Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Brookfield, Brookfield Point, and Three Tree Point, Washington"
Includes ... Brookfield ... Brookfield Point ... Three Tree Point ...
Image, 2013, Skamokawa, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
View downstream from Skamokawa Vista Park towards Three Tree Point (closest point) and Brookfield Point (point visible behind Three Tree Point). The former Washington community of Brookfield was across the bay at the base of the ridge. Image taken March 8, 2013.

Brookfield, Brookfield Point, Harlow Creek, Beare Hill, and Three Tree Point ...
Immediately downstream of Skamokawa, Washington, is a two-mile-long stretch of Washington coastline which once was the home of the cannery town of Brookfield. In 1873 Joseph Megler opened a cannery there.

"Brookfield ... a town in Wahkiakum County. It was named by J.G. Megler in 1873, the year of his marriage, in honor of Brookfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of his wife. Mr. Megler was proprietor of a salmon cannery at that place. He often represented his county in the Legislature." [Edmund S. Meany, 1923, "Origin of Washington Geographic Names", University of Washington Press]

The former community was located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 28.5, and was nestled between Brookfield Point (formerly Jim Crow Point, RM 28) and Harlow Creek (formerly Jim Crow Creek, RM 28.5). Beare Hill (formerly Jim Crow Hill) is the ridge from Brookfield Point and rises above the former community of Brookfield. Three Tree Point is located upstream from Brookfield at RM 30. Three Tree Point gets its name from once having three fir trees which were used for navigation.

Downstream of the Brookfield area is Pillar Rock and even further downstream is the small community of Altoona. Upstream is the Washington community of Skamokawa and further upstream is the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge.

Brookfield Point and Three Tree Point can nicely be seen from Skamokawa Vista Park, Skamokawa, Washington.

Early History ...
Lewis and Clarked passed the Brookfield area on November 7, 1805. They camped that night near Pillar Rock.

In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition passed through the area and called Brookfield Point "Bee Point" and Three Tree Point "Point Eagle" and later on "Eagle Pt.".

Jim Crow Point, Jim Crow Creek, and Jim Crow Hill now Brookfield Point, Harlow Creek, and Beare Hill ...
In 2017 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names officially changed the names of "Jim Crow Point", "Jim Crow Creek", and "Jim Crow Hill" to "Brookfield Point", "Harlow Creek", and "Beare Hill".

"Wahkiakum County -- Jim Crow Creek, Jim Crow Hill and Jim Crow Point will become Harlow Creek, Beare Hill and Brookfield Point. The new names will honor the long-gone Columbia River cannery town of Brookfield, and a few of the people who lived there.

On May 16 [2016], the state Committee on Geographic Names [Washington State Committee on Geographic Names] unanimously agreed to adopt the new names, pending final approval in October. ...

Most historicans believe "Jim Crow" places were probably named for an early black settler named James Saules, who lived in Pacific and Wahkiakum counties during the mid-1800s. However, some locals argue that the places were actually named for an Indian Chief for a logger named Jim Crow, or for the birds who perched in a tree on the point. ...

In "Company Towns of the Northwest," author Linda Carlson said businessman Joseph Megler built his salmon cannery in 1873, and named the new community after his wife Nellie's home town, Brookfield, Massachusetts. A post office, docks, the Fink Bros. Stave Company, and the beautiful Megler mansion and gardens went in too, but the town remained isolated. "Boat travel was vital" to the town, Carlson wrote, because "there was no road out until 1951." ...

Harlow's Creek would be named for John and Mary Harlow. ... After ending his career as a baseball player, Harlow worked as a fisherman and as the postmaster of the Brookfield Post Office. ...

Georgianna and John Beare, for whom Beare Hill would be named, settled in Brookfield in the early 1900s. ... John Beare got a job at Megler's cannery, and the two grew hay and berries on their five-acre plot. ... When John Beare died at the end of 1941, Georgianna was 78. Locals decided it was best to move her into a Cathlamet nursing and maternity home. The elderly homesteader reportedly adapted well to her new surroundings. "here is where Georgianna heard her first radio, telephone, saw electric lights, indoor plumbing, enjoyed her first automobile ride," ... She died at the age of 95, in July 1958.

