Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Bonneville Reservoir"
Includes ... Bonneville Reservoir ... Bonneville Dam ... Sternwheeler "Columbia Gorge" ...
Image, 2011, Bonneville Reservoir near Spring Creek, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sailboarding, from near Spring Creek Fish Hatchery, Washington. Image taken August 22, 2011.

Bonneville Reservoir ...
Bonneville Reservoir is the pool behind the Bonneville Dam, reaching from Bonneville Dam, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 146, to the dam at The Dalles, at RM 192. Six major tributaries enter the Reservoir -- the Wind River, White Salmon River, Little White Salmon River, Klickitat River, Fifteenmile Creek, and Hood River. Bonneville Reservoir is entirely within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, where landscape is characterized by steep forested hillsides underlain by basalt up to 5,000 feet thick with sedimentary and recent alluvium deposits. With the wind coming through the gorge, Bonneville Reservoir is a prime attraction spot for tourism and recreation. Windsurfing and sailboarding are especially popular at Dougs Beach State Park, Washington and Mayer State Park, Oregon, and also near the Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery and at the mouth of the Hood River. Good spots to stop and view the Reservoir are at Stevenson, Washington and Cascade Locks, Oregon. A trip up and down the Reservoir can be taken on the sternwheeler "Columbia Gorge", based in Cascade Locks.

Reservoirs along the Columbia River ...
There are 4 dams and 4 reservoirs on the Columbia River within the scope of this photographic journey. Bonneville Dam and Bonneville Reservoir are the furthest downstream and located the closest to Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Bonneville Dam is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 146, and Bonneville Reservoir extends 46 miles upstream. At RM 192 is The Dalles Dam and Lake Celilo. Lake Celilo extends for 24 miles. Next in line, beginning at RM 216, is the John Day Dam and Lake Umatilla. Lake Umatilla extends for 76 miles. Furthest upstream is McNary Dam and Lake Wallula which begins at RM 292 and extends 64 miles upstream and includes the Tri-Cities of Richland, Pasco, and Kenneweick.

Views ...

Image, 2014, Bonneville Reservoir, Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bonneville Reservoir as seen from the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail near Tooth Rock. View looking upstream. Image taken June 5, 2014.
Image, 2014, Stevenson, Washington, click to enlarge
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Cascade Boat Launch, Stevenson, Washington. Bonneville Reservoir looking upstream from Stevenson, Washington. Image taken August 25, 2014.

Sternwheeler "Columbia Gorge" ...

Image, 2008, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bradford Island, with the "Columbia Gorge" Sternwheeler, as seen from the mouth of Eagle Creek. Image taken August 23, 2008.
Image, 2008, View from the mouth of Eagle Creek, click to enlarge
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View from the mouth of Eagle Creek, Oregon. Beacon Rock is in the distance in the background. Image taken August 23, 2008.

"Wind Surfing Capital of the World" ...
The Columbia River Gorge along Bonneville Reservoir is known as the "Wind Surfing Capital of the World", with nice spots being Doug's Beach and near the Spring Creek Fish Hatchery in Washington, and Hood River and Mayer State Park in Oregon.

Image, 2011, Bonneville Reservoir near Spring Creek, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sailboarding, from near Spring Creek Fish Hatchery, Washington. Image taken August 22, 2011.
Image, 2011, Bonneville Reservoir near Spring Creek, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sailboarding and Kiteboarding, from near Spring Creek Fish Hatchery, Washington. Image taken August 22, 2011.
Image, 2005, Hood River, Oregon, at mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Kiteboarding, mouth of the Hood River, Oregon. Image taken August 27, 2005.
Image, 2005, Hood River, Oregon, at mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Kiteboarding, mouth of the Hood River, Oregon. Image taken August 27, 2005.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 30, 1805 ...
A cool morning, a moderate rain all the last night, after eating a partial brackfast of venison we Set out [from their camp near Drano Lake and the Little White Salmon River]     passed Several places where the rocks projected into the river & have the appearance of haveing Seperated from the mountains and fallen promiscuisly into the river, Small nitches are formed in the banks below those projecting rocks which is comon in this part of the river, Saw 4 Cascades caused by Small Streams falling from the mountains on the Lard. Side,

