Lewis and Clark's Columbia River

"George Vancouver and William Broughton, 1792"
A Voyage of Discovery, 1792 ...
"Columbia River to Reed Island"
Thirteen years before Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery journeyed down the Columbia River, members of Captain George Vancouver of the Royal Navy's expedition became the first Europeans to journey up the Columbia to the area of Vancouver, Washington. In October 1792, Lieutenant William Broughton and his craft "The Chatham" made it across the reef at the mouth of the Columbia, while Captain Vancouver remained at sea on the "Discovery". Broughton journeyed as far upstream as Point Vancouver and Reed Island, before turning around.

Excerpts from:
A Voyage of Discovery to the Pacific Ocean, and Round the World; ... and performed in the years 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794, and 1795, in the Discovery Sloop of War, and Armed Tender Chatham, Under the Command of Captain George Vancouver ... A New Edition, with Corrections, Illustrated with Nineteen Views and Charts, In Six Volumes, Volume II and Volume III, 1801.

Under Construction ...

Discovering the Columbia River
-- Captain George Vancouver
April 30, 1792

The river Mr. Gray mentioned should, from the latitude he assigned to it, have existence in the bay, south of cape Disappointment [Cape Disappointment, Washington]. This we passed on the forenoon of the 27th; and, as I then observed, if any inlet or river should be found, it must be a very intricate one, and inaccessible to vessels of our burthen, owing to the reefs and broken water which then appeared in its neighbourhood. Mr. Gray [Captain Robert Gray, who in May 1792 is given credit with "discovering" the Columbia River] stated that he had been several days attempting to enter it, which at length he was unable to effect, in consequence of a very strong outlet. This is a phenomenon difficult to account for, as in most cases where there are outlets of such strength on a sea coast, there are corresponding tides setting in. Be that however as it may, I was thoroughly convinced, as were also most persons of observation on board, that we could not possibly have passed any safe navigable opening, harbour, or place of security for shipping on this coast, from cape Mendocino to the promontory of Classet; nor had we any reason to alter our opinions, notwithstanding that theoretical geographers have thought proper to assert, in that space, the existence of arms of the ocean, communicating with a mediterranean sea, and extensive rivers, with safe and and convenient ports. These ideas, not derived from any source of substantial information, have, it is much to be feared, been adopted for the sole purpose of giving unlimited credit to the traditionary exploits of ancient foreigners, and to undervalue the laborious and enterprizing exertions of our own countrymen, in the noble science of discovery.

"CHAPTER III", ... Lieutenant Broughton's Account of Columbia River.
-- (heading upstream)
Sunday, October 21, 1792

On reference to the preceding part of this narrative it will be found, that on the 21st of October [October 21, 1792] we stood to sea at the commencement of a heavy gale of wind, from off the entrance of Columbia river [the Columbia River, named such a few months earlier by the American Captain Robert Gray]; leaving the Chatham there at anchor, in full confidence that her commander, Mr. Broughton, would, prior to his departure, endeavour to gain all possible information respecting the navigable extent of that inlet [Columbia River], and such other useful knowledge of the country as circumstances would admit of. The implicit reliance I had on Mr. Broughton's zeal and exertions, will be found to have been worthily placed, by the perusal of the following narrative of that officer's transactions.

The situation the Chatham had gained in the entrance of Columbia river was by no means comfortable at low water, when the depth did not exceed four fathoms, and the sea broke very heavily about a cable's length within the vessel, on a bank of two and a half fathoms, which obtained the name of Spit Bank [today the Sand Island area at the edge of Baker Bay]. The place of their anchorage was, by observation, in latitude 46o 18'; bearing S. 50 E. about a mile and a quarter from the inner part of cape Disappointment [Cape Disappointment, Washington], from whence to the opposite shore, across the channel leading to sea, the breakers formed nearly one connected chain, admitting only of one very narrow passage, which lies in a direction about W. by N. from a point Mr. Broughton called Village Point [Chinook Point, Washington], there being in its vicinity a large deserted village.

The Discovery having put to sea without making any signal to the Chatham, Mr. Broughton very judiciously concluded that I was desirous that he should explore and examine this opening on the coast [mouth of the Columbia River]; and in order that no time should be lost in carrying this service into execution, he proceeded at two in the afternoon [October 21, 1792], with the first of the flood and a strong gale at S.W. up the inlet, keeping the Village point [Chinook Point], which lies S. 70. E. five miles from cape Disappointment [Cape Disappointment], well open with a remarkable projecting point, that obtained the name of Tongue Point [Tongue Point, Oregon], (on the southern shore, appearing like an island.) The depth of water here was not less than four fathoms, and as they approached the deserted village [Chinook Point] the depth increased to six, seven, and eight fathoms. The wind by this time obliged them to bring to, for the purpose of double reefing the topsails, and whilst thus engaged, the rapidity the flood tide impelled them into three fathoms water, before sufficient sail could be made on the vessel to render her governable. By this means she was driven on a bank of sand, where the strength of the stream, preventing an anchor being carried into deep water, she remained aground until high tide; when they hove into ten fathoms with the greatest of ease, and there rested for the night. Mr. Broughton had, for his guidance thus far up the inlet, a chart by Mr. Gray [American Captain Robert Gray who first crossed into the mouth of the Columbia River in May 1792], who had commanded the American ship Columbia; but it did not much resemble what it purported to represent. This shoal, which is an extensive one lying in mid-channel, having completely escaped his attention.

