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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Cape Horn, Washington"
Includes ... Cape Horn ... "Lower Cape Horn" ... Cape Horn Landing ... Cape Horn Mountain ... Cape Horn Geology ... Cape Horn in 1895 ... Cape Horn Railway Tunnel ... Cape Horn Winery ... Views from Cape Horn ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2005, Cape Horn, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cape Horn, Washington. Cape Horn as seen from Dalton Point, Oregon. Phoca Rock is near the base of the cliff. Image taken October 22, 2005.


"... S. 47 W. 12 miles to a Stard. point of rocks of a high clift of black rocks ..." [Clark, November 2, 1805, first draft]


Cape Horn ...
Cape Horn is a massive basalt cliff outcrop located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 132, approximately 10 miles upriver from Washougal, Washington. In the Columbia, just off of Cape Horn, lies Phoca Rock, so named by Lewis and Clark after the many seals they saw there. On the Oregon side of the Columbia lies Rooster Rock, Latourell Falls, and Shepperd's Dell. Good views of Cape Horn can be had from Dalton Point on the Oregon side of the Columbia as well as from the Bridal Veil Overlook.

Early Cape Horn ...
Lewis and Clark passed by Cape Horn on November 2, 1805.

"... S. 47 W. 12 miles to a Stard. point of rocks of a high clift of black rocks ..." [Clark, November 2, 1805, first draft]

Early travelers and settlers also called Cape Horn, "Gibralter" with sections being called "The Needles". This was not the first Cape Horn on the Columbia and it is also not the only Cape Horn on the Columbia.


Cape Horns of the Columbia River ...
Throughout history there have been five different features named "Cape Horn" located along the Columbia River.
[More]

Cape Horn Geology ...
Cape Horn is a formation of Grande Ronde basalt flows (Columbia River Basalt) which are capped by Troutdale gravels, which in turn are overlain by the lavas of the small Biddle Butte (Mount Zion) olivine basalt shield volcano.

Image, 2005, Cape Horn, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cape Horn, Washington. Cape Horn as seen from Dalton Point, Oregon. Phoca Rock is near the base of the cliff. Image taken October 22, 2005.
Image, 2004, Cape Horn, Washington, from Bridal Veil, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Cape Horn, Washington. Cape Horn as seen from Bridal Veil, Oregon. Image taken October 11, 2004.


Cape Horn in 1895 ...
Andrew Jenson wrote about Washington's Cape Horn in 1895, for Utah's Deseret News. (The Deseret News was the first newspaper published in the Utah Territory, just three years after the Mormon pioneers settled the Great Salt Lake valley, with the first issue being June 15, 1850.)

"... As we proceed to the lower end of the gorge through which the Columbia passes through the Cascade mountains, we notice across the river, in the state Washington, the so-called Cape Horn, also called Gibralter. This is a strange handiwork of nature, composed of solid rock of apparent bark formation, rising abruptly from the water's edge, and so peculiarly erected on a base of perpendicular square rocks, as to have the appearance of piling. These rocks are at the upper portion surrounded by cone-shaped pillars known as the Needles.

Cape Horn rises to a height of from 500 to 2,500 feet, and In one of those peculiar formations, at which the sight seer can only express wonder. ..." [Jenson, May 13, 1895]

Source: "Jenson's Travels", written by Andrew Jenson, Portland, Oregon, May 13, 1895, and appearing in the Deseret News (Utah), June 1, 1895, courtesy Harold B. Lee Library online archives, Brigham Young University.


Views of Cape Horn ...
Good views of Cape Horn can be seen from the Oregon side of the Columbia, including Rooster Rock State Park, Bridal Veil Overlook, and Dalton Point.

Image, 2004, Cape Horn as seen from Crown Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Cape Horn, Washingotn, as seen from Crown Point, Oregon. Phoca Rock is just visible on the right. Image taken October 10, 2004.
Image, 2003, Cape Horn, Washington, from Rooster Rock State Park, click to enlarge
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Cape Horn, Washington, as seen from Rooster Rock State Park, Oregon. Image taken October 18, 2003.


