Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Hudson's Bay Company"
Includes ... Hudson's Bay Company ...
Image, 2006, Fort Vancouver, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Flag, Hudson's Bay Company, Fort Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 27, 2006.

Hudson's Bay Company ...
(to come)

Fort Vancouver ...
Fort Vancouver, located in Vancouver, Washington, was established in 1825 along the banks of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 106.5. The fort was a fur-trading post for the British Hudson's Bay Company.

"... In 1824, George Simpson, North American governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, ordered the abandonment of Ft. George and the search for a new post on the north side of the Columbia River, Criteria for locating the new post included the desire to strengthen British claims to the land north of the Columbia River, and for the HBC to render themselves '... independent of foreign aid in regard to Subsistence.' The search for suitable terrain -- land lacking steep banks or low, flood prone areas -- ended at Jolie Prairie, about one hundred miles from the mouth of the Columbia River. ..."

Source:    U.S. National Park Service website, 2005, Fort Vancouver.

A nice description of the Fort can be found in the "History of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon and Washington" (1889, vol.1):

"... Fort Vancouver (the site of the present city of Vancouver, and the United States military depot) was established in 1824 by Dr. John McLoughlin, manager of the Hudson's Bay Company trade on the Pacific coast. The post was inclosed in a stockade, two hundred yards by one hundred and seventy-five yards, defended by bastions at the southeast and northwest angles, on which bastions were mounted heavy guns. In the inclosure were the residence of the chief executive officer, two buildings occupied by clerks, a row of buildings for residences of families, five large two-story houses, with a number of offices. The original site stood upon high ground a half mile back from the river. Outside was a huge warehouse, and a salmon house on the banks of the Columbia river. Near the fort was a village of cabins affording dwellings to numerous Kanakas, Canadians and servants of the company. A grist-mill was erected in 1836, and the company also established a saw-mill, which was prevented from running at high stages of water. Several tracts of land were occupied and cultivated by servants. Fort Vancouver was the headquarters of the Columbia district, which included all the territory west of the Rocky Mountains. The returns from all the posts in Oregon were made to this point; and from here all accounts were transmitted for settlement. The chief factors were located at this post, and a very large business was transacted. ..."

Source:    "History of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon and Washington", 1889, vol.1.

In 1849 the Hudson's Bay Company transfered its headquarters from Fort Vancouver north to Fort Victoria in Canada, leaving behind a small contingent of men. A U.S. Army post was established in May 1849 next to the Hudson Bay Company "fort". This new Army Post was called "Columbia Barracks" until 1853 when it was renamed "Fort Vancouver". In 1879 the Army Post was again renamed, this time to "Vancouver Barracks".

In June 1860 the British totally abandoned the Fort Vancouver and moved, leaving the fort and village to the Americans. The Army occupied some of the buildings, but fire destroyed all visible traces of the establishment by 1866.


Views ...

Image, 2011, Fort Vancouver, Museum, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hudson's Bay Company flag, Fort Vancouver Museum, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken August 2, 2011.
Image, 2006, The First Fort Vancouver, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sign, The First Fort Vancouver, Washington. The first Fort Vancouver was located at the location of today's Washington State School for the Deaf. Image taken March 12, 2006.
Image, 2006, Hudsons Bay Historic Neighborhood sign, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sign, "Hudson's Bay Historic Neighborhood". Image taken August 26, 2006.

More ...

Hudson's Bay Company, etc.

  • Cowlitz Farm ...
  • Government Island ...
  • "Mystery Rock" ...
  • Sauvie Island ...
  • Sawmills ...

Cowlitz Farm ...

1841, map detail, Charles Wilkes, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1841, Cowlitz Farm to Fort Vancouver, by Charles Wilkes, U.S. Exploring Expedition. Map shows location of the Hudson's Bay Company's Cowlitz Farm. Original Map courtesy Washington State University Libraries, 2006.

Government Island ...
Government Island, and two smaller islands are located in the center of the Columbia River, between River Mile (RM) 111.5 and River Mile (RM) 118. Lewis and Clark camped on Government Island on November 3, 1805. The Hudson's Bay Company used to gather grass on Government Island to feed their oxen.

"Another Columbia River island, about six miles east of Fort Vancouver, was utilized by the Company post. According to William Crate, who built sawmills for the post during this period on a site opposite the island, Fort Vancouver's employees gathered grass on the island to feed to oxen stabled near the mills. 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."

Source:    Fort Vancouver Cultural Landscape Report, 1992, U.S. National Park Service.

"Mystery Rock" ...
One exhibit located in the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum, located just west of Stevenson, Washington, is a "mystery rock" believed to be associated with the Hudson's Bay Company.

"In 1923 a road crew pulled the Skamania County "mystery rock" from the Government Slide near the Cascades. For decades the stone stood near the entrance to Stevenson High School. Its inscription -- "HBCo[y] 1811" -- remained unexplained. Retired attorney David Swart, a man deeply interested in the early fur trade, believes the stone marks the expedition of Joseph Howse. In 1810-11 Howse led a party of seventeen men across the Rockies and descended the Columbia River to at least this point more than six months before the well-known explorer David Thompson. Unfortunately neither Howse's journal nor letters written by him were preserved; Thompson's survived."

Source:    Information sign, Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, visited 2011.

Image, 2011, Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Exhibit, Hudson's Bay Company's (HBC) "Mystery Rock". Rock is behind glass showcase. Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson, Washington. Image taken July 15, 2011.

Image, 2011, Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, click to enlarge
Information sign,
Click image to enlarge
Image, 2011, Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Exhibit, Enhanced image of "H B C 1811", Hudson's Bay Company's (HBC) "Mystery Rock". Rock is behind glass showcase. Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson, Washington. Image taken July 15, 2011.

