Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Columbia River Dams and Reservoirs"
Includes ... The Dalles Dam ... Lake Celilo ...
Image, 2004, Lake Celilo, looking downstream towards The Dalles, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lake Celilo, looking downstream towards The Dalles. Mount Hood, Oregon, and Horsethief Butte, Washington are visible. Image taken April 24, 2004.


Columbia River Dams and Reservoirs ...
There are 4 dams and 4 reservoirs on the Columbia River within the scope of this photographic journey. Bonneville Dam and Bonneville Reservoir are the furthest downstream and located the closest to Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Bonneville Dam is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 146, and Bonneville Reservoir extends 46 miles upstream. At RM 192 is The Dalles Dam and Lake Celilo. Lake Celilo extends for 24 miles. Next in line, beginning at RM 216, is the John Day Dam and Lake Umatilla. Lake Umatilla extends for 76 miles. Furthest upstream is McNary Dam and Lake Wallula which begins at RM 292 and extends 64 miles upstream and includes the Tri-Cities of Richland, Pasco, and Kenneweick.


Columbia River Dams and Reservoirs ... (west to east)

  • Columbia River Mile (RM) 146 ... Bonneville Dam and Bonneville Reservoir
  • RM 192 ... The Dalles Dam and Lake Celilo
  • RM 216 ... John Day Dam and Lake Umatilla
  • RM 292 ... McNary Dam and Lake Wallula


Columbia River Mile (RM) 146 ... Bonneville Dam and the Bonneville Reservoir
Bonneville Reservoir is the pool behind the Bonneville Dam, reaching from Bonneville Dam, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 146, to the dam at The Dalles, at RM 192. Six major tributaries enter the Reservoir -- the Wind River, White Salmon River, Little White Salmon River, Klickitat River, Fifteenmile Creek, and Hood River. Bonneville Reservoir is entirely within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, where landscape is characterized by steep forested hillsides underlain by basalt up to 5,000 feet thick with sedimentary and recent alluvium deposits. With the wind coming through the gorge, Bonneville Reservoir is a prime attraction spot for tourism and recreation. Good spots to stop and view the Reservoir are at Stevenson, Washington and Cascade Locks, Oregon. A trip up and down the Reservoir can be taken on the sternwheeler "Columbia Gorge", based in Cascade Locks. Windsurfing and sailboarding are especially popular at Dougs Beach State Park, Washington and Mayer State Park, Oregon, and also near the Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery and at the mouth of the Hood River.

[More Bonneville Dam]
[More Bonneville Reservoir]


Image, 2013, Bonneville Dam, on the Columbia River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bonneville Dam as seen from Hamilton Island. Bonneville Dam as seen from Hamilton Island, accessed from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken February 19, 2013.
Image, 2011, Bonneville Reservoir near Spring Creek, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sailboarding, from near Spring Creek Fish Hatchery, Washington. Image taken August 22, 2011.


RM 192 ... The Dalles Dam and Lake Celilo
Lake Celilo is the 24-mile-long reservoir behind the The Dalles Dam. The Dalles Dam was completed in 1957, and the rising waters of Lake Celilo inundated Celilo Falls, plus the "Long" (Fivemile Rapids) and "Short Narrows" (Tenmile Rapids). Good views of Lake Celilo can be had from driving Interstate 84 in Oregon or Highway 14 in Washington State. Celilo Park, located at milepost 97 off of Interstate 84, was once the location of the upper end of the The Dalles - Celilo Canal, also under the waters of the reservoir.

[More The Dalles Dam]
[More Lake Celilo]


Image, 2005, Celilo Park and Celilo, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Celilo Park and Celilo, Oregon, as seen from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken May 24, 2005.

Today's Celilo Park looks over the area which once was Celilo Falls. Celilo Park was also the upper end of the The Dalles-Celilo Canal.
Image, 2005, Wishram, Washington, and Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lake Celilo and Wishram, Washington, with Mount Hood, Oregon, in the distance. View from Washington State Highway 14. Celilo Park, Oregon, is on the left shoreline. Image taken May 24, 2005.