Cape Horn Basalts ...

Image, 2005, Cape Horn, Washington, from Bridal Veil, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Basalts, Cape Horn, Washington. Cape Horn as seen from Bridal Veil, Oregon. Image taken March 6, 2005.
Image, 2005, Cape Horn, Washington, from Bridal Veil, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Basalts and waterfall, Cape Horn, Washington. Cape Horn as seen from Bridal Veil, Oregon. Image taken March 6, 2005.
Image, 2005, Cape Horn, Washington, from Bridal Veil, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Cape Horn, Washington, as seen from Bridal Veil, Oregon. Biddle Butte rises above Cape Horn. Lava flows from Biddle Butte cap the basalts of Cape Horn. Image taken March 6, 2005.
Image, 2003, Cape Horn, Washington, from Dalton Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Cape Horn, Washington. Cape Horn as seen from Dalton Point, Oregon. Image taken October 25, 2003.


Cape Horn, etc.

  • Cape Horn Landing ...
  • Cape Horn Mountain ...
  • Cape Horn Railroad Tunnel ...
  • Cape Horn Trail and the Nancy Russell Overlook ...
  • Cape Horn Winery ...
  • Washington State Highway 14 ...
  • Winter Waterfalls ...


Cape Horn Landing ...
Cape Horn Landing is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 132, just upstream of the massive basalt cliffs known as Cape Horn. Good views can be had from across the river at the Bridal Veil Overlook.
[More]

Penny Postcard, Steamer past Cape Horn, ca.1920
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Penny Postcard: Cape Horn and Cape Horn Landing, Washington, and the steamer "Dallas City", ca.1920. Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Passing Cape Horn, Columbia River". Caption along the bottom reads "'Dallas City', one of the many steamers out of Portland". Published by Chas. S. Lipschuetz Company, Portland, Oregon. Card has postmark of August 1921. Card #248. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2005, Cape Horn, tunnel, train, landing, click to enlarge
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Train leaving Cape Horn Tunnel and approaching Cape Horn Landing. View from Bridal Veil Overlook. Image taken October 22, 2005.


Cape Horn Mountain ...
Rising above Cape Horn is Biddle Butte (also known as "Mount Zion"), a small volcanic cone. In the 1860s Biddle Butte was known as "Cape Horn Mountain". Lava flows from Biddle Butte cap the basalts of Cape Horn.
[More]

Image, 2004, Cape Horn, Washington, click to enlarge
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Cape Horn, Washington, with Biddle Butte. Biddle Butte (also known as "Mount Zion", and earlier as "Cape Horn Mountain") rises above Cape Horn. The west portal of the Cape Horn Railroad Tunnel is visible on the left side of the massive Cape Horn basalt flow. The east portal is hidden in this view behind the left edge of the trees at the Columbia shore. View from Bridal Veil, Oregon. Image taken October 11, 2004.


Cape Horn Railroad Tunnel ...
The Cape Horn Railroad Tunnel No.1, at 2,382 feet, is the longest of eleven tunnels built along the north side of the Columbia River for the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway. The tunnel cuts through the massive basalt flow of Cape Horn.
[More]

Image, 2005, West Portal, Railroad Tunnel at Cape Horn, click to enlarge
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West Portal, Railroad Tunnel No.1 at Cape Horn. View from Bridal Veil, Oregon. Image taken March 6, 2005.
Image, 2003, East Portal, Railroad Tunnel at Cape Horn, click to enlarge
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East Portal, Railroad Tunnel No.1 at Cape Horn. East Portal of the Railroad Tunnel is just barely visible behind the trees on the right side of Phoca Rock. View from Dalton Point, Oregon. Image taken October 25, 2003.
Image, 2005, Cape Horn Tunnel, Washington, click to enlarge
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Cape Horn Railroad Tunnel east portal, with train in tunnel. View from Dalton Point, Oregon. Image taken October 22, 2005.
Image, 2005, Cape Horn Tunnel, Washington, click to enlarge
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Cape Horn Railroad Tunnel, with train in tunnel, from Dalton Point, Oregon. Note back end of train on the left and front end of train on the right !!! The Cape Horn Tunnel is 2,382 feet long. Image taken October 22, 2005.


