Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Fog So Thick"
Includes ... "Fog So Thick" ...
Image, 2005, fog from Bradley State Wayside, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
View from Bradley State Wayside, Oregon, towards Puget Island and the Washington shore. The Columbia River and Puget Island, Washington, are under the fog. The hills of Washington State are in the distance. Image taken April 19, 2005.


"... A cloudy foggey morning Some rain.     we Set out early     proceeded under the Stard Shore under a high rugid hills with Steep assent the Shore boalt and rockey, the fog So thick we could not See across the river ..." [Clark, November 7, 1805]


"Fog So Thick" ...
More than once along their journey Lewis and Clark mention the thick fog which formed along the Columbia. On November 3, 1805, it delayed their leaving their camp at Rooster Rock.

"... The fog So thick this morning we did not think it prudent to Set out untill 10 oClock we Set out and proceeded on verry well, accompanied by our Indian friends ...     The Countrey has a handsom appearance in advance no mountains extensive bottoms the water Shallow for a great distance from Shore . The fog continued thick untill 12 oClock, we Coasted, and halted at the mouth of a large river on the Lard Side ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805, first draft]

"... The Fog So thick this morning that we could not See a man 50 Steps off, this fog detained us untill 10 oClock at which time we Set out ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805]

"... The morning was foggy: one of the men went out and killed a fine buck. At 9 we proceeded on, but could not see the country we were passing, on account of the fog, which was very thick till noon when it disappeared, and we had a beautiful day. ..." [Gass, November 3, 1805]

"... a foggy morning. the geese verry pleanty on a marshey green below the Camp. ...     we perceive the tide rise and fall a little at this place. ...     about 9 oClock we set out and proceeded on the fog So thick that we could not See across the River. ..." [Ordway, November 3, 1805]

"... . the fog So thick this morning that we cannot See more than one hundred yards distance. agreeable to all calculations it cannot be more than two hundred miles from this to the ocean. ...    we then Set out abt. 9 oC. and proceeded on the fog continued So thick that we could Scarsely See the Shores or Island ..." [Whitehouse, November 3, 1805, first draft]

"... The fog got so thick that we could not see 100 Yards distance from the Camp. We find agreeable to the best calculation we can make that we are not more than 200 Miles from the Ocean. ...     We then set out on our Voyage, the fog continuing so thick, that we could scarcely see the Shores or Islands as we passed along ..." [Whitehouse, November 3, 1805]

Foggy Days ...

Image, 2004, fog, Cottonwood Beach, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fog and Cottonwood Beach, Washington. View from Steamboat Landing, Washington. Image taken November 21, 2004.
Image, 2004, fog, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Fog So Think". View near Fishers Landing, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken January 20, 2004.


The Fog So thick this morning that we could not See a man 50 Steps off ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805]
Image, 2006, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. River "S" Unit. Image taken, December 30, 2006.
Image, 2005, Fog, On the Lewis and Clark Bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Fog So Thick". View heading west to Oregon on the Lewis and Clark Bridge. Image taken November 15, 2005.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 3, 1805, first draft ...
The fog So thick this morning we did not think it prudent to Set out [from their camp at Rooster Rock] untill <it Cleared away at> 10 oClock we Set out and proceeded on verry well, accompanied by our Indian friends- ...     The water rose <2> Inches last night the effects of tide. The Countrey has a handsom appearance in advance no mountains extensive bottoms- the water Shallow for a great distance from Shore-. The fog continued thick untill 12 oClock, we Coasted, and halted at the mouth of a large river on the Lard Side [Sandy River], This river throws out emence quanty of <quick> Sand and is verry Shallow, th narrowest part 200 yards wide bold Current, much resembling the river Plat, Several Islands about 1 mile up and has a Sandbar of 3 miles in extend imedately in its mouth, discharging it waters by 2 mouths, and Crowding its Corse Sands So as to throw the Columbia waters on its Nothern banks, & confdg it to ms. in width Passed a Small Prarie on the Stard. Side above [location of Washougal, Washington, Cottonwood Beach, and William Clark Park], a large Creek [Washougal River] opposit qk Sand River [Sandy River] on the Stard. Side, extensive bottoms and low hilley Countrey on each Side (good wintering Place) a high peaked mountain Suppose to be Mt. Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] is on the Lard Side S. 85 E. 40 miles distant from the mouth of quick Sand river [Sandy River]. ...

