Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Columbia Slough, Oregon"
Includes ... Columbia Slough ... Columbia Slough Wetlands ... Vanport Wetlands Wildlife Habitat ... "Columbia Bayou" ... "Pearoy's Slough" ... Fairview Lake ... Bybee Lake ... Smith Lake ... Smith and Bybee Lakes Wildlife Area ...
Image, 2017, Columbia Slough near mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough near mouth, Portland, Oregon. View from Marine Drive near Kelley Point Park. Image taken September 13, 2017.


Columbia Slough ...
The Columbia Slough is a 60-square-mile watershed located on the floodplain for the Willamette River and the Columbia River, and includes approximately 32,700 acres, 6 lakes, 3 ponds, and 50 miles of waterways. The Columbia Slough begins at Fairview Lake at Columbia River Mile (RM) 118, and meanders west for 19 miles to Kelley Point where it empties into the Willamette.

On the west end of the Columbia Slough are located Smith and Bybee Lakes and the Smith and Bybee Lakes Wildlife Area, which, according to the Portland Bureau of Environmental Sciences website (2006) is the largest urban wetland in the United States.


Lewis and Clark and the Columbia Slough ...
Lewis and Clark described the east end of the Columbia Slough area on November 3, 1805 -- the "quick Sand River" is today's Sandy River:

"... The Countrey below quick Sand river on the Lard Side is low Piney Countrey ..." [Clark, November 2, 1805, first draft]

"... below quick Sand River the Countrey is low rich and thickly timbered on each Side of the river, the Islands open & Some ponds river wide and emence numbers of fowls flying in every direction Such as Swan, geese, Brants, Cranes, Stalks, white guls, comerants & plevers &c. also great numbers of Sea Otter in the river ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805]

Today the "low rich and thickly timbered" land of Lewis and Clark is "urbanized". Beginning in the 1920s landowners began diking and dredging, eventually creating 30 miles of levees and diverting sections of the Slough into underground pipes. The area is prime for businesses and residential housing. The Portland International Airport and the Port of Portland marine terminals are located within the Slough boundaries, as well as miles of Interstate 84, Interstate 205 and Interstate 5.


Captain Clark and the Mouth of the Columbia Slough ...
Captain Clark passes the mouth of the Columbia Slough on April 2, 1806 and again on April 3, 1806, as he journeys up the Willamette River, reaching as far south to just past the St. Johns Bridge. He does not mention it specifically. It can be inferred however as being at "the upper point of a Small Island ...". On April 2, 1806, Clark wrote:

"... The course and distance assending the Molt no mar R from it's enterance into the Columbia at the lower point of the 3rd Image Canoe island.

S. 30 W. 2 Miles to the upper point of a Small Island in the Middle of Moltnomar river. thence

S. 10 W. 3 miles to a Sluce 80 yards wide which devides Wappato Island from the Main Stard. Side Shore passing a Willow point on the Lard. Side. ..."

This area has changed during the past 200 years. Lewis and Clark's "Image Canoe Island" is today's Hayden Island. Clark's "3rd Image Canoe Island" however may be in reference to Hayden Island or it may be in reference to a point on one of the three islands Lewis and Clark found in the Willamette's mouth.

Two of these islands may be the islands which eventually became Belle Vue Point on Sauvie Island, and Pearcy Island which eventually became Kelley Point. The Columbia Slough borders the southern edge of Pearcy Island.

The "Sluce 80 yards wide" is the Multnomah Channel, and "Wappato Island" is Sauvie Island. The Multnomah Channel is approximately 3 miles upstream of the mouth of the Willamette, thereby adding to the possibility that the Columbia Slough is at the "upper point of a Small Island in the Middle of Moltnomar river ...".


Early Columbia Slough ...
An 1852 cadastral survey (tax survey) for T1N R1E has Columbia Slough labeled "Columbia Bayou", and the 1852 cadastral survey for T1N R2E has it labeled "Columbia Slough".

The 1888 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's Chart "Columbia River, Sheet No.6, Fales Landing to Portland" has an island on the Oregon side of the downstream end of Hayden Island listed as "Pearoy's Island". "Pearoy's Island" is separated from the Oregon mainland by "Pearoy's Slough", with the "Columbia Slough" entering "Pearoy's Slough". Today these are Kelley Point and the Columbia Slough.


Image, 1852, Detail, Cadastral Survey, Hayden Island and Columbia Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Detail, 1852 Cadastral Survey map for T1N R1E, showing Hayden Island ("Vancouver Island") and the Columbia Slough ("Columbia Bayou"). Original map courtesy U.S. Bureau of Land Management, 2015.