Cape Horn Trail and the Nancy Russell Overlook ...
[More]

Image, 2013, Nancy Russell Overlook, Cape Horn, Washington, click to enlarge
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Nancy Russell Overlook, Cape Horn Trail, Cape Horn, Washington. Image taken August 24, 2013.


Cape Horn Winery ...
The Cape Horn Winery was located at the west end of Skamania County in the community of Cape Horn. This bottle is the only known bottle to still exist, ca.1936, and is at display at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, in Stevenson, Washington.

Image, 2011, Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, click to enlarge
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Bottle, Blackberry Wine, Cape Horn Winery exhibit. Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson, Washington. Image taken July 15, 2011.
Image, 2011, Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, click to enlarge
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Information sign, Cape Horn Winery exhibit. Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson, Washington. Image taken July 15, 2011.


Washington State Highway 14 ...
The Washington State Highway 14 Bridge across Cape Horn was built in the late 1920s and opened for traffic on December 16, 1930. Originally a metal roof was built over the bridge to keep rocks off the motorists, however this only worked for small debris. Larger rocks falling from higher up simply punched a hole through the roof. In the 1960s this "shed" roof was replaced with chain fencing on the cliff's sides.

Penny Postcard, Highway 14 rock shed at Cape Horn, ca.1947
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Penny Postcard: Rock shed, Washington Highway 14, at Cape Horn, ca.1947. Penny Postcard, postmarked 1947, "Rock Shed at Cape Horn, Evergreen Highway". Christian W-755. Card has postmark of April 23, 1947. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2005, Cape Horn, Washington, click to enlarge
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Washington State Highway 14 across Cape Horn. Cape Horn as seen from Dalton Point, Oregon. Image taken October 22, 2005.


Winter Waterfalls ...
A cold snap and freezing weather makes for great views of frozen waterfalls on both sides of the Columbia River Gorge, including Cape Horn.
[More]

Image, 2005, Cape Horn, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Frozen waterfalls, Cape Horn, Washington. Cape Horn as seen from Bridal Veil Overlook, Oregon. Image taken December 10, 2005.


Views from Cape Horn ...

Great views of the Columbia River can be seen from the Cape Horn pullout along Washington State Highway 14, including looking upstream towards Beacon Rock and Skamania Island, and looking down on Phoca Rock, located in the middle of the Columbia. Also looking down one can see a house at the location of Cape Horn Landing, once a steamboat stop on the Columbia River. Looking inland is a view of Bobs Mountain, a volcanic cone of the Boring Lava Field.

