Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Cascade Locks, Oregon"
Includes ... Cascade Locks ... Cascade Locks Marine Park ... Thunder Island ... Campsite of October 30-31, 1805 ... Campsite of April 12, 1806 ... National Register of Historic Places ... Sternwheeler "Columbia Gorge" ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2011, Looking upstream from Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Cascade Locks as seen from Bridge of the Gods. Image taken May 20, 2011.


Cascade Locks ...
Cascade Locks is located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River within the Bonneville Reservoir, at River Mile (RM) 149. It is located across from Ashes Lake, Rock Cove, and Stevenson, Washington. Downstream from Cascade Locks is the Bridge of the Gods, Ruckel Creek, and Eagle Creek. Upstream is Herman Creek, Government Cove, and the vanished community of Wyeth. Cascade Locks is located at the upstream end of Lewis and Clark's "Lower Falls of the Columbia", the "Cascade Rapids". In late October and early November 1805, and then again in mid-April 1806, the men had to portage their equipment around these rapids. In 1896 a navigational canal and locks were completed around these trecherous rapids and the town of "Cascade Locks" was born. In 1938 the Bonneville Dam was completed three miles downstream, and the rising waters of the Bonneville Reservoir inundated the canal and locks. Part of the canal is visible today as a tourist attraction and fishing pier. Today the Sternwheeler "Columbia Gorge" is based in Cascade Locks.

Lewis and Clark and the Cascade Locks area ...
Lewis and Clark's campsites of October 30 and October 31, 1805, and April 12, 1806, were on an island off the Washington side of the Columbia, across from Cascade Locks, Oregon. They spent two nights at this spot on their trip down river as they portaged across the trecherous "Cascade Rapids", and one night on the return trip.
[More]

Image, 2004, Table Mountain from Bonneville Dam, North Bonneville, Washington click to enlarge
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Table Mountain and the Bonneville Landslide, Washington, as seen from Cascade Locks, Oregon. View towards the location of Lewis and Clark's campsites of October 30 and 31, 1805 and April 12, 1806, near Ashes Lake, Washington, at the upper end of the Bonneville Landslide. View from Thunder Island, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken November 4, 2004.


Cascade Locks Navigational Canal ...
Before construction of locks were built past the Cascade Rapids and the Celilo Falls, passengers would have to exit one steamer, portage past the obstructions, and then board another steamer.

As written on the "AmericanWestSteamboat.com" website (2006):

"... Passengers and freight would travel the lower Columbia River to the Cascades on the Fashion, Carrie Ladd, Mountain Buck, or Julia. There they would put ashore and ride the portage railroad behind a tiny rail car, affectionately known as the Oregon Pony to the upper landing, where they would board the Idaho, Hassalo, or Wasco to The Dalles. There they would ride a horse drawn wagon for a short ride around Celilo Falls then board the Colonel Wright, Nez Perce Chief, Yakima, or Spray for a cruise to Lewiston on the Snake River. ..."

In 1878 construction of the 8-foot-deep Cascade Locks Navigation Canal began. It was completed on November 5, 1896, providing a way around the infamous Cascade Rapids, a section of the Columbia which had restricted navigation up the Columbia since the time of Lewis and Clark.

Forty-two years later, early in 1938, the canal was submerged under the rising waters of the Bonneville Reservoir, behind the Bonneville Dam.


Views of the Locks ...

Image, 2011, Cascade Locks looking upstream, click to enlarge
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Looking upstream, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Sternwheeler "Columbia Gorge" is in the distance, with Thunder Island on the left and Cacade Locks Marine Park is on the right. Image taken May 20, 2011.
Image, 2011, Cascade Locks looking downstream, click to enlarge
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Looking downstream towards Bridge of the Gods, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken May 20, 2011.
Image, 2011, Cascade Locks looking upstream, click to enlarge
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Marine Park, Cascade Locks, Oregon. View looking upstream from bridge crossing the locks. Image taken May 20, 2011.
Image, 2011, Cascade Locks looking upstream, click to enlarge
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Thunder Island with locks wall and fishing platform, Cascade Locks, Oregon. View looking upstream from bridge crossing the locks. Image taken May 20, 2011.


Opening Day ...
Seven steamers were lined up to be the first through the Cascade Locks on November 5, 1896. They were the "Dalles City", "Harvest Queen", "Maria", "Regulator", "Sadie B.", "Sarah Dixon", and "Water Witch".