Monday, October 22, 1792

The next day, being the 22d of October [October 22, 1792], the wind blew strong from the eastward, and there was little probability from the appearance of the weather of soon being able, with any degree of safety, to remove the vessel further up the inlet. That intention being laid aside, Mr. Broughton proceeded with the cutter and launch to examine the shores of its southern side. He first landed at the deserted village, on the northern shore, and on the eastern side of Village point [Chinook Point]; which he found a good leading mark for clearing the shoals that lie between it and cape Disappointment [Cape Disappointment], carrying regular soundings of four fathoms. From this point he passed over to point Adams [Point Adams, Oregon, westernmost point of Oregon on the Columbia River, just before the Clatsop Spit], the starboard of S.E. point of entrance into this inlet [mouth of the Columbia River]; and in his way crossed a shoal bank, supposed to be a continuation of that on which the Chatham had grounded. The least water found upon it was two and a half fathoms, and the sea was observed to break at intervals in several places. Point Adams [Point Adams] is a low, narrow, sandy, spit of land, projecting northerly into the ocean, and lies from cape Disappointment [Cape Disappointment], S. 44 E. about four miles distant. From this point, the coast takes a sudden turn to the south [entering Youngs Bay], and the shores within the inlet take a direction S. 74 E. four miles to another point, which obtained the name of Point George [location of today's Astoria, Oregon - the tip of which today is called Smith Point]. From point Adams [Point Adams] the breakers stretched into the ocean, first N. 68 W. about a league, then S. 83 W. about four miles, from whence they took ____ (unreadable in my copy) course to the southward, extending along the coast at the distance of two leagues and upwards.

These form the south side of the channel leading into this inlet [mouth of the Columbia River], which is about half a league wide. The northern side is also formed by the breakers extending two miles and a half from cape Disappointment [Cape Disappointment]. In this point of view, the breakers were so shut in with each other as to present one entire line of heavy broken water, frome side to side across the channel. ...

The shoal on which the Chatham had grounded, was found to extend within half a mile of the eastern side of point Adams [Point Adams]. The space between the shoal and the land formed a shallow channel over a kind of bar, on which was found little more than three fathoms water, into a Bay [Youngs Bay] that lies between point Adams [Point Adams] and point George [Smith Point, Astoria, Oregon]; whither Mr. Broughton directed his course, and found on each side of the bar, the soundings regular from three to seven fathoms. The shores of this Bay [Youngs Bay] were low land, and the water again shoaled as he advanced to three and two and a half fathoms. Near the shores on either side the sea broke very high, and on the water were seen many pelicans [quite possibly the Brown Pelican, which frequents the Pacific Ocean and mouth of the Columbia River]. As the party approached the centre, or rather the S.E. corner of the Bay [Youngs Bay], they discovered a small river

[For years scholars assumed Broughton's "Young's River" was today's Youngs River. However current research shows that the "Young's River" on Broughton's map matches up nicely with todays "Lewis and Clark River" appearing on other early Columbia River and topographic maps, and even today's current maps.]

whose entrance was about two cables length in width, and the depth of water five fathoms. By the shores it appeared to be high water, yet the stream attended them up the river, which now took a south easterly direction, in a winding form, and branched off into several creeks. After advancing about seven miles the width decreased to _____ (unreadable in my copy) fathoms, and it being then high water, any further examination was deemed unnecessary. The evening at this time having nearly closed in, the party returned about a mile, and took up their residence for the night on the bank of the river [Lewis and Clark River, very near where 13 years later Lewis and Clark would build Fort Clatsop.], which, after Sir George Young of the royal navy, Mr. Broughton distinguished by the name of Young's River; whose termination was suppose to have been seen by some of the party, but Mr. Broughton was of opinion, from the strength of the tide, that its source was at some distance.

Tuesday, October 23, 1792

The night was windy, and it rained without ceasing until day-light the next morning, which was very pleasant, and greatly inriched the prospect of the beautiful, surrounding country. From the banks of the river [Lewis and Clark River] a low meadow, interspersed with scattered trees and shrubs, extended to the more elevated land. This was of easy ascent, and was agreeably variegated with clumps and copses of pine, maple, alder, birch, poplar, and several other trees, besides a considerable number of shrubs, greatly diversifying the landscape by the several tints of their autumnal foliage. The marshy edges of the river afforded shelter to wild geese, which flew about in avery large flocks; ducks were in abundance, as were the large brown cranes before noticed in the more northern parts of New Georgia.

On leaving the river [Lewis and Clark River], as they proceeded to point George [Smith Point, Astoria, Oregon], they found the greatest depth of water at about two thirds flood neap tides, was 2 1/2 fathoms; this continuing intirely across the entrance of Young's river [Lewis and Clark River], renders it navigable for small vessels only. From hence the launch was sent on board, which orders to sound in a direct line to the Chatham, then at anchor off the deserted village. The continuation of the shoal in this passage, was found to be a great obstacle to the navigation of the inlet.

