Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Columbia Hills (Ortley Anticline), Washington"
Includes ... Columbia Hills ... Ortley Anticline ... Ortley Gap ... Columbia River Basalt Group (CRBG) ... Yakima Fold Belt ... Missoula Floods ... Horsethief Butte ... Haystack Butte ... Maryhill ... Stonehenge ... Campsite of April 21, 1806 ...
Image, 2004, Columbia Hills, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Hills, Washington. View from old Oregon Highway 30, from between Celilo and the Deschutes River. Image taken September 26, 2004.


Columbia Hills/Ortley Anticline ...
The Columbia Hills, also known as the Ortley Anticline, is an expansive section of hills rising over 2,000 feet above the Columbia River, extending from the Klickitat River on the west to Rock Creek on the east, and overlooks such areas as the Maryhill Museum, Stonehenge Memorial, the John Day Dam, and the Haystack Butte area where Lewis and Clark camped in 1806. The Columbia Hills is the western edge of a much larger region called the Yakima Fold Belt.

Yakima Fold Belt ...
The Yakima Fold Belt is a section of lava flows of the Columbia River Basalt Group (CRBG) extending along the northern banks of the Columbia River east of the Cascade Range. The Yakima Fold Belt consists of a series of generally east-west-trending anticlinal ridges (high points) and synclinal valleys (low points) that were produced under north-south regional compression. These folds extend from the southern Columbia Plateau into and through the Cascade Range. Folding was initiated during middle to late Miocene time (17 to 5.5 million years ago) and has continued to this day. The Columbia Hills, also known as the "Ortley Anticline", are in the western part of the Yakima Fold Belt. Further upstream are other named ridges such as Alder Ridge, Canoe Ridge, and Paterson Ridge, which are anticlines within the Columbia Hills Uplift. Furthest east in the Yakima Fold Belt lies another anticline, the Horse Heaven Hills.
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Colors of the Columbia Hills ...

Image, 2005, Columbia Hills, click to enlarge
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Spring, Columbia Hills near the John Day Dam. Image taken May 24, 2005.
Image, 2004, Columbia Hills, click to enlarge
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Spring, Columbia Hills near the John Day Dam. Image taken April 24, 2004.
Image, 2005, Columbia Hills, click to enlarge
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Spring, Columbia Hills near the John Day Dam. Image taken May 24, 2005.
Image, 2005, Columbia Hills, click to enlarge
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Spring, Columbia Hills near the John Day Dam. Image taken May 24, 2005.


Lewis and Clark and the Columbia Hills ...
Lewis and Clark's campsite of April 21, 1806, was in the Columbia Hills near Haystack Butte, at an Indian village. The route map (Moulton, vol.1, map#77) shows the camp to be on the Washington side across from and downstream of the mouth of the Deschutes River and across from the downstream end of Miller Island.
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Image, 2004, Columbia Hills, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Hills, Washington. View from old Oregon Highway 30, from between Celilo and the Deschutes River. Image taken September 26, 2004.


The Columbia Hills and the Missoula Floods ...
The massive Missoula Floods covered the Columbia Hills area to an elevation of 1,000 feet, with a nearly one-mile-wide bench being carved into the basalt flows at the 800 foot level. The Maryhill Museum and the Stonehenge Memorial sit on that bench. At the western end of the Columbia Hills is the Rowena Gap, also known as the "Ortley Gap", a constriction of the Columbia River which backed the waters of the Missoula Floods for miles.
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Image, 2004, Stonehenge Memorial sitting on the banks of the Columbia River, click to enlarge
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Stonehenge Memorial, Maryhill, Washington, perched on the banks of the Columbia River. Image taken April 24, 2004.


Columbia Hills, etc.

  • Mount Adams ...
  • Goodnoe Hills ...
  • Haystack Butte ...
  • Rock Creek ...
  • Rowena Gap ...
  • Sand Spring Canyon ...