[The possiblities in a two-mile area are - upstream to downstream - Starvation Creek and Falls, the seasonal Cabin Creek and Falls, Warren Creek and Falls, Wonder Creek and Lancaster Falls, Lindsey Creek and Falls, and Summit Creek and Falls.]

a remarkable circumstance in this part of the river is, the Stumps of pine trees [Submerged Forest]

[The Submerged Forest existed along the reach from above Dog Mountain/Viento Creek on the upstream edge and Wind Mountain/Shellrock Mountain on the downstream edge.]

are in maney places are at Some distance in the river, and gives every appearance of the rivers being damed up below from Some cause which I am not at this time acquainted with [Bonneville Landslide],     the Current of the river is also verry jentle not exceeding 1 1/2 mile pr. hour and about 3/4 of a mile in width. Some rain, we landed above the mouth of a Small river on the Stard. Side [Wind River] and Dined ...   :  here the river widens to about one mile large Sand bar in the middle, a Great [rock] both in and out of the water, large <round> Stones, or rocks are also permiscuisly Scattered about in the river, ...     this day we Saw Some fiew of the large Buzzard    Capt. Lewis Shot at one, those Buzzards are much larger than any other of ther Spece or the largest Eagle white under part of their wings &c. [California Condor] ...     The bottoms above the mouth of this little river [Wind River] <which we Call> is rich covered with grass & firn & is about 3/4 of a mile wide rich and rises gradually, below the river (which is 60 yards wide above its mouth) the Countery rises with Steep assent. we call this little river <fr Ash> New Timbered river from a Speces of Ash <that wood> which grows on its banks of a verry large and different from any we had before Seen, and a timber resembling the beech in bark <& groth> but different in its leaf which is Smaller and the tree smaller. passed maney large rocks in the river and a large creek on the Stard. Side in the mouth of which is an Island [Rock Creek near Stevenson, Washington], passed on the right of 3 Islands <on> near the Stard. Side, and landed on an Island close under the Stard. Side at the head of the great Shute [head of the Cascades Rapids], and a little below a village of 8 large houses on a Deep bend on the Stard. Side, and opposit 2 Small Islands imediately in the head of the Shute, which Islands are covered with Pine, maney large rocks also, in the head of the Shute. Ponds back of the houses, and Countrey low for a Short distance. The day proved Cloudy dark and disagreeable with Some rain all day which kept us wet. The Countary a high mountain on each Side thickly Covered with timber, Such as Spruc, Pine, Cedar, Oake Cotton &c. &c.     I took two men and walked down three miles to examine the Shute and river below proceeded along an old Indian path, passd. an old village at 1 mile [vicinity of Ice House Lake] ...     I found by examonation that we must make a portage of the greater perpotion of our Stores 2 1/2 miles, and the Canoes we Could haul over the rocks, I returned at Dark ...     a wet disagreeable evening, the only wood we could get to burn on this little Island on which we have encamped [near Ashes Lake, the island is now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir. Ashes Lake was near the head of the Cascade Rapids. Across from Ashes Lake is Cascade Locks, Oregon.] is the newly discovered Ash, which makes a tolerable fire. we made fifteen miles to daye

