Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Lesser Known Forts (Blockhouses) of the Columbia River"
Fort Riggs (Washougal, Washington), Fort Sevastopool Blockhouse (Fourth Plain/Orchards, Washington), Lewis River Blockhouse (Washington), St. Helens Blockhouse (Oregon), and Salmon Creek Stockade (Washington), White Salmon Blockhouse (Washington)"
Includes ... Fort Riggs (Washougal) ... Fort Sevastopool Blockhouse (Fourth Plain/Orchards) ... Lewis River Blockhouse ... St. Helens Blockhouse ... Salmon Creek Stockade ... White Salmon Blockhouse ...
Image, 2009, Steigerwald Lake NWR, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
View of the Columbia River, looking upstream, as seen from Gibbons Creek, Steigerwald Lake NWR, Washington. View from approximate location of Fort Riggs. Image taken October 3, 2009.


Forts (Blockhouses) of the Columbia River ...
[More]


Lesser Known Forts, Blockhouses, Stockades, etc.

  • Fort Riggs ...
  • Fort Sevastopool ...
  • Lewis River Blockhouse ...
  • St. Helens Blockhouse ...
  • Salmon Creek Stockade ...
  • White Salmon Blockhouse ...


Fort Riggs ...
"Fort Riggs, 1856:   Washington Territorial Volunteers built a blockhouse on the Colonel Reuben Riggs property on the north bank of the Columbia River, Clark County. "

Source:    "Historylink.org" website, 2014, "Forts of Washington Territory, Indian War Era, 1855-1856.

Image, 1856 cadastral map, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
HISTORICAL ... 1856 Cadastral Map detail of T1N, R4E, Section 15, showing property of Reuben Riggs. Today a part of the Steigerwald Lake NWR, Washougal, Washington. Cadastral Map courtesy U.S. Bureau of Land Management archives.
Image, 1863 cadastral map, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
HISTORICAL ... 1863 Cadastral Map detail of T1N, R4E, Section 15, showing property of Reuben Riggs. Today a part of the Steigerwald Lake NWR, Washougal, Washington. Cadastral Map courtesy U.S. Bureau of Land Management archives.


Fort Sevastopool ...
"... The Yakima Indian Wars were a complex series of events involving both volunteer and regular troops in numerous, sometimes bloody conflicts throughout eastern Washington and southern Oregon from 1853 to late 1858. During this period, a blockhouse was built on the Vancouver post and in 1856 while soldiers were away on Indian campaigns a group of Clarke County Rangers, commanded by Judge William Strong, guarded the post. On the Fourth Plain, the military appointed Richard Covington sergeant of the Clarke county Rangers who built "Fort Sevastopool," a blockhouse and stockade covering about three acres. ..."


Source:    Donald L. Sinclair, Center for Columbia River History, 2004, "Part I, Our Manifest Destiny Bids Fair for Fulfillment: An Historical Overview of Vancouver Barracks, 1846-1898, with suggestions for further research", funded by The National Park Service, Department of the Interior, in co-operation with Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Washington.


Lewis River Blockhouse ...
(to come)


St. Helens (Oregon) Blockhouse ...
(to come)


Salmon Creek Stockade ...
(to come)


White Salmon Blockhouse ...
The White Salmon Blockhouse

"After the Indian uprising of 1856 the Government erected a Blockhouse on the White Salmon Flats, at a place later known as Icehouse Point, for the protection of the settlers.

The Blockhouse, a two-story structure, stood broadside to the Columbia River. The lower floor measured 18x30 feet, built with logs that were 10-inch square. The upper floor extended three feet beyond the lower level, making a large room 24x36 feet, using logs that were 6-inch square. The windows were protected by wooden shutters. The walls of the upper floor contained portholes which were arranged to allow for various angles and directions of the gun muzzles.

The Blockhouse was in service for four years. It was later used by the Roberts family for living quarters. It was still standing in 1866, but was later torn down and the logs were used to build a calf corral. The massive doors of this Blockhouse were on display at The Dalles Historical Museum for many years, however they no longer exist. The key to those doors is displayed here.