Mount Adams ...
North-south running Interstate 97 leaves the Columbia River and climbs the Columbia Hills, heading to the Washington communities of Goldendale and Yakima. Views of Mount Adams can be had from the top of the Columbia Hills.

Image, 2004, Klickitat County, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mount Adams as seen from the top of the Columbia Hills, Klickitat County, Washington. View from Interstate 97 near Goldendale, Washington. Image taken April 24, 2004.


Goodnoe Hills ...
The Columbia Hills stretch across Klickitat County from the Klickitat River on the west to Rock Creek on the east. Part of the Columbia Hills is Goodnoe Hills, rising up from the west bank of Rock Creek.

Image, 2012, Klickitat County, click to enlarge
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Goodnoe Hills homestead, Rock Creek vicinity, Columbia Hills, Klickitat County, Washington. Image taken June 6, 2012.
Image, 2012, Klickitat County, click to enlarge
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Goodnoe Hills homestead, Rock Creek vicinity, Columbia Hills, Klickitat County, Washington. Image taken June 6, 2012.
Image, 2012, Klickitat County, click to enlarge
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Goodnoe Hills schoolhouse,Rock Creek vicinity, Columbia Hills, Klickitat County, Washington. Image taken June 6, 2012.


Haystack Butte ...
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Image, 2005, Haystack Butte from the Celilo area, click to enlarge
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Haystack Butte, Washington, as seen from the Celilo area, Oregon. View from old Oregon 30 between Celilo and the Deschutes River. Image taken May 24, 2005.
Image, 2012, Columbia Hills downstream from Maryhill, Washington, click to enlarge
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Haystack Butte (Columbia Hills) downstream of Maryhill, Washington. View from Oregon Interstate 84. Image taken June 6, 2012.


Rock Creek ...
Rock Creek forms the eastern boundary of the Columbia Hills. Rock Creek merges into the Columbia River at Columbia River Mile (RM) 229, in T3N R19E, Section 32.
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Image, 2004, Rock Creek, at mouth, click to enlarge
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Rock Creek, Klickitat County, Washington, at mouth looking upstream. View from Washington State Highway 14 bridge crossing Rock Creek, at the backwaters of Lake Umatilla (the reservoir behind the John Day Dam) flooding the Rock Creek drainage. The eastern edge of the Columbia Hills rise on the left. Image taken April 24, 2004.


Rowena Gap ...
The basalts of the Rowena Gap (also known as the Ortley Gap) are the western edge of the Columbia Hills/Ortley Anticline where it is truncated by the Columbia River.
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Image, 2004, Rowena Gap, Washington side, from Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Rowena Gap basalts, Washington side, view from Mayer State Park, Oregon. The Rowena Gap is where the Columbia River carved a channel through the Ortley Anticline. Image taken November 11, 2004.


Sand Spring Canyon ...
Sand Spring Canyon meets the Columbia River at Columbia River Mile (RM) 225, in T3N R18E, Section 26. Sand Spring is approximately two miles up canyon.

Image, 2012, Sand Spring Canyon, Klickitat County, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sand Spring Canyon, looking south towards Oregon and the Columbia River, from the Columbia Hills, Klickitat County, Washington. Image taken June 6, 2012.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 20, 1805 ...
A cool morning wind S. W. we concluded to delay untill after brackfast which we were obliged to make on the flesh of dog. after brackfast we gave all the Indian men Smoke, and we Set out leaveing about 200 of the nativs at our Encampment [near Irrigon, Oregon]; passd. three Indian Lodges on the Lard Side a little below our Camp [Irrigon, Oregon] which lodges <we> I did not discover last evening, passed a rapid at Seven miles one at a Short distance below we passed a verry bad rapid, a chane or rocks makeing from the Stard. Side and nearly Chokeing the river up entirely with hugh black rocks [Lewis and Clark called these rapids "Pelican Rapids"] an Island below close under the Stard. Side on which was four Lodges of Indians drying fish,- here I Saw a great number of pelicons on the wing, and black Comerants [American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants]. at one oClock we landed on the lower point of <Some> an Island at Some Indian Lodges, a large Island on the Stard Side nearly opposit and a Small one a little below on the Lard Side on those three Island I counted Seventeen Indian Lodges, ...

