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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Hat Rock, Oregon"
Includes ... Hat Rock ... Hat Rock State Park ...
Image, 2004, Hat Rock, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hat Rock, Oregon. Hat Rock is a remnant of a Columbia River Basalt flow, eroded during the Missoula Floods. Image taken September 24, 2004.

"... a rock in a Lard. resembling a hat just below a rapid at the lower Point of an Island in the Midl: of the river ..."


Hat Rock ...
Hat Rock is located off U.S. Highway 730, nine miles upstream of Umatilla, Oregon, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 298. Hat Rock is located within Oregon's Hat Rock State Park. Upstream is Warehouse Beach, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Area and downstream is McNary Beach, another Corps of Engineers Recreation Area.

Hat Rock and the Missoula Floods ...
Immediately upstream of Hat Rock is Boat Rock, another distinctive basalt feature. Hat Rock and Boat Rock are both Missoula Floods remnants of Columbia River Basalt flows.
[More]

Lewis and Clark and Hat Rock ...
The basalt feature was passed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition on their journey down the Columbia, and today is one of the few remaining sites not under the waters of Lake Wallula, the reservoir behind the McNary Dam. On October 19, 1805, after leaving their camp near Spring Gulch Creek, Captain Clark wrote in his journal:

"... SW. 14 miles to a rock in a Lard. resembling a hat just below a rapid at the lower Point of an Island in the Midl: of the river ..." [Clark, October 19, 1805, first draft]

Hat Rock State Park ...
In 1951, Oregon acquired the area around Hat Rock, and created Hat Rock State Park. The 735-acre park is a desert oasis surrounded by rolling sagebrush hills and outcroppings of basalt. The park has its own pond stocked with rainbow trout and provides year-round habitat for waterfowl.

Hat Rock State Park in 1965 ...
HAT ROCK STATE PARK

Hat Rock State Park is located off U. S. Highway 730, on the south shore of the lake formed by McNary Dam on the Columbia River near Cold Springs in Umatilla County.

The first acquisition was 175 acres purchased from Charles and Eileen Kik in 1951 at a cost of $5,000. Later, in 1953, another tract of 191 acres was obtained from the Corps of Engineers under a lease agreement. Two other parcels of 0.16 of an acre and 3.07 acres were acquired for the park and the road, making a total of 369.23 acres in the park.

Acquisition and development of this area for recreational purposes was desirable because it is the area most suitable for development along the shore of McNary Lake.

The land obtained from the Corps of Engineers includes an arm of the lake about 1,600 feet in length and a large, prominent rock, a landmark of historical significance. This landmark, known at Hat Rock, was often referred to in diaries of the early-day western explorers and travelers. The rock itself is round with a flat top and vertical sides.

Hat Rock State Park was named after this large monolith, which, no doubt, acquired its name because of its likeness to a man's silk top hat.

The terrain is generally rolling, cut by an arm of the lake. The cover is sagebrush and of little or no value to the park. A road passes through the park to a home development on the shore of the lake north of the park.

A large, natural spring is located on the park land at normal water level near the southern tip of the arm of the lake. It flows at approximately 25 c.f.s., which furnishes plenty of water to supply the park and meet the present needs of the home development on the lake shore.

Improvements at Hat Rock include an entrance road, car parking area, trails, planting trees, swimming beach, bathhouse, guard fences, two sanitary facilities, water system, park cottage and headquarters building. All roads and car parking areas are oil surfaced. The Corps of Engineers constructed a road to the west side of the arm of the lake, a car parking area, boat ramp and a floating foot bridge, and prepared and seeded a nearby area to lawn, all as a part of the park facilities.

Park use in 1963 totaled 191,011 day visitors."


Source:    Chester H. Armstrong (compiler), 1965, "History of the Oregon State Parks: 1917-1963, published by Oregon State Parks.


Views ...

Image, 2004, Hat Rock, Oregon, and the Columbia River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hat Rock, Oregon, and the Columbia River. Image taken September 24, 2004.
Image, 2004, Hat Rock State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hat Rock State Park, Oregon. Image taken September 24, 2004.


Image which started this website

In 2002 I read that Lewis and Clark named a basalt feature which looked like a "hat". I went to see it, taking with me a 3 megapixel camera set on "low resolution", resulting in this image. The original is a meer 180K in size, a long ways from what I shoot now. Still, as small as it is, this image began this website "Lewis and Clark's Columbia River - 200 Years Later", now known as the "ColumbiaRiverImages.com" website.

Image, 2002, Hat Rock, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hat Rock, Oregon. Hat Rock is a remnant of a Columbia River Basalt flow, eroded during the Missoula Floods. Image taken September 27, 2002.

"... a rock in a Lard. resembling a hat just below a rapid at the lower Point of an Island in the Midl: of the river ..."


