Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Columbia River Fishing"
Includes ... Columbia River Fishing ... Butterfly Fleet ... Horse Seining ... Pacific Smelt ...
Image, 2012, Astoria mural, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mural, "Butterfly Fleet", Astoria, Oregon. Wauna Federal Credit Union Building. Taken from window of moving car. Image taken July 31, 2012.


Columbia River Fishing ...
(to come)


Columbia River Fishing



"Butterfly Fleet" ...
(to come)

Penny Postcard, Sturgeon Fishing, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Sturgeon Fishing on the Columbia River, 1899.
Penny Postcard, Undivided Back (1901-1907), "Sturgeon FIshing on the Columbia River, Oregon.". Copyright, 1899, by Detroit Photographic Co. Card #5223. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Columbia River Fishing Fleet
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Columbia River Fishing Fleet.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "Columbia River Fishing Fleet". Postmarked 1907. Edward H. Mitchell, Publisher, San Francisco. Card #511. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2012, Astoria mural, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mural, "Butterfly Fleet", Astoria, Oregon. Wauna Federal Credit Union Building. Taken from window of moving car. Image taken July 31, 2012.


Dipnets ...
(to come)


Fish Wheels ...
During the heyday of the Columbia River salmon industry, canneries used fish wheels to collect massive amounts of fish.

"Canneries owned most of the fish wheels on the Columbia River. Their design was simple: powered by the downstream rush of the river, huge wooden and wire baskets continually scooped through the water, picking up migrating adult salmon that were moving upstream. The fish found themselves funneled into the wheel by weirs, the wooden fences in the photo that extend into the river. Once fish were scooped out of the river, the wheel dropped them into a “fish box,” which was a holding pen or cage. In order to remove the salmon from the fish box, the wheel’s operator(s) climbed down a ladder from the deck and speared the fish with a long pike. The fish were typically hauled above deck in a small elevator powered by a hand-crank. Fish wheels were used in the shallow, fast-moving waters of the Columbia River from 1879 until 1934.

Fish wheels were not popular with other fishers on the Columbia. ... Conflicts between competing fishers became increasingly more public by the twentieth century. ... Voters passed laws that prohibited the use of fish wheels in Oregon in 1928 and in Washington in 1935."


Source:    Joshua Binus, 2003, "Columbia River Fish Wheel", IN: "The Oregon History Project: A Project of the Oregon Historical Society", retrieved 2020.

Today a replica of the McCord Fish Wheel is located at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson, Washington. The McCord wheel was built in 1882 on the south side of Bradford Island, the third one built on the Columbia. This wheel was soon joined by seventy-plus more built on both banks of the river from The Dalles to North Bonneville.

In 1894 Frank Warren constructed Fish Wheel No.3 along the shore of Hamilton Island, upstream of Fort Cascades.

[More McCord Fish Wheel]
[More Warren No.3 Fish Wheel]


Penny Postcard, Fish Wheel, Columbia River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Fish Wheel on the Columbia River, Oregon. Penny Postcard, Undivided Back (1901-1907), "Fish Wheel on the Columbia River, Oregon". Britton & Rey, San Francisco. Oregon Photo Stock Co., Portland, Ore. Card #396. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Fish Wheel, Columbia River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Fish Wheel on the Columbia River, Oregon. Penny Postcard, White Borders, Divided Back (1917-1930), "Fish Wheel, Columbia River, Oregon.". Chas. S. Lipschuetz Company, Portland, Oregon. Card #250. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Fish Wheel, Columbia River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Fish Wheel on the Columbia River, Oregon. Penny Postcard, White Borders, Divided Back (1917-1930), "Fish Wheel, seen from the Columbia River Highway.". Lipschuetz & Katz, Portland, Oregon. Card #386. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Beacon Rock, Washington, in the background.
Image, 2011, Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Exhibit, McCord Fish Wheel. Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson, Washington. Image taken July 15, 2011.
Image, 2011, Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Exhibit, McCord Fish Wheel. Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson, Washington. Image taken July 15, 2011.
Image, 2014, Fort Cascades Fishwheel, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Detail, information sign, Warren Fishwheel No.3, Fort Cascades Historic Site, Hamilton Island, Washington. Image taken April 7, 2014.
Image, 2014, Fort Cascades Fishwheel, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Location of the Warren Fishwheel No.3, Fort Cascades Historic Site, Hamilton Island, Washington. The line of rocks served to lead the fish into the log cribs from which the wheel, which was located to the left, scooped the fish. Bradford Island is in the background. Image taken April 7, 2014.


