Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Government Island"
includes ... Government Island ... ... "Dimond Island" ... "Diamond Island" ... Government Island State Recreation Area ... Government Island Dock ... Bartlett Landing Dock ... Ackerman Island ... Lemon Island ... McGuire Island ... Tri-Club Island ... Campsite of November 3, 1805 ...
Image, 2003, Interstate-205 Bridge and Mount Hood, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Government Island, Interstate-205 Bridge, and Mount Hood, Oregon. Downstream side of the Interstate-205 Bridge as seen from Marine Drive, Oregon. Government Island is to the left and the Oregon banks of the Columbia River are to the right. Mount Hood, Oregon, is in the background. Image taken July 4, 2003.


Government Island ...
Government Island, and two smaller islands (Lemon and McGuire) are located in the center of the Columbia River, between River Mile (RM) 111.5 and River Mile (RM) 118. Three miles downstream lies Hayden Island and just upstream is Lady Island. Government Island lies between the Portland International Airport on the Oregon shore and Vancouver, Washington, on the northern shore. The Interstate 205 bridge crosses Government Island and connects the two shores. Lewis and Clark camped on Government Island on November 3, 1805.

"... This Island is 6 miles long and near 3 miles wide thinly timbered ..." [Clark, November 4, 1805]

"... we came 13 miles this day and Camped on a verry large Island which is mostly prarie and large ponds, which is full of Swan Geese brants and ducks &C. Several Indians Camped with us. ..." [Ordway, November 3, 1805]

"... At 2 o'clock we proceeded on, and passed another island [part of the Government Island complex]. The country on both sides appears level and closely timbered: on the river the timber is cotton wood, maple and some ash; and back from it mostly spruce pine. We made 13 miles and encamped on a large island [Government Island], in which is a large pond full of swans, geese and ducks. On our way and here we killed some of each kind. At night, Captain Lewis had a small canoe carried over to the pond in order to hunt by moon light; but the party did not happen to have good luck, having killed only a swan and three ducks. ..." [Gass, November 3, 1805]

Image, 2005, View north from Rocky Butte, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
View north to Washington State, from Rocky Butte, Oregon. Mount St. Helens, the Columbia River, Government Island (running through center of image), and the Interstate 205 Bridge are all in this view looking north from Rocky Butte. Image taken June 15, 2005.


Campsite of November 3, 1805 ...
In their journals, Lewis and Clark referred to this island as "Diamond Island" (or more commonly seen spelled "Dimond Island" in the journals), for its shape. The Corps set up their camp of November 3, 1805, on the northern side of the island.

"... to Center of a large Island in the middle of the river which we call Dimond Isld. from its appearance, ... we landed on the North Side of this Dimond Island and Encamped ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805]

"... we came 13 miles this day and Camped on a verry large Island which is mostly prarie and large ponds, which is full of Swan Geese brants and ducks &C. Several Indians Camped with us. ..." [Ordway, November 3, 1805]

"... We made 13 miles and encamped on a large island, in which is a large pond full of swans, geese and ducks. On our way and here we killed some of each kind. At night, Captain Lewis had a small canoe carried over to the pond in order to hunt by moon light; but the party did not happen to have good luck, having killed only a swan and three ducks. ..." [Gass, November 3, 1805]

Fisher's Landing, once a thriving steamboat landing and later a ferry landing, is located on the Washington shore across from Lewis and Clark's Government Island camp.

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was at Rooster Rock, while their campsite of November 4, 1805, was near Post Office Lake.


North side ...

Image, 2003, Government Island, north side, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Government Island, north shore. View of the shore of Government Island as seen from the Washington State banks of the Columbia River. Lewis and Clark's camp of November 3, 1805, was along this shore. Image taken May 23, 2003.


"... we landed on the North Side of this Dimond Island and Encamped ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805]
Image, 2005, Government Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
North side Government Island. View from Fishers Landing. Image taken November 17, 2005.
Image, 2005, Government Island, Bartlett Landing, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bartlett Landing, Government Island. View of the northern shore of Government Island, as seen from Fishers Landing beach, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken October 21, 2005.


The Islands ...
Today, NOAA Nautical Chart #18531 shows the Government Island "complex" to be a series of seven islands. Government Island is the largest, and it is across the downstream end of this island Interstate 205 passes. Off the upstream tip of Government Island, towards the left bank of the Columbia, is McGuire Island and off the upstream tip of McGuire Island, towards the left bank of the Columbia is a small unnamed island. Off the upstream tip of Government Island, towards the right bank of the Columbia is a 1-mile-long and 0.2-mile-wide island listed as Ackerman Island (also seen as "Sand Island" on some USGS topographic maps). The downstream tip of Government Island (downstream of the Interstate 205 Bridge) is Lemon Island, and two smaller islands are on the north side of Lemon Island. The larger (0.8-miles in length) is referred to as Tri-Club Island, and the smaller is unnamed.