"... The opening of the Cascade Locks was an event paralleling in interest the forthcoming celebration when the Celilo Canal will be opened May 5. A picture was taken in 1896, showing the Harvest Queen, Sarah Dixon, Dalles City, Maria and the bow of the Regulator. The steamers Sadie B. and the Water Witch were also in the lock but the camera man missed them. ..."

[note: image not shown on this website]

Source:   "Morning Oregonian", March 14, 1915, University of Oregon website "Historic Oregon Newspapers", 2013


"... The locks were turned over to Captain W.L. Fisk, one of the corps of army engineers, by the contractors on November 5, 1896. The first boat to go through the locks was the "Sadie B.". The "Sadie B.", the "Danes City" ["Dalles City"], the "Sarah Dixon" and the "Harvest Queen" were put through the locks together. As they went through there was a continuous ovation. The "Sarah Dixon" had mounted a cannon her her deck and this was fired in salute. The "Harvest Queen" had on board four hundred excursionists. It turned around after passing through the locks and started back for Portland, thus being the first boat to make a round through the locks. ..."

Source:   S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1928, "History of the Columbia River Valley from The Dalles to the Sea", vol.III.

"Four steamers waiting their turn at the opening of Cascade Locks November 5, 1896. The steamers are identified as the 1) sternwheeler "Maria" which was built at Portland in 1887 and abandoned in 1923; 2) sternwheeler "Dalles City" which was built at Portland in 1891 and rebuilt in 1909; 3) sternwheeler "Harvest Queen" built at Celilo in 1878 and dismantled in 1899; and 4) sternwheeler "Sarah Dixon" which was built in 1892 and rebuilt in 1906. The original photograph is from the collection of Captain Werner Eckhart."

[note: image not shown on this website]

Source:   Ben Maxwell image collection, Salem Public Library Historic Photograph Collections, Salem Public Library, Salem, Oregon


Image, 2013, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon, under the I-5 Bridge, click to enlarge
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Model, "Harvest Queen", Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon. The "Harvest Queen" was one of four steamers to go through the Cascade Locks on opening day in 1896. Image taken May 8, 2013.


Cascade Locks ... the town ...
The small community of Cascades Lock was developed by the federal government as they built the Cascade Locks. Work started on the locks in 1878, at which time the Cascade Locks post office was established, the community taking its name from the locks. While the locks were submerged early in 1938 with construction of the Bonneville Dam, the town remained safe.

View from Bridge of the Gods ...

Image, 2010, Cascade Locks, Oregon, click to enlarge
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The town of Cascade Locks, as seen from the Bridge of the Gods, Oregon. View from moving car heading north across Bridge of the Gods. Image taken March 6, 2010.
Image, 2012, Cascade Locks, Oregon, click to enlarge
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The town of Cascade Locks, as seen from the Bridge of the Gods, Oregon. View from moving car heading north across Bridge of the Gods. Image taken May 11, 2012.


Street scenes ...

Image, 2011, Cascade Locks, street scene, click to enlarge
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Street scene, Cascade Locks, Oregon. View from moving car. Image taken July 2, 2011.

The Pacific Crest Pub & Hostel was built in 1910.
Image, 2011, Cascade Locks, street scene, click to enlarge
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Street scene, Cascade Locks, Oregon. View from moving car. Image taken July 2, 2011.

Big D's Service Station.
Image, 2011, Cascade Locks, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Street scene, Cascade Locks, Oregon. View from moving car heading west. Image taken November 9, 2011.
Image, 2012, Cascade Locks, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Street scene, Cascade Locks, Oregon. View from moving car heading west. Image taken May 11, 2012.


Cascade Locks, etc.

  • Bridge of the Gods ...
  • Cascade Locks Marine Park ...


Bridge of the Gods ...
The Bridge of the Gods is located at Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 148, nearly three miles upstream of Bonneville Dam, and just downstream of the historic canal and locks at Cascade Locks. The bridge is located at the toe of the Table Mountain Landslide (Bonneville Landslide) which created the Cascade Rapids. The bridge is a cantilever bridge, 1,131 feet, with an overall bridge length of 1,858 feet. In 1938 the bridge was raised to accommodate the rising pool behind the Bonneville Dam. Currently the Bridge of the Gods is a toll bridge allowing motor and foot traffic, and it is the Columbia River crossing for the Pacific Crest Trail.
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Cascade Locks Marine Park ...
Cascade Locks Marine Park is along the Columbia River at the location of the remains of the Cascade Locks, on the east side of the town. The park has picnic areas, a playground built like a sternwheeler, the Cascade Locks Historical Museum (housed in one of the 3 original locks tender's houses), and the Oregon Pony, the first steam engine in the Pacific Northwest. In September 2006 the park featured two life-size cutouts of "Seaman", Captain Lewis's newfoundland dog who made the entire journey with Lewis and Clark, and in 2011 two bronzes were dedicated, one of Sacagawea and Pomp, and the other of Captain Lewis's dog Seaman. There is also a walking bridge crossing the remains of the Locks, connecting the Marine Park with a 3-acre "Thunder Island". Cascade Locks Marine Park (and the Locks) was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 (Structure - #74001686).
[More]