Gillnet Boats ...
"The Columbia River gillnet boat is a class of commercial fishing vessel in common use on the Columbia River since its introduction in the late 1860s. It is a small boat averaging about twenty five feet in length and set up for a crew of two men. It terms of its hull configuration, interior organization and superstructure, the boat is designed exclusively for use in the gillnet fishery. ...

Earlier versions of the Columbia River gillnetter were open sailboats from 22 to 24 feet in length. The first of these actually used on the Columbia River was built in 1869 by J.J. Griffin of San Francisco for George and Robert Hume. ...

The double-ended design is particularly suited for fishing in rough water as such a small vessel has relatively little freeboard. With its net out, the boat drifts for considerable periods and is subject to the effects of waves pounding from either direction. A stern design that divides the waves allowing them to pass on either side of the boat is more seaworthy under these conditions than one with a square transom that stops a portion of each wave abruptly. A large wave might wash over a square stern, where a similar wave would pass a double ended craft without any serious effects.

With the introduction of the gasoline marine engine in the early part of this century, the use of sails in the gillnet fishery was slowly discontnued in favor of one cylinder inboard motors. At first, sailboats were simply converted by installing a gasoline engine, but shortly after 1910 boats were designed to be fitted with a motor and the sail was eliminated entirely. As there was no sail to interfere, these newer boats were equipped with a small cabin and pilot house, although they retained the same basic double-ended hull configuration that had been preferred for the past 40 years. ..."


Source:    National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1978, #78002783.

The 26-foot-long double-ended "Columbia River Gillnet Boat", now on the National Register of Historic Places, was built between 1913 and 1916 and was one of the first of the gillnet boats built for a gasoline engine. It worked from the Altoona Cannery. Currently (2013), the Gillnet Boat resides at the Wahkiakum County Fairgrounds, Skamokawa, Washington.

[More]


Image, 2013, Columbia River Gillnet Boat, Skamokawa, Washington, click to enlarge
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Columbia River Gillnet Boat, Wahkiakum County Fairgrounds, Skamokawa, Washington. Image taken August 15, 2013.
Image, 2013, Columbia River Gillnet Boat, Skamokawa, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River Gillnet Boat, Wahkiakum County Fairgrounds, Skamokawa, Washington. Image taken August 15, 2013.


"Horse Seining" ...

"In 1895, R.D. Hume refined the technique by using horses to haul the seines. At the time, eighty-four seines were in use on the Columbia. The number increased to one hundred in the late 1920s. During their peak in the 1930s, seines took about 15 percent of the Columbia River salmon catch. A horse seine crew could employ from two to forty people and use up to seven teams of horses. ...

Seine-caught salmon were cheaper for the canneries than fish caught using other methods, and most seining sites were owned or leased by the salmon-canning companies. Seines operated from sunup to sunset, with catches usually best near daybreak; afternoon was the poorest time. On the Columbia River, seining took place on beaches and islands, where seine sites were named (for example, Sand Island and Desdemona Sands). ...

In 1948, horse and hand seines were outlawed by initiative petition in Oregon. The seines had been outlawed in Washington in 1934 because of corporate competition with independent fishing families."


Source:    Courtland L. Smith, "Seine Fishing", online at The Oregon Encyclopedia, accessed 2013.


"Many shallow areas between Puget Island and Astoria had horse seining operations dating back to the 1860's. Some of the sand bars had horse barns, canneries and cookhouses built on pilings, to avoid high tides. West Sand Island had four or five canning or seining companies operating there, and horses were grazed on the island. This activity peaked in 1926 and was banned in Washington in 1935."


