Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Fort Columbia, Washington"
Includes ... Fort Columbia ... Fort Columbia State Park ... Chief Comcomly ... Lewis and Clark National Park ... Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks ... National Register of Historic Places ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2005, Fort Columbia State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fort Columbia State Park, Washington. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Fort Columbia ...
Fort Columbia is located on Scarboro Hill above Chinook Point, just upstream of Baker Bay and two miles downstream of Point Ellice and the Astoria-Megler Bridge. The historic town of Chinook lies downstream and Station Camp, where Lewis and Clark spent 10 days in November 1805, lies upstream. Fort Columbia was one of three forts built to defend the mouth of the Columbia River, the other two being Fort Canby on Cape Disappointment, and Fort Stevens on Point Adams. Fort Columbia has an unobstructed view of the Columbia River and Baker Bay from Cape Disappointment downstream to Astoria, Oregon upstream. In 1950 Fort Columbia became a Washington State Park, and in 2004 the State Park became part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks, a grouping of sites important in the Lewis and Clark story.

Image, 2013, Fort Columbia from Trestle Bay, click to enlarge
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Fort Columbia, Washington, as seen from Trestle Bay, Oregon. Image taken February 2, 2013.


Fort Columbia, Scarboro Hill, and Chinook Point ...
Scarboro Hill is the hill which rises above Chinook Point and is the home to Fort Columbia. Scarboro Hill (sometimes seen as "Scarborough Hill") was named after James A. Scarborough who settled at Chinook Point in 1843, filed a Donation Land Claim, and lived on the property until his death in 1855. James Scarborough's property extended about a mile along the north bank of the Columbia, and included all of Chinook Point and most of Scarborough Hill.

According to "HistoryLink.org" website of Washington State History (2007):

"... Ann Scarborough died in 1852 and Captain Scarborough died two and a half years later, on February 4, 1855. On April 23, 1856, James Birnie, guardian of Scarborough’s two young sons, sold the Scarborough Donation Land Claim to Rocque Ducheney for $1,250. On March 7, 1864, Captain George Henry Elliot bought the property on behalf of the United States from Ducheney’s heirs for $2,000. An additional $1,000 was paid to Ducheney’s widow and her new husband for a quit-claim deed renouncing all interest in the property. The Secretary of War approved the transaction and the deed was recorded on March 13, 1867. In 1898, the property became the U.S. Army's Fort Columbia. At the end of World War II, Fort Columbia was declared surplus and in 1950 was transferred to the custody of the state of Washington. Since then it has been a state park. Twelve historic wood-frame buildings still stand on the premises. ..."

Chinook Point was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 (Site #66000747) for its discovery by Captain Robert Gray, laying the foundation for claim of the Pacific Northwest by the United States, and its subsequent stratigic military location of Fort Columbia.


Image, 2005, Chinook Point, from downstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Chinook Point, Washington. As seen from Chinook County Park, downstream of Chinook Point. Saddle Mountain is along the horizon, right. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Chief Comcomly and the Chinook Tribe ...
Chinook Point and Scarboro Hill, the location of today's Fort Columbia, was once a Chinook Village headed by Chief Comcomly, who was not only a friend of Lewis and Clark, but also a benefactor of the early Astorians.
[More]

Image, 2004, entrance, Fort Columbia State Park, History Sign, click to enlarge
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History sign, at Fort Columbia State Park, Washington. Image taken April 9, 2004.


Fort Columbia History ...
Fort Columbia was built from 1896 to 1904, one of three forts designed for harbor defense of the Columbia River (the other two being Fort Canby and Fort Stevens). Fort Columbia remained fully manned and operational through three wars, until declared surplus in 1947 at the end of World War II, when it was transferred to the custody of the State of Washington in 1950 and became Fort Columbia State Park. In 2004 the State Park became part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks, a grouping of sites important in the Lewis and Clark story. Twelve historic wood-frame buildings remain.