The photograph [see below] is actually the Middle Blockhouse of the Cascades, which stood west of present-day near Stevenson, Wash. Many blockhouses were of a similar design to this."


Source:    Gorge Heritage Museum, Bingen, Washington, visited 2014.


"The White Salmon blockhouse was built in 1856, soon after the war along the Columbia with the hostile Yakimas took place. Generally speaking, we might term the year of 1856 as being "blockhouse year" since so many of these structures were built at that time. ...

After the terrible tragedy of 1856 [Massacre at the Cascades], and the awful lesson learned from it, the whites realized their peril in this wild and savage land and at once sought means of protection from future attacks, hence blockhouses and stockades began to be built, not only at the Cascades, but at other settlements as well. One of these "after war" forts was the White Salmon blockhouse, and, while its existence was short lived, (having been taken down some few years afterwards, when final peace was made with the hostile Indian tribes), it was among the most famous historic monuments of its day, and, considering the general architecture of blockhouses, it was one of the largest and most handsome structures in that part of Washington. ...

[The blockhouse] was located at the uppper steamer landing ...

The blockhouse stood on the rocky point at the Upper steamboat landing where were some giant pine trees and was in full view of the river boats coming form either direction ... in the higher stages of the river freshet, the knoll on which the blockhouse stood, was an island; ...

The blockhouse was built soon after the Cascade affair, and was for the short time it was needed, used as a store house for government freight that was landed there from the boats and guarded until it could be "packed" over the trail that led over to Fort Sim-co-e. ...

The White Salmon blockhouse was built shortly after the Cascade massacre on what was known as Icehouse Point, the then steam boat landing. It was called Icehouse Point because ice was packed in from the Ice cave and stored in a little house, until the arrival of the boat for The Dalles. ..."


Source:    D.A. Brown, 1927, Washington Historical Quarterly, vol.18, no.2, p.110-121, April 1927.


Image, 2014, Gorge Heritage Museum, Bingen, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Information and key, White Salmon Blockhouse, Gorge Heritage Museum, Bingen, Washington. No photographs exist of the White Salmon Blockhouse and the one depicted on the display is Fort Rains. Image taken September 26, 2004.


1856 Correspondence

Source:   Message of the governor of Washington Territory: Also; the correspondence with the secretary of war, Major Gen. Wool, the officers of regular army, and of the volunteer service of Washington Territory, 1867, E. Furste, Public Printer, Olympia.



[No. 335]
Vancouver, W.T., April 6th, 1856.

Capt. Wm. Kelly, Com'g. Co. Clarke County Rangers:

Sir: -- Your company is accepted into the volunteer service of the United States as Mounted Rangers, to date from first organization.

You will establish block-houses at Washoogal and Lewis rivers, to enable settlers to reside on their claims, and keep scouting parties ranging through the settlements for the protection of the citizens of Clarke county.

You will keep at least one-half of your men employed, whilst the rest are putting in crops.

Make requsitions on the Quartermaster and Commissary at this point for such horses and supplies you may need.

Send a master and description roll to the Adjutant General's office, and report your progress from time to time to head quarters.

Respectfully, sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed,) EUSTIS HUGER,
Adj't. 2d Regiment W.T. Volunteers.
By order of the Gov. and Commander-in-chief.




[No. 337.]
Vancouver, W.T., April 14th, 1856.
James Tilton, Adjutant General, Olympia, W.T.:

Sir: -- Enlcosed I send you copies of correspondence between Capt. Kelly and Lieut. Biles, in regard to the erection of the block-houses at the Washoogal and Lewis rivers; also a copy of instructions to Capt. Kelly.

As soon as the company at this place was organized, I called upon the commanding officer at Fort Vancouver, and in the name of the Governor of this Territory, offered to co-operate with the regular forces in protecting the citizens. This was done in writing. As yet my communication has not been answered officially.