[Lewis and Clark are passing through the Blalock Islands area. Today most of the islands are beneath the waters of Lake Umatilla, the reservoir behind the John Day Dam. In this vicinity are today's Boardman, Whitcomb Island, Canoe Ridge, slightly downstream is Crow Butte and historic Castle Rock, along with the many lands of the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge.]

after diner we proceeded on to a bad rapid at the lower point of a Small Island on which four Lodges of Indians were Situated drying fish; here the high countrey Commences again on the Stard. Side [Alder Ridge] leaveing a vallie of 40 miles in width, from the mustle Shel rapid [Umatilla Rapids at the McNary Dam]. examined and passed this rapid close to the Island at 8 miles lower passed a large Island near the middle of the river a brook on the Stard. Side [Alder Creek] and 11 Islds. all in view of each other below, a riverlit [Willow Creek] falls in on the Lard. Side behind a Small Island a Small rapid below. The Star Side is high rugid hills [Alder Ridge], the Lard. Side a low plain and not a tree to be Seen in any Direction except a fiew Small willow bushes which are Scattered partially on the Sides of the bank

The river to day is about 1/4 of a mile in width; this evening the Countrey on the Lard. Side [area around Arlington, Oregon] rises to the hight of that on the Starboard Side [ridge above Roosevelt], and is wavering- we made 42 <days> miles to day [to Roosevelt, Washington]; the current much more uniform than yesterday or the day before. Killed 2 Speckle guls Severl. ducks of a delicious flavour.






Clark, October 22, 1805 ...
A fine morning calm and fare we Set out [downstream of the John Day Dam] at 9 oClock passed a verry bad rapid [today the location of the "Sam Hill Memorial Bridge", U.S. Highway 97 crossing from Biggs Junction, Oregon, to Maryhill, Washington. The rapid, which was labeled "Five-Mile Rapid" in 1858, is now under the waters of the Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam.] at the head of an Island close under the Stard. Side [???], above this rapid on the Stard. Side is Six Lodges of nativs Drying fish [Maryhill vicinity], at 9 mls. passed a bad rapid [Deschutes Rapid, also under the waters of Lake Celilo] at the head of a large Island [Miller Island] of high, uneaven [rocks], jutting over the water, a Small Island in a Stard. Bend [???] opposit the upper point, on which I counted 20 parcels of dryed and pounded fish; on the main Stard Shore opposit to this Island five Lodges of Indians are Situated Several Indians in Canoes killing fish with gigs [Haystack Butte, Columbia Hills, vicinity], <and nets> &c. opposit the center of this Island of rocks [Miller Island] which is about 4 miles long we discovered the enterence of a large river on the Lard. Side [Deschutes River] which appeared to Come from the S. E. - we landed at Some distance above the mouth of this river [Deschutes River] and Capt. Lewis and my Self Set out to view this river above its mouth, as our rout was intersepted by a deep narrow Chanel which runs out of this river into the Columbia a little below the place we landed, leaveing a high dry rich Island of about 400 yards wide and 800 yards long here we Seperated, I proceeded on to the river and Struck it at the foot of a verry Considerable rapid [Deschutes Rapids], here I beheld an emence body of water Compressd in a narrow Chanel of about 200 yds in width, fomeing over rocks maney of which presented their tops above the water, when at this place Capt. Lewis joined me haveing ....     at about two miles above this River appears to be confined between two high hils below which it divided by numbers of large rocks, and Small Islands covered with a low groth of timber, and has a rapid as far as the narrows three Small Islands in the mouth of this River, <we returned> this River haveing no Indian name that we could find out, except "the River on which the Snake Indians live," we think it best to leave the nameing of it untill our return [Deschutes River].

