Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Washington"
Includes ... Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Washington ...
Image, 2010, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandhill Cranes, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington. Image taken June 5, 2010.


Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge ...
Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located in Klickitat County approximlately 20 miles north of the Columbia River, and lies between the Klickitat River drainage at Columbia River Mile (RM) 180, and the White Salmon River drainage at RM 170. Mount Adams is to the north. Conboy Lake NWR is a part of the larger Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Image, 2010, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Conboy Lake and Mount Adams, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington. Image taken June 5, 2010.


About the Refuge ...
"Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge is one of the two confirmed nesting places for sandhill cranes in Washington. Although the sandhill crane is the most abundant crane worldwide, it is an endangered species in Washington. The small population of the sandhill cranes that breed in Washington are members of the greater sandhill crane subspecies, which numbers only 70-80,000 birds throughout its entire range. Greater sandhill cranes need isolated, open, wet meadows, or shallow marshes on the edges of rivers or lakes. Open meadows allow them to see predators from a distance, but there is some indication they select nest sites near interspersed groves, perhaps for wind and storm protection. Each family may actively protect as much as 250 acres. For centuries the Conboy Lake region has provided homes for cranes, but early settlers found it ideal for farming and cattle. To increase hay production, they partially drained Conboy Lake. Loss of habitat to such activities, along with hunting, took its toll on wildlife. By the end of the 19th century, journal entries indicate a scarcity of game—ducks, geese, and swans—in this area. Easily disturbed, cranes did not tolerate the increasing human population. Eventually, nesting pairs could not find suitable habitat. In 1964, Conboy Lake Refuge was established to preserve and restore this key habitat. Ironically, the refuge was not created for cranes. Yet, in 1979 one pair returned. Today there are 20-25 pairs."

Source:   Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge website, 2010.

Around the Refuge ...

Image, 2010, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandhill Crane, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington. Image taken June 5, 2010.
Image, 2010, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Common Yellowthroat, female, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington. Image taken June 5, 2010.
Image, 2010, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pygmy Nuthatch, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington. Image taken June 5, 2010.
Image, 2010, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Northern Harrier, male, Conboy Lake NWR, Washington. Image taken June 5, 2010.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 29, 1805 ...
A cloudy morning wind from the West but not hard, we Set out at day light [from their camp on Rocky Island at Crates Point], and proceeded on about five miles Came too on the Stard. Side at a village of 7 houses built in the Same form and materials of those above, here we found the Chief we had Seen at the long narrows [The Dalles] ...     they are hospitable and good humered Speak the Same language of the inhabitants of the last village, we call this the friendly village [vicinity of Dougs Beach]. ...     after brackfast we proceeded on, the mountains are high on each Side [high basalt cliffs of the Rowena Gap, with Rowena Crest on the south and the Chamberlain Lake area on the north], containing Scattering pine white oake & under groth, hill Sides Steep and rockey; at 4 miles lower we observed a Small river falling in with great rapidity on the Stard. Side [Klickitat River] below which is a village of 11 houses [today the town of Lyle is on the upstream side of the Klickitat], here we landed to Smoke a pipe with the nativs and examine the mouth of the river, which I found to be 60 yards wide rapid and deep, The inhabitants of the village are friendly and Chearfull; those people inform us also those at the last village that this little river is long and full of falls, no Salmon pass up it, it runs from N. N. E. that ten nations live on this river and its waters, on buries, and what game that Can kill with their Bow & arrows

we purchased 4 dogs and Set out- (this village is the of the Same nation of the one we last passed) and proceeded on The Countrey on each side begin to be thicker timbered with Pine and low white Oake; verry rockey and broken [passing Mayer State Park on the Oregon side]. passed three large rocks in The river the middle rock is large long and has Several Squar vaults on it. we call this rockey Island the Sepulchar [Memaloose Island] - The last river we passed we Shall Call the Cataract River [Klickitat River] from the number of falls which the Indians say is on it- passed 2 Lodges of Indians a Short distance below the Sepulchar Island [Memaloose Island] on the Stard. Side river wide, at 4 mile passed 2 houses on the Stard. Side, Six miles lower passed 4 houses above the mouth of a Small river 40 yards wide on the Lard. Side [Hood River]    a thick timbered bottom above & back of those houses; those are the first houses which we have Seen on the South Side of the Columbia River, (and the axess to those dificuelt) for fear of the approach of their common enemies the Snake Indians, passed 14 houses on the Std. Side Scattered on the bank- from the mouth of this little river which we shall Call Labeasche River [Hood River], the falls mountain [Mount Hood] is South and the top is covered with Snow.    one mile below pass the mouth of a large rapid Stream on the Stard. Side [White Salmon River], opposit to a large Sand bar [from Hood River], in this creek the Indians above take their fish, here we Saw Several canoes, which induced us to call this Canoe Creek [White Salmon River] it is 28 yards wide, about 4 miles lower and below the Sand bar [Hood River sandbar] is a butifull cascade falling over a rock of about 100 feet [Wah Gwin Gwin Falls, location of the Columbia Gorge Hotel],

[On the route map (Moulton, vol.1, map#78) a "C___ Spring" is shown on the north side of the river, today the location of Spring Creek and Spring Creek Fish Hatchery, with no mention of it in any text. On the south side, at the location of Wah Gwin Gwin Falls, only "Cascade" is labeled and "4 Houses of Indians".]

a Short distance lower passed 4 Indian houses on the Lard. Side in a timbered bottom, a fiew miles further we came too at 3 houses on Stard. Side, back of which is a pond [today the location of Drano Lake. The Little White Salmon River empties into Drano Lake.] in which I Saw Great numbers of Small Swan, Capt. Lewis and went into the houses of those people ...     Here the mountains are high on each Side, those to the Lard. Side has Some Snow on them at this time, more timber than above and of greater variety.





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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:   Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge website, 2010;

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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August 2011