West 3 miles
to the upper mouth of quick Sand <mountain> river [Sandy River], Country low on each Side rising to a hilley Countrey passed a large Creek opposit Std. Side [Washougal River] & 2 Sand bars

S. 70 W. 7 miles
to the upper point of a large Island [Government Island] Covered with [blank]     passed the Lower mouth of Sandy river [Sandy River] at 3 miles opposit the head of a large Island Std. Side faced with rocks and the <edge> Side is pine & Cotton a large Creek falls in [Washougal River] oppost to the head of this Island Isld of Fowls [Lady Island] as I Saw Som 1000 pass over to the head of this Island on the Stard Sd. passed Some ruged rocks in the middle of the river opposit the Island- river wide The Countrey below quick Sand river [Sandy River] on the Lard Side is low Piney Countrey [eastern end of the Columbia Slough, located on the floodplain of the Willamette River and the Columbia]. Passed the lower point of the Island [Lady Island] at 3 miles long & 1 wide- emence quantity of Geese, Brants, Ducks & Sea otter, Some of the large & Small kind of Swan, & Sand hill Cranes-also luns & White gulls

S. 87 W. 3 miles
on the North Side of the Island [Government Island] and Encamped ...     we Camped on the Island, and Sent out hunters on it and Capt. Lewis walked out, after Dark Capt. Lewis with 3 men went into a large Pond on this Island & killed a Swan & Several ducks. ...



Clark, November 3, 1805 ...
The Fog So thick [typical of the Pacific Northwest in the fall and spring] this morning that we could not See a man 50 Steps off, this fog detained us untill 10 oClock at which time we Set out [from their camp at Rooster Rock], ...    I walked on the Sand beech Lard. Side, opposit the canoes as they passed allong. The under groth rushes, vines &c. in the bottoms too thick to pass through, at 3 miles I arrived at the enterance of a river [Sandy River] which appeared to Scatter over a Sand bar, the bottom of which I could See quite across and did not appear to be 4 Inches deep in any part; I attempted to wade this Stream and to my astonishment found the bottom a quick Sand, and impassable- I called to the Canoes to put to Shore, I got into the Canoe and landed below the mouth, & Capt Lewis and my Self walked up this river about 1 miles to examine this river which we found to be a verry Considerable Stream Dischargeing its waters through 2 Chanels which forms an Island [Sandy River Delta, which has had various names throughout history] of about 3 miles in length on the river and 1 miles wide, composed of Corse Sand which is thrown out of this quick Sand river Compressing the waters of the Columbia and throwing the whole Current of its waters against its Northern banks, within a Chanel of a mile wide, Several Small Islands 1 mile up this river, This Stream has much the appearance of the River Platt: roleing its quick Sands into the bottoms with great velocity after which it is divided into 2 Chanels by a large Sand bar before mentioned, the narrowest part of this River is 120 yards-on the Opposit Side of the Columbia a <large Creek> falls in [Washougal River]     above this Creek on the Same Side is a Small prarie [location of Washougal, Washington, Cottonwood Beach, now the home of Captain William Clark Park, and the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge]. extensive low country on each Side thickly timbered [low area upstream of Cottonwood Beach and Captain William Clark Park is the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge].