By the 1940s, Brookfield had changed a great deal. Megler died in 1915. The cannery was not rebuilt after the July 1931 fire, and the salmon fishery was not what it had once been. Many residents moved away.

In 1951, the Crown Zellerback logging company bought up a big waterfront site, according to local historian Irene Martin. The company built the first road to Brookfield, and began using the site as a log-dump, and logging the surrounding areas. The post office finally closed in 1954. ...

In 1957, the Crown Zellerbach bulldozers arrived, and knocked everything down. ... Today, the frame of the Harlow House still stands, but there are few other signs of the town, aside from a few rotting pilings in the river. ..."

Source:    Natalie St. John, May 31, 2016, "Ghost town memories: Brookfield names will replace Jim Crow, IN: Chinook Observer.

Views ...

Image, 2005, Jim Crow Point and Three Tree Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Brookfield Point (behind) and Three Tree Point (in front), as seen from Skamokawa Vista Park. Image taken November 9, 2005.

The cannery community of Brookfield once existed between Brookfield Point and Three Tree Point.
Image, 2007, Jim Crow Point and Three Tree Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Brookfield Point (behind) and Three Tree Point (in front), as seen from Skamokawa Vista Park. Image taken October 13, 2007.
Image, 2013, Skamokawa, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Brookfield Point (behind left) and Three Tree Point (in front, middle), as seen from Skamokawa Vista Park, Skamokawa, Washington. Image taken March 8, 2013.

Brookfield, Three Tree Point, etc.

  • 1889 "Coast Pilot" ...
  • Canneries ...

1889 "Coast Pilot" ...
From the 1889 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's "Coast Pilot":

"Jim Crow Point. -- This is one of the well known landmarks along the river, and is abreast the first decided contraction of the river to a main channel-way seven-eighths of a mile wide between it and Woody Island on the south.

It is a vertical rocky cliff, rising to one hundred feet, and projecting sharply from the shore for two hundred and fifty yards; while behind it the basaltic cliffs, fir-covered, rise to eleven hundred feet in less than six hundred yards from the water. The currents sweep very swiftly past it with deep eddies and boiling; the bottom is scoured out to a depth of twenty-two fathoms, with five and six fathoms of water in mid-stream.

In the bight a little over a quarter of a mile northeast from the point there is located the Brookfield Salmon Cannery. Jim Crow Point is twelve and a half miles from Astoria."

"Three Tree Point. -- On the northern side of the river, one and seven-eighths miles from Jim Crow Point, there is a slight but sharp projecting point of basaltic rock, rising rapidly to one hundred feet high. It had upon it three fir trees which served as good marks for the river pilots. The basaltic but wooded cliffs behind it rise to seven hundred feet in one third of a mile.

The river is here one and seven-eighths miles wide between the high points, but it is largely occupied by sand flats and low islands, through which pass several narrow channels for small vessels. The main ship-channel is close under Three Tree Point, and is less than one-quarter of a mile wide but carries over twenty fathoms of warter directly off the cliffs. The channel follows close under the high cliffs to the northeast and then under the low but heavily wooded shores of the north bank.

The high cliffs northeast from the point reach twelve hundred and fifty feet at less than half a miles from the river.

About one-third of a mile southwest from the point there is a Salmon cannery known as Fisherton; about half a mile to the northeast there was the Glen Ellen Cannery, which has been burned and abandoned; and at one and five eighths miles to the northeast, where the low shore begins, is the Ocean Cannery.

Three Tree Point is fourteen and one-third miles from Astoria."

Canneries ...
Pillar Rock ... Brookfield ... Fisherton ... Glen Ellen ... Ocean ... Bayview ...