Views from Airliner ...

Image, 2012, Fairview and Blue Lakes, Government Islands, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fairview Lake (foreground) and Blue Lake (behind), with McGuire, Government, and Ackerman Islands (middle left) and Lady Island (middle right) on the Columbia. View from airliner heading towards PDX. Mid afternoon, clouds, gray, and drizzle. Image taken April 24, 2012.
Image, 2010, Government Island, Ackerman Island, and McGuire Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Three islands of the Government Island complex. From front to back - McGuire Island, Government Island, and Ackerman Island. View from airliner landing at PDX. Day overcast and drizzly. Image taken October 10, 2010.
Image, 2010, Government Island and McGuire Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Three islands of the Government Island complex. From front to back - McGuire Island, Government Island, and Ackerman Island (barely visible). View from airliner landing at PDX. Day overcast and drizzly. Image taken October 10, 2010.
Image, 2012, Interstate 205 and Government Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Interstate 205 and Government Island. View from airliner heading towards PDX. Mid afternoon, clouds, gray, and drizzle. Image taken April 24, 2012.
Image, 2012, Interstate 205 and Government Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tri-Club Island, Interstate 205 and Government Island. View from airliner heading towards PDX. Tri-Club Island visible, middle left. Mid afternoon, clouds, gray, and drizzle. Image taken April 24, 2012.


Early Government Island ...
1805:    Lewis and Clark arrived at today's "Government Island", then a complex of islands, on November 3, 1805. They made camp on the upstream-most island which they called "Diamond Island". On November 4, 1805, Clark refers to two more islands in this area, both close together, and downstream of Diamond Island.

"... near the lower point of this dimond Island is The head of a large Island Seperated from a Small one by a narrow chanel, and both Situated nearest the Lard Side, those Islands as also the bottoms are thickly Covered with Pine &*c. ..." [Clark, November 4, 1805]

In Clark's winter of 1805-1806 table of "Estimated Distances in Miles ..." he refers to the upstream island as "the Dimond island" and the downstream island near the lower point of Diamond Island as "White goose isld.". On one route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#79] the upstream island is marked "Dimond I." and both downstream islands are marked "White Goose Isd." On another route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#88] the upstream island is marked "Dimond I." while the next downstream island is marked as "??? Isld." (this webauthor can't make it out, but it is not White Goose). The third island is unmarked.

1829-1847:    During the Hudson's Bay Company era today's Government Island was often called "Goose Grass Island" by the employees. The island was used to raise grass for the Company's oxen. From the Fort Vancouver Cultural Landscape Report (1992):

"... According to William Crate, opposite the sawmill site was a "large island" where the Company procured goose grass for cattle in the winter. He said the men who went to island to get goose grass were employed at nothing else since twenty-four head of oxen were kept at the mill. The island was the present-day Government Island, referred to as Goose Grass Island by some Company employees, apparently because the east end was frequented by wild geese during certain seasons. ..."

William Crate was a Millwright for the Hudson's Bay Company and the sawmill was located at today's Vancouver Trout Hatchery. Other names during this period were "Goose Grass Island" and "Miller's Island".

"... The island, referred to as Goose Grass Island during this period, was later mentioned in the Company's claims for compensation from the United States Government as the "Saw-Mill Island." It was referred to as Miller's Island when the U.S. Army reserved its use for raising hay in 1850; by 1867 it was referred to by its present name, Government Island. ..."


1841:    In 1841, this area was surveyed as part of Charles Wilke's "United States Exploring Expedition". On the resulting map today's Lemon Island was identified as "Smiths I.", and today's Government Island was divided into 3 large islands identified as "Romer", "Sandy", and "Douglass", with "Douglass I." being the largest. Just upstream of "Douglass I.", towards the Washington shore, was "Frost I.", today's Lady Island, and behind Lady Island was "Everts R.", which is today known as the Washougal River. Numerous smaller unnamed islands dotted the area.

1850:    The islands picked up the name "Government Island" beginning in February 1850, when the U.S. Government reserved Romer, Sandy and Douglass Islands for military purposes, raising hay for their horses. From that time on the islands were referred to as "Government Island".

1927:    In 1927 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made official "Lemon Island". An earlier spelling had been "Lemmon Island". "Ackerman Island" became official in 1986, after previously bearing names of "Sand Island" and "Stake Island". The name "Tri-Club Island" also became official in 1986, with an earlier name also being "Sand Island".