Mr. Broughton proceeded in the cutter at a moderate distance from the shore, with soundings of 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 fathoms to Tongue point [Tongue Point]. On the eastern side of this point [beginning of Cathlamet Bay] the shores first fall to the southward, and then stretch nearly E. N. E. From this point was seen the centre of a deep bay [Grays Bay], lying at the distance of seven miles, N. 26 E. This bay terminated the researches of Mr. Gray [American Captain Robert Gray, who, in May 1792, made it this far up the Columbia River]; and to commemorate his discovery it was named after him Gray's Bay.

Mr. Broughton now returned on board, in the hope of being able to proceed the next flood tide higher up the inlet. In the afternoon he reached the Chatham [anchored near Chinook Point/McGowan, Washington], finding in his way thither a continuation of the same shoal on which she had grounded, with a narrow channel on each side, between it and the shores of the inlet; on this middle ground the depth of water was in overfalls from three fathoms to four feet. Mr. Broughton got the Chatham immediately under weigh, with a bota a-head to direct her course. His progress was greatly retarded by the shallowness of the water. A channel was found close to the northern shore, where, about dark, he anchored for the night in seven fathoms water, about two miles [near Megler, Washington] from the former place of anchorage [near Chinook Point/McGowan]. Before day-break the next morning (October 24th) the vessel, in tending to the tide, tailed on a bank; this however was of no consequence, as on leaving short she was soon afloat again.

Wednesday, October 24, 1792

At day-light Mr. Manby was sent to sound the channel up to Grays bay [Grays Bay], where in Mr. Gray's sketch, an anchor is placed; but on Mr. Manby's return he reported the channel to be very intricate, and the depth of water in general very shallow. This induced Mr. Broughton to give up the idea of removing the Chatham further up the inlet, the examination of which he determined to pursue in the boats. After ascertaining the vessel's station to be in latitude 46o 17', longitude 236o 17 1/2', he departed with the cutter and launch, with a week's provisions, to carry his determination into effect. A strong easterly gale attended with squalls was against them, but the flood tide favoured their progress until six in the evening, when, on the ebb making, they took up their abode for the night on the western side of Gray's bay [Grays Bay].

Thursday, October 25, 1792

They rowed across the bay [Grays Bay] the next morning [October 25, 1792], in squally unpleasant weather, with regular soundings of 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 fathoms. The depth of water within the bay [Grays Bay] was not more than two fathoms, interspersed near the bottom of the bay with frequent overfals of four fathoms. After passing Gray's bay [Grays Bay], the continental shores became high and rocky. About a mile S.W. by W. from the east point of the bay [Harrington Point], which lies from its west point [Grays Point] N.78 E. at the distance of four miles, commences a range of five small low sandy inlets [today marshy islands which border the Oregon shore, part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge], partly covered with wood, and extending about five miles to the eastward. The easternmost, which was also the largest, was nearly at the extremity of the shallow space they had thus examined.

Between the ocean and that which should properly be considered the entrance of the river is a space from three to seven miles wide, intricate to navigate on account of the shoals that extend nearly from side to side; and ought rather to be considered as a sound, than as constituting a part of the river, since the entrance into the river, which they reached about dark, was found not to be more than half a mile wide, formed by the contracting shores of the sound. Between the points of entrance, lying from each other N. 50 E. and S. 50 W. there were seven fathoms water.

[Broughton considered the actual "Columbia River" mouth to be the constriction at the Grays Bay area, where the "river" enters the "bay" of the Pacific Ocean]

The northernmost point is situated in latitude 46o 18 1/2', longitude 236o 34 1/2', from whence the river takes a direction about S. 45 E. From the east point [Harrington Point] of Gray's bay [Grays Bay] to this station, the shore is nearly straight and compact, and lies in a direction S. 87 W. They stopped to dine [Jim Crow Point] about three miles from the east point of the bay [Harrington Point], on the side of a high steep hill, on the northern shore, facing one of the above low inlets; from whence extended a long, sandy shallow spit [marshy islands bordering the Oregon shore, part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge], down the channel, inclining towards the opposite or southern shore, which was low, and appeared also very shoal. From this steep hill [Jim Crow Point] a remarkable pillar rock [Pillar Rock] lies S. 79 W. about a mile from the shore, on the starboard or southern side of entrance into the river. Not only within, but without this rock, the water is very shallow, with overfals from 2 1/2 to six fathoms; but by keeping the northern shore on board from Gray's bay [Grays Bay], a sufficient depth of water will be found. The two points of entrance into the river [Broughton believes this is the true entrance to the Columbia River] are formed by low marshy land, the southernmost seemed to be an island [today's Welsh Island or Tenasillahe Island, or the location of the many small islands of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge]; and to the N.W. of the most northern, a branch took a northerly direction, which was named Orchard's River [Skamokawa Creek]; in one of these the party passed a very uncomfortable night, owing to the dampness of their situation.