Image, 2006, Columbia River looking upstream from Cape Horn, click to enlarge
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Columbia River looking upstream from Cape Horn, Washington. Skamania Island and Beacon Rock are in the distance. Image taken April 22, 2006.
Image, 2006, Cape Horn Landing and Phoca Rock, click to enlarge
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Location of Cape Horn Landing and Phoca Rock, as seen from the Cape Horn Viewpoint. Image taken April 22, 2006.
Image, 2003, Phoca Rock from Cape Horn, click to enlarge
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Phoca Rock from Cape Horn, Washington. Image taken June 15, 2003.
Image, 2004, Skamania Island, as seen from Cape Horn, click to enlarge
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Skamania Island, Washington, as seen from the Cape Horn overlook. Image taken October 27, 2004.
Image, 2004, Bobs Mountain, Washington, as seen from Cape Horn, click to enlarge
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Bobs Mountain, Washington, as seen from Cape Horn, Washington. Bobs Mountain is a volcanic cone of the Boring Lava Field. Image taken October 27, 2004.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards". The "Penny Postcard" became a popular way to send greetings to friends and family. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Cape Horn, Columbia River, 1901
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Penny Postcard: Cape Horn with Cape Horn Landing, Washington, 1901. Penny Postcard, Copyright 1901, "Cape Horn on the Columbia River". Copyright 1901 by the Detroit Photographic Company. Undivided back. Card #5869. Cape Horn Landing is visible on the right. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Cape Horn, Columbia River, ca.1905
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Penny Postcard: Cape Horn, as seen from upstream, ca.1905. Penny Postcard, ca.1905, "Cape Horn, 400 feet, Columbia River.". Published by D.M. Averill & Co. Publishers, Portland, Oregon. Undivided back. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Cape Horn, Columbia River, ca.1911
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Penny Postcard: "The Needles", Cape Horn on the Columbia, ca.1911. Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1911, "The Needles, Cape Horn on the Columbia River.". Card is postmarked October 6, 1911. Published by the Portland Post Card Company, Portland, Oregon. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Cape Horn Tunnel on North Bank Road, 1909
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Penny Postcard: Cape Horn, Washington, and Railway Tunnel No.1, 1909. Penny Postcard, Copyright 1909, "Cape Horn Tunnel on the North Bank Road". View is of the western portal of Tunnel No.1. Copyright 1909 by Kiser Photo Company for the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Ry. Phoca Rock is visible on the right. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Cape Horn Tunnel, with train, ca.1920
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Penny Postcard: Cape Horn, Washington, and Railway Tunnel No.1, ca.1920. Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Cape Horn, Columbia River, Oregon". View is of the western portal of Tunnel No.1. Published by Pacific Novelty Company, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Steamer past Cape Horn, ca.1910
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Penny Postcard: Cape Horn, Washington, with passing steamer, ca.1910. Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Palisades on the Columbia River.". Published by the J.K. Gill Co., Card #3952. Made in Germany. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Steamer past Cape Horn, ca.1920
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Cape Horn and Cape Horn Landing, Washington, and the steamer "Dallas City", ca.1920. Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Passing Cape Horn, Columbia River". Caption along the bottom reads "'Dallas City', one of the many steamers out of Portland". Published by Chas. S. Lipschuetz Company, Portland, Oregon. Card has postmark of August 1921. Card #248. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Highway 14 rock shed at Cape Horn, ca.1947
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Rock shed, Washington Highway 14, at Cape Horn, ca.1947. Penny Postcard, postmarked 1947, "Rock Shed at Cape Horn, Evergreen Highway". Christian W-755. Card has postmark of April 23, 1947. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 2, 1805, first draft ...
Meridian altitude 59 45' 45" made a portage of about 1 miles with half of the Baggage, and run the rapid with the Canoes without much damage ... we Set out Passed 2 bad rapids one at 2 & the other at 4 mile below the Isd on Lard. [Bradford Island] and upper end of Strawberry Island [Hamilton Island] on the Stard. Side from the Creek end of last Course

S. 50 W. 5 miles to a timbered bottom on the Lard. Side, passed the Lowr. point of Strawbery Isd. at 3 miles [Hamilton Island], a Isd Covd with wood below on Stard. Side a remarkable high rock on Stard. [Beacon Rock] Side about 800 feet high & 400 yds round, the Beaten Rock. The mountains and bottoms thickly timbered with Pine Spruce Cotton and a kind of maple Passed 2 Small wooded Islands on Std. Side [today Ives and Pierce Island], <opsd> below the lower Island on the Stard. Side at 4 miles an Indian village of 9 Houses. The river wider and bottoms more extencive.

S. 47 W. 12 miles to a <Lard.> Stard. point of rocks of a high clift of black rocks [Cape Horn, Columbia River Basalt]. passed a Stard. Point at 4 miles. here the mountains are low on each Side & thickly timbered with pine. river about 2 miles wide, passed a rock at 10 miles in the middle of the river [Phoca Rock] this rock is 100 feet high & 80 feet Diameter, a deep bend to the Stard. Side, ...

