Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Cottonwood Beach, Washougal, Washington"
Includes ... Cottonwood Beach ... Cottonwood Point ... "Pt. Broughton" ... Captain William Clark Park ... Campsite of March 31 - April 5, 1806 ...
Image, 2012, Cottonwood Beach, Captain William Clark Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cottonwood Beach, Captain William Clark Park, Washington. Image taken September 11, 2012.


Cottonwood Beach ...
Cottonwood Beach is a one-mile-long beach located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 123, just upstream of Washougal and Steamboat Landing and downstream of Cottonwood Point and Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge. On the north side of Cottonwood Beach lies the 85-acre Captain William Clark Park. A two-mile long hiking, jogging, biking, and horseback riding dike trail passes through Cottonwood Beach and connects Steigerwald Lake with Steamboat Landing. Reed Island lies along the upstream shore of Cottonwood Beach. Early fur traders use to call this entire area of lowlands Tea Prairie.

Lewis and Clark and Cottonwood Beach ...
Lewis and Clark first noticed Cottonwood Beach on November 3, 1805, on their journey down the Columbia River on their way to the Pacific. Captain Clark wrote:

"... Passed a Small Prarie on the Stard. Side above, a large Creek opposit qk Sand River on the Stard. Side, extensive bottoms and low hilley Countrey on each Side (good wintering Place) ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805, first draft]

Cottonwood Beach was voted on to be a place of winter camp, but lost out to the location of Fort Clatsop.

In the spring of 1806 Lewis and Clark spent six days at Cottonwood Beach while they gathered provisions for their trip up the Columbia.


Campsite of March 31 - April 5, 1806 ...
Lewis and Clark spent six days in March and April 1806 camping at Cottonwood Beach, collecting provisions for their journey upstream.

"... we proceed on about 2 miles above the enterance of this Seacalf river and imedeately opposit the upper mouth of the quick Sand river we formed a Camp in a Small Prarie on the North Side of the Columbia where we intend to delay one or two days to make Some Selestial observations, to examine quick sand river, and kill Some meat to last us through the Western Mountains which Commences a fiew miles above us and runs in a N.N.W. & S.S.E. derection. ..." [Clark, March 31, 1806]

The "Seacalf river" is now called the Washougal River, and across the Columbia the "quick Sand river" is now simply called the Sandy River. The "Western Mountains" are the Cascades of Oregon and Washington.

Between April 2 and 3, 1806, while Captain Lewis remained at the Cottonwood Beach campsite, Captain Clark led a party of men back down to Columbia to look for and explore the "Mult-no-mah" River (today's Willamette River), which the Indians had told them existed.

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was downstream at "Jolie Prairie" near Columbia Shores. Their campsite of April 6th and 7th, 1806, was in the Shepperds Dell, Oregon area.

LEWIS AND CLARK
CAMPSITE

March 31 - April 6, 1806

"On their return to Missouri Lewis and Clark had planned to barter for food with the Indians. However, Natives in this area informed the explorers of a food shortage east of the mountains. They camped between here and the river and for six days hunted and dried elk, deer and bear. It was essential to have ample supply to last until they reached the Clearwater River of Idaho.

Also from this campsite Captain Clark, with an Indian guide, led a small party that discovered the Multnomah (Willamette) River and explroed it upstream a few miles."


Source:    Information sign, Cottonwood Beach, visited June 2003.


Image, 2003, Lewis and Clark Campsite Sign, Washougal, Washington, downstream, click to enlarge
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Lewis and Clark Campsite sign, Washougal, Washington. Located at the Marina at Washougal. Image taken June 25, 2003.
Image, 2005, Captain William Clark Park, click to enlarge
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Captain William Clark Park, Cottonwood Beach, Washington, looking upstream. Reed Island is in the background. Image taken August 27, 2005.


Views ...

Image, 2012, Captain William Clark Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Captain William Clark Park, Cottonwood Beach, Washington. Image taken February 2, 2012.
Image, 2012, Cottonwood Beach, Washougal, Washington, upstream, click to enlarge
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Cottonwood Beach, looking upstream, Washougal, Washington. Image taken September 11, 2012.
Image, 2012, Cottonwood Beach, Washougal, Washington, upstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cottonwood Beach, looking downstream, Washougal, Washington. Image taken September 11, 2012.


Cottonwood Beach, etc.

  • Captain William Clark Park ...
  • Columbia River Dike Trail ...
  • Cottonwood Point ...


Captain William Clark Park ...
Captain William Clark Park, at the location of Cottonwood Beach, was formally dedicated on Sunday, August 7, 2005, after a weekend of gala events. This 85-acre park includes walk paths, paved parking, picnic tables, covered cooking areas, a recognition plaza, three restroom buildings, and replicas of Chinookan canoes and Lewis and Clark's dugout canoes. There is also a two-mile long trail on top of the levee at the north side of the Park and just above the Beach which offers hiking, jogging, biking, and horseback riding opportunities.
[More]

Image, 2005, Captain William Clark Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Captain William Clark Park, Cottonwood Beach, Washington. Image taken August 27, 2005.
Image, 2005, Captain William Clark Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Captain William Clark Park, Cottonwood Beach, Washington. Image taken August 27, 2005.


Columbia River Dike Trail ...
The Columbia River Dike Trail is located east of Washougal, Washington. It follows the Columbia River for 3 1/2 miles (2016 info), starting at Steamboat Landing, passing through Cottonwood Beach, and bordering the south side of the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The Trail allows running, bicycling, horseback riding, and leashed pets.
[More]

Image, 2009, Columbia River Dike Trail, click to enlarge
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Columbia River Dike Trail, Washington. Section near Steigerwald Lake NWR. Image taken August 2, 2009.


Cottonwood Point ...
Cottonwood Point is the upstream tip of Cottonwood Beach and is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 124.5. It marks the lower end of Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Reed Island lies just offshore. Charles Wilkes and the U.S. Exploring Expedition in 1841 called the point "Pt. Broughton". Other early maps call the point "Vancouver Point" (Approximately 3 miles further upstream is today's Point Vancouver, which Wilkes shows on his map but does not name.) In 1932 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Cottonwood Point" the official name.
[More]

Image, 2006, View downstream from Vista House, click to enlarge
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View downstream from Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon. View shows the Columbia River, Reed Island, and Cottonwood Point is behind Reed Island. Lighting fixtures are from the Historic Columbia River Highway. Image taken October 21, 2006.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 3, 1805 ...





Clark, March 31, 1806 ...





Lewis, April 2, 1806 ...
Fir is the common growth of the uplands, as is the cottonwood, ash; large leafed ash and sweet willow that of the bottom lands. the huckleburry, shallon, and the several evergreen shrubs of that speceis which bear burries have seased to appear except that speceis which has the leaf with a prickly margin.     among the plants of this prarie in which we are encamped I observe the passhequo, Shannetahque, [8] and compound firn the roots of which the natives eat; also the water cress, strawburry, flowering pea not yet in blume, the sinquefoil, narrow dock, sand rush which are luxuriant and abundant in the river bottoms; a speceis of the bearsclaw of which I preserved a specemine it is in blume.     the large leafed thorn has also disappeared. the red flowering currant is found here in considerable quantities of the uplands.    the hunters inform me that there are extensive praries on the highlands a few miles back from the river on this side.     the land is very fertile.




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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:
  • Port of Camas/Washougal website, 2012;
  • U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 2006;


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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February 2017