Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Clifton and Bradwood, Oregon"
Includes ... Clifton ... Bradwood ... Clifton Channel ... Hunt Creek, Spear Creek ... Kelly Creek ...
Image, 2012, Clifton, Oregon, click to enlarge
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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 and Bradwood ...
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.

Early Clifton and Bradwood ...
The first settler in the Clifton and Bradwood area was Henry Harrison Hunt, who arrived in Oregon via the Oregon Trail in 1843. Hunt built Oregon's first sawmill in 1844. It was known as "Hunt's Mill" or "Hunt Mill". (See more below.)

In 1873 brothers James W. and Vincent Cook built a cannery in Clifton. This cannery was the second cannery built on the Oregon side of the Columbia. (See more below.)

According to "Oregon Geographic Names" (2003, McArthur and McArthur, Oregon Historical Society):

"Clifton (CLATSOP) ... 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."

"Bradwood (CLATSOP) ... The Bradley-Woodard Lumber Company was incorporated July 15, 1930, and one of its activities was the development of a mill and community on the south bank of the Columbia River about two miles upstream from Clifton. The name of the new town, Bradwood, was made synthetically from the name of the company. After the supply of large, old-growth timber was exhausted, the mill closed permanently in June 1962. A major fire in 1965 destroyed most of the facilities, and by 1984 only five residents remained. Bradwood post office was established April 17, 1931, and closed along with the mill."

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database (2019) shows Stephen G. Spear being granted title to 144.50 acres of T8N R6W, Sections 5 and 6, and T9N R6W, Section 31, on November 20, 1872 (1820 Sale-Cash Entry).

Views ...

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
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Docks, Clifton, Oregon. Image taken September 22, 2012.
Image, 2012, Bradwood, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Gated road to Bradwood, Oregon. Image taken September 22, 2012.
Image, 2012, Bradwood, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Bridge crossing Hunt Creek, Bradwood, Oregon. View from road at gate. Image taken September 22, 2012.
Image, 2012, Columbia River from Clifton Road, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Columbia River as seen from the Clifton Road near Bradwood, 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 and the floodplain of Hunt Creek is in the foreground. Jetty visible on right juts off Tenasillahe Island. Image taken September 22, 2012.

Clifton and Bradwood, etc.

  • Clifton Cannery ...
  • Clifton Channel ...
  • Hunt Creek ...
  • Hunt Creek in 1940 ...
  • "Hunt's Mill" ...
  • Spear and Kelly Creek ...

Clifton Cannery ...
The second cannery on the Oregon side of the Columbia River was built in Clifton in 1873 by the Cook brothers. The first cannery was built in 1869 in Westport.

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.

Hunt Creek ...
Hunt Creek is a small drainage which enters the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 38. It was the location of "Hunt's Mill", the first sawmill in the area, built in 1844. In 1930 the timber community of Bradwood was developed at this location. Hunt Creek was named for Henry H. Hunt, the pioneer sawmill operator whose mill began operations at Hunts Mill Point.

Hunt Creek in 1940 ...
From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"US 30 twists down to HUNT CREEK, 80.7 m., then climbs a spur from which a desolate waste of logged over land extends in all directions. A high, sharply etched mountain (L), with sides bare of vegetation, shows the results of unreestricted timber cutting."

"Hunt's Mill" ...
There was a sawmill known as "Hunt's Mill" built in 1843-1844 on Hunt Creek, today the location of Bradwood. Hunt's Mill was the first sawmill built on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. The (Hudson's Bay Company had built three sawmills between 1828 and 1843 near Fort Vancouver, Washington.)

The Recollections and Impressions of a Young Oregon Pioneer.
No. XI.

"... On our way down on this trip we passed one night at Hunt's Mill. This was the first lumbering enterprise started on the Columbia. Henry Harrison Hunt of Indiana, Benj. Wood of New York, and A.E. Wilson of Massachusetts, were the first owners; joined subsequently by James Birnie, a retired H.B. Co. man, who settled at Cathlamet. I worked at the mill at intervals in 1845-6-7. It was a good day's work to cut 3,000 feet of lumber, and the logs were cut and rolled into the mill yard by men only for more than a year. When gold was discovered in California, over 100,000 feet of lumber was on hand which suddenly rose in value from $12 to $100 per M. The proceeds of that lumber was invested in the steamer Columbia, and she was the first steamer brought into the Columbia river."

