Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Deep River, Washington"
Includes ... Deep River ... Deep River (town) ... "Ela-be-kail" ... "Almient River" ... "Alamicut River" ...
Image, 2004, Deep River, Washington, looking downstream, at mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Deep River, Washington, near mouth looking downstream. From Oneida Access boat launch, 3 miles upstream of the mouth. Image taken April 9, 2004.

Deep River ...
Deep River is located on the Washington shore of the Columbia River, two miles downstream of Grays River, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 21. Like Grays River, Deep River empties into Grays Bay. Miller Point separates the two. The lower channel of Deep River approaching the Columbia is 7 to 9 feet deep, with the lower stretch of the river home to private houseboats and docks. The town of Deep River was named for the river. According to Robert Hitchman in "Place Names of Washington" (1985), the river's original name was "Ela-be-kail", meaning "deep river".

Deep River (town) ...
The community of Deep River is located 4 and 1/2 miles upstream of the mouth of Deep River. It was first settled in 1875 by Finnish emigrants, and by the 1890s it was a thriving logging settlement with steamboat landing, post office, stores, and a school. Today only river pilings remain.

Early Deep River ...
Edmund S. Meany wrote in "Origin of Washington Geographic Names" (1985, University of Washington Press):

"Deep River ... a town in Wahkiakum County, on a river that was once called by that name. See Alamicut River."

"Alamicut River ... in Wahkiakum County. The old settlers claim that the Indians called the slough Alamicut, meaning "Deep River." On Kroll's map the name is Deep River. On the Wilkes Expedition chart, 1841, the name is Ela-be-kail."

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

"Deep River (T10N R8W) ... The stream of the river rises in the northwest corner of Wahkiakum County; flows 7 miles south to Gray's Bay on the north banks of Columbia River."

"Deep River (T10N R8W, Section 17) ... Community on Deep River, 55 miles west of Longview, southwest Wahkiakum County. It is essentially a logging community, with many Finns. The town is named for the river, in which the original name was Ela-be-kail, meaning "deep river"."

Lewis and Clark passed by Deep River on November 8, 1805, and again on November 25, 1805. The river is unnamed but depicted on their route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#82].

In 1841, Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition gave the name of "Grays Bay" to the bay west of Grays Point, and the name "Kutzule Bay" to the bay today known as Grays Bay. Draining into "Kutzule Bay" were two rivers. "Kla-be-katl R." was on the west (today's Deep River) and "Ebokwol R." was on the east (today's Grays River). Miller Point, located between the two rivers, is not named.

The 1873 cadastral survey (tax survey) of Township 10N/8W shows Deep River as "Deep River" and Grays Bay as "Grays Bay". Miller Point, Grays River, and Grays Point are not named.

The 1875 U.S. Coast Survey's Chart No.641 ("Columbia River, Sheet No.2") and the 1890 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's Chart No.6141 (also "Columbia River, Sheet No.2") have Deep River listed as "Alamicut River". Other features labeled are "Gray's River", "Gray's Bay", "Portuguese Pt."., and "Gray's Pt.".

From the 1889 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's "Coast Pilot":

"Gray's Bay. ... This is the shoal bay, two miles deep, lying between Gray's Point and Yellow Bluffs. Large patches are bare at low water, especially in the eastern part, but a moderately deep channel runs close under the northwest shore from the mouth of the Alamient or Deep River, past Portuguese Point and Gray's Point. Alamient River opens about a mile west of Gray's River and at its mouth the banks are low but densely wooded."

In 1941 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Deep River" the official name (over "Alamicut River" and "Ela-be-kail").

Deep River in 1941 ...
From "The New Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State" (1941, Writers' Program, Work Projects Administration):

"DEEP RIVER, 1.7 m. (113 alt., 301 pop.), center of a region of logging camps, is a cluster of impermanent-looking buildings edged between the river and the near-by hillside. There is a log dump in the town, and the great tires of heavy trucks have torn ruts in the dirt street."

Views ...

Image, 2004, Deep River, Washington, looking upstream, at mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Deep River, Washington, near mouth looking upstream. From Oneida Access boat launch, 3 miles upstream of the mouth. Image taken April 9, 2004.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 8, 1805 ...

Journey to the PacificReturn to

*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

  • Hay, K.G., 2004, "The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail", Timber Press, Portland;
  • 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;
  • NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2004, 2005;
  • Oregon Bureau of Land Management website, 2005;
  • U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 2019;
  • Writers' Program, Work Projects Administration (WPA), 1941, "The New Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State", sponsored by the Washington State Historical Society;

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.
February 2013