Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Eagle Cliff, Washington"
Includes ... Eagle Cliff ...
Image, 2005, Eagle Cliff from County Line Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Eagle Cliff, Washington (treed cliff, slightly rounded, at right skyline), as seen from County Line Park. Image taken July 28, 2005.

Eagle Cliff ...
Eagle Cliff is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 51, just downstream from County Line Park and upstream of Cathlamet. Eagle Cliff was the site of the first salmon cannery in the Pacific Northwest, established in 1865 or 1866 (two different sources) by two brothers G.W. and William Hume, and Andrew Hapgood. The location was named "Eagle Cliff" by William Hume who found eagles nesting above the town.

Eagle Cliff Cannery ...
In 1865 or 1866 (see Early History below) the William Hume and his brother George, along with canning expert Andrew Hapgood, built the first cannery on the Columbia River at Eagle Cliff, Washington, and put up 4,000 cases of salmon (48 cans per case).

During the spring of 1867 the Eagle Cliff Cannery packed four thousand cases of forty-eight cans each.

By 1868 the cannery was producing over 6,200 cases, much of which would be exported to Australia.

By 1874 there were 12 canneries in business between Astoria and Portland, and by 1881 there were 35 canneries.

In 1883 there were 55 canneries operating on the Columbia. Salmon harvests peaked in the early 1880s, with canneries producing more than 600,000 cases in a season. Salmon were so abundant in the early years of the industry canneries were not able to pack the number that were caught. The salmon decline became noticable by 1887 and by 1950 the commercial salmon industry on the Columbia River was over. The last Columbia River cannery shut down in 1980.

The 1888 U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries's "Chart of the Columbia River from the Ocean to Portland, Oregon, Illustrating the Condition of the Salmon Fishery, Season of 1888-9" has "Eagle Cliff Cannery" located on the upstream side of the point and "Eureka Cannery" on the downstream side of the point.

By 1971 only pilings can be seen of the cannery location.

Early Eagle Cliff ...
The Eagle Cliff location was named by William Hume who found eagles nesting above the town.

"... Eagle Cliff ... A high cliff on the north bank of Columbia River, 15 miles west of Longview, east Wahkiakum County. It was the site of the first salmon cannery in the Pacific Northwest, established in 1865. It was named by William Hume, one of the cannery owners, when he found eagles nesting here above the town. ..." [Hitchman, 1985, Place Names of Washington]

"historylink.org" website (2011), the online encyclopedia of Washington State History, states the brothers established the cannery in 1866, and then as business grew, expanded to more canneries.

"Hapgood and the Humes started canning salmon on the Columbia River in 1866 at Eagle Cliff in Wahkiakum County, some nine miles east of Cathlamet, the county seat. In the beginning, two two-man boats, one crewed by William Hume and his brother John and the other by George Wilson and another man, were sufficient to supply all the fish that the small cannery, located on a scow, could process ... the cannery managed to produce 4,000 cases of canned salmon (a case holds 48 one-pound cans) in its first year of operation. ...

Columbia River salmon quickly became popular and profitable and the Humes and others built more canneries along Wahkiakum County's river shore. George Hume, with Isaac Smith, began a second cannery at Eagle Cliff in 1868. Frank Warren built at cannery at Cathlamet in 1869 and four years later another Hume, Robert, built one at Bayview, a mile downriver from Skamokawa. Also in 1873, Joseph Megler, who went on to a prominent political career, opened a cannery at Brookfield. In 1878, John Temple Mason Harrington built the Pillar Rock Cannery, named for a prominent basalt column rising high above the river's surface that featured prominently on the cannery's labels."

Source:    "historylink.org" website, 2011, the Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History.

The 1878 U.S. Coast and Survey map "Columbia River Sheet No.3", shows the "Eureka Fishery", the "Eagle Cliff Fishery", and the "W. Hume's Fishery", all located in the area of today's Eagle Cliff. Interestingly, this 1878 map has the area of the basalt cliffs near today's Oak Point labeled "Eagle Cliff".

Image, Eagle Cliff Cannery, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Eagle Cliff Cannery, first salmon cannery on the Columbia River. Image from the "Pacific Fisherman: Year Book", 1920, p.69.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 6, 1805, first draft ...
a cold wet morning. rain Contd. untill [blank] oClock     we Set out early [from Prescott Beach, Oregon, area] & proceeded on the Corse of last night &c.

