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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Bonneville Fish Hatchery and Sturgeon Center, Oregon"
Includes ... Bonneville Fish Hatchery and Sturgeon Center ... Tanner Creek Fish Hatchery ... Lewis & Clark Campsite of November 9, 1806 ... National Register of Historic Places ...
Image, 2005, Sturgeon, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Sturgeon, Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Image taken June 19, 2005.


Bonneville Fish Hatchery ...
The Bonneville Fish Hatchery was built in conjunction with the construction of the Bonneville Dam. It's mission was to supplement the natural production of anadromous fish in the Columbia River watershed. The Hatchery is located on the downstream (west) side of the Bonneville Dam complex at Bonneville, Oregon, and uses the waters of Tanner Creek. In 1997 the Hatchery was added to the National Register of Historic Places (District #86003598) as part of the Bonneville Dam Historic District which had been added in 1986 and included the area of the dam (District #86000727).

Image, 2011, Sturgeon Viewing Center, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Map, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken July 1, 2011.


Lewis and Clark, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, and Tanner Creek ...
Lewis and Clark camped on the upstream side of Tanner Creek on November 9, 1806, today the location of the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Tanner Creek and nine hatchery wells provide water for rearing fall chinook salmon, coho salmon, and summer and winter steelhead. Wahclella Falls, not quite a mile above the creek's mouth prevents fish passage beyond that point.
[More]

Early History ...
The original Fish Hatchery at Bonneville was constructed in 1909.

"... In spite of losses of eggs and fry in excess of 850,000, the hatchery staff was able to incubate and release an estimated 15.2 million fry into Tanner Creek or at nearby points along the Columbia. In the fall of 1910 the Central Hatchery began receiving new supplies of eggs: 2.1 million from the McKenzie River; 1.8 million from the Wallowa River; 232,000 from the Salmon River in Idaho; 2.5 million from the Umpqua; 600,000 early chinook and 3.4 million late chinook eggs from the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. These combined sources meant that the hatchery employees had 10.7 million eggs to care for as well as 1.5 million sockeye salmon eggs from Yes Bay Hatchery in Alaska. To cope with these rearing responsibilities, the staff worked hard to construct rearing ponds where they could feed the gry until their release into the Columbia. ... In 1910 ... Warden Clanton went to the cannerymen and packers along the Columbia to solicit their assistance and secured contributions of $1,500. Using these funds, Clanton had the crews at the Central Hatchery construct three ponds, each 100 feet by 20 feet and three feet deep. ... The ponds at Bonneville functioned so successfully that the Fish Warden proposed in 1911 that all hatcheries in Oregon construct rearing ponds. The pond system at the Central Hatchery was expanded steadily so that by the end of the year fifteen large ponds held the fry. The crews constructed a new flume to carry water from Tanner Creek to flush these rearing facilities. ..." [Bonneville Dam Historic District, National Historic Landmark 1986 Nomination Package]

With construction of the Bonneville Dam in the 1930s the Fish Hatchery itself had major renovations, realignment, and construction. Of the original rearing ponds only the three farthest to the northeast were retained and were rebuilt as new display ponds.

In 1957 the facility was remodeled and expanded as part of the Columbia River Fisheries Development Program (Mitchell Act). The hatchery underwent another renovation in 1974 as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's mitigation of fish losses from the construction of the John Day Dam.


The Hatchery ...
The Bonneville Fish Hatchery is managed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and raises salmon and steelhead for sport, commercial and tribal fisheries in the lower Columbia River and along the northern Oregon Coast. The Hatchery is one of the oldest fish hatcheries in Oregon and the largest in terms of fish production. The facility opened in 1909 and was known as the "Central Hatchery", so-called because it served as a central hatching and rearing site for eggs taken at other hatcheries. The hatchery was expanded in the 1930s and again in the 1970s, and, 1998 the hatchery added a specialized rearing building (closed to the public) to house the Grande Ronde Basin captive broodstock program for spring chinook, a threatened species.

