Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Home Regions Campsites Penny Postcards My Corps of Discovery Image Index Links About This Site Birds etc.
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Bonneville Dam Fish Ladders and Fish Counting"
Includes ... Bonneville Dam Fish Ladders ... "Fishways" ... Fish Counting ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bonneville Dam North Powerhouse Fish Ladder. Image taken May 13, 2005.


Bonneville Dam Fish Ladders ...
Today Fish Ladders exist on both sides of the Bonneville Dam and can be viewed from Visitor Center's reached via Interstate 80 in Oregon and Highway 14 in Washington. The Washington-side Visitor Center is located at the North Powerhouse.

Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bonneville Dam North Powerhouse Fish Ladder. Image taken May 13, 2005.
Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bonneville Dam North Powerhouse Fish Ladder. Image taken May 13, 2005.
Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lighted tunnel to the North Powerhouse Fish Ladder, Bonneville Dam. Image taken May 13, 2005.


Early "Fishways" ...
The original design of Bonneville Dam included three locations of "fishways", one on each end of the Spillway Dam (in it's day the Spillway Dam was on the north side of the Columbia) and one at the Powerhouse on the Oregon side. Each "fishway" consisted of a collecting system, a fish ladder, and a pair of fish-locks. The fish ladders and fish-locks could be operated simultaneously or separately.

Each fish ladder was 40 feet wide can circled from a lower water level to a higher level (see "The Golden Age of Postcards" below). Every 16 feet there were 6-foot-high barriers to regulate the pools. Within each partition were submerged openings, 2-feet square, through which the fish could swim.

The fish-locks operated like navigational locks, with water being entered from the bottom.

"... In operation, the entrance gate first is opened and a moderate quantity of water admitted through the bottom of the chamber flows out through the entrance gate to attract fish into the chamber. The entrance gate then is closed and the chamber is filled by water admitted through the bottom. The exit gate then is opened, permitting the fish to escape to the river above the dam. A submerged grill that slopes downward toward the exit gate may be slowly raised beneath the fish to urge them toward the exit and assure their departure. The exit gate is then closed, the lift chamber drained, and the entrance gate opened for the commencement of a second cycle. The fish-locks are provided in pairs, in order that one chamber always may be open for the entry of fish. ..." [U.S. Corps of Engineers, 1939]

A "collecting system" was installed at Bonneville Dam to encourage the fish towards the ladders and locks. Auxiliary water could be released by a conduit system which increased the flow at the entrance to that of a fair-sized river.


Fish Run, July 19, 2005 ...

Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam fish run, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bonneville Dam fish run, North Powerhouse. Image taken June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam fish run, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bonneville Dam fish run, North Powerhouse. Image taken June 19, 2005.


Fish Counting ...
Early fish counting was done by an employee stationed in a tower (see "The Golden Age of Postcards" below) who counted the fish as they came through a 2-foot-wide passage. An overhead light illuminated them and a white box below made for easier species identification. From the U.S. Corps of Engineers "Fishways at Bonneville Dam" (1939):
"... As a means of observing the success of the fishways, fish-counting stations have been installed in each ladder. Each counting station consists of a picketed barrier in which there are three gate controlled openings, two feet wide for the passage of fish. A submerged, white platform over which the fish must pass as they leave the counting gate aids the identification of species. The counting gates remain closed except when an observer is present to count the fish. Experience has shown that there is very little movement of fish at night. Counting, there for, generally is limited to the hours of daylight, the gates being kept closed at night. During the peak of the run two or three counting station in each ladder are operated at one time. Each species of fish is counted separately and counts are recorded hourly. During the first season actual count showed 271,656 Chinook, 74,989 Blueback, 15,298 Silver, 2,107 Chum Salmon, 106,884 Steelhead Trout, 2,213 other game fish, 5,321 Shad, 376,272 scrap fish (Sucker, Squawfish, Chubs, Carp, etc.), 3,102 White Fish, and 223,248 Lamprey passing over the counting stations on the way upstream. ..."
Today the fish counting is done from an room near the public Fish Viewing rooms. The Oregon side counting area has a webcam view (at least in 2005 and 2006), allowing folks around the world to watch the fish pass the Bonneville Dam.


"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, Bonneville Dam, ca.1940s
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Bonneville Dam fish ladders, north side, ca.1940s.
Penny Postcard, ca.1940s, "Fish Ladders, North Side Bonneville Dam, Washington-Oregon.". Photo by Wesley Andrews. Published by Wesley Andrews Co., Portland, Oregon. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Bonneville Dam, ca.1940s
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Bonneville Dam, Salmon Counting Station, ca.1940s.
Penny Postcard, 1940s, "Fish counting station.". Card #8-23. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Bonneville Dam, ca.1940s
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Bonneville Dam, Salmon Counting, ca.1940s.
Penny Postcard, 1940s, "Counting Salmon at Fish Ladder - Bonneville Dam, Oregon.". Photo by Sawyer. Card #17-106. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


Public Fish Viewing, Washington side ...

