Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Hudson's Bay Company ... Sauvie Island"
Includes ... Hudson's Bay Company ... Sauvie Island ...
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 ...

U.S. Exploring Expedition Maps, 1841 ...

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.

Sauvie Island ...
Sauvie Island, Oregon, is approximately 16.5 miles long and 6.5 miles wide, and is the largest island in the Columbia River. The island has rivers, sloughs, lakes, and even its own islands. The downstream tip of the island is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 86.5 and the upstream point of Sauvie Island is located at RM 101.5. The Hudson's Bay Company established large dairy farms on Sauvie Island.

Hudson's Bay Company Farms ...
"Nathaniel Wyeth was an American entrepreneur attempting to establish a fur-trading enterprise in Hudson's Bay Company territory. In 1834-35 he established a post, Fort William, on what is now known as Sauvie Island, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, about five miles from Fort Vancouver. Underfunded and inexperienced, Wyeth was unable to break the Company's hold on the fur trade, and when he abandoned his business in 1836, he left his buildings and other improvements on the island in the care of Chief Factor McLoughlin, with whom he maintained good relations.

By 1838, the Company was utilizing the island to graze cattle and horses, where there was "abundant feed," although the livestock was moved from the island during the flood season--its highest point was only fifty feet above sea level. By 1841, four dairies were operating on the island to help fulfill the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company's contract for butter with the Russians in Alaska. By the end of this period, 1846, there were several outbuildings and dwellings on the island, associated with the Company's dairies, although squatters had, by 1845, already begun to appropriate land there. ...

The Company had cattle grazing on the island by 1838, when James Douglas noted there was abundant feed on it, but that it was subject to flooding. When McLoughlin returned from London in 1839 ... he directed the construction of three dairies on the island, all of which were, in 1841, located near the site of Fort William. Archibald McKinlay later said that butter and cheese were made "in great quantities" at three dairies on Sauvie Island ...

George Simpson, on his visit to the Columbia in 1841-42, noted that the dairy had about two hundred cattle, but that another two or three hundred were allowed to roam the island "... with a view to their breeding ..." to increase the Company herds. George Emmons, who visited the "Island of Multnomah" in August 1841, noted that the Company had a large stock of cattle and horses on the island. ...

Four dairies were located on the island in 1844: Gilbot's Dairy, Taylor's Dairy, Sauve's Dairy, and Logie's Dairy. Laurent Sauve dit Laplante had worked as a cowherd for the company since 1829; his name is applied to the island today. James Logie served as a dairyman between 1837 and 1839, when he was placed in charge of one of the new dairies on the island. Gilbot was Pierre Gilbot, and Taylor, James Taylor. ... Four dairies were also listed in the 1846-47 inventory of Company improvements at "Sauve's Island," ..."

"In 1852, Fort Vancouver's administrator John Ballenden reported that he had "broken up" the dairies on Sauvie Island, because they were, according to him, both "useless and expensive," but that he left an employee in residence there to protect the Company's property, probably James Logie, one of the Company's dairymen, who made a provisional claim to 640 acres surrounding "his" dairy in 1845, and later claimed the land under the Donation Land Act of 1850. Two other Company employees, James Taylor and Pierre Gilbouts were also settled on the island by the mid-1840s. In the mid-1840s a between six and ten American immigrants made provisional land claims on Sauvie Island, followed by many more in the late 1840s and 1850s. When the Company's holdings at the post were evaluated by Americans under Isaac Stevens' direction in 1854, for the purpose of preparing an American assessment of the Company's claims, Stevens' report said the firm had: "A farm of six hundred and forty acres, on Sauvie island, at the mouth of the Willamette, with a house, dairy, and garden; the buildings about six years old." It seems likely this farm was Logie's, although by that time he had made two claims for it in his own name. It seems that for all practical purposes, Fort Vancouver's tenure on Sauvie Island terminated with Ballenden's actions in 1852."

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

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

  • Fort Vancouver Cultural Landscape Report, 1992, U.S. National Park Service;

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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March 2018