The Bonneville Hatchery's Incubation Building was built in 1936. Behind the building are located display ponds and an associated "settling pond". The display ponds were reconfigured out of part of the original early 1900s rearing ponds. The ponds are surrounded with rocks and plants indigenous to the Columbia Gorge. New kiosks which supply fish food for sale to visitors are in this area. The "Sturgeon Viewing Center" is located in this area and features a 70-year-old Sturgeon named "Herman".

In front of the Incubation Building are 22 concrete rearing ponds which were constructed in the 1930s. Each pond has a capacity of 300,000 fingerlings.


Views of the Hatchery ...

Image, 2014, Bonneville Dam, on the Columbia River click to enlarge
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Bonneville Fish Hatchery buildings and pens, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken April 13, 2014.
Image, 2014, Bonneville Dam, on the Columbia River click to enlarge
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Bonneville Fish Hatchery buildings and pens, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken April 13, 2014.
Image, 2005, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 29, 2005.
Image, 2005, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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"Historic Area", Egg Incubation Building, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 29, 2005.
Image, 2004, Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Salmon Rearing Ponds, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken October 27, 2004.


Sturgeon Viewing and Interpretive Center ...
In 1998, the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation along with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, built the Sturgeon Viewing and Interpretive Center at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Visitors can view sturgeon and trout through an underwater window as they swim in a natural environment.

Image, 2011, Sturgeon Viewing Center, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Sturgeon Viewing Center, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken July 1, 2011.
Image, 2011, Sturgeon and Trout watching, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Watching through the window, Sturgeon Viewing Center, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken July 1, 2011.
Image, 2005, Sturgeon and Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Sturgeon and Trout, Sturgeon Viewing Center, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Sturgeon face, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Sturgeon head, Sturgeon Viewing Center, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Rainbow Trout, Sturgeon Viewing Center, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Rainbow Trout, Sturgeon Viewing Center, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 19, 2005.


Fountain ...

Image, 2005, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Fountain, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 29, 2005.
Image, 2005, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Fountain, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 29, 2005.


The Fish ...
"Each year, Bonneville Hatchery raises 1.2 million coho, 8.5 million fall chinook, 215,000 summer steelhead and 60,000 winter steelhead. The coho are released into a pipeline that takes them to Tanner Creek and out into the Columbia River directly from the ponds. The fall chinook are split between Tanner Creek, the Umatilla River and Ringold Hatchery, which is located in the Hanford Reach on the Columbia River.

Bonneville Hatchery also rears fish for hatcheries in other river basins. Summer steelhead are spawned at South Santiam Hatchery and the eggs are transferred to Bonneville Hatchery. The eggs are incubated and reared in the outside ponds for one year. They then are transferred to Sandy and Clackamas hatcheries for acclimation and are released into each river. Winter steelhead are spawned at Sandy hatchery and the eggs are transported to Bonneville. The eggs then are incubated and reared for one year before being transported back to Sandy Hatchery for acclimation and release into the Sandy River."


Source:    Oregon Fish and Wildlife Brochure, "Bonneville Fish Hatchery", downloaded April 2014.


Outdoor ponds, April 2014 ...

Image, 2014, Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken April 13, 2014.
Image, 2014, Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken April 13, 2014.
Image, 2014, Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken April 13, 2014.


Outdoor ponds, June 2005 ...

Image, 2005, Young Sturgeon, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Young Sturgeon, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Rainbow Trout, Bonneville Fish Hatchery, Bonneville Dam, Oregon. Image taken June 19, 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.





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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:    "A2ZGorge.info" website, 2006;    Bonneville Dam Historic District, National Historic Landmark 1986 Nomination Package;    National Register of Historic Places website, 2005;    Oregon Fish and Wildlife Brochure, "Bonneville Fish Hatchery", downloaded April 2014;   

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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April 2014