From Larry J. Weathers in The Sou'wester (1989, Pacific County Historical Society and Museum):

"... FORT COLUMBIA: A deactivated military fort, now known as Fort Columbia Historical State Park, on Chinook Point overlooking the Columbia River. The Chinook Indians called the point "No's-to-ils" and the hill (now called Scarborough Hill) behind the point "No'si-misp". The point and hill were a permanent Indian encampment for decades unknown before the arrival of white settlers. Chief Concomly, a famed Chinook leader (ca. 1810 to 1830), maintained his principal lodge on the hill. Captain James Allan Scarborough, retired Hudson Bay Company employee, and his Indian wife Ann Elizabeth, settled on the hill around 1846 and filed a Donation Land Claim under the Law of 1850. After his death in 1855, title to the property was transferred to Rocque Ducheney, HBC employee living in nearby Chenookville. In 1867, the Federal government purchased Chinook Point for a military reservation from the Ducheney heirs for $2,000. It wasn't until 1895 that the War Department decided to build a fort and install gun batteries. The fort was first occupied by a regular garrison in June 1904. A post office was established June 30, 1890, and continued in operation until January 31, 1923. Fort Columbia was deactivated March 28, 1947, and listed as surplus. The old military post became Fort Columbia Historical State Park at a dedication ceremony held June 17, 1951. ..."

Fort Columbia State Park ...
Fort Columbia State Park is a 593-acre day-use historical park located on Scarborough Hill at Chinook Point. The Park has 6,400 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Columbia River. The fort was fully manned and operational through three wars, and was part of the harbor defense of the Columbia River from 1896 to 1947.

Image, 2005, Fort Columbia State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Barracks, Fort Columbia State Park, Washington. Image taken April 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Fort Columbia State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Barracks, Fort Columbia State Park, Washington. Image taken February 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Fort Columbia State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fort Columbia State Park, Washington. Image taken February 19, 2005.


Battery 246 ...
Battery 246, located at Fort Columbia, was one of three Batteries surrounding the mouth of the Columbia River. Battery 245 was located at Fort Stevens, Oregon, and Battery 247 was located at Fort Canby, located at Cape Disappointment.

Image, 2005, Battery 246, Fort Columbia State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Battery 246, Fort Columbia State Park, Washington. Battery 246 was a World War II installation, completed in 1945. Image taken April 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Fort Columbia State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
6-Inch Canon, Battery 246, Fort Columbia State Park, Washington. Fort Columbia has two 6-inch canons. Only four others exist in the world. Image taken April 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Fort Columbia State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
6-Inch Canon, Battery 246, Fort Columbia State Park, Washington. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Columbia River from Fort Columbia ...

Image, 2005, Columbia River from Fort Columbia State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River from Fort Columbia Barracks, and Chinook Point. Image taken February 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Baker Bay as seen from Fort Columbia, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Baker Bay as seen from Fort Columbia. The tide is out. Cape Disappointment is in the far distance. Image taken April 19, 2005.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Fort Columbia, Washington, ca.1910
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Fort Columbia, Washington, ca.1910. Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Quarters, Fort Columbia, Wash.". Divided back. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 18, 1805 ...
A little cloudy this morning I Set out [from their camp at Station Camp] with 10 men and my man York to the Ocian by land. i. e. Serjt. Ordway & Pryor, Jos. & Ru. Fields, Go. Shannon, W. Brattin, J. Colter, P. Wiser, W. Labieche & P. Shabono one of our interpreters & York. [according to Moulton, Clark gave the other men's names in two inconsistent lists --- those named included Clark, Ordway, Charbonneau, Pryor, the Field brothers, Shannon, Colter, Weiser, Labiche, Bratton, and York.] I Set out at Day light and proceeded on a Sandy beech

N. 80° W. 1 Mile to a point of rocks about 40 feet high [Chinook Point, now the location of Fort Columbia], from the top of which the hill Side is open and assend with a Steep assent [Scarboro Hill] to the tops of the Mountains, a Deep nitch and two Small Streams above this point, then my course was

N. W. 7 Mile to the enterance of a creek [Chinook River] at a lodge or cabin of Chinnooks passing on a wide Sand bar the bay to my left [Baker Bay] and Several Small ponds Containing great numbers of water fowls to my right; with a narrow bottom of alder & Small balsam between the Ponds and the Mountn. ...     This Creek appears to be nothing more than the conveyance of Several Small dreans from the high hills and the ponds on each Side near its mouth. here we were Set across all in one Canoe by 2 Squars to each I gav a Small hook

