Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Clifton and Clifton Channel, Oregon"
Includes ... Clifton ... Clifton Channel ...
Image, 2012, Clifton, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Remains of fishing industry, Clifton, Oregon. The top of the old Clifton Cannery building is just visible in the background. Image taken September 22, 2012.

Clifton ...
Clifton and nearby Bradwood, Oregon, are two communities from a bye-gone era and are located approximately at Columbia River Miles (RM) 36 and 38 respectively. In the late 1800s Clifton was once a thriving fishing community and cannery location. Bradwood, located on Hunt Creek, was a booming lumber town. Downstream is Aldrich Point and upstream is the community of Wauna. Tenasillahe Island lies across the Clifton Channel from Clifton and Tenasillahe and Puget Island can be seen from Bradwood.

Clifton Channel ...
Clifton Channel is the southern reach of the Columbia River, separating Tenasillahe Island from the Oregon shore. The main channel of the Columbia is on the north side of Tenasillahe Island.

Clifton Cannery ...
The second cannery in Clatsop County was built in 1873 by the Cook brothers in Clifton, Oregon.

Early Clifton ...
"Clifton was a settlement on the south bank of the Columbia River long before the railroad was built, and at one time J.W. and V. Cook, pioneer salmon packers, had a cannery there. The name is descriptive of the cliffs above the river. Clifton post office was established January 6, 1874. J.H. Middleton, who was living near Waldport in 1927 and who went to Clifton in the fall of 1873, told the compiler that Clifton was the name of the farm of Stephen G. Spear and that he was of the opinion that Spear named the place Clifton before the property came into the possession of V. and J.W. Cook. Members of the Cook family are also of the belief that Spear named the place before the Cooks became established there."

Source:    MacArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press

Image, 2012, Clifton, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Remains of store, Clifton, Oregon. According to Ralph Friedman in "In Search of Western Oregon", Clifton had two stores, one of which closed in 1950 and was "a strew of splinters" (1990, p.124), and the other closed in 1960 and for a while became an office for the Clifton caretaker, owned at the time by Bumble Bee. Presumably, this image is of the remains of that store. Image taken September 22, 2012.
Image, 2012, Clifton, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Docks, Clifton, Oregon. Image taken September 22, 2012.

Views from the Clifton Road ...

Image, 2012, Columbia River from Clifton Road, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River as seen from the Clifton Road, Oregon. In the distance Tenasillahe Island is to the left and Puget Island is to the right. The settlements of Clifton would be left (downstream) and Bradwood would be right (upstream). Clifton Channel is in the middleground, left. Jetty visible on right juts off Tenasillahe Island. Image taken September 22, 2012.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, March 25, 1806 ...
Last night and this morning are cool wend hard a head and tide going out, after an early brackfast we proceeded on [from their camp near Aldrich Point] about 4 miles and came too on the south side to worm and dry our Selves a little. Soon after we had landed two Indians Came from a War kia cum village on the opposite Side with 2 dogs and a fiew Wappato to Sell neither of which we bought. Som Clatsops passed down in a Canoe loaded with fish and Wappato. as the wind was hard a head and tide against us we Concluded to delay untill the return of the tide which we expected at 1 oClock, at which hour we Set out ...     we crossed over to an Island [Puget Island] on which was a Cath lahmah fishing Camp of one Lodge; here we found <one> 3 man two woman and a couple of boys who must have for Some time for the purpose of taking Sturgeon which they do by trolling. they had 10 or 12 very fine Sturgeon which had not been long taken; [White Sturgeon] ...     we remained at this place about half an hour and then Continued our rout. the winds in the evening was verry hard, it was with Some dificuelty that we Could find a Spot proper for an encampment, the Shore being a Swamp for Several miles back; at length late in the evening opposit to the place we had encamped on the 6th of Novr. last [near Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County]; we fouond the enterance of a Small Creek [one of the many mouths/sloughs/drainages of the Clatskanie River system, near Wallace Island and Wallace Slough] which offered us a Safe harbour from the Winds and Encamped. the Ground was low and moist tho' we obtained a tolerable encampment. here we found another party of Cathlahmahs about 10 in number, who had established a temporary residence for the purpose of fishing and takeing Seal ...     here we found Drewyer and the 2 Fields' who had been Seperated from us Since Morning; they had passed on the North Side of the large Island [Puget Island] which was much nearest. the bottom lands are Covered with a Species of Arspine, the Growth with a broad leaf which resembles ash except the leaf. the under brush red willow, broad leafed Willow, Seven bark, Goose berry, Green bryor, and the larged leaf thorn; the latter is Now in blume, the nativs inform us that it bears a <leaf> fruit about an Inch in diamieter which is a good to eate. the red willow and 7 bark begin to put foth their leaves. The green bryor which I have before mentioned retains leaves all winter. made 15 Miles.

Journey to the PacificReturn to




*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

  • Friedman, R., 1990, "In Search of Western Oregon", The Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho;
  • MacArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press;
  • Oregon State Archives website, 2012, "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon";

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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September 2012