Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Coal Creek and Coal Creek Slough, Washington"
Includes ... Coal Creek ... Coal Creek Slough ... Coal Creek Coal & Mining Company ... "Wala Creek" ... "Big Slough" ... "Dray's Creek" ... "Cut-off Slough" ... Willow Grove ... Cormorants ... Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2007, Coal Creek Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Coal Creek Slough, Willow Grove, Washington. Image taken January 28, 2007.


Coal Creek ...
Coal Creek rises in the Willapa Hills, skirts the western edge of Longview, and merges into Coal Creek Slough west of Mount Solo.

Coal Creek Slough ...
Coal Creek Slough separates Willow Grove from mainland Washington State. The Slough enters the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 56.5, near the town of Stella. Upstream is Fisher Island and Fisher Island Slough.

Image, 2014, Coal Creek Slough and Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Looking down Coal Creek Slough towards Stella, Washington. Image taken May 19, 2014.


Early Coal Creek Slough ...
"Coal Creek Slough" was made the official name in 1941. Coal Creek Slough previously had been known as "Wala Creek", "Big Slough", and "Cut-off Slough".

In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition called this drainage "Wala Creek", with the downstream-most tip of Willow Grove called "Wala Pt.".

The 1858 U.S. Bureau of Land Management's cadastral survey map (tax survey) for T8N R3W shows todays Coal Creek labeled "Dray's Creek", and todays Coal Creek Slough labeled "Sloug". The 1863 cadastral survey has Coal Creek Slough labeled "Big Slough". The 1873 cadastral survey has Coal Creek labeled "Coal Creek" and Coal Creek Slough labeled "Big Slough".

The 1888 "Navigation Chart for the Columbia River, Sheet No.4, Grim's Island to Kalama" shows todays Coal Creek labeled "Coal Slough" and it merges into "Big Slough".

The U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Website (2007) lists "Cut-off Slough" as another name used for Coal Creek Slough. Today, "Cut-off Slough" winds through the northern end of Longview.

In 1941 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Coal Creek Slough" the official name.

For more "Early History" of Coal Creek Slough see Willow Grove and Fisher Island.


Views ...

Image, 2007, Coal Creek Slough upstream of Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Coal Creek Slough from Stella, Washington. View from Washington Highway 4, upstream of Stella, Washington. Image taken January 28, 2007.
Image, 2007, Coal Creek Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Coal Creek Slough. Image taken January 28, 2007.
Image, 2007, Coal Creek Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Trees, Coal Creek Slough. Image taken January 28, 2007.
Image, 2007, Coal Creek Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Reflections, Coal Creek Slough. Image taken January 28, 2007.


Coal Creek, etc.

  • Cigar Rafts ...
  • Coal Creek Coal & Mining Company ...


Cigar Rafts ...
Log rafts made at Stella, Washington on Coal Creek Slough were piling logs, many of which still exist today in structures in San Francisco, California.
[More]

Penny Postcard, Log Raft at Stella - Coal Creek Slough, ca.1915
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Log Raft on the Columbia River, at Stella (Coal Creek Slough), Washington, ca.1915
Penny Postcard, "Sea-going log raft, 8,000,000 feet of timber, Oregon, ca.1915.". Published by Lipschuetz & Katz, Portland, Oregon. Divided back. Card #269. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2011, Stella, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Photo, "Cigar Raft" at Stella, Stella Historical Society Museum, Stella, Washington. Image taken August 7, 2011.

Caption on this image in the Stella Historical Society's "History of Stella" publication (1984) says "1896 Cigar raft. Cradle on right used to assemble the 65-foot-wide, 35-foot-deep, 600-foot-long raft. The ocean-going raft contained five million board feet of lumber. Made at Stella."


Coal Creek Coal & Mining Company ...
Coal Creek and Coal Creek Slough presumably were named after coal beds which are scattered in the Coal Creek drainage.