Friday, October 26, 1792

At day-light the next morning, 26th October, with the first of the flood, Mr. Broughton proceeded up the river, whose width was nearly half a mile. The shores on either side were low and marshy; on the N.E. were from 8 to 10 fathoms, but on the opposite shore the depth of water did not exceed four fathoms, one third of the channel over. After advancing about two leagues the land became high and rocky on both sides; here a well wooded island [Puget Island], about a league and a half long, divided the stream, and afforded a good passage on each side of it; the deepest is on the N.E. side [Cathlamet Channel], in which was found 10 and 12 fathoms water. About a league past the S.E. point of this island, which received the name of Puget's Island [Puget Island], the river continued its direction to latitude 46o 10', longitude 236o 50'; where it took a short turn N. 56 E. for about a league; at this turn a small river presented itself, which Mr. Broughton named Swaine's River [the mouth or western end of Wallace Slough with the head or eastern end of Wallace Slough being named "Manby's River".]. In this neighbourhood they were joined by some of the natives in four canoes. ...

The shores abound with fine timbers, the pine predominated on the higher lands, but near the banks of the river grew ash, poplar, elder, maple, and several other trees unknown to the party. The ebb tide rendered their progress very slow, and it was evening before they arrived at the end of the above-mentioned north-eastwardly reach [at the location of today's Mill Creek and Germany Creek]. On the northern shore was seen a village of the natives ...

they proceeded up the river, which took a direction S. 62 E. from the village passing some islands [Crims Island] lying in the middle of it; these occupy about two miles; their easternmost point is about a league from the above village, and after the second lieutenant of the Discovery, they were named Baker's Islands [Crims Island]. The bold northern shore now became low near the banks of the river, and rose high again, at a distance, in a gradual ascent. Mr. Broughton crossed over half a mile to the eastward of Baker's islands [Crims Island], to a high bluff point named by him Point Sheriff [Green Point, location of Mayger, Oregon], where good shelter for the night was found on a sandy beach. At this time they had gained only 22 miles after rowing twelve hours. The river here was about half a mile wide, and the best channel from point Sheriff [Green Point, location of Mayger, Oregon] was found along the southern shore.

Nine canoes, with a number of Indians, took up their lodging in a small creek at a little distance from the party. ...

Saturday, October 27, 1792

At seven the next morning (October 27,) with the stream still running down very rapidly, they proceeded in their examination, passing to the north of a small woody island, which, after the surgeon of the Chatham, was named Walker's island [Walker Island, Oregon]. The soundings were from four to seven fathoms. About ten o'clock the tide was slowing fast according to the appearance of the shore, and, for about two hours, the stream favoured their progress; after this, great delay and much fatigue was endured by the strong ebb tide and a fresh easterly wind. The nine canoes attended them, and as they passed some small creeks [???] and openings on the sides of the river their numbers kept increasing.

Eastward from Walker's island [Walker Island] and nearly into mid-channel a bank partly dry extends for two or three miles, but admits of a clear passage on either side [Willow Grove and Coal Creek Slough area]; the passage to the south, being the widest and deepest, has five or six fathoms water. After passing this bank, the channel continued on the southern side, with soundings from six to ten fathoms. They now again approached high land, and on the northern shore was a remarkable mount, about which were placed several canoes, containing dead bodies; to this was given the name of Mount Coffin [Mount Coffin, Longview, Washington]. About a mile to the eastward of mount Coffin, their Indian attendants stopped at a single hut, but Mr. Broughton continued rowing until three in the afternoon; when, having increased their distance only nine miles from point Sheriff [Green Point, location of Mayger, Oregon], the party stopped to dine on the southern shore [Dobelbower Point near Rainier, Oregon]. This was high and rocky, and terminated the direction of this reach [in the vicinity of Rainier, Oregon], in latitude 46o 5', longitude 237o 11', from whence the river ran S. 18 E. and the same depth of water continued. The northern shore [today's Longview, Washington], instead of being the steepest, now consisted of low, flat, sandy, shores, through which, nearly opposite to their dinner station, where the river was about half a mile wide, two other streams fell into it. The westernmost was named River Poole [possibly Fisher Island Slough or Solo Slough], and the easternmost Knight's River [Cowlitz River]; this last is the largest of the two; its entrance indicated its being extensive, and by the signs of the natives, they were given to understand, the people up that river possessed an abundance of sea-otter skins. After dinner the party proceeded up the reach, extending S. 18 E. passing a low sandy island [Cottonwood Island] at its entrance against a very strong stream; and having advanced about four miles, they took up their residence for the night [Prescott Beach, on the Oregon side.]. ...