RM 216 ... John Day Dam and Lake Umatilla
The John Day Dam crosses the Columbia River at Columbia River Mile (RM) 216 and is located at Exit 109 off Interstate 84 in Oregon, at the Oregon town of Rufus. The John Day Dam is at the head of Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam, located 25 miles downstream. The reservoir behind the John Day Dam is known as Lake Umatilla. The John Day River, draining Oregon's Blue Mountains, is located two miles upstream of the John Day Dam. Seven miles downstream of the Dam is the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge, connecting Biggs/Biggs Junction with Maryhill, Washington.

Lake Umatilla, the reservoir behind the John Day Dam, extends approximately 76 miles from the John Day to the foot of McNary Dam. Located within Lake Umatilla is the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge, a refuge spanning both sides of the Columbia River, plus such islands as Crow Butte, Whitcomb Island, and the Blalock Islands.

[More John Day Dam]
[More Lake Umatilla]


Image, 2005, John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
John Day Dam, as seen from Giles French Park, Oregon. Image taken May 24, 2005.
Image, 2012, Lake Umatilla, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lake Umatilla, the reservoir behind the John Day Dam. View from Washington State Highway 14, looking across the Columbia River (Lake Umatilla) at the John Day Dam and the mouth of the John Day River. Image taken June 6, 2012.


RM 292 ... McNary Dam and Lake Wallula
The McNary Dam is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 292.5, at the head of Lake Umatilla, the reservoir created by the John Day Dam. McNary Dam spans the Columbia River from Umatilla, Oregon, to Plymouth, Washington, at a location once known as the "Umatilla Rapids". Lewis and Clark refered to these rapids as the "Muscle Shell Rapids". Immediately downstream of McNary Dam is McNary Wildlife Nature Area and the Interstate 82/395 Bridge. Sillusi Butte is on the Washington side below the dam and was noticed by Captain Clark. Upstream from McNary Dam can be found McNary Beach, Warehouse Beach, and Sand Station, all managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Hat Rock and Boat Rock are also located upstream of McNary Dam on the Oregon side. Lake Wallula, the reservoir behind McNary Dam, extends 64 miles upstream and reaches as far as the mouth of the Yakima River. Lewis and Clark first passed through this area on October 19, 1805, and again on their return in April, 1806, where they camped downstream of McNary Dam near Plymouth, Washington.

Lake Wallula is the reservoir which lies behind McNary Lock and Dam and came into existence in 1957. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Lake Wallula" official in 1958. Lake Wallula begins at Columbia River Mile (RM) 292.5 and extends 64 miles upstream. The lake shoreline extends past McNary Beach, Hat Rock State Park, and Warehouse Beach, through the Wallula Gap, past the confluence of the Walla Walla River and Sacajawea State Park and the confluence of the Snake River, through the Tri-Cities of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland, and to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, located approximately 27 miles upstream of Pasco. Lake Wallula also extends ten miles up the Snake River to Ice Harbor Lock and Dam. Lake Wallula has a water surface area of 38,800 acres, with 242 miles of shoreline, and a normal operating range between 340 and 335 feet above sea level.

[More McNary Dam]
[More Lake Wallula]


Image, 2004, McNary Dam from overlook, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
McNary Dam. McNary Dam spanning the Columbia River from just upstream Umatilla, Oregon, to upstream Plymouth, Washington. Image taken from Dam overlook, Oregon, off of Highway-730. Sillusi Butte is the high point visible on the Washington State side of the dam. Image taken September 24, 2004.
Image, 2005, Looking downstream from McNary Beach, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
McNary Dam, McNary Beach, and Lake Wallula, Oregon. Lake Wallula is the reservoir behind the McNary Dam. Sillusi Butte is in the background. Image taken September 25, 2005.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

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





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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:
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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 2019