we proceeded on pass the mouth of this river [Deschutes River] at which place it appears to discharge 1/4 as much water as runs down the Columbia. at two miles below this River passed Eight Lodges on the Lower point of the Rock Island [Miller Island] aforesaid at those Lodges we saw large logs of wood which must have been rafted down the To war-ne hi ooks River [Deschutes River], below this Island [Miller Island] on the main Stard Shore is 16 Lodges of nativs; here we landed a fiew minits to Smoke, the lower point of one Island opposit [???] which heads in the mouth of Towarnehiooks River [Deschutes River] which I did not observe untill after passing these lodges     about 1/2 a mile lower passed 6 more Lodges on the Same Side and 6 miles below the upper mouth of Towarnehiooks River [Deschutes River] the comencement of the pitch of the Great falls [Celilo Falls], opposit on the Stard. Side is 17 Lodges of the nativs [near Wishram, Washington]     we landed and walked down accompanied by an old man to view the falls [Celilo Falls], and the best rout for to make a portage ...     we made 19 miles to day






Clark, April 22, 1806 ...
last night 2 of our horses broke loose and Strayed of at a Short distance. at 7 oClock we loaded up and Set out [their camp was two miles upstream of Wishram, Washington, across from the western tip of Miller Island, at the base of Haystack Butte], haveing previously Sent off the Canoe with Colter and Potts   we had not arived at the top of the hill which is 200 feet [Columbia Hills] before Shabonos horse threw off his load and went with great Speed down the hill to the Village ...     and delayed Capt. Lewis and the rear party ...     dureing the time the front of the party was waiting for Cap Lewis, I assended a high hill from which I could plainly See the range of Mountains which runs South [Cascade Mountains] from Mt. Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] as far as I could See. I also discovered the top of Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon] which is Covered with Snow and is S 10 W. Mt. Hood is S. 30 W. the range of mountains are Covered with timber and also Mt Hood to a sertain hite. The range of Mountains has Snow on them. I also discovered some timbered land in a S. derection from me, Short of the mountains. Clarks river which mouthes imedeately opposit to me [Deschutes River] forks at about 18 or 20 miles, the West fork runs to the Mt Hood and the main branch Runs from S. E.     after Capt Lewis Came up we proceeded on through a open ruged plain about 8 miles to a Village of 6 Houses on the river. here we observed our 2 Canoes passing up on the opposit Side and the Wind too high for them to join us. I halted at the mouth of a run [Historians suggest perhaps Harley Canyon] above the village near Some good grass to let the horses graze and for the party to dine. ...     after we proceeded on up the river about 4 miles to a village of 7 mat Lodges. here our Chopunnish guide informed me that the next villg. was at Some distance and that we Could not get to it to night, and that there was no wood to be precured on this Side. a man offered to Sell us a horse for a Canoe. just at the moment we discovered one of our Canoes on the opposit Side [quite possibly near the mouth of the John Day River].    we concluded to Camp here all night with the expectation of precureing some horses [across from the John Day River]. ...     the air I find extreemly Cold which blows Continularly from Mt. Hoods Snowey regions. ...     we made 14 miles to day with the greatest exirtion. Serjt. Gass & R. Fields joined us with one Canoe this evening. the other Canoe with Colter & pots is a head.





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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: Allen, J.E., and Burns, M., 1986, Cataclysms on the Columbia, Timber Press, Portland; Carson, R.J., Tolan, T.L., and Reidel, S.P., 1987, Geology of the Vantage area, south-central Washington: An introduction to the Miocene flood basalts, Yakima Fold Belt, and the Channeled Scabland: IN: Hill, M.L. (ed.), 1987, Cordilleran Section of the Geological Society of America, Centennial Field Guilde Volume 1, Geological Society of America, Inc.; Washington State Department of Natural Resources 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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June 2012