S. 58 W. 4 miles <to a> Stard. point of a large bottom. Encamped on the 21 Lard Side river about 2 miles wid Country thickly timbered we Encamped behind a large rock [Rooster Rock] in the Lard. Bend, a Canoe with 7 Inds. came down & Encamped with us



Clark, November 2, 1805 ...
Examined the rapid below us [from their camp at Fort Rains, looking at the Cascade Rapids] more pertcelarly the danger appearing too great to Hazzard our Canoes loaded, dispatched all the men who could not Swim with loads to the end of the portage below, I also walked to the end of the portage with the carriers where I delayed untill everry articles was brought over and canoes arrived Safe. here we brackfast and took a Meridn. altitude 59 45' 45" about the time we were Setting out 7 Squars came over loaded with Dried fish, and bear grass neetly bundled up, Soon after 4 Indian men came down over the rapid in a large canoe.     passed a rapid at 2 miles & 1 at 4 miles opposite the lower point of a high Island on the Lard Side [Bradford Island], and a little below 4 Houses on the Stard. Bank, a Small Creek on the Lard Side [Tanner Creek] opposit Straw berry Island [Hamilton Island], which heads below the last rapid, opposit the lower point of this Island [Hamilton Island] passed three Islands covered with tall timber [today there are two, Ives and Pierce] opposit the Beatin rock [Beacon Rock]    Those Islands are nearest the Starboard Side, imediately below on the Stard. Side passed a village of nine houses [indentified on Atlas map#79 as the "Wah-clallah Tribe of Shahala Nation", location near today's Skamania and Skamania Landing], which is Situated between 2 Small Creeks [Woodard Creek and Duncan Creek], and are of the Same construction of those above; here the river widens to near a mile, and the bottoms are more extensive and thickly timbered, as also the high mountains on each Side, with Pine, Spruce pine, Cotton wood, a Species of ash, and alder.     at 17 miles passed a rock near the middle of the river [Phoca Rock], about 100 feet high and 80 feet Diamuter,     proceed on down a Smoth gentle Stream of about 2 miles wide, in which the tide has its effect as high as the Beaten rock [Beacon Rock] or the Last rapids at Strawberry Island [Hamilton Island],- Saw great numbers of waterfowl of Different kinds, Such as Swan, Geese, white & grey brants, ducks of various kinds, Guls, & Pleaver [today just below Beacon Rock is Franz National Wildlife Refuge]. ...     we encamped under a high projecting rock on the Lard. Side [Rooster Rock, with Crown Point rising above it],     here the mountains leave the river on each Side [leaving the Columbia River Gorge, Steigerwald Land NWR is on the north and the Sandy River delta is on the south], which from the great Shute to this place is high and rugid [Columbia River Gorge]; thickly Covered with timber principalley of the Pine Species. The bottoms below appear extensive and thickly Covered with wood.     river here about 2 miles wide.     Seven Indians in a Canoe on their way down to trade with the nativs below, encamp with us, those we left at the portage passed us this evening and proceeded on down The ebb tide rose here about 9 Inches, the flood tide must rise here much higher- we made 29 miles to day from the Great Shute [Cascade Locks]-





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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: Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee online archives website, 2007; Hitchman, R., 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington Historical Society; Mountain Men and the Fur Trade website, 2004; Norman, D.K., and Roloff, J.M., 2004, A Self-Guided Tour of the Geology of the Columbia River Gorge -- Portland Airport to Skamania Lodge, Stevenson, Washington: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources, Open-File Report 2004-7, March 2004; Parsons, M.E., 1982, Across Rushing Waters: A history of the Washougal River and Cape Horn: Post-Record, Camas, Washington; "Rootsweb.com" website, 2005; Townsend, J.K., 1839, Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains, to the Columbia River, and a Visit to the Sandwich Islands, Chili, &c. with a Scientific Appendix: Reprinted in: Thwaites, R.G., LL.D. (editor), 1905, Early Western Travels 1748-1846, Vol.XXI , The Arthur H. Clark Company, Cleveland, Ohio; "WorldHistory.com" website, 2004.

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