Sunday, October 28, 1792

About six o'clock on Sunday morning, (October 28) Mr. Broughton continued to proceed against the stream, and soon passed a small rocky islet, about twenty feet above the surface of the water. Several canoes covered the top of this islet, in which dead bodies were deposited [Coffin Rock, Oregon, downstream of the Trojan Nuclear Facility and upstream of Goble, Oregon. Broughton labeled it "Burial Head" on the map.]. About two miles hence is a low sandy island [Sandy Island], having a spit-stretching from each end to some distance. On each side, the channel is clear, the south side is the deepest, having three or four fathoms water. From this island [Sandy Island] the reach takes a more eastwardly course about four miles to a point on the north shore, in latitude 45o 56', longitude 237o 18'. The foundings to this point [Martin Bluff], which is high and rocky, were from four to seven fathoms; the shores of the opposite or southern side of the river are low, and produce many willow-trees [Deer Island]; the high and rocky banks were covered with pine-trees down to the water's edge. From hence, with little variation, the river's directions is about S. 5. E. the channel is narrow, and on the eastern shore the depth of water was from four to six fathoms.

Here were three openings stretching in an easterly direction; formed by two small woody islands [Martin Island and Burke Island], on one which was a grove of tall and strait poplars. These were distinguished by the name of Urry's Islands. Abreast of these is a shoal that joins the south side of the river, and renders the passage close to their shores very narrow; beyond them the river, now about a quarter of a mile wide, is free from obstruction, and the general depth five and six fathoms to another point, about four miles to the south of the above mentioned high one, where, for the first time in this river, some oak-trees were seen, one of which measured thirteen feet in girth; this therefore, obtained the name of Oak Point

[Caples Landing, near Woodland, Washington. There have been three "Oak Points" in early Columbia River exploration. After Broughton's Oak Point, a later Oak Point was located on the Oregon side of the Columbia in the Clatskanie River/Beaver Slough delta, today the location of Port Westward. Today's Oak Point is on the Washington side of the Columbia, across from Port Westward.].

Close to the south of it was a small brook that ran to the eastward [???], off which a bank of land [???] diverted the channel to the western shore, where soundings were found from five to eight fathomms. About three miles an a half from Oak point [near Woodland, Washington] Mr. Broughton arrived at another, which he called Point Warrior [Warrior Point, the lower point of Sauvie Island], in consequence of being there surrounded by twenty-three canoes, carrying from three to twelve persons each, all attired in their war garments, and in every other respect prepared for combat. ...

At point Warrior [Warrior Point, downstream tip of Sauvie Island] the river is divided into three branches; the middle one was the largest [Columbia River], about a quarter of a mile wide, and was considered as the main brach; the next most capacious took an easterly directions, and seemed extensive, to this the name of Rushleigh's River [Lewis River] was given; and the other that stretched to the S. S. W. was distinguished by the name of Call's River [Multnomah Channel].

On the banks of Rushleigh's river [Lewis River] was seen a very large Indian village ... he [Broughton] proceeded up that which he considered to be the main branch of the river, until eight in the evening; when, under the shelter of some willows, they took up their lodging for the night on a low sandy point [quite possibly Willow Point on Sauvie Island] ...

Monday, October 29, 1792

The next morning [October 29, 1792] they again proceeded up the river [Columbia River] and had a distant view of Mt. St. Helens [Mount St. Helens, Washington] lying N.42E. In sounding across the river, whose width was there about a quarter of a mile, from three to twelve fathoms water was found. Owing to the rapidity of the stream against them they were under the necessity of stopping to dine at not more than four or five miles from their resting place [near Reeder Point, Sauvie Island]; there it was low water at noon, and though the water of the river evidently rose afterwards, yet the stream continued to run rapidly down. The greatest perpendicular rise and fall appeared to be about three feet. In this situation the latitude was observed to be 45 degrees 41 minutes, longitude 237 degrees, 20 minutes; when Mt. St. Helens [Mount St. Helens] was seen lying from hence N.38E. or a distance from Point Warrior [Warrior Point, downstream end of Sauvie Island] of about eight miles [Post Office Lake vicinity].

In their way hither they had passed two Indian villages on the west side of the river, and had been joined by an hundred and fifty of the natives in twenty-five canoes. ...

At one o'clock they quitted their dinner station, and after rowing about five miles still in the direction of the river S. 5 E., they passed on the western side of a small river leading to the southwestward [???, one of the many mouths of the Willamette River ???]; and half a mile further on the same shore came to a larger one that took a more southerly course [Willamette River]. In the entrance of the latter, about a quarter of a mile in width, are two small woody islets [islands in the mouth of the Willamette River]; the ajacent country extending from its banks presented a most beautiful appearance. This river Mr. Broughton distinguished by the name of River Munnings [or River Mannings, today's Willamette River]. Its southern point of entrance, situated in latitude 45o 39', longitude 237o 21', commanded a most delightful prospect of the surrounding region, and obtained the name of Belle Vue Point

[with shifting land and merging islands at the mouth of the Willamette River, historians place Broughton's Belle Vue Point on what was Coon Island, now part of Sauvie Island.];

from whence the branch of the river [Columbia River], at least that which was so considered, took a direction about S.57E. for a league and a half.

A very high, snowy mountain [Mount Hood] now appeared rising beautifully conspicuous in the midst of an extensive tract of low or moderately elevated land [location of today's Vancouver, Washington] lying S 67 E., and seemed to announce a termination to the river.