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 19, 1805, first draft ...
S W. 14 miles to a rock in a Lard. resembling that a hat     just below a rapid at the lower Point of an Island in the Midl: of the river 7 Lodges and opposit the head of one on the Stard. Side 5 Lodges     passed an Island at 8 miles 6 miles long close to Lard Side     no water on Lard.     a Small one opsd. and at the lower point     no water Lard.     passed an Isld. in middle at 8 miles on which 5 Indian Lodges, deserted     at the end of this course a bad rockey  rapid  place plenty of water     rocks in the river.     passed a Stard. point at 4 miles    country a little lower


Clark, October 19, 1805 ...
we Set out which was not untill 9 oClock A M. [from their camp at Spring Gulch]    we proceeded on passed a Island, close under the Lard Side about Six miles in length [islands near Juniper Canyon, now under the waters of Lake Wallula] opposit to the lower point of which two Isds. are situated on one of which five Lodges <of Indians> vacent & Saffolds drying fish    at the upper point of this Island Swift water.     a Short distance below passed two Islands; one near the middle of the river on which is Seven lodges of Indians drying fish [across from Boat Rock and Hat Rock],     at our approach they hid themselves in their Lodges and not one was to be seen untill we passed, they then Came out in greater numbers than is common in Lodges of their Size, it is probable that, the inhabitants of the 5 Lodges above had in a fright left their lodges and decended to this place to defend them Selves if attackted there being a bad rapid opposit the Island thro which we had to pass prevented our landing on this Island and passifying those people, about four miles below this fritened Island we arrived at the head of a verry bad rapid [Umatilla Rapids, today the location of the McNary Dam]

[The islands and rapids in this area between Spring Gulch and the Umatilla Rapids are now under the waters of Lake Wallula, the reservoir behind the McNary Dam. Today's locations passed by Lewis and Clark include Sand Station, Warehouse Beach, and McNary Beach, all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Areas, and Hat Rock State Park and nearby Boat Rock. Hat Rock was mentioned by Captain Clark in his first draft but not in his final draft.]

we came too on the Lard Side to view the rapid [Umatilla Rapids] before we would venter to run it, as the Chanel appeared to be close under the oppd. Shore, and it would be necessary to liten our canoe, I deturmined to walk down on the Lard Side, with the 2 Chiefs the interpreter & his woman, and derected the Small canoe to prcede down on the Lard Side to the foot of the rapid which was about 2 miles in length     I Sent on the Indian Chiefs &c. down and I assended a high clift about 200 feet above the water [upstream of Umatilla. Today there is an overlook above the McNary Dam] from the top of which is a leavel plain extending up the river and off for a great extent, at this place the Countrey becoms low on each Side of the river, and affords a pros of the river and countrey below for great extent both to the right and left; from this place I descovered a high mountain of emence hight covered with Snow, this must be one of the mountains laid down by Vancouver, as Seen from the mouth of the Columbia River, from the Course which it bears which is West I take it to be Mt. St. Helens, destant <about 120> 156 miles [actually Mount Adams, Washington, visible on a clear day]     a range of mountains in the Derection crossing [Cascade Mountains], a conacal mountain S. W. toped with Snow [Mount Hood, Oregon]     This rapid I observed [Umatilla Rapids] as I passed opposit to it to be verry bad interseped with high rock and Small rockey Islands [today these islands are under the waters of Lake Wallula, the reservoir behind the McNary Dam], here I observed banks of Muscle Shells banked up in the river in Several places, I Delayed at the foot of the rapid about 2 hours for the Canoes which I could See met with much dificuelty in passing down the rapid on the oposit Side maney places the men were obliged to get into the water and haul the canoes over Sholes- while Setting on a rock wateing for Capt Lewis I Shot a Crain which was flying over of the common kind. I observed a great number of Lodges on the opposit Side at Some distance below [Lewis and Clark's map show 44 lodges lining the Washington shore from Plymouth, Washington, downstream to across from Irrigon, Oregon.] and Several Indians on the opposit bank passing up to where Capt. Lewis was with the Canoes, others I Saw on a knob [Sillusi Butte] nearly opposit to me at which place they delayed but a Short time before they returned to their Lodges as fast as they could run, ...

[This area today is the location of Umatilla, Oregon, and Plymouth, Washington, and is spanned not only by McNary Dam but also my the Interstate 82/395 Bridge. The Umatilla Rapids are below the waters of Lake Wallula, the waters behind McNary Dam.]

proceeded on passed a Small rapid and 15 Lodges below the five,

[Lewis and Clark have missed spotting or commenting on the Umatilla River, located 3 miles downstream of the town of Umatilla.]

and Encamped below an Island Close under the Lard Side [near Irrigon, Oregon] nearly opposit to 24 Lodges on an Island near the middle of the river [the majority of the islands in this area are now under the waters of Lake Umatilla, the reservoir behind the John Day Dam.], and the Main Stard Shor     Soon after we landed which was at a fiew willow trees [today much of the shoreline on both sides of the Columbia is within the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge] about 100 Indians Came from the different Lodges, and a number of them brought wood which they gave us, we Smoked with all of them, and two of our Party Peter Crusat & Gibson played on the violin which delighted them greatly ...     This day we made 36 miles





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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:    Armstrong, C.H., (compiler), 1965, "History of the Oregon State Parks: 1917-1963, published by Oregon State Parks;    McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;    Oregon State Parks and Recreation website, 2003;    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003;   

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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May 2014