Col. Morris told me he would answer it after he talked with Col. Wright. As soon as it is done copies will be sent to your office. ...   The site selected for Fort Riggs is a very good one and I have approved of it.

Very respectfully,
Your obedience servant,
(Signed,) EUSTIS HUGER,
Adjutant 2d Reg't.




[No. 339.]
Fort Riggs, Washoogal District,
Clarke County, W.T., April 10th, 1856.

Capt. Wm. Kelly, Com'g. Clarke Co. Rangers, &c., Vancouver:

Sir: -- In pursuance of your orders dated April 9th, 1856, I proceeded to this place without delay and have complied with the instructions therein.

The detachment at this place, now consisting of eleven mean, are engaged in scouting the neighborhood and examining the Indian trails or passes through Cape Horn Mountain. ...

I find that every member is more or less engaged in farming, consequently, I deemed it justice to them that they should have the election of the point for the erection of the block-house, (ordered to be built by the Commander-in-chief,) and requested a report of their action thereon. The following is their verbal report:

We, the farmers of Washoogal District, unanimously agree: That the block-house ordered to be built by His Excellency I.I. Stevens, Gov. &c., for the protection of the farmers, &c., in said district, be built on the land claim of Col. Ruben Riggs, near the bank of the Columbia river, in Clarke county, and that the same be known as "Fort Riggs."

I have to say that the point selected fully merits my approbation. -- Near this point the main road leading from Cascades to Vancouver comes down on the bottom or pasture land, and the many trails or passes strike this road within a mile of this point. It is generally conceded here that should the Indians contemplate an attack in the neighborhood, that this point would be the first place; it is also the most convenient place for the farmers to concentrate in case of an attack, and can have their stock so concentrated that with a howitzer, could protect them from the Indians. ...

All of which is respectfully submitted.
(Signed,) J.D. Biles,
1st Lieut. Clarke Co. Rangers, W.T.V.




[No. 340.]
Head Quarters, Clarke Co. Rangers, W.T.V.,
Vancouver, April 10th, 1856.

ORDERS NO. 5

1st.    A detachment of Clarke Co. Rangers, consisting of members residing in the neighborhood of 4th Plain, is hereby detached for duty in that direction.

2d.    Mr. Richard Covington being duly elected a Sergeant of the detachment, will be obeyed and respected accordingly.

3d.    Sergeant Covington will proceed with his command as soon as possible to the 4th Plain, and cause a site to be selected by the members of his command for the erection of a block-house, for the defence of the settlement in that vicinity. The site should be at a respectable distance from the woods or thickets, and at a point where water can be easily procured, and which will afford the greatest security to the men while tending their farms.

4th.    The person granting the site should be requested to give his consent in writing, that the settlers may hold the building as long as the safety of the settlements require it.

5th.    Until the house is built, a scouting party from the detachment, of one third of the men, will be sent out daily, to reconnoitre the country and Indian trails in the direction of the 5th Plain, or in any other direction that may be deemed necessary by Sergeant Covington; and for the safety of the settlements, as well as that of the detachment, a guard will be kept up during the night.

6th.    All Indians found in, or passing through the settlements will be apprehended (except those on government express,) and sent in under an escort to these head quarters; should any India attempt to escape, he will be fired on.

7th.    Should the enemy appear in force, or there be appearances of his bing in your vicinity, you will immediately despatch one or more of your trustiest men that the necessary assistance may be afforded you as soon as possible.

(Signed,) WM. KELLY,
Capt. Clark Co. Ranger, 2d Reg't. W.T.V.
To Sergeant Richard Covington,
Clark Co. Rangers, W.T.V., Vancouver, W.T.




[No. 341]
Head Quarters, Clarke Co. Rangers,
Vancouver, April 14, 1856.

Lieut. J.D. Biles, Clarke County Rangers, 2d Reg't. W.T.V.:

Sir: -- You are directed to proceed as soon as convenient ot the Lewis River District, for the purpose of locating a block-house, (to be built by order of the Gov. and Commander-in-chief.)