Source:    Christy and Putera, 1993, Oregon State University Archives website, 2006.

"Seine fishing is carried on upon the bars that are covered at high water, and cannot be prosecuted at full tide. It is necessary at such times for the men and horses to go on to the elevated buildings and wait until the tide has ebbed sufficiently to enable them to work. The time of beginning varies somewhat at the different reaches, depending upon the depth of water at the stations at high tide. As soon as the beach or bar uncovers, so that the men can successfully wade about tiwh their long-legged rubber boots, operations begin. The most successful time for fishing is when the flood tide begins to run in. It is then practicable to set against the tide, so that the salmon running in with the current will be stopped by the shore end of the seine first thrown over, while the crew in the seine boats ar running out and getting on shore the other end of the net.

A dory works in conjunction with the seine boats. In the dory is placed a short section of seine, or the end which is first to be thrown into the water. The location having been determined upon for setting the net, the seinboat and dory take their positions near each other, the former headed off shore and the smaller boat headed toward the bar or beach where the haul is to be made. At the proper time the two crews begin to throw out the seine. The larger boat pulls off shore at first, circling around against the current, so that the net will nearly form a semi-circle, with its convex side reaching out into the river, the first end on the bar, and the last end thrown out being come distance off shore. The men in the dory start directly for shore, as has been stated, and as soon as the short length of net which they have is thrown over they run out as rapidly as possible and haul in on the shore line, which is attached to the end of the seine, one man attending to the landing of the boat.

The object is to get the shore end of the net near the bar as quickly as practicable, and in this endeavor it is not uncommon for the men to jump overboard, even when the water is up to their waists, and begin to haul in on the line, dragging the seine shoreward. When this end of the net is near the shore the sweep of its curve forms a barrier to the progress of fish going up the river, and holds them until the shore line from the other end of the apparatus is landed. As soon as this is done one or more horses are hitched to the line and begin to pull in the net, and as it comes in there is an effort made to work it against the current as much as practicable. While one horse is pulling in another is going out. In this way the horses are being hitched on one after the other, so that they may be a continuous pull on the seine.

These dragseins are heavy, and being set against the current, as they are, are difficult to manage. It is necessary, however, that all expedition should be used in order to prevent the escape of salmon, either by jumping over the cork line or finding some outlet beneath the foot rope. When the net is finally landed, the fish are taken out and loaded on a boat or steamer for transportation to the cannery. Ordinarily, about three hauls of a seine can be made on a tide, but sometimes four or five."


Source:    Oregon Fish and Game Protector, 1898, "Annual Reports of the Fish and Game Protector to the Governor.


[More Salmon]


Penny Postcard, Horse Seining Columbia River, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Seining for salmon, Columbia River.
Penny Postcard, Sepia, Undivided Back (1901-1907), "Seining for Salmon, Columbia River". Postmarked 1906. K.A. Vincent, Ilwaco and Long Beach, Wash. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Horse Seining Columbia River, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Seining for salmon, Columbia River.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "Seining for Salmon, Columbia River, Oregon.". Postmarked September 1910. A.M. Mitchell, San Francisco. Card #2287. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Horse Seining Columbia River, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Seining for salmon, Columbia River.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "Seining for Salmon, Columbia River, Oregon. On line of O.R. & N. Co.". Made in Germany. Card No.602. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Horse Seining Columbia River, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Horse Seining, Columbia River, Oregon.
Penny Postcard, White Border, Divided Back (1915-1930), "Horse-seining, Columbia River, Oregon.". Anderson Scenic Post Cards, Portland, Oregon. Card "AS-1--Columbia River, Oregon". In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Caption on back: "Early day horse-seining for salmon. One end of the fish net was anchored on the sand bar. A skiff towed the net in an arc into the fish in the river, bringing the end back to the horses which pulled the full net of fish on to the sand bar to be harvested. This practice is discontinued."
Penny Postcard, Horse Seining Columbia River, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Seining for Salmon, Columbia River, Astoria, Oregon.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "Astoria, Oregon, Seining for Salmon on the Columbia River.". Published by Pacific Novelty Co., of San Francisco, Cal. Made in U.S.A. Card #3315. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