Sauvie Island ...

1841, map detail, Charles Wilkes, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1841, Deer Island to Fort Vancouver, by Charles Wilkes, U.S. Exploring Expedition. Map shows location of the Hudson's Bay Company's Sauvie Island Dairy. Original Map courtesy NOAA Office of Coast Surveys, 2013.

Sawmills ...
The location of the Vancouver Trout Hatchery and the Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center was once the location for the Hudson Bay Company sawmills.

Image, 2008, Hudson's Bay Sawmills sign, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hudson's Bay Company Sawmills sign, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken July 25, 2008.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 4, 1805 ...
A cloudy cool morning wind from the West we Set out at 1/2 past 8 oClock [from their camp on the north side of Government Island, approximately across from Fisher's Landing], one man Shannon Set out early to walk on the Island [Government Island] to kill Something, he joined us at the lower point with a Buck. This island is 6 miles long and near 3 miles wide thinly timbered     (Tide rose last night 18 inches perpndicular at Camp) near the lower point of this diamond Island [Government Island] is The head of a large Island Seperated from a Small one by a narrow chanel [Lewis and Clark show two large islands on their maps, both in today's Government Island area], and both Situated nearest the Lard Side, those Islands [even today the Government Island reach is a complex of many islands] as also the bottoms are thickly Covered with Pine &c. river wide, Country low on both Sides; [since 1983 the Interstate 205 bridge crosses Government Island connecting Oregon to Washington]     on the Main Lard Shore a Short distance below the last Island we landed at a village of 25 Houses: [near Portland International Airport]; ...     This village contains about 200 men of the Skil-loot nation ...

at 7 miles below this village passed the upper point of a large Island [Hayden Island] nearest the Lard Side, a Small Prarie [Jolie Prairie, today the location of Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airpark. Lewis and Clark camp on this prairie on their return] in which there is a pond [one of the many ponds which use to dot this area] opposit on the Stard. here I landed and walked on Shore, about 3 miles a fine open Prarie for about 1 mile, back of which the countrey rises gradually and wood land comencies Such as white oake, pine of different kinds, wild crabs with the taste and flavour of the common crab and Several Species of undergroth of which I am not acquainted, a few Cottonwood trees & the Ash of this countrey grow Scattered on the river bank, ...     joined Capt. Lewis at a place he had landed with the party for Diner. ...

dureing the time we were at dinner those fellows Stold my pipe Tomahawk which They were Smoking with [Tomahawk pipe, thus giving rise to the name Tomahawk Island] ...    we proceeded on

[The men have passed through the area which, 20 years later, Dr. John McLoughlin would choose for a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, later to become Fort Vancouver and eventually the city of Vancouver, Washington.]

met a large & a Small Canoe from below, with 12 men the large Canoe was ornimented with Images carved in wood the figures of <man &> a Bear in front & a man in Stern, Painted & fixed verry netely on the <bow & Stern> of the Canoe, rising to near the hight of a man [Lewis and Clark then named Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island"]     two Indians verry finely Dressed & with hats on was in this canoe passed the lower point of the Island [Hayden Island] which is nine miles in length haveing passed 2 Islands on the Stard Side of this large Island [the location of Vancouver Landing and since 1917 the Interstate 5 Bridge connecting Oregon to Washington State], three Small Islands at its lower point [The downstream end of Hayden Island was at one time composed of small islands. One of these, Pearcy Island, would become today's Kelley Point.]. the Indians make Signs that a village is Situated back of those Islands on the Lard. Side and I believe that a Chanel is Still on the Lrd. Side [it wasn't until Lewis and Clark's return trip they would discover the mouth of the Willamette River] as a Canoe passed in between the Small Islands, and made Signs that way, probably to traffick with Some of the nativs liveing on another Chanel, at 3 miles lower [Sauvie Island is located at this stretch, but it is not until the return that Lewis and Clark recognize it as a separate island], and 12 Leagues below quick Sand river [Sandy River] passed a village of four large houses on The Lard. Side [on Sauvie Island], near which we had a full view of Mt. Helien [Mount St. Helens, Washington] which is perhaps the highest pinical in America from their base it bears N. 25 E about 90 miles- This is the mountain I Saw from the Muscle Shell rapid [Umatilla Rapids, Captain Clark actually saw Mount Adams] on the 19th of October last Covered with Snow, it rises Something in the form of a Sugar lofe- about a mile lower passed a Single house on the Lard. Side, and one on the Stard. Side, passed a village on each Side and Camped near a house on the Stard. Side [Post Office Lake vicinity, today within the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge] we proceeded on untill one hour after dark with a view to get clear of the nativs who was constantly about us, and troublesom, finding that we could not get Shut of those people for one night, we landed and Encamped on the Stard. Side ...

This evening we Saw vines much resembling the raspberry which is verry thick in the bottoms. A range of high hills at about 5 miles on the Lard Side [Portland's West Hills'] which runs S. E. & N W. Covered with tall timber the bottoms below in this range of hills and the river is rich and leavel, Saw White geese with a part of their wings black. The river here is 1 miles wide, and current jentle. opposite to our camp on a Small Sandy Island [one of the small sandy islands prevelent in this stretch of the Columbia. Today the Willow Bar Islands on the east side of Sauvie Island lie across from Post Office Lake.] the brant & geese make Such a noise that it will be impossible for me to Sleap. we made 29 miles to day

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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

  • "History of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon and Washington", 1889, vol.1;
  • U.S. National Park Service website, 2005, Fort Vancouver;
  • U.S. National Park Service, 1992, Fort Vancouver Cultural Landscape Report;

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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August 2016