The Quick Sand river [Sandy River] appears to pass through the low countrey at the foot of those high range of mountains in a Southerly direction,- The large Creeks which fall into the Columbia on the Stard. Side [Washougal River] rise in the Same range of mountains to the N. N. E. and pass through Some ridgey land- A Mountain which we Suppose to be Mt. Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] is S. 85 E about 47 miles distant from the mouth of quick sand river [Sandy River]     This mtn. is Covered with Snow and in the range of mountains which we have passed through and is of a Conical form but rugid- after takeing dinner at the mouth of this river [Sandy River]  we proceeded on passed the head of a Island [Lady Island] near the lard Side [???] back of which on the Same Side and near the head a large Creek falls in [Washougal River, today the town of Camas, Washington, lies between Lady Island and the Washougal River], and nearly opposit & 3 miles below the upper mouth of quick Sand river is the lower mouth, [for?] This Island [Lady Island] is 3 1/2 miles long, has rocks at the upper point, Some timber on the borders of this Island in the middle open and ponney. Some rugid rocks in the middle of the Stream opposit this Island.   <proceeded in> to Center of a large Island in the middle of the river which we call Dimond Isld. [Government Island] from its appearance, here we met 15 Indn men in 2 canoes from below, they informed us they Saw 3 vestles below &c. &c. we landed on the North Side of this Dimond Island and Encamped [on the north side of Government Island, perhaps opposite Fishers Landing],     Capt. L walked out with his gun on the Island, Sent out hunters & fowlers- below quick Sand River [Sandy River] the Countrey is low rich and thickly timbered on each Side of the river  [on the Oregon side this area is the eastern end of the Columbia Slough, located on the floodplain of the Willamette River with the Columbia River],   the Islands open & Some ponds river wide and emence numbers of fowls flying in every direction Such as Swan, geese, Brants, Cranes, Stalks, white guls, comerants & plevers &c. also great numbers of Sea Otter in the river [Harbor Seals] -     a Canoe arrived from the village below the last rapid ...     Capt Lewis borrowed a Small Canoe of those Indians & 4 men took her across to a Small lake in the Isld. [Government Island] ...    ...  :  note the mountain we Saw from near the forks proves to be Mount Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon]






Clark, November 7, 1805 ...
A cloudy foggey morning Some rain. we Set out [from their camp at Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County, Washington] early proceeded under the Stard Shore under a high rugid hills with Steep assent the Shore boalt and rockey, the fog So thick we could not See across the river [typical for this area in the winter], two Canos of Indians met and returned with us to their village which is Situated on the Stard Side behind a cluster of Marshey Islands [Puget Island and the Hunting Islands] , on a narrow chanl. of the river [Cathlamet Channel] through which we passed to the Village of 4 Houses, [Cathlamet, Washington area] ....

Those people call themselves War-ci--cum ...

after delaying at this village one hour [Cathlamet, Washington area] and a half we Set out piloted by an Indian dressed in a Salors dress, to the main Chanel of the river, the tide being in we Should have found much dificuelty in passing into the main Chanel from behind those islands [Puget Island and the Hunting Islands],     without a pilot, a large marshey Island [Tenasillahe Island] near the middle of the river near which Several Canoes Came allong Side with Skins, roots fish &c. to Sell, and had a temporey residence on this Island, here we See great numbers of water fowls about those marshey Islands; here the high mountanious Countrey approaches the river on the Lard Side [near Clifton, Oregon], a high mountn. to the S W. about 20 miles [Saddle Mountain], the high mountans. Countrey Continue on the Stard Side, about 14 miles below the last village and 18 miles of this day we landed at a village of the Same nation [Skamokawa, Washington]. This village is at the foot of the high hills on the Stard Side back of 2 Small Islands [today, Price Island lies between Skamokawa and the Columbia River] it contains 7 indifferent houses built in the Same form of those above, ... opposit to this Village the high mountaneous Countrey leave the river on the Lard Side [downstream of Aldrich Point] below which the river widens into a kind of Bay [Cathlamet Bay] & is Crouded with low Islands Subject to be Covered by the tides [today this is the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Lower Columbia River Estuary] - we proceeded on about 12 miles below the Village [Skamokawa] under a high mountaneous Countrey on the Stard. Side. Shore boald and rockey and Encamped under a high hill [ridge of Jim Crow Point] on the Stard. Side opposit to a rock [Pillar Rock] Situated half a mile from the Shore, about 50 feet high and 20 feet Diamieter,     we with dificuelty found a place Clear of the tide and Sufficiently large to lie on and the only place we could get was on round Stones on which we lay our mats rain Continud. moderately all day & Two Indians accompanied us from the last village, they we detected in Stealing a knife and returned, our Small Canoe which got Seperated in the fog this morning joined us this evening from a large Island Situated nearest the Lard Side below the high hills on that Side, the river being too wide to See either the form Shape or Size of the Islands on the Lard Side [part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge].

Great joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian [Clark's famous "Ocian in view! O! the Joy"], this great Pacific Octean [Pacific Ocean] which we been So long anxious to See. and the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rockey Shores (as I Suppose) may be heard distictly

we made 34 miles to day as Computed





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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:

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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June 2009