Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Fort Gilliam, Columbia River, Washington ..."
Includes ... Fort Gilliam ... Upper Landing ... Ashes Lake ... Cascades Rapids ...
Image, 2005, Ashes Lake, looking south towards the Columbia River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Ashes Lake, Washington. View from Ashes Lake Road, looking south towards the Columbia River. Image taken February 26, 2005.

Fort Gilliam, an 1848 supply depot, and Fort Lugenbeel, an 1856 military blockhouse, were located above Ashes Lake. This area was known as the "Upper Cascades" or "Upper Landing".

The Forts of the Cascades Rapids ...
Throughout history four different forts or blockhouses existed along a rough 4.5 mile stretch of the Columbia River Gorge between Hamilton Island and Cascades Locks, known throughout history as the "Cascade Rapids".

  • The first fort built was Fort Gilliam, established in 1848 and located at the upper end of the Rapids. Fort Gilliam was a supply depot for the Cayuse Indian Wars.

  • Next came Fort Cascades, built in 1855 at the lower end of the Rapids. It was built to defend the portage and was known as the "Lower Blockhouse".

  • Next came Fort Rains, also built in 1855. It was located at the lower end of the portage around the "Upper Cascades" and was known as the "Middle Blockhouse".

  • The last fort built was Fort Lugenbeel, built in 1856 and located at the upper end of the "Upper Cascades" portage, and was known as the "Upper Blockhouse".


Fort Gilliam ...
Fort Gilliam was established in 1848 as a supply depot for the Army for use in the upcoming Cayuse Indian War. Fort Gilliam was established at the "upper landing" of the Cascade Rapids portage, a spot which would become the location of Fort Lugenbeel. The fort was named after Colonel Cornelius Gilliam, colonel-commandant of the volunteer regiment of Oregon organized to confront the Indian situation.

Establishing ...
"Before the army, which was congregating at Portland, could move up the river, it was necessary to establish a base of supplies at the cascades, and a few men were sent to that point by the commissary-general about the last of December to erect a storehouse, and possibly a blockhouse. The only structures he succeeded in erecting were some cabins at the upper landing, and these with the greatest difficulty. But the place was dignified by the name of Fort Gilliam, although the volunteers more often spoke of it as "The Cabins." ...

Starting with two hundred and twenty men he [Colonel Gilliam] arrived at Vancouver the same day in company with Commissary-General Palmer, where together they purchased, on their own credit, eight hundred dollars' worth of goods necessary to complete the outfit of the companies. The men were mounted but had no pack horses, and the provisions were conveyed in boats, which, owing to their slow movements, delayed the progress of the troops. On arriving at the cascades a portage of several miles was necessary to reach Fort Gilliam, and the ferry there established. The wind blowing through the gorge of the mountains made crossing to the Oregon side very difficult. A road from the lower to the upper end of the portage being a necessity in order to transport the cannon and other heavy material, a company was left behind to open it."

Source:    Frances Fuller Victor, 1894, The Early Indian Wars of Oregon: Compiled ...

"A base of supplies was established during the last days of December [1847] at the upper cascades of the Columbia. A few rude structures were erected and denominated Fort Gilliam, though they were more frequently referred to as "The Cabins." ...

Early in January, 1848, Colonel Gilliam started up the river from the rendezvous at Portland, arriving at Vancouver the first day. ... he purchased such supplies as he stood in urgent necessity of, pledging his own credit and that of Commissary-General Palmer, who accompanied him, for the payment. Having reached the cascades, he left there one company to construct a road from the lower to the upper portage, himself and the balance of his command proceeding to Fort Gilliam ..."

Source:    "An Illustrated History of Klickitat, Yakima and Kittitas Counties: ...", 1904.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 30, 1805 ...
A cool morning, a moderate rain all the last night, after eating a partial brackfast of venison we Set out [from their camp near Drano Lake and the Little White Salmon River]     passed Several places where the rocks projected into the river & have the appearance of haveing Seperated from the mountains and fallen promiscuisly into the river, Small nitches are formed in the banks below those projecting rocks which is comon in this part of the river, Saw 4 Cascades caused by Small Streams falling from the mountains on the Lard. Side,

[The possiblities in a two-mile area are - upstream to downstream - Starvation Creek and Falls, the seasonal Cabin Creek and Falls, Warren Creek and Falls, Wonder Creek and Lancaster Falls, Lindsey Creek and Falls, and Summit Creek and Falls.]

a remarkable circumstance in this part of the river is, the Stumps of pine trees [Submerged Forest]

[The Submerged Forest existed along the reach from above Dog Mountain/Viento Creek on the upstream edge and Wind Mountain/Shellrock Mountain on the downstream edge.]

are in maney places are at Some distance in the river, and gives every appearance of the rivers being damed up below from Some cause which I am not at this time acquainted with [Bonneville Landslide],     the Current of the river is also verry jentle not exceeding 1 1/2 mile pr. hour and about 3/4 of a mile in width. Some rain, we landed above the mouth of a Small river on the Stard. Side [Wind River] and Dined ...   :  here the river widens to about one mile large Sand bar in the middle, a Great [rock] both in and out of the water, large <round> Stones, or rocks are also permiscuisly Scattered about in the river, ...     this day we Saw Some fiew of the large Buzzard    Capt. Lewis Shot at one, those Buzzards are much larger than any other of ther Spece or the largest Eagle white under part of their wings &c. [California Condor] ...     The bottoms above the mouth of this little river [Wind River] <which we Call> is rich covered with grass & firn & is about 3/4 of a mile wide rich and rises gradually, below the river (which is 60 yards wide above its mouth) the Countery rises with Steep assent. we call this little river <fr Ash> New Timbered river from a Speces of Ash <that wood> which grows on its banks of a verry large and different from any we had before Seen, and a timber resembling the beech in bark <& groth> but different in its leaf which is Smaller and the tree smaller. passed maney large rocks in the river and a large creek on the Stard. Side in the mouth of which is an Island [Rock Creek near Stevenson, Washington], passed on the right of 3 Islands <on> near the Stard. Side, and landed on an Island close under the Stard. Side at the head of the great Shute [head of the Cascades Rapids], and a little below a village of 8 large houses on a Deep bend on the Stard. Side, and opposit 2 Small Islands imediately in the head of the Shute, which Islands are covered with Pine, maney large rocks also, in the head of the Shute. Ponds back of the houses, and Countrey low for a Short distance. The day proved Cloudy dark and disagreeable with Some rain all day which kept us wet. The Countary a high mountain on each Side thickly Covered with timber, Such as Spruc, Pine, Cedar, Oake Cotton &c. &c.     I took two men and walked down three miles to examine the Shute and river below proceeded along an old Indian path, passd. an old village at 1 mile [vicinity of Ice House Lake] ...     I found by examonation that we must make a portage of the greater perpotion of our Stores 2 1/2 miles, and the Canoes we Could haul over the rocks, I returned at Dark ...     a wet disagreeable evening, the only wood we could get to burn on this little Island on which we have encamped [near Ashes Lake, the island is now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir. Ashes Lake was near the head of the Cascade Rapids. Across from Ashes Lake is Cascade Locks, Oregon.] is the newly discovered Ash, which makes a tolerable fire. we made fifteen miles to daye

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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:    see Cascade Rapids;    Also:
  • "An Illustrated History of Klickitat, Yakima and Kittitas Counties: ...", 1904;

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 2014