"... Coal beds exist in the Cowlitz Formation and can be seen in outcrops along Coal Creek and in the valleys of smaller streams in the study area. Two mines were once worked in the region, one along Coal Creek and the Anchor Mine near Rocky Point. Neither has been operated during the past 50 years. There is no available record of production from the Coal Creek mine, which was opened in 1901. It has been estimated there are 2.13 million tons of inferred reserves in the Coal Creek mine beds. Seams exposed along the stream channel are very impure (Livingston). ..." [City of Longview website, 2007]

"... Prospecting had begun on land in the Coal Creek area in 1895 and 1896. In February 1897, George Lebo, a veteran miner from Pennsylvania, sank a 150-foot mineshaft near a branch of Coal Creek. Lebo was so convinced that the coal it produced would be of high quality that he immediately took out leases on 2,700 acres in the surrounding area for future exploration. He later sold out, and the Coal Creek Coal & Mining Company eventually took control of the operation. In 1906, R. B. Rose was hired by CCC&M to develop a mine in the Coal Creek area. Coal from Rose’s mine was transported by rail to the Columbia River and distributed by steamship to families and businesses along the Cowlitz and Columbia for use in stoves and furnaces. But the big dreams of George Lebo and the CCC&M Company were never fulfilled. The mines produced coal for a few years; however, it was of poor quality, and operations in the vicinity soon ceased. ..." [Longview Public Schools website, 2007, "Wake Robin"]


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

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

Penny Postcard, Log Raft at Stella - Coal Creek Slough, ca.1915
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Log Raft on the Columbia River, at Stella (Coal Creek Slough), Washington, ca.1915
Penny Postcard, "Sea-going log raft, 8,000,000 feet of timber, Oregon, ca.1915.". Published by Lipschuetz & Katz, Portland, Oregon. Divided back. Card #269. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 6, 1805 ...
A cool wet raney morning we Set out [from their camp at Prescott Beach] early at 4 miles pass 2 Lodges of Indians in a Small bottom on the Lard Side I believe those Indians to be travelers. opposit is <the head of a long narrow Island close under the Starboard Side [Cottonwood Island], back of this Island two Creeks fall in about 6 miles apart,> [Cowlitz River delta, Longview, Washington. Today the "two Creeks" are the Cowlitz River and Coal Creek Slough.] and appear to head in the high hilley countrey to the N. E. opposit <this long Island is 2 others one Small and about the middle of the river> the other larger and nearly opposit its lower point [today the location of Walker Island and Lord Island complex], and opposit a high clift of Black rocks [Green Point, location of Mayger, Oregon] on the Lard. Side at 14 miles; ...     here the hills leave the river on the Lard. Side, a butifull open and extensive bottom [Clatskanie River delta] in which there is an old Village, one also on the Stard. Side a little above both of which are abandened by all their inhabitents except Two Small dogs nearly Starved, and an unreasonable portion of flees— The Hills and mountains are covered with Sever kinds of Pine— ...     Some willow on the waters edge,   passed an Island 3 miles long and one mile wide [Crims Island ... Crims Island is separated from the Oregon shore by the Bradbury Slough.], <one> close under the Stard. Side below the <long narrow Island> below which the Stard Hills are verry from the river bank and Continues high and rugid on that Side all day, ... [Lewis and Clark pass, but do not mention today's Germany Creek, Abernethy Creek, and Mill Creek]     we came too to Dine on the long narrow Island [Crims Island] found the woods So thick with under groth that the hunters could not get any distance into the Isld. ...     river about one mile wide hills high and Steep on the Std. [cliffs of Oak Point] no place for several Miles suffcently large and leavil for our camp we at length Landed at a place [Eagle Cliff and Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County] which by moveing the Stones we made a place Sufficently large for the party to lie leavil on the Smaller Stones Clear of the Tide     Cloudy with rain all day we are all wet and disagreeable, had large fires made on the Stone and dried our bedding and Kill the flees, which collected in our blankets at every old village we encamped near     I had like to have forgotten a verry remarkable Knob [Mount Coffin, Longview, Washington, now destroyed] riseing from the edge of the water to about 80 feet high, and about 200 paces around at its Base and Situated <on the long narrow Island> [Longview, Washington area, the Cowlitz River delta] above and nearly opposit to the 2 Lodges we passed to day, it is Some distance from the high land & in a low part of the Island [Cowlitz River delta]





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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: City of Longview website, 2007; Longview Public Schools website, 2007, "Wake Robin, a Habitat for Learning"; NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2007; U.S. Bureau of Land Management website, 2007; U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) website, 2006;

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 2008