Government Island, etc.

  • Government Island to Fishers Landing Ferry ...
  • Government Island Today ...
  • Government Island State Recreation Area ...
  • The Islands of the Complex ...
    • Ackerman Island ...
    • Government Island ...
    • Lemon Island ...
    • McGuire Island ...
    • Tri-Club Island ...

Government Island to Fishers Landing Ferry ...
A ferry once ran between Government Island to Fishers Landing, on the Washington shore. The 1948 NOAA Chart "Columbia River Vancouver to Bonneville" shows "Fisher" as the Washington end of a ferry, with the Government Island end of the ferry located on the downstream side of today's Jewitt Lake drainage, near today's "Government Island Dock". Upstream on Government Island was located "Bartlett Ldg." A road extended from Bartlett Landing across Government Island to the southern shore. The 1966 NOAA Chart #6156, "Columbia River Vancouver to Bonneville", also shows the ferry between Fisher and Government Island, with a road heading across the island from the Government Island ferry location. The 1969 and 1971 editions still show the ferry, however the 1973 edition shows no ferry.
[More]

Image, 2005, Government Island old ferry landing, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Government Island old ferry landing as seen from Fishers Landing. Image taken November 23, 2005.


Government Island Today ...
The majority of the Government Island complex, consisting of approximately 2,200 acres, is owned by the Port of Portland. One area at the east end of Government Island is owned by Portland's Metro Regional Parks and Greenspaces Department. The island complex throughout its history has been used for agriculture and livestock operations, dredged material disposal, and recreational activities.

Image, 2009, Government Island, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cows, Government Island, Oregon. Overcast and gray. View from the Oregon shore. Image taken March 8, 2009.


Government Island State Recreation Area ...
Access to Government Island is by boat only. There are two docks (Government Island Dock and Bartlett Landing Dock) and a floating tie-up on the north side of the island. With 15 miles of shoreline and a free primitive campground, the park is popular with anglers. The interior of the island is still used as a cattle ranch and also contains protected natural areas. Entry to the interior is prohibited. Camping is permitted on many of the beaches.

Image, 2003, Government Island State Recreation Area, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Government Island State Recreation Area. View of the southern shore of Government Island, as seen from Marine Drive, Oregon. Image taken July 4, 2003.
Image, 2017, Government Island, Vancouver, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Beach, Government Island, as seen from Marine Drive, Portland, Oregon. Image taken July 4, 2017.
Image, 2017, Government Island, Vancouver, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Isthmus between Lemon Island and Government Island, as seen from Marine Drive, Portland, Oregon. Vancouver, Washington, in the background. Image taken July 4, 2017.
Image, 2017, Government Island, Vancouver, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Western tip of Lemon Island, Government Island, as seen from Marine Drive, Portland, Oregon. Vancouver, Washington, in the background. Image taken July 4, 2017.


The Islands of the Complex

  • Ackerman Island ...
  • Government Island ...
  • Lemon Island ...
  • McGuire Island ...
  • Tri-Club Island ...


Ackerman Island ...
The one-mile-long and 0.2-mile-wide Ackerman Island is the northeastern-most island of the seven-island Government Island "complex". It is located in Washington State. In 1986 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made official "Ackerman Island" after previously names of "Sand Island" and "Stake Island". Ackerman Island was named after Frank Ackerman who owned property across the river in Camas.

From: Marion Louis Emily Ackerman Beals obituary, 2009, "The Columbian":

"Her family has a long history in Camas, Wahsington. Frank, her father, was a Marble Setter who worked on the floors, walls, stairs, and marble frieze around the crown of the interior dome of the ever-popular Vista House located on Crown Point in the scenic Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. "Ackerman Island", formerly known as "Sand Island", located opposite the old Ackerman property was named in honor of Frank Ackerman for his services to the Camas community."


Source:    "The Columbian", January 17, 2010, "Marion Louise Beals Obituary".


Image, 2005, Mount Hood and Ackerman Island as seen from Fisher's Landing, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mount Hood and Ackerman Island as seen from Fisher's Landing, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken October 21, 2005.
Image, 2010, Government Island, Ackerman Island, and McGuire Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Three islands of the Government Island complex. From front to back - McGuire Island, Government Island, and Ackerman Island. View from airliner landing at PDX. Day overcast and drizzly. Image taken October 10, 2010.


Government Island ...
Government Island is the largest of the seven-island complex. Internstate 205 crosses the downstream tip of Government Island.

Image, 2003, Interstate-205 Bridge and Government Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Government Island and the Interstate-205 Bridge. Government Island as seen from Marine Drive, Oregon. Image taken May 29, 2003.