S. 79° W. 5 Miles to the mouth of Chin nook river, [today's Wallacut River] passed a low bluff of a small hite at 2 miles below which is the remains of huts near which place is also the remains of a whale on the Sand, the countrey low open and Slashey, with elivated lands interspersed covered with pine & thick under groth This river [Wallacut River] is 40 yards wide at low tide- here we made a fire and dined on 4 brant and 48 Pliver which was killed by Labiech on the coast as we came on. ...     after dineing we crossed the river in an old canoe which I found on the Sand near Som old houses & proceeded on-

S. 20° W. 4 Miles to a Small rock island in a deep nitch     passed a nitch at 2 miles in which there is a dreen from Some ponds back, the land low opposite this nitch a bluff of yellow Clay and Soft Stone from the river to the Comencement of this nitch     below the Country rises to high hills of about 80 or 90 feet above the water- at 3 miles passed a nitch- this rock Island is Small and at the South of a deep bend [near Illwaco, Washington] in which the nativs inform us the Ships anchor, and from whence they receive their goods in return for their peltries and Elk Skins &c. this appears to be a very good harber for large Ships. here I found Capt Lewis name on a tree. I also engraved my name & by land the day of the month and year, as also Several of the men.

S. 46° E. 2 Miles to the inner extremity of Cape Disapointment passing a nitch [location of Fort Canby] in which there is a Small rock island, a Small Stream falls into this nitch from a pond [today O'Neil Lake lies between Fort Canby and McKenzie Head] which is imediately on the Sea Coast passing through a low isthmus. this Cape is an ellivated <Situat> Circlier point [location Cape Disappointment Lighthouse] Covered with thick timber on the iner Side and open grassey exposur next to the Sea and rises with a Steep assent to the hight of about 150 or 160 feet above the leavel of the water <from the last mentioned nitch-> this cape [Cape Disappointment] as also the Shore both on the Bay & Sea coast is a dark brown rock [basalt]. I crossed the neck of Land low and ˝ of a mile wide to the main Ocian [today Waikiki Beach is located on the ocean side of this isthmus], at the foot of a high open hill projecting into the ocian, and about one mile in Sicumfrance. I assended this hill [McKenzie Head] which is covered with high corse grass. decended to the N. of it and camped. I picked up a flounder on the beech this evening.-

from Cape Disapointment to a high point of a Mountn. which we shall call [the Nicholas Biddle version has Clarke's Point of View inserted here. "Clarke's Point of View" is today's Tillamook Head, a name received when Clark visited and climbed the formation in Janaury 1806.] beares S. 20° W. about <40> [WC?: 25] miles, point adams is verry low and is Situated within the direction between those two high points of land, the water appears verry Shole from off the mouth of the river for a great distance, and I cannot assertain the direction of the deepst Chanel, the Indians point nearest the opposit Side. the waves appear to brake with tremendious force in every direction quite across a large Sand bar lies within the mouth nearest to point Adams [Point Adams] which is nearly covered at high tide. I suped on brant this evening with a little pounded fish. Some rain in the after part of the night. men appear much Satisfied with their trip beholding with estonishment the high waves dashing against the rocks & this emence ocian.



Ordway, November 18, 1805 ...
Cloudy. Capt. Clark myself and 10 more of the party Set out [from their camp at Station Camp] in order to go down and see the passiffic ocean [Pacific Ocean]. we proceeded on round Hailys bay [Bakers Bay] crossed two Rivers [Chinook River and Wallacut River] in Sd. bay [Bakers Bay] . ...     we proceeded on round high clifts of rocks where we had much trouble to pass.- towards evening we arived at the Cape disapointment [Cape Disappointment] on the Sea Shore. went over a bald hill [McKenzie Head] where we had a handsom view of the ocean. we went on a Short distance on the coast and Camped for the night.




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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: "HistoryLink.org" website, 2007, Washington State History; National Register of Historic Places website, 2005; Oregon Historical Society website, 2004, "The Oregon History Project"; Pacific County Historical Society website, 2005, "Place Names of Pacific County" by Larry J. Weathers, IN: The Sou'wester, Centennial Edition 1989, vol.XXIV, no.1-4.; Washington State Parks and Recreation website, 2004.

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