Image, 2005, Cascade Locks Marine Park, click to enlarge
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Cascade Locks Marine Park. View from bridge across the Locks to Thunder Island. Image taken June 29, 2005.
Image, 2009, Playground, Cascade Locks Marine Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Playground, Cascade Locks Marine Park, Oregon. Image taken January 13, 2009.
Image, 2009, Museum, Cascade Locks Marine Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Cascade Locks Historical Museum, Cascade Locks Marine Park, Oregon. Image taken June 3, 2009.

The Cascade Locks Historical Museum is located in one of the three original locks tender's houses, built in 1905.
Image, 2006, Oregon Pony, click to enlarge
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Glass enclosure, "Oregon Pony", at Cascade Locks Marine Park, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken September 16, 2006.
Image, 2013, Oregon Pony, click to enlarge
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"Oregon Pony" in glass enclosure, Cascade Locks Marine Park, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken May 19, 2013.
Image, 2010, Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, click to enlarge
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"Columbia Gorge" Sternwheeler docked, as seen from Thunder Island. Image taken October 18, 2010.
Image, 2013, Cascade Locks, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Thunder Island, Cascade Locks Marine Park, Cascade Locks, Oregon. View looking east with the historic locks visible on the right. Image taken February 15, 2013.


"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, Steamer entering Cascade Locks, ca.1909
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Penny Postcard: Steamer entering Cascade Locks, ca.1909.
Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1909, "Steamer entering Cascade Locks, Columbia River". Card made in Germany, Card #10246. "The PCK Series". Card postmarked July 1909. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Bailey Gatzert, ca.1910
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Penny Postcard: Steamer "Bailey Gatzert" entering the Cascade Locks, ca.1910. Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Steamer Bailey Gatzert entering the Locks of the Cascades". Back: "On the Road of a Thousand Wonders". Published by M. Rieder, Los Angeles, Card #3941. Made in Germany. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Cascade Locks, Columbia River, ca.1911
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Penny Postcard: Cascade Locks, Columbia River, ca.1911.
Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1911, "Cascade Locks, Columbia River.". Litho Britton & Rey, San Francisco, California. Card #7015. Card is postmarked 1911. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Cascade Locks, Steamer, ca.1910
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Penny Postcard: Cascade Locks, with steamer, ca.1910.
Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Cascade Locks, Columbia River, Ore.". Caption on back reads: "On the Road of a Thousand Wonders". Published by M. Rieder, Los Angeles, Cal., Card #4027. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Cascade Locks, Ship heading upriver, ca.1920
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Penny Postcard: Cascade Locks, with steamer heading upriver, ca.1920.
Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Cascade Locks, Columbia River, Oregon". Caption on back reads: "Cascade Locks, seen from the highway, constructed by the government at an expense of nearly $3,000,000.00 to overcome the unnavigable rapids of the Cascades. The locks raise steamers 20 feet and enables them to pass around the Cascades. The indian Legend has it that the rapids were formed by the fall of the fabled 'Bridge of the Gods"'and once spanned the Columbia River." Published by Lipschuetz & Katz, Portland, Oregon, Card #329. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Cascade Locks, Steamers, including the Dalles City, ca.1910
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Penny Postcard: Cascade Locks, with steamers, including the "Dalles City", ca.1910.
Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Columbia River Steamers in Cascade Locks". Caption on back reads: "Columbia river is one of the largest rivers in the west side of America. Its estimated length is 1400 miles. The river is broken by falls and rapids into many separate portions, and the ingress and egress are embraced by a surf eaten bar, still it is open to steamboat navigation from its mouth to the Cascade. About 160 miles along the river are located some of the largest salmon canneries in the world." Card #90. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


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, ...     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 ...     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, 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: "A2ZGorge.info" website, 2006; "AmericanWestSteamboat.com" website, 2006; "CascadeLocks.net" website, 2004; National Register of Historic Places website, 2004, 2005; Oregon Historic Photograph Collection website, 2006; Oregon Museums Association website, 2009; Port of Cascade Locks website, 2011; University of Oregon Newspaper archives, 2013.

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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May 2013