From Belle Vue point [Coon Island, now a part of Sauvie Island] they proceeded in the above direction, passing a small wooded island, about three miles in extent [Hayden Island], situated in the middle of the stream. Their route was between this island and the southern shore [North Portland Harbor], which is low; the soundings between its northwest point and the main land were three fathoms, increasing to four, five and six off its southeast point; from whence the river took its course S 75 E. This obtained the name of Menzies' Island [Hayden Island], near the east end of which is small sandy, woody island that was covered with wild geese

[Throughout the years this island has come and gone. Today there is once again a small island east of Hayden Island called named Tomahawk Island. This Tomahawk Island is not the Tomahawk Island of Lewis and Clark and differs from the island Broughton mentioned.].

From Belle Vue point [Coon Island, now a part of Sauvie Island] a small stream of flood had attended them to this station; but here a rapid downward current was met, though it was by no means high water.

At the several creeks and branches they had passed they lost successively most of their Indian companions, excepting one elderly chief, who, in the most civil and friendly manner had accompanied them from the first, and had a village still farther up the river. ...     About seven in the evening they reached his habitation, where he much wished them to remain; but preferring a more secluded resting place, they resorted to a shallow creek [???] a mile further up the river, and about eight miles from Belle Vue point [Coon Island, now part of Sauvie Island], where they passed the night [near Lemon Island, Government Island complex]. Here it was low water about two, and high water at half past five o'clock the next morning.

Tuesday, October 30, 1792

At seven they again departed [October 30, 1792], but were obliged to retire some distance to clear a shoaly spit that lies off this area; after this they proceeded to the northern shore [Washington side]. This shore was well wooded, composed of stony beaches, and the soundings were regular from two to seven fathoms. The southern shore [Oregon], though low and sandy, was also well clothed with wood; the breadth of the river was about a quarter of a mile, and its direction was the same as before-mentioned.

The wind blew fresh from the eastward, which, with the stream against them, rendered their journey very slow and tedious. They passed a small rocky opening that had a rock in its center about twelve feet above the surface of the water [???]; on this were lodged several large trees that must have been left there by an unusually high tide. From hence a large river bore S.5 E., which was afterwards seen to take a southwestwardly direction, and was named Baring River [Sandy River]; between it and the shoal creek [???] is another opening; and here that in which they had rested stretched to the E. N. E., and had several small rocks in it. Into this creek [Camas Slough] the friendly old chief went to procure some salmon, and they pursued their way against the stream [Columbia River], which was now become so rapid that they were able to make but little progress. At half past two they stopped on the northern shore to dine [actually they were to discover they were on and island, Lady Island] opposite the entrance of Baring's River [Sandy River]. Ten canoes with the natives now attended them and their friendly old chief soon returned and brought them an abundance of very fine salmon. He had gone through the rocky passage and had returned above the the party, making the land on which they were at dinner an island. This was afterwards found to be about three miles long and, after the lieutenant of the Chatham, was named Johnstone's Island [Lady Island].

The west point of Baring's River [Sandy River] is situated in latitude 45o 28', longitude 237o 41'; from whence the main branch takes rather an irregular course about N.82E.; it is nearly half a mile wide, and in crossing it the depth was from six to three fathoms. The southern shore [Oregon side] is low and woody and contacts the river by means of a low, sandy flat that extends from it, on which were ledged several large dead trees [Sandy River Delta]. The best passage is close to Johnstone's Island [Lady Island]; this has a rocky, bold shore, but Mr. Broughton pursued the channel on the opposite side [Oregon shore] where he met with some scattered rocks [Ough Reef, opposite Washougal, Washington]; these, however, admitted of a good passage between them and the main land; along which he continued until toward evening, making little progress against the stream. "Having now passed the sand bank," [delta at the mouth of the Sandy River] says Mr. Broughton, "I landed [today the high bluff above the eastern shore of the Sandy River is called Broughton Bluff] for the purpose of taking our last bearings; a sandy point on the opposite shore [current research suggests today's Point Vancouver over often suggested Cottonwood Point] bore S.80E., distant about 2 miles; this point terminating our view of the river [Columbia River], I named it after Captain Vancouver; it is situated in latitude 45o 27', longitude 237o 50'."

The same remarkable mountain [Mount Hood, Oregon] that had been seen from Belle Vue point [Coon Island, now part of Sauvie Island] again presented itself, bearing at this station S.67E.; and though the party were now nearer to it by seven leagues, yet its lofty summit was scarcely more distinct across the intervening land, which was more than moderately elevated. Mr. Broughton honored it with Lord Hood's name; its appearance was magnificent; and it was clothed in snow from its summit, as low down as the high land, by which it was intercepted, rendered it visible. Mr. Broughton lamented that he could not acquire sufficient authority to ascertain its positive situation, but imagined it could not be less than twenty leagues from their then station.

Round point Vancouver [current research suggests today's Point Vancouver over often suggested Cottonwood Point] the river seemed to take a more northerly direction; its southern shores became very hilly [Columbia River Gorge, Rooster Rock, and Shepperds Dell are on the southern shore], with bare spots of a redish colour on the sides of the hills, and their tops were thinly covered with pine trees. The opposite shore was low, well wooded, and mostly composed of stony beaches [Cottonwood Beach, Prune Hill, and Washougal, Washington area]. The breadth of the river here was a quarter of a mile; it afforded a clear good channel on the northern shore, with soundings across from six to two fathoms, shoaling gradually to the bed of sand that stretches from the opposite side. During this day, they had constantly rowed against the stream, having increased their distance only twelve miles up the river;   nd notwithstanding there had been a sensible regulare rise and fall of the water, it had not in the least degree affected the stream, which had run constantly down with great rapidity.