You will consult the settlers in that vicinity as to the most suitable point for its erection; one that would secure the most protection to the farming community of said district.

you will also use your influence to have the settlers there join the company, on terms the same as Washoogal District detachment.

You are authorized to secure as many men as you can get, on your way, for the volunteer service.

You will report to head quarters, Vancouver, at the earliest period possible.

(Signed,) WM. KELLY,
Capt. Clarke Co. Rangers, 2d Reg't. W.T.V.




[No. 343]
Lewis River, Clarke County,
April, 1856.

Capt. Wm. Kelly, Clarke County Rangers, W.T.V.:

Sir: -- In pursuance to your orders of date April 14, 1856, I proceeded to this place, and to fulfil the duty assigned me, I procured the services of Mssrs. Lewis and Tappan as guides, for the purpose of examining the country in this district. To-day I selected a point for the location of the block-house.

This is the most central, and a point that will secure the most protection to settlers, being a good pasture and range around it.

The settlers with the exception of two or three, have left their claims and gone to St. Helens, O.T., for safety. I would suggest that you send a detachment down to build the house, and scout on the mountain passes.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

(Signed,) J.D. BILES,
1st Lieut. Clarke Co. Rangers, 2d Reg't. W.T.V.




[No. 345]
Head Quarters, Clarke Co. Rangers,
Vancouver, W.T., April 30, 1856.

Major James Tilton, Adjutant General W.T.V.:

Sir: -- Herewith I enclose some of my orders and reports of Lieut. J. D. Biles, in relation to the defence of Clarke county. My company at present numbers seventy-four, officers and men, and sixty-four horses. They are distributed as follows:

Fourteen detached at Washoogal district. The fort or block-house is built, and known as Fort Riggs, and a scouting party of one-third is sent out daily to reconnoitre the trails on the mountains of Cape Horn.

Five men detached at Lackamas prairie, eight miles from here, who scout on the trails to that place.

Fifteen men at 4th Plain, commanded by Sergeant Covington. They have built a fort with a block-house bastion, and with a small piece of ordnance could defy a very strong force. They scout on the trail leading from Cha-la-che prairie, which is the principal trail to Vancouver from the Indian country.

Seven men at Salmon creek. They have built a stockade and scout on an old trail leading from the east fork of Lewis river.

I have been to Che-la-che prairie with a party of twenty-three men; it is about thirty miles from the Lewis river settlement. There was no indication of Indians being in that direction, though rumor had it that there were hiu before I went there. There was also some two hundred head of horses supposed to be there, but on arriving, I found only four two year old colts, and one lame horse that had been left there by a friendly Indian last fall.

The Che-la-che prairie is an important point, and should have at least fifty men staitoned there, as the Indians must pass that point to come into the settlements, and if they should by chance get into this country, a party there could check their retreat. ...

The people at Lewis river were nearly all away from their claims, and no men could be induced to volunteer into our company.

To-morrow morning a detachment of fifteen men under Lieut. Biles, leaves for Lewis river to build a block-house at that place, which could not possibly be done before in consequence of the material that composes my company. Nearly all are married men and farmers, and humanity demanded that they should make their own womena and children secure before they could be called away.

Hoping that my course may meet the approbation of his Excellency the Governor, as well as your own,


I remain, sir, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed,) WM. KELLY,
Capt. Clarke Co. Rangers, 2d Reg't. W.T.V.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...
 




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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, 2014, "Forts of Washington Territory, Indian War Era, 1855-1856;    Message of the governor of Washington Territory: Also; the correspondence with the secretary of war, Major Gen. Wool, the officers of regular army, and of the volunteer service of Washington Territory, 1867, E. Furste, Public Printer, Olympia;    Sinclair, D.L., 2004, Center for Columbia River History, "Part I, Our Manifest Destiny Bids Fair for Fulfillment: An Historical Overview of Vancouver Barracks, 1846-1898, with suggestions for further research", funded by The National Park Service, Department of the Interior, in co-operation with Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Washington;   

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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