Clark, October 31, 1805 ...
A Cloudy rainey disagreeable morning I proceeded down the river to view with more attention [Cascade Locks area] we had to pass on the river below, the two men with me Jo. Fields & Peter Crusat proceeded down to examine the rapids the Great Shute [Cascade Rapids] which commenced at the Island on which we encamped [Ashes Lake, now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir] Continud with great rapidity and force thro a narrow chanel much compressd. and interspersed with large rocks for a mile, at a mile lower is a verry Considerable rapid at which place the waves are remarkably high, and proceeded on in a old Indian parth 2 miles by land thro a thick wood & hill Side, to the river where the Indians make a portage, from this place I dispatched Peter Crusat (our principal waterman) back to follow the river and examine the practibility of the Canoes passing, as the rapids appeared to continue down below as far as I could See, I with Jo. Fields proceeded on, at a mile below the end of the portage [Fort Rains] ...     at 2 miles lower & 5 below our Camp I passed a village of 4 large houses abandend by the nativs, with their dores bared up, ...     from a Short distance below the vaults the mountain which is but low on the Stard. Side leave the river, and a leavel Stoney open bottom Suckceeds on the Said Std. Side for a great Distance down, the mountains high and rugid on the Lard Side this open bottom is about 2 miles a Short distance below this village is a bad Stoney rapid and appears to be the last in view I observed at this lower rapid the remains of a large and antient Village which I could plainly trace by the Sinks in which they had formed their houses, as also those in which they had buried their fish- from this rapid to the lower end of the portage [vicinity of Fort Cascades at the lower end of Hamilton Island] the river is Crouded with rocks of various Sizes between which the water passes with great velociety createing in many places large Waves, an Island which is Situated near the Lard. Side [Bradford Island] occupies about half the distance the lower point of which is at this rapid. immediately below this rapid the high water passes through a narrow Chanel through the Stard. Bottom forming an Island of 3 miles <wide> Long & one wide, I walked through this Island [Hamilton Island] which I found to be verry rich land, and had every appearance of haveing been at Some distant period Cultivated. at this time it is Covered with grass intersperced with Strawberry vines. I observed Several places on this Island where the nativs had dug for roots and from its lower point I observed 5 Indians in a Canoe below the upper point of an Island near the middle of the river Covered with tall timber [???],    which indued me to believe that a village was at no great distanc below, I could not See any rapids below <for> in the extent of my view which was for a long distance down the river, which from the last rapids [Middle Cascades] widened and had everry appearance of being effected by the tide,- I deturmind to return to Camp 10 miles distant [on an island by Ashes Lake, across from Cascade Locks, Oregon], a remarkable high detached rock Stands in a bottom on the Stard Side [Beacon Rock] near the lower point of this Island on the Stard. Side about 800 feet high and 400 paces around, we call the Beaten rock.     a Brook [Hamilton Creek] falls into the narrow Chanel [Hamilton Slough, today's Greenleaf Slough] which forms the Strawberry Island [Hamilton Island], which at this time has no running water, but has every appearance of dischargeing emence torrents &c. &c. Jo. Fields Shot a Sand hill Crane. I returned by the Same rout on an Indian parth passing up on the N W. Side of the river to our Camp at the Great Shute [an island near Ashes Lake, across from Cascade Locks, now under the waters of Bonneville Reservoir]. found Several Indians from the village, I Smoked with them; Soon after my return two Canoes loaded with fish & Bear grass for the trade below, came down from the village at the mouth of the Catterack River [Klickitat River], they unloaded and turned their Canoes up Side down on the beech, & camped under a Shelveing rock below our Camp ...

This Great Shute or falls [Upper Cascade Rapids] is about a mile with the water of this great river Compressed within the Space of 150 paces in which there is great numbers of both large and Small rocks, water passing with great velocity forming & boiling in a most horriable manner, with a fall of about 20 feet, below it widens to about 200 paces and current gentle for a Short distance. a Short distance above is three Small rockey Islands, and at the head of those falls, three Small rockey Islands are Situated Crosswise the river, Several rocks above in the river & 4 large rocks in the head of the Shute; those obstructions together with the high Stones which are continually brakeing loose from the mountain on the Stard Side and roleing down into the Shute aded to those which brake loose from those Islands above and lodge in the Shute, must be the Cause of the rivers daming up to Such a distance above, <and Show> where it Shows Such evidant marks of the Common current of the river being much lower than at the present day

Columbia River GorgeReturn to




*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

  • Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Authority website, 2004;
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Brochure, 2005, "The Bonneville Lock and Dam Fact Sheet";

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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August 2011