Mr. Broughton at this time calculated the distance, from what he considered the entrance of the river, to be 84, and from the Chatham, 100 miles. To reach this station had now occupied their time, with very hard labour, seven days; this was to the full extent for which their provisions had been furnished; and their remaining supplies could not with all possible frugality last more than two or three days longer. And as it was impossible under the most favourable circumstances, they should reach the vessels in a less space of time, Mr. Broughton gave up the idea of any further examination, and was reconciled to this measure, because even thus far the river could hardly be considered as navigable for shipping. Previously to his departure, however, he formally took possession of the river, and the country in its vicinty, in His Britannic Majesty's name, having every reason to believe, that the subjects of no other civilized nation or state had ever entered this river before; in this opinion he was confirmed by Mr. Gray's sketch, in which it does not appear that Mr. Gray either saw, or was ever within five leagues of, its entrance [Captain Robert Gray, an American, the first to explore the Columbia River, however Vancouver/Broughton believed Gray was just in the bay of the Columbia and the actual river did not start until upstream.].

The friendly old chief, who still remained of their party, assisted at the ceremony, and drank his Majesty's health on the occasion; from him they endeavoured to acquire some further information of the country. The little that could be understood was, that higher up the river they would be prevented passing by falls [Cascade Rapids, today the location of the Bonneville Dam, Bridge of the Gods, and the Cascade Locks. This was explained, by taking up water in his hands, and imitating the manner of its falling from rocks, pointing, at the same time, to the place where the sun rises; indicating, that its source in that direction would be found at a great distance.

Heading Downstream
-- Lieutenant William Broughton
Tuesday, October 30, 1792

By the time these ceremonies and inquiries were finished, the night had closed in; notwithstanding this, Mr. Broughton re-imbarked, and with the stream in his favour sat out on his return. ... Little opportunity had been afforded, especially at the latter part of their journey up the river, to ascertain the depth of the channels: to supply this deficiency, the two boats spread, and sounded regularly, all the way down. By this means a bank was found extending entirely across Baring's river [Sandy River], and from thence across the main branch, which they had navigated, to the rocky passage at the west end of Johnstone's island [Lady Island]; the greatest depth having been only three fathoms, Mr. Broughton was confirmed in the opinion he had previously formed, that any further examination of this branch would be useless.

After passing to the west of the rocky passage [Lady Island vicinity], the best channel is on the southern shore, but even that is intricate, and the greatest depth of its water is only four fathoms. They took up their abode for the night [on Government Island] about half a mile from their preceding night's lodging [near Lemon Island, Government Island complex]; having returned in three hours the same distance that had taken them twelve hours to ascend. ..."

Wednesday, October 31, 1792

In the morning of the 31st of October it was low water at four, and high water at six o'clock; the rise and fall of the water did not appear generally to exceed two feet, and the stream constantly ran down. Mr. Broughton departed early [Government Island], and off the village of their friendly old chief was joined by him and his whole tribe. Soundings were pretty regular, until the party were abreast of some barren land, off which is an extensive bank [near Prune Hill]. On this there were only three feet water; this depth continued nearly to the east point of the islet, and was observed before to be covered with wild geese, and obtained the name of Goose Island [location of today's Tomahawk Island]. The channel here is on the southern shore, until the passage between Menzies island [Hayden Island] and the north shore is well open [area of Vancouver, Washington]; this is good and clear with regular soundings from three to seven fathoms, quite to Belle Vue point [Coon Island, now part of Sauvie Island], where a spit lies out at some small distance. The land in the neighbourhood of this reach, extending about five leagues to Baring's river [Sandy River], is on the southern side low, sandy, and well wooded. On the north side the country rises beyond the banks of the river with a pleasing degree of elevation, agreeably adorned with several clumps of trees; and towards the eastern part of the reach, it finishes at the water's edge in romantic rocky projecting precipices.

The good old chief here took his leave of the party. In commemoration of his friendly behavior, and his residence being in th eneighbourhood, this part of the river obtained the name of Friendly Reach [topo maps of today have Friendly Reach extending from Kelley Point, Oregon, to Vancouver, Washington], and a point on the northern shore, bearing from Belle Vue point [Coon Island, now part of Sauvie Island] S. 67 E., Parting Point [Mathews Point]. From this place to the station where Mr. Broughton observed the latitude on the 29th, the soundings were from six to ten fathoms; from whence a bank of land [???] extended along the western shore about a league, reaching over two-thirds of the channel, leaving a very narrow passage of the depth of ten to twelve fathoms. This bank terminates at Willow point [Willow Point, Sauvie Island, Oregon], from whence the soundings decreased from nine to six fathoms. About three miles from this point [Willow Point, Sauvie Island, Oregon], on the opposite or eastern side of the river, an opening or arm was passed, leading to the N.E. This was named by Mr. Broughton, after the master of the Discovery, Whidbey's River [Bachelor Island Slough]. The western point was flat, and prooduced some grass and willow trees. The opposite shore still continued more elevated, and from Whidbey's river [Bachelor Island Slough] was covered with pine trees. At the entrance into this river the depth of water was six or seven fathoms; but on approaching point Warrior [Warrior Point, the downstream point of Sauvie Island] for about two miles, it decreased to three and four fathoms, and again increased to ten and twelve fathoms off that point; from thence to Oak point [Caples Landing, near Woodland, Washington] the depth was from ten to five fathoms, here the party rested for the night, and perceived it to be low water at half past three, and high water at five in the morning of the 1st of November. ...