Lemon Island ...
Lemon Island is located on the southwestern tip of Government Island, and during low water it is attached to Government Island. Robert Habershams's 1889 map of Multnomah County shows a "P. Lemmons" once lived there. In 1927 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made official "Lemon Island". An earlier spelling had been "Lemmon Island".

According to "Oregon Geographic Names" (2003, McArthur & McArthur):

"Lemon Island is a low body of land west of Government Island in the Columbia River. It is occasionally spelled Lemmon Island. Investigations by George S. Shepherd, attorney at law, Portland, Oregon, indicated that this island once belonged to Peter Lemon, who was unable to sign his name and used an X on legal documents. His name was vaiously spelled Lemmons and Lemons, but later use is invariably Lemon; and deeds given by Lemon to correct title to the island were apparently made for the purpose of eliminating the uncertainty caused by the spelling Lemmons, Lemons, etc. As a result of Shepherd's investigation, it may be assumed that Lemon spelled his name as indicated herein."

Map, 1889, Multnomah County, Habersham, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
HISTORICAL map detail, 1889 Robert A. Habersham's Multnomah County, Government Island, showing the "P. Lemmons" property. Original map courtesy "HistoricMapWorks.com" website, 2017.
Map, 1896-1905, USGS topographic map detail, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Topographic map detail, 1896-1905, showing "Lemmon Island" and "Government Island. U.S. Geological Survey's topographic map, "Portland Quadrangle", surveyed in 1896, cultural update in 1905, 1905 edition, 1:62,500.
Image, 2017, Lemon Island, Columbia River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lemon Island as seen from Interstate 205 bridge, while Columbia River is in flood stage. Portland International Airport is visible on the left and Vancouver, Washington is visible between Lemon Island and Government Island. Image taken March 19, 2017.
Image, 2005, Lemon Island from Winter Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lemon Island, the downstream end of Government Island, as seen from Wintler Park, Washington. Image taken October 21, 2005.
Image, 2017, Lemon Island, Columbia River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lemon Island as seen from Interstate 205 bridge, while Columbia River is low. Image taken July 2, 2017.


McGuire Island ...
McGuire Island is one of the larger island of the Government Island "complex" and lies on the southeastern edge of Government Island.

Image, 2010, Government Island, Ackerman Island, and McGuire Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Three islands of the Government Island complex. From front to back - McGuire Island, Government Island, and Ackerman Island. View from airliner landing at PDX. Day overcast and drizzly. Image taken October 10, 2010.
Image, 2005, McGuire Island from Chinook Landing, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
McGuire Island, part of the Government Island Complex, as seen from Chinook Landing Marine Park, Oregon. Image taken November 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, McGuire Island from Chinook Landing, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
McGuire Island, part of the Government Island Complex, as seen from Chinook Landing Marine Park, Oregon. Image taken November 19, 2005.
Image, 2003, Government Island and McGuire Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Government Island (left) and McGuire Island (middle), with Mount Hood, Oregon (right). McGuire Island is part of the Government Island "complex". View from Marine Drive, Oregon. Image taken October 18, 2003.


Tri-Club Island ...
Tri-Club Island is a small island located off the northwest corner of Government Island. In 1986 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made official "Tri-Club Island" with an earlier name being "Sand Island". According to "Oregon Geographic Names" (2003, McArthur & McArthur), Tri-Club Island was once owned by the consortium of the Portland, Columbia River, and Rose City yacht clubs who tried to maintain the island for boaters.

Image, 2012, Interstate 205 and Government Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tri-Club Island, Interstate 205 and Government Island. View from airliner heading towards PDX. Tri-Club Island visible, middle left. Mid afternoon, clouds, gray, and drizzle. Image taken April 24, 2012.


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 ...





Clark, November 4, 1805 ...





Clark, April 2, 1806 ...




Vancouver PlainsReturn to
Menu
 






*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:
  • "The Columbian", 2010;
  • Fort Vancouver Cultural Landscape Report, 1992, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site website, 2007;
  • "HistoricMapWorks.com" website, 2017;
  • NOAA Historical Map and Chart Project Collection, NOAA website, 2004;
  • NOAA Nautical Chart #18531; Oregon State Parks and Recreation Website, 2004;
  • Port of Portland website, 2004, Government Island Management Plan, March 2002;
  • Smithsonian Institution Library website, 2004, U.S. Ex.Ex., 1841;
  • U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 2006;
  • Washington State University Library Website, "Early Washington Maps: A Digital Collection;


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.
/Regions/Places/government_island.html
November 2017