N. 50° W. 1 mile
on the Lard. Side under Some high land.    bold rockey Shore

N. 60° W. 1 mile
under a bold rockey Shore on the Lard Side, opsd. the upper point of a Island [Cottonwood Island] close under the Stard Side the high lands closeing the river on that Side [Carrolls Bluff]    above river wide

N. 75° W. 12 miles
to a point of high land on the Lard Side, passed two Lodges on the Lard Side at 2 miles in a bottom, The high land [Carrolls Bluff] leave The river on the Stard. Side.    passd. a remarkable Knob of high land on the Stard. Side at 3 miles Close on the Waters edge [Mount Coffin, Lewis and Clark missed the Cowlitz River mouth]...    passed a Island nearest the Lard. Side at 10 mile [Walker Island] the head of a Isd. on Std. [Fisher Island] opposit High Cliffs [Green Point, location of today's Mayger, Oregon], with Several Speces of Pine Cedars &c. arber vita & different Species of under groth.

N. 80° W. 2 miles
under a high clift on the Lard Side [Green Point, location of today's Mayger Island]     the lower point of the Island on Stard. [Fisher Island] opposit those hills are Covered thickly ...

N. 88° W. 5 miles
to a high Clift a little below an old village in the Stard. bend [possibly Bunker Hill, the location of today's Stella, Washington] and opposit an old village on a Lard. point of a handsom & extensive bottom [Beaver Slough/Clatskanie River bottom].     passed a Island in the middle of the river 3 miles long and one wide [Crims Island], passed a Small Island Close on the Stard. Side [Gull Island] & a lower point of a former Isld. below which the lands high & with Clifts to the river Stard. Side

S. 45° W. 5 miles
under a Clift of verry high land on the Stard. side [possibly the Oak Point and Eagle Cliff area] wind high a head. ...

S. 50° W. 1 mile
under a high rockey Hill of pine. The Indians leave us, Steep assent, Som Clifts

S. 75° W. 1 mile
under a high hill with a bold rocky Shore, high assent     river about 1 mile wide

West 1 mile
under a high Steep hill bold rockey Shore, Encampd under the hill on Stones [near Cape Horn of Wahkiakum County] Scercely land Sufficent between the hills and river Clear of the tide for us to lie. Cloudy & rain all wet and disagreeable. this evening made large fires on the Stones and dried our bedding. ...

Clark, November 6, 1805 ...
A cool wet raney morning we Set out [from their camp at Prescott Beach] early at 4 miles pass 2 Lodges of Indians in a Small bottom on the Lard Side I believe those Indians to be travelers. opposit is <the head of a long narrow Island close under the Starboard Side [Cottonwood Island], back of this Island two Creeks fall in about 6 miles apart,> [Cowlitz River delta, Longview, Washington. Today the "two Creeks" are the Cowlitz River and Coal Creek Slough.] and appear to head in the high hilley countrey to the N. E. opposit <this long Island is 2 others one Small and about the middle of the river> the other larger and nearly opposit its lower point [today the location of Walker Island and Lord Island complex], and opposit a high clift of Black rocks [Green Point, location of Mayger, Oregon] on the Lard. Side at 14 miles; ...     here the hills leave the river on the Lard. Side, a butifull open and extensive bottom [Clatskanie River delta] in which there is an old Village, one also on the Stard. Side a little above both of which are abandened by all their inhabitents except Two Small dogs nearly Starved, and an unreasonable portion of flees— The Hills and mountains are covered with Sever kinds of Pine— ...     Some willow on the waters edge,   passed an Island 3 miles long and one mile wide [Crims Island ... Crims Island is separated from the Oregon shore by the Bradbury Slough.], <one> close under the Stard. Side below the <long narrow Island> below which the Stard Hills are verry from the river bank and Continues high and rugid on that Side all day, ... [Lewis and Clark pass, but do not mention today's Germany Creek, Abernethy Creek, and Mill Creek]     we came too to Dine on the long narrow Island [Crims Island] found the woods So thick with under groth that the hunters could not get any distance into the Isld. ...     river about one mile wide hills high and Steep on the Std. [cliffs of Oak Point] no place for several Miles suffcently large and leavil for our camp we at length Landed at a place [Eagle Cliff and Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County] which by moveing the Stones we made a place Sufficently large for the party to lie leavil on the Smaller Stones Clear of the Tide     Cloudy with rain all day we are all wet and disagreeable, had large fires made on the Stone and dried our bedding and Kill the flees, which collected in our blankets at every old village we encamped near     I had like to have forgotten a verry remarkable Knob [Mount Coffin, Longview, Washington, now destroyed] riseing from the edge of the water to about 80 feet high, and about 200 paces around at its Base and Situated <on the long narrow Island> [Longview, Washington area, the Cowlitz River delta] above and nearly opposit to the 2 Lodges we passed to day, it is Some distance from the high land & in a low part of the Island [Cowlitz River delta]

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;
  • "historylink.org" website, 2011, the Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History
  • Hitchman, R., 1984, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society;
  • Oregon History Project website, 2005;
  • U.S. Coast and Survey map "Columbia River Sheet No.3", 1878;
  • U.S. National Park Service website, 2005, "National Historic Landmarks";
  • Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation website, 2006;
  • Washington State University Library Archives website, 2005, "Early Washington Maps: A Digital Collection";

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 2013