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 7, 1805, first draft ...
S. 70 W 3 miles to a point on the Stard Side [Brookfield Point, formerly Jim Crow Point] high mountains Some high mountains on the Lard Side off the river - we en-camped on the Stard Side under a high hill Steep and mountanious we with dificulty found leavel rocks Sufficent to lie on, ...     The rain Continued untill 9 oClock moderately. we are in view of the opening of the Ocian, which Creates great joy.     a remarkable rock of about 50 feet high and about 20 feet Diameter is situated opposit our Camp about a mile from Shore     Several marshey Islands towards the Lard Side [part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge] the Shape of them I can't See as the river is wide and day foggey

Clark, November 7, 1805 ...
A cloudy foggey morning Some rain. we Set out [from their camp at Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County, Washington] early proceeded under the Stard Shore under a high rugid hills with Steep assent the Shore boalt and rockey, the fog So thick we could not See across the river [typical for this area in the winter], two Canos of Indians met and returned with us to their village which is Situated on the Stard Side behind a cluster of Marshey Islands [Puget Island and the Hunting Islands] , on a narrow chanl. of the river [Cathlamet Channel] through which we passed to the Village of 4 Houses, [Cathlamet, Washington area] ....

Those people call themselves War-ci--cum ...

after delaying at this village one hour [Cathlamet, Washington area] and a half we Set out piloted by an Indian dressed in a Salors dress, to the main Chanel of the river, the tide being in we Should have found much dificuelty in passing into the main Chanel from behind those islands [Puget Island and the Hunting Islands],     without a pilot, a large marshey Island [Tenasillahe Island] near the middle of the river near which Several Canoes Came allong Side with Skins, roots fish &c. to Sell, and had a temporey residence on this Island, here we See great numbers of water fowls about those marshey Islands; here the high mountanious Countrey approaches the river on the Lard Side [near Clifton, Oregon], a high mountn. to the S W. about 20 miles [Saddle Mountain], the high mountans. Countrey Continue on the Stard Side, about 14 miles below the last village and 18 miles of this day we landed at a village of the Same nation [Skamokawa, Washington]. This village is at the foot of the high hills on the Stard Side back of 2 Small Islands [today, Price Island lies between Skamokawa and the Columbia River] it contains 7 indifferent houses built in the Same form of those above, ... opposit to this Village the high mountaneous Countrey leave the river on the Lard Side [downstream of Aldrich Point] below which the river widens into a kind of Bay [Cathlamet Bay] & is Crouded with low Islands Subject to be Covered by the tides [today this is the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Lower Columbia River Estuary] - we proceeded on about 12 miles below the Village [Skamokawa] under a high mountaneous Countrey on the Stard. Side. Shore boald and rockey and Encamped under a high hill [ridge of Jim Crow Point] on the Stard. Side opposit to a rock [Pillar Rock] Situated half a mile from the Shore, about 50 feet high and 20 feet Diamieter,     we with dificuelty found a place Clear of the tide and Sufficiently large to lie on and the only place we could get was on round Stones on which we lay our mats rain Continud. moderately all day & Two Indians accompanied us from the last village, they we detected in Stealing a knife and returned, our Small Canoe which got Seperated in the fog this morning joined us this evening from a large Island Situated nearest the Lard Side below the high hills on that Side, the river being too wide to See either the form Shape or Size of the Islands on the Lard Side [part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge].

Great joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian [Clark's famous "Ocian in view! O! the Joy"], this great Pacific Octean [Pacific Ocean] which we been So long anxious to See. and the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rockey Shores (as I Suppose) may be heard distictly

we made 34 miles to day as Computed

Journey to the PacificReturn 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

  • Meany, E.S., 1923, "Origin of Washington Geographic Names", University of Washington Press, Seattle;
  • St. John, N., May 31, 2016, "Ghost town memories: Brookfield names will replace Jim Crow, IN: "Chinook Observer";
  • NOAA Office of Coast Surveys website, 2005;

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.
© 2019, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
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July 2019