Columbia Slough, etc.



Mile 0.0 ... Columbia Slough at Mouth
The Columbia Slough begins at Fairview Lake and meanders west for 19 miles to Kelley Point where it empties into the Willamette River at Willamette River Mile (RM) 1.0.
[More]

Image, 2019, Mouth of the Columbia Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough merging with the Willamette River, Oregon. View from Kelley Point Park. Image taken February 20, 2019.


Mile 0.15 ... Columbia Slough at Kelley Point
The Columbia Slough begins at Fairview Lake and meanders west for 19 miles to Kelley Point where it empties into the Willamette River.
[More]

Image, 2006, Mouth of the Columbia Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough merging with the Willamette River, Oregon. View from Kelley Point Park. Image taken February 4, 2006.


Mile 0.5 ... Columbia Slough at Marine Drive

Image, 2006, Columbia Slough near mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough from Marine Drive, looking downstream, Portland, Oregon. View from near Kelley Point Park. Image taken February 4, 2006.
Image, 2017, Columbia Slough near mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough near mouth, looking downstream, Portland, Oregon. View from Marine Drive near Kelley Point Park. Image taken September 13, 2017.


Mile 4.5 ... Columbia Slough at North Portland Road

Image, 2016, Columbia Slough, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough from North Portland Road, looking upstream, Portland, Oregon. Image taken October 12, 2016.
Image, 2016, Columbia Slough, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough from North Portland Road, looking downstream, Portland, Oregon. Image taken October 12, 2016.


Mile 6.5 ... Columbia Slough at Denver Avenue, Kenton District
Two miles of Columbia Slough meander through the Historic Kenton District.
[More]

Image, 2016, Columbia Slough, Portland, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough as seen from Denver Avenue, Kenton District, Portland, Oregon. View looking west (downstream). Image taken July 6, 2016.
Image, 2017, Columbia Slough, Portland, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough as seen from Denver Avenue, Kenton District, Portland, Oregon. View looking west (downstream). Image taken December 11, 2017.


Mile 11 ... Columbia Slough at the Jackson Armory

Image, 2006, Columbia Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough at the W.D. Jackson Armory, near Portland International Airport, Oregon. Image taken April 16, 2006.


Mile 19 ... Fairview Lake
Fairview Lake is considered the beginning of the Columbia Slough watershed. The Columbia Slough begins at Fairview Lake and meanders west for 19 miles to Kelley Point where it empties into the Willamette River.
[More]

Image, 2012, Fairview and Blue Lakes, Government Islands, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fairview Lake (foreground) and Blue Lake (behind), with McGuire, Government, and Ackerman Islands on the Columbia. View from airliner heading towards PDX. Mid afternoon, clouds, gray, and drizzle. Image taken April 24, 2012.


Mud Slough at Vanport Wetlands ...
The Vanport Wetlands is a 90.5-acre wildlife habitat site located in the Columbia Slough corridor, between Interstate 5, the Multnomah Expo Center, and Portland International Raceway. Mud Slough, which enters into the Columbia Slough, follows the Wetlands north and west sides.
[More]

Image, 2018, Vanport Wetlands, Mud Slough, Portland, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mud Slough, Vanport Wetlands, Portland, Oregon. View looking east. Image taken March 7, 2018.
Image, 2018, Vanport Wetlands, Mud Slough, Portland, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mud Slough, Vanport Wetlands, Portland, Oregon. View looking west. Image taken March 7, 2018.


Whitaker Slough at Whitaker Ponds ...
Whitaker Ponds drains into Whitaker Slough, which then drains into Columbia Slough in about 1/2 mile.
[More]

Image, 2012, Whitaker Slough, Portland, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Whitaker Slough at Whitaker Ponds, Portland, Oregon. Image taken March 9, 2012.
Image, 2015, Whitaker Slough, Portland, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Whitaker Slough at Whitaker Ponds, Portland, Oregon. Image taken August 19, 2015.


"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. Penny Postcards today show us a snapshot of history.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 3, 1805, first draft ...


Clark, November 3, 1805 ...





Clark, April 2, 1806 ...




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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:
  • Center for Columbia River History website, 2006;
  • NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2006;
  • Port of Portland website, 2006;
  • Portland Bureau of Environmental Sciences website, 2006;
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management website, 2007;


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.
/Regions/Places/columbia_slough.html
February 2018