Source:    "Willamette Farmer (Salem, Or.)", July 17, 1885, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019.

It Was Located On The Oregon Side.

"One of the first sawmills built in Oregon was located a few miles below Westport, about opposite Puget Island. The mill irons for its construction were brought across the plains in an ox wagon, in the emigrant train of 1843.

N.A. Eberman, still a resident of the county, now living at Seaside, was one of the original proprietors of the mill. In 1843, he, Hiram Straight, T. B. Wood, and Henry Hunt, left Independence, Missouri, with the mill irons. After they got to Oregon City Hunt and Eberman started down the Columbia river. the falls were about one hundred feet high.

So that Cathlamet was originally in Oregon, and gave its name to the place in Wsshington opposite the original Cathlamet.

The mill was operated with a sash saw, the motive power being a twenty-foot overshot wheel, turned by water diverted from the stream at the falls.

It was known as the "Hunt mill," and was operated for many years till another mill, more easy of access, was built at Oak Point.

The mill at Cathlamet, Oregon, was then abandoned, and was bought by E. Granger Bryant, a cousin of Wm. Cullen Bryant, who wrote the line, "Where rolls the Oregon, and bears no sound save its own dashings." Mr. Bryant came out here to see the river that his gifted cousin had immortalized, and which had immortalized him, and bought the mill, finally dismantling it, and carrying the irons away.

In these busy days, a ray of poetic sunlight and historical research may not fall amiss on the fast dimming record of early days on the banks of the mighty river of the west."

Source:    "The Daily Morning Astorian (Astoria, Or.)", July 22, 1890, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019.

"P.W. Gillette writes to the Oregonian regarding old days in Clatsop county. The following extracts are taken from the article:

H.H. Hunt and Ben Woods crossed the plains in 1843, but did not go to Clatsop until 1844, when they built "Hunt's mill". This was the first sawmill ever built on the Columbia river. It stood near the place now known as Clifton (J.W. & V. Cook's cannery), and I think they own the old millsite. Mr. Hunt selected this place on account of the water power there. He hauled the mill irons for this mill across the plains, which, considering the great distance, the many dangers and almost insurmountable obstacles to meet and overcome, the road in many places to locate and build, was an Herculean task to perform. The old French ship Sylvia de Grass, early in 1850, loaded with lumber at this mill for San Francisco. On her way down the river, at high tide, she struck on a sunken rock, a short distance above Upper Astoria, and when the tide fell the ship's back was broken. Her great hulk hung on this rock more than a quarter of a century, a mournful signal of the hidden danger. Had she made quick dispatch, her cargo of lumber would have brought the enormous sum of $150 to $200 per 1000 feet. A government buoy now marks the danger spot, and the old Sylvia de Grasse, as well as the old mill, are forever gone."

Source:    "The Spokesman-Review", Friday, November 22, 1895, Clatsop Pioneers.

"The first sawmill built in Clatsop County, Oregon, was the one known as the "Hunt Mill". It was completed in the summer of 1844. They began work on it in the last days of 1843. The site was on a little stream about four hundred yards back from the Columbia River, and about one and one-half miles above where the Clifton cannery now stands, nearly opposite Cathlamet of today. (The ancient or original Cathlamet was just above the site of the mill on the same side of the river.) Henry H. Hunt and Ben Wood were proprietors; one Edward Otey was the millwright; it was run by water power; ...   Most of the lumber cut was from twelve to twenty-four feet long, but could cut out thirty feet in length. The cutting capacity was from three thousand to five thousand feet a day. When water was high, by running night and day, it would turn off ten thousand feet in twenty-four hours. ...   A large part of the lumber made at this mill was exported to California and the Sandwich Islands. ..."

Source:    Smith, S.B., 1900, "Beginnings in Oregon", IN: Oregon Historical Society, Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, vol.1, p.92.

Spear and Kelly Creek ...
Spear Creek and its tributary Kelly Creek enter Clifton Channel on the east side of the Clifton community. Stephen G. Spear was the first settler in the Clifton area. He named his farm "Clifton" after the cliffs above the river.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, March 25, 1806 ...

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;
  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2012, 2019;
  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, "Oregon Geographic Names", Oregon Historical Society Press;
  • Oregon State Archives website, 2012, "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon";
  • Smith, S.B., 1900, "Beginnings in Oregon", IN: Oregon Historical Society, Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society;
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, 2012;

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.
August 2019