Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Coolidge, Washington"
Includes ... Coolidge ... Coolidge-Irrigon Ferry ... North Bank Road ...
Historic Map, 1907, Irrigon and Plymouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
1907 Topographic map detail, showing Irrigon, Oregon, and Coolidge and Plymouth, Washington. Also showing the Columbia River, the "Devils Bend Rapids", and the mouth of the Umatilla River, Oregon. Original map 1:125,000 "Umatilla Quadrangle", Washington-Oregon, U.S. Geological Survey, 1908 edition.

Coolidge ...
The now-forgotten Washington community of Coolidge (Benton County, T5N R27E, Sec.17) was located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 284, approximately seven miles downstream (west) from the community of Plymouth. Coolidge was the Washington side of a ferry to Irrigon, Oregon.

Early Coolidge ...
The 1908 U.S. Geological Survey's Topographic Map "Umatilla" (1:125,000) shows the community of Coolidge, Washington, just across the Columbia from Irrigon, Oregon. A dashed (presumably) ferry line is also depicted connecting Irrigon to Coolidge, Washington. This ferry line is at the approximate location of today's Irrigon park and boat ramp. Coolidge, a community no longer in existence, was located approximately seven miles downstream of Plymouth, Washington.

Edmund S. Meany wrote in "Origin of Washington Geographic Names" (1923, University of Washington Press):

"Coolidge ... a town on the Columbia River, in Benton County. It was named by recent promoters of the townsite."

Robert Hitchmam wrote in "Place Names of Washington" (1985, Washington State Historical Society):

"Coolidge ... Projected town on north bank of Columbia River, 26 miles southwest of Kennewick, south central Benton County. In 1916, the town was launched by land promoters who selected the name. It might have been named for Calvin Coolidge, who at that time was Lieut. Governor of Massachusetts. This appears to be rather doubtful, however, as he had not then come into national prominence."

Note: Hitchman 1916 date in conflict with the 1908 topographic map, listed above. Additionally, in 1907 the North Bank Road had a stop called "Coolidge", 45.57 miles from Pasco, and the 1908 United States Postal Guide had a listing for the Coolidge Post Office.

According to the Tacoma Public Library's "Washington Place Names" database (2019):

"Coolidge ... C.A. Coolidge was a railroad official of the Spokane Portland and Seattle Railroad for whom this community was named midway between Pasco and Vancouver above the Columbia River in Benton County. It had a post office from 1907 to 1912, there was a school district in 1905 and the railroad station was closed in 1933. (Davis and Bergum, p. 20)."

Coolidge, etc.

  • Irrigon-Coolidge Ferry ...
  • North Bank Road ...

Irrigon-Coolidge Ferry ...
The 1942 U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor Coast and Geodetic Survey's "United States Coast Pilot, Pacific Coast", Serial No.649:

"Four ferries cross the Columbia River above The Dalles as follows: Biggs-Merryhill, 16 statute miles; Arlington-Roosevelt, 50 statute miles; Boulder-Alderdale, 65 statute miles; and Irrigon-Coolidge, 88 statute miles."


North Bank Road ...
The Great Northern Railway and Northern Pacific Railroad, competitors in the transcontinental business, launched the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway in 1905 and built a line along the north side of the Columbia River. This line was known as "The North Bank Railroad", "The North Bank Road", "Columbia River Scenic Route", and "The Northwests Own Railway". The tracks were started in October 1905 and completed in February 1908, with a celebration being held on March 11th at Sheridan Point upstream of the Fort Rains Blockhouse location. On March 19th, regular passenger service between Vancouver and Pasco was begun. The journey took eight hours.

Between Vancouver and Pasco There Will Be 43 Stops.

"LYLE, Wash., July 24, 1907. -- (Special.) -- Chief Surgeon Irvine, of the North Bank Road says there will be 43 stations about five miles apart on the line between Vancouver and Pasco. From west to east the stations will appear on the new map as Image, Fisher, Bourne, Seal, Cruzatt, Butler, Cascades, Stevenson, Ash, Collins, Cooks, Hood, Bingen, Villa, Lyle, Skadat, Grandalles, Spedis, Avery, Timms, Columbus, Cliffs, Towal, Harbin, Fountain, Sanda, Roosevelt, Moonax, McCredie, Carley, Luzon, Sage, Patterson, Coolide (Coolidge), Gravel, Plymouth, Colbia, Mottinger, Tomar, Yellepit, Hoover and Finley. He also reports the track is being blasted as fast as laid."

Source:    "Morning Oregonian", July 25, 1907, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019.

Only Nine More Miles Of Track To Put In Place.

Train Sheet and Time Card Shows List of Stations and Distances from Pasco -- Bridges Will Delay Opening of Line Into Portland.

"A news item from Hood River says of the completion of the north bank road.

But nine miles of track remain to be laid to complete the north bank road. The uncompleted section is near Wind River and consists of a cut that it is estimated will take from three to four weeks to finish. The work is being hurried along as fast as possible and when completed a train schedule will be put on between Vancouver and Pasco. In anticipation of this event officers of the road have issued a train sheet, giving the stations and distances from Pasco to Vancouver, as floowls: ..."

  • ...
  • Name of Station: Coolidge ... Miles From Pasco: 45.57
  • ...

Source:    "East Oregonian", January 30, 1908, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019.


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.

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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

  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019;
  • Hitchman, R., 1985, "Place Names of Washington", Washington State Historical Society;
  • Meany, E.S., 1923, "Origin of Washington Geographic Names", University of Washington Press, Seattle;
  • Tacoma Public Library's "Washington Place Names" database, 2019;
  • United States Official Postal Guide, 1908, U.S. Government Printing Office;

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 2014