Thursday, November 1, 1792

The weather had the preceding day been gloomy, attended with fog and rain; this morning it was fair and pleasant, with a favourable eastwardly breeze. In passing from Urry's islands [Martin Island and Burke Island], the soundings were first from seven to three, then from four to nine fathoms; the depth again decreased as the low sandy island [Sandy Island] was approached, to six, three, and four fathoms; this latter depth continued between the island and the northern shore, which is the best channel, passing close to the main land. From this island [Sandy Island], where the water all round it is shoal, a spit extends some distance to the westward, on which there was no more than three fathoms; but from thence to the rocky islet [Coffin Rock] where the canoes with the dead bodies were deposited, it increases to seven and twelve fathoms; about a mile above this rock, a bank extends to the eastern shore nearly into mid-channel, where the depth of water did not exceed two fathoms and ah half, all the way to Knight's river [Cowlitz River]. The shores on this side are low, flat, and sandy; on the western side high and woody, and affording a clear though narrow channel, with soundings from five to eight fathoms.

Knight's river [Cowlitz River] is about the eighth of a mile in width; and from its entrance, where its depth is four fathoms, it takes a direction S. 51 E. Leaving Knight's river [Cowlitz River], the soundings increased from seven to twelve fathoms, until mount Coffin [Mount Coffin] was reached, where the depth of water was only six fathoms; and passing between the northern shore, and the dry sand bank, from three to five fathoms only were found, but the soundings increased from six to ten fathoms as the party advanced towards Walker's island [Walker Island]. On the western point of this island they made a late dinner ... From this point the depth continued from five to seven fathoms, until Baker's islands [Crims Island] were approached. A shoal spit extends from the longest and largest of these islands, or that which was so considered, to the eastward; on this was found only two and a half or three fathoms water. To the north of this apparently large island are three smaller ones, which admit a clear though narrow passage between them and the northern shore. One one of these, under a shelter of a grove of fine poplars, Mr. Broughton rested for the night.

Friday, November 2, 1792

At day-light the next morning their journey was resumed, and in passing Swaine's river [here the head of Wallace Slough, un-named during their ascent, whereas the mouth of Wallace Slough was named "Swaine's river" on the ascent, and is such on Broughton's map.], which takes a south-westerly direction, no bottom could be found with sixteen fathoms of line; but towards its western point soundings were had of three and four fathoms. About a league to the westward of this is Manby's river [mouth of Wallace Slough, named "Swaine's river" on their ascent and on Broughton's map], taking a course S.S.W.; from hence the depth of water was from seven to nine fathoms, until they approached near the east point of Puget's island [Puget Island]; from whence a shoal extends about a mile nearly into mid-channel; on this there were only two fathoms, but on crossing over to the southern shore, it deepened to seven fathoms.

Mount St. Helen's [Mount St. Helens, Washington] was here very distinctly seen lying S.81 E. Puget's island [Puget Island] was passed on the south, and observed to produce on that side only a few pine trees of inferior size; but it afforded a good channel ... its western extremity, which is a low marshy point covered with reeds. Soon after passing this point, another branch of the river was opened, which appeared, by the high land on the southern side, to lead into the sound in a direction N.56 W. But as in its entrance the depth of water was only two fathoms and an half, Mr. Broughton was induced to give up his intention of examining it, and pursued his former course, keeping near the southern shore, consisting apparently of a cluster of marshy islands. The north westernmost of these forms the south point of the entrance into the river; and on the west, or south side of this point, the low marshy land takes a south-westerly direction, whose other openings appeared to communicate with the last mentioned. Before these openings lie the shoals already noticed. On the northern shore, immediately without the entrance into the river, is an Indian village; a part of it only was occupied by the natives, who supplied our friends very liberally with salmon, and promised to follow them with more to the vessel. From hence they steered for a low sandy island, partly covered with trees, in the eastern part of the sound, with soundings from seven to five fathoms, until they drew very near to it, when the water became so shallow that they were obliged to haul off. ... A bank nearly dry continued all the way from this island to point Adams [Point Adams]. He however passed some distance along the north edge of the bank, towards Tongue point [Tongue Point], in three fathoms water, until nearly a-breast of Gray's bay [Grays Bay]; ... At nine in the evening the party arrived on board the Chatham; ...

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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

  • U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), 2019;

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.
April 2019