Pacific Smelt ...
[More]

Penny Postcard, Columbia River Smelting, click to enlarge
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Penny Postcard: Smelting, Columbia River. Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "Shoveling Smelt, Columbia River, Oregon.". Published by Louis Scheiner, Portland, Oregon. Made in the U.S.A. Card R-28824. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Box on front reads: "From The Columbia River Smelt Co., Kelso, Washington".
Penny Postcard, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Penny Postcard: Smelting, Sandy River, Troutdale, Oregon. Penny Postcard, Divided Back, "Sandy River, Oregon.". Published by Western Color Sales Inc., Portland, Oregon. Card #K1806. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Caption on back: "Sandy River, Oregon. Dip netters catching their limit of smelt, during the annual run, as the fish fight their way to their spawning grounds. This scene taken not far from Portland." Color by C.H. Ebeling.
Image, 2015, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Smelt fishing, Sandy River, Oregon. Nice spring day. Image taken March 7, 2015.
Image, 2016, Cowlitz River, Washington, click to enlarge
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Bucket of Smelt, Cowlitz River, Washington. Overcast gray chilly day. Image taken February 6, 2016.


Salmon Fishing ...
[More]

Penny Postcard, Horse Seining Columbia River, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Seining for salmon, Columbia River.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "Seining for Salmon, Columbia River, Oregon.". Postmarked September 1910. A.M. Mitchell, San Francisco. Card #2287. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Salmon Fishing, Columbia River, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Unloading Salmon, Columbia River.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "Unloading Salmon, Columbia River.". Pacific Novelty Compnay, Publishers, San Francisco, Cal. Made in Gt. Britain. Card No.929. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Salmon Fishing, Columbia River, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Unloading Salmon, Columbia River.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "Columbia River Salmon waiting for Shipment.". Published by M. Rieder, Los Angeles, Cal. Made in Germany. Card No. 3950. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Salmon Fishing, Columbia River, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Interior of a Salmon Cannery, Columbia River.
Penny Postcard, Linen, Divided Back (1930s-1945), "Interior Salmon Cannery, Daily Capacity 60 Tons, Columbia River." Wesley Anderson Co., Portland, Ore. Card #799. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, McGowans Salmon
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Penny Postcard: McGowans Salmon.
Penny Postcard, Real Photo, Sepia, Undivided Back (1901-1907), "Two Million Cans of Columbia River Salmon". Postmarked 1908. Published for Olds, Wortman and King, Portland, Ore. Printed in Germany. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


Sturgeon Fishing ...
[More]

Penny Postcard, Sturgeon Fishing, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Sturgeon Fishing on the Columbia River, 1899.
Penny Postcard, Undivided Back (1901-1907), "Sturgeon Fishing on the Columbia River, Oregon.". Copyright, 1899, by Detroit Photographic Co. Card #5223. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Sturgeon Fishing, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Sturgeon Fishing on the Columbia River, 1899.
Penny Postcard, Undivided Back (1901-1907), "Sturgeon on the Columbia River, Oregon.". Copyright, 1899, by Detroit Photographic Co. Card #5222. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Sturgeon Fishing, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Sturgeon Fishing on the Columbia River.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "Sturgeon caught in the Columbia River.". Published by Portland Post Card Co., Portland, Oregon. Card #P1054. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Sturgeon Fishing, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Columbia River Sturgeon, 928 pounds.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "Columbia River Sturgeon, Weight 928 lbs.". Postmarked JUne 1910. Published by Portland Post Card Co., Portland, Oregon. Card #7259. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


"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.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...
 




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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:   
  • Binus, J., 2003, "Columbia River Fish Wheel", IN: "The Oregon History Project: A Project of the Oregon Historical Society", retrieved 2020;
  • Oregon Fish and Game Protector, 1898, "Annual Reports of the Fish and Game Protector to the Governor;
  • U.S. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1978, #78002783, Columbia River Gillnet Boat;


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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January 2020