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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Fisher Island and Fisher Island Slough, Washington"
Includes ... Fisher Island ... Fisher Island Slough ... Hump Island ... "Plumondon Island" ... "Elizabeth Island" ...
Image, 2005, Fisher Island, west side, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
West side of Fisher Island, Washington. Image taken January 2, 2005.


Fisher Island ...
Fisher Island is a 1.5-mile-long island which hugs the Washington side of the Columbia River, just downstream of Longview, Washington, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 59 and 60. Fisher Island is separated from mainland Washington by Fisher Island Slough. Immediately upstream and partially bordering Fisher Island Slough is Willow Grove. On the south side of Fisher Island is the man-made Hump Island. In 1997 the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Ducks Unlimited purchased Fisher Island from Lloyd Ewing, who lived there in the 1940's. Fisher Island is an important nesting site for waterfowl and other birds. The island shelters more than 100 great blue heron nests in its thick vegetation and is widely used by bald eagles as well as ducks and geese.

Lewis and Clark and Fisher Island ...
Lewis and Clark pass Fisher Island on November 6, 1805. The "high clift on th Lard Side" is Green Point, Oregon.

"... N. 80 W. 2 miles     under a high clift on the Lard Side     the lower point of the Island on Stard. opposit those hills are Covered thickly ..." [Clark, November 6, 1805, first draft]

On their return in 1806, the Corps passes Fisher Island on March 26 on their way to Walker Island, Oregon where they camped for the evening.


Early Fisher Island and Fisher Island Slough ...
Fisher Island and Slough were named after George and Catharine Fisher, early homesteaders.

Lewis and Clark pass Fisher Island on November 6, 1805, and again on their return on March 26, 1806.

In 1841, Charles Wilkes, of the U.S. Exploring Expedition called today's Fisher Island "Plumondon I.". According to Edmond S. Meany in his Origin of Washington Place Names (1923), Plumondon was a retired Hudson's Bay Company employee. Also plotted on Wilke's map was an unnamed smaller island just off the downstream tip of "Plumondon Island", and right off the shore of todays Willow Grove, approximately in the location of the Willow Grove Beach boat launch and park. Wilkes labeled the downstream tip of today's Willow Grove as "Wala Pt." (where Coal Creek Slough enters the Columbia River). Coal Creek Slough was called "Wala Creek". Fisher Island Slough was not named.

On an 1854 Government survey, this smaller island was called "Fishers I.", while today's Fisher Island was called "Elizabeth I.". Willow Grove and Fisher Island Slough were unnamed.

The 1858, 1863, and 1873 U.S. Bureau of Land Management's cadastral survey maps (tax map) shows today's Fisher Island labeled "Elizabeth Island", while a small island to the north (near today's Willow Grove) was known as "Fishers Isl.", "Fishers Island", and "Fishers Id.". This small island today is part of Willow Grove.

The 1860 Federal Census (courtesy "usgwarchives.net" and the Washington State Archives) lists the Fisher family: G.W. Fisher, age 43, Lumberman, born New York, Catherine Fisher, age 33, born New York, James Fisher, age 20, born New York, Catherine E. Fisher, age 14, born Illinois, George E. Fisher, age 12, born Illinois, Judith E. Fisher, age 10, born Illinois, Mary J. Fisher, age 8, born Oregon, Charlotte E. Fisher, age 5, born Washington Territory, and Baby Fisher, age 5 months, born Washington Territory.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office Records database (2017) shows Catharine A. Fisher and George N. Fisher being granted title to 319.75 acres of T8N R3W, parts of Sections 21, 22, and 27 on August 27, 1871 (1850 Oregon-Donation Act). This are includes the island today known as "Fisher Island".

The 1888 nautical chart "Columbia River, Sheet No.4, Grim's Island to Kalama", has the small island near Willow Grove unnamed and beginning to merge into Willow Grove, at a point labeled "Cleaveland's Ldg.". The former Elizabeth Island was labeled "Fishers I." and Fisher Island Slough was labeled "Fishers I. Channel". Massive sandbars are depicted in the area of todays Hump Island. Coal Creek Slough is unnamed. "Grim's Island" is today's Crims Island.

The 1888-89 U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries, "Chart of the Columbia River from the Ocean to Portland, Oregon Illustrating the Condition of the Salmon Fishery, Season of 1888-9" once again has Crims Island labeled "Grim's Island". Coal Creek Slough is called "Big Slough", and the approximate location of today's Willow Grove Beach is labeled "Cleaveland's Land'g". Fisher Island Slough is "Fisher's I. Channel" and Fisher Island is labeled "Fisher's I.". The small island still exists off of Willow Grove and is unnamed. Salmon weirs are depicted off of the unnamed island, and upstream of today's Willow Grove Beach.

In 1891 and then again in 1915 (NOTE: the "decision card" in the database has the date 1915 however elsewhere in the database the date 1905 is used) the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Fisher Island" official.

In 1959 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Fisher Island Slough" (channel between Fisher Island and Washington State mainland) and "Fisher Island Channel" (main shipping channel in the Columbia south of Fisher Island) official.


Views ...

Image, 2005, Fisher Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fisher Island, Washington. Fisher Island Slough is in the foreground. Image taken July 28, 2005.
Image, 2005, Fisher Island, from downstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fisher Island, Washington, downstream tip. Fisher Island from Willow Grove Beach. Image taken January 2, 2005.


Fisher Island Slough ...
Fisher Island Slough separates Fisher Island from the Washington mainland.

Image, 2005, Fisher Island Slough, looking downstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fisher Island Slough, Washington, looking downstream. Fisher Island is on the left. Willow Grove is on the right. Image taken January 2, 2005.
Image, 2005, Fisher Island Slough, looking downstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fisher Island Slough, Washington, looking downstream. Fisher Island is on the left. Willow Grove is on the right. Image taken January 2, 2005.
Image, 2005, Mount St. Helens from Fisher Island Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mount St. Helens, Washington, and Fisher Island Slough, Washington. Image taken February 21, 2005.


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. ...





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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:    Hitchman, R., 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society;    Meany, E.S., 1923, Origin of Washington Place Names;    NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2004;    "usgwarchives.net" website, 2017;    Oregon Bureau of Land Management website, 2005;    U.S. Bureau of Land Management website, 2016;    U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) website, 2006;    Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website, 2005.   

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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April 2017