. Biggs being granted title to 160 acres on July 10, 1883, for parts of T1N R17E, Section 10 (1820 Sale-Cash Entry). Biggs was also granted title on June 15, 1892, to 160 acres of parts of T1N R17E, Section 9 (1862 Homestead Entry Original) and on July 11, 1892, to 160 acres of parts of T1N R18E, Section 22 (1820 Sale-Cash Entry). Then, on April 27, 1897, Biggs was also granted title to 160 acres of T1N R17E, Secion 9 (1820 Sale-Cash Entry).


Image, 2011, Biggs Junction, Oregon, from Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Biggs, Oregon, as seen from Interstate 97. Image taken October 15, 2011.


The Oregon Trail and Biggs Junction ...
The Oregon Trail pioneers crossed the John Day River at McDonald Ford, then headed west. At today's Biggs Junction the wagons topped a hill and saw their first views of the mighty Columbia River.
[More]

"After crossing McDonald Ford, the Oregon Trail slowly wound its way through the hills towards the Columbia River. About 25 miles west of the ford, emigrants abruptly topped a ridge and saw spread out before them the magnificent Columbia River Valley, with Mount Hood rising from the western horizon. This was one of the most impressive and joyful sights along the trail, for the Oregon country was finally beginning to resemble its publicized beauty, and reaching the Columbia River meant the long overland journey was almost at an end. Michael Fleenen Luark wrote on August 23, 1853, "4 miles further we reached the Columbia river for the first time after going down a long but not a steep hill. ... the river is quite low at this time leaving large banks of beautiful white sand showing that the river is extremely high at some seasons of the year." A one mile section of trail ruts cross a bench above Old Highway 30 west of the present-day town of Biggs Junction. This is one of the last remaining stretches of the Oregon Trail along the Columbia River not destroyed by highway and railroad construction in the past century."

Source:    U.S. National Park Service, Comprehensive Management and Use Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement, Oregon National Historic Trail.

The Biggs to Maryhill Ferry ...
Biggs was once the southern end of a ferry route which was first established in 1868 by William Hicenbotham. The ferry went from Maryhill, Washington to Biggs, Oregon. In 1962 the Maryhill to Biggs Ferry was replaced by the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge.
[More]

Image, 2004, Highway 97 Bridge from Biggs Junction, Oregon, to Maryhill, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sam Hill Memorial Bridge (U.S. Highway 97, "Biggs Rapid Bridge"). View from Biggs Junction, Oregon. Image taken September 26, 2004.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Biggs Junction, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Dinty's, Biggs Junction, Oregon, ca.1956. Penny Postcard, Chrome, Postmarked 1956. Caption on the back reads: "Dinty's Cafe, Motel & Service Station on Highway 30 & 97, 18 miles east of The Dalles dam. One of the oldest landmarks on the Old Oregon Trail. Built in 1918. Dug out of the rocks of the cliff. Mr. & Mrs. P.L. Finley, owners, Rufus, Oregon." Natural Color R Card, from Kodachrome. A Mike Roberts Color Production, Berkeley 2, Calif. Distributed by Western Sales Co., 1034 La Point, Boise, Idaho. Postmarked September 25, 1956, from Rufus, Oregon. Card #SC2680. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Biggs-Maryhill Ferry, ca.1940-50s, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Biggs-Maryhill Ferry, ca.1940-50s. Penny Postcard, ca.1940s - 1950s. Color Photo by George Lindsay. Published by Weisters Color Sales, Inc., Portland, Oregon. Card #K-1746. The Biggs-Maryhill Ferry was replaced in 1962 by the "Sam Hill Memorial Bridge", taking travellers between Biggs, Oregon, and Maryhill, Washington. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 22, 1805 ...
A fine morning calm and fare we Set out [downstream of the John Day Dam] at 9 oClock passed a verry bad rapid [today the location of the "Sam Hill Memorial Bridge", U.S. Highway 97 crossing from Biggs Junction, Oregon, to Maryhill, Washington. The rapid, which was labeled "Five-Mile Rapid" in 1858, is now under the waters of the Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam.] at the head of an Island close under the Stard. Side [???], above this rapid on the Stard. Side is Six Lodges of nativs Drying fish [Maryhill vicinity], at 9 mls. passed a bad rapid [Deschutes Rapid, also under the waters of Lake Celilo] at the head of a large Island [Miller Island] of high, uneaven [rocks], jutting over the water, a Small Island in a Stard. Bend [???] opposit the upper point, on which I counted 20 parcels of dryed and pounded fish; on the main Stard Shore opposit to this Island five Lodges of Indians are Situated Several Indians in Canoes killing fish with gigs [Haystack Butte, Columbia Hills, vicinity], <and nets> &c. opposit the center of this Island of rocks [Miller Island] which is about 4 miles long we discovered the enterence of a large river on the Lard. Side [Deschutes River] which appeared to Come from the S. E. - we landed at Some distance above the mouth of this river [Deschutes River] and Capt. Lewis and my Self Set out to view this river above its mouth, as our rout was intersepted by a deep narrow Chanel which runs out of this river into the Columbia a little below the place we landed, leaveing a high dry rich Island of about 400 yards wide and 800 yards long here we Seperated, I proceeded on to the river and Struck it at the foot of a verry Considerable rapid [Deschutes Rapids], here I beheld an emence body of water Compressd in a narrow Chanel of about 200 yds in width, fomeing over rocks maney of which presented their tops above the water, when at this place Capt. Lewis joined me haveing ....     at about two miles above this River appears to be confined between two high hils below which it divided by numbers of large rocks, and Small Islands covered with a low groth of timber, and has a rapid as far as the narrows three Small Islands in the mouth of this River, <we returned> this River haveing no Indian name that we could find out, except "the River on which the Snake Indians live," we think it best to leave the nameing of it untill our return [Deschutes River].

we proceeded on pass the mouth of this river [Deschutes River] at which place it appears to discharge 1/4 as much water as runs down the Columbia. at two miles below this River passed Eight Lodges on the Lower point of the Rock Island [Miller Island] aforesaid at those Lodges we saw large logs of wood which must have been rafted down the To war-ne hi ooks River [Deschutes River], below this Island [Miller Island] on the main Stard Shore is 16 Lodges of nativs; here we landed a fiew minits to Smoke, the lower point of one Island opposit [???] which heads in the mouth of Towarnehiooks River [Deschutes River] which I did not observe untill after passing these lodges     about 1/2 a mile lower passed 6 more Lodges on the Same Side and 6 miles below the upper mouth of Towarnehiooks River [Deschutes River] the comencement of the pitch of the Great falls [Celilo Falls], opposit on the Stard. Side is 17 Lodges of the nativs [near Wishram, Washington]     we landed and walked down accompanied by an old man to view the falls [Celilo Falls], and the best rout for to make a portage ...     we made 19 miles to day





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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: McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland; U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office Records (GLO) website, 2011;

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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Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
June 2012