Public viewing windows are available on both the north side (Washington State) and the south side (Oregon) of the Bonneville Dam.
[More]

Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam Fish Window, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bonneville Dam Fish Viewing Window. Bright white spots are flash reflection. Image taken June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam Fish Window, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"A view into the fish ladder", Bonneville Dam Fish Viewing Window. Image taken June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam Fish Window, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wild Salmon, Bonneville Dam Fish Viewing Window. Image taken May 13, 2005.
Image, 2005, Stairwell, Bonneville Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Stairwell to Fish Viewing Windows, Bonneville Dam, Washington side. Image taken June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Mural, Bonneville Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mural at Fish Viewing Windows, Bonneville Dam, Washington side. Image taken June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam Fish Window Display, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Display fish, Bonneville Dam fish viewing area, North Powerhouse. Image taken May 13, 2005.
Image, 2005, Bonneville Dam Fish Window, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Display Steelhead, Bonneville Dam fish viewing area, North Powerhouse. Image taken May 13, 2005.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Lewis, April 9, 1806 ...
This morning early we commenced the operation of reloading our canoes; at 7 A. M. we departed [from their camp at Shepperds Dell] and proceeded on to the Camp of Reubin and Joseph Fields [near Dodson, Oregon] they had not killed any game; we made no halt at this place but continued our rout to the Wah-clel-lah Village which is situated on the North side of the river [upstream of the location of today's Skamania and Skamania Landing, between Duncan and Woodward Creeks] about a mile below the beacon rock [Beacon Rock]; here we halted and took breakfast. ...     this village appears to be the winter station of the Wah-clel-lahs and Clahclellars, the greater part of the former have lately removed to the falls of the Multnomah, and the latter have established themselves a few miles above on the North side of the river opposite the lower point of brant island [Bradford Island], being the commencement of the rapids, here they also take their salmon; they are now in the act of removing, and not only take with them their furniture and effects but also the bark and most of the boards which formed their houses. 14 houses remain entire but are at this time but thinly inhabited, nine others appear to have been lately removed, and the traces of ten or twelve others of ancient date were to be seen in the rear of their present village. ...     on our way to this village we passed several beautifull cascades which fell from a great hight over the stupendious rocks which cloles the river on both sides nearly, except a small bottom on the South side in which our hunters were encamped. the most remarkable of these casscades falls about 300 feet perpendicularly over a solid rock into a narrow bottom of the river on the south side. it is a large creek, situated about 5 miles above our encampment of the last evening. several small streams fall from a much greater hight, and in their decent become a perfect mist which collecting on the rocks below again become visible and decend a second time in the same manner before they reach the base of the rocks. [Multnomah Falls area]     the hills have now become mountains high on each side are rocky steep and covered generally with fir and white cedar. ...     at 2 P. M. we renewed our voyage; passed under the beacon rock [Beacon Rock] on the north side, to the left of two small islands situated near the shore [Ives and Pierce Islands].     at four P.M. we arrived at the Clah-clel-lah village; here we found the natives busily engaged in erecting their new habitations, which appear to be reather of a temperary kind; it is most probable that they only reside here during the salmon season. we purchased two dogs of these people who like those of the village blow were but sulky and illy disposed; they are great rogues and we are obliged to keep them at a proper distance from our baggage. as we could not ascend the rapid [foot of the Cascade Rapids] by the North side of the river with our large canoes [Hamilton Island area], we passed to the oposite side and entered the narrow channel which seperates brant Island [Bradford Island] from the South shore; the evening being far spent and the wind high raining and very cold we thought best not to attempt the rapids [Cascade Rapids] this evening, we therefore sought a safe harbour in this narrow channel and encamped on the main shore [Tanner Creek, Oregon]. our small canoe with Drewyer and the two feildses was unable to pass the river with us in consequence of the waves they therefore toed her up along the N. side of the river and encamped [upstream end of Bonneville Dam, location of today's North Powerhouse] opposite the upper point of brant Island [Bradford Island]. after halting this evening I took a turn with my gun in order to kill a deer, but was unsuccessful. I saw much fresh sign. the fir has been lately injured by a fire near this place and many of them have discharged considerable quantities of rozin. we directed that Collins should hunt a few hours tomorrow morning and that Gibson and his crew should remain at his place untill we returned and employ themselves in collectng rozin which our canoes are now in want of.





Columbia River GorgeReturn to
Menu
 



SNAKE RIVER CONFLUENCE | COLUMBIA PLATEAU
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE | VANCOUVER PLAINS | JOURNEY TO THE PACIFIC
CASCADE RANGE VOLCANOES | CAMPSITES


HOME | REGIONS | PENNY POSTCARDS | MY CORPS OF DISCOVERY
IMAGE INDEX | LINKS | ABOUT THIS SITE


COLUMBIA RIVER IMAGES - HOME
NORTHWEST JOURNEY - HOME
NORTHWEST BIRDING
RIDGEFIELD NWR - BIRDS
COMPLETE BIRD LIST - PHOTOS
THE BARLOW ROAD
WILDFLOWERS and WEED BLOSSOMS



*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:   See Bonneville Dam page for sources.

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.
ColumbiaRiverImages.com/Regions/Places/bonneville_dam_fish_ladders.html
© 2013, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
September 2008