Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Home Regions Campsites Penny Postcards My Corps of Discovery Image Index Links About This Site Main Menu
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"John Day Dam"
Includes ... John Day Dam ... Lake Umatilla ... Campsite of October 21, 1805 ... Campsite of April 22, 1806 ... Campsite of Patrick Gass, April 21, 1806 ... Campsite of John Colter and John Potts, April 22, 1806 ... Cliff Park ... Giles French Park ...
Image, 2005, John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
John Day Dam, as seen from Giles French Park, Oregon. Image taken May 24, 2005.


John Day Dam ...
The John Day Dam crosses the Columbia River at Columbia River Mile (RM) 216 and is located at Exit 109 off Interstate 84 in Oregon, at the Oregon town of Rufus. The John Day Dam is at the head of Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam, located 25 miles downstream. The reservoir behind the John Day Dam is known as Lake Umatilla. The John Day River, draining Oregon's Blue Mountains, is located two miles upstream of the John Day Dam. Seven miles downstream of the Dam is the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge, connecting Biggs/Biggs Junction with Maryhill, Washington.

Last of the dams ...
The John Day Dam consists of a navigation lock, spillway, powerhouse and fish-passage facilities on both shores. Construction of the John Day began in 1958 and was completed in 1971. At the time of it's completion, the John Day Dam Powerhouse was the second largest in the world. Completion of the John Day Dam marked the final step in harnessing the lower waters of the Columbia River.

View from airliner ...

Image, 2012, Miller Island to the John Day Dam, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River from Miller Island (left) to the John Day Dam (right), including the Deschutes River drainage and the wind turbines on the hills below Goldendale, Washington, as seen from airliner heading towards PDX. Mid afternoon, clouds, gray, and drizzle. Image taken April 24, 2012.


Views ...

Image, 2006, John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
John Day Dam, as seen pullout on Interstate 84. Image taken October 2, 2006.
Image, 2003, John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
John Day Dam. John Day Dam, as seen from Giles French Park. Image taken September 26, 2003.
Image, 2005, John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
John Day Dam, as seen from Giles French Park, Oregon. Image taken May 24, 2005.
Image, 2005, John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
John Day Dam, as seen from near Giles French Park, Oregon. Image taken May 24, 2005.


Campsite of October 21, 1805 ...
Lewis and Clark's Campsite of October 21, 1805, was on the Washington side of the Columbia River, just downstream of today's John Day Dam.

"... the river is Crouded with rocks in every direction, after Passing this dificult rapid to the mouth of a Small river on the Larboard Side [John Day River]  40 yards wide descharges but little water at this time, and appears to take its Sourse in the Open plains to the S.E.     imediately above & below this little river comences a rapid which is crouded with large rocks in every direction, the pasage both crooked and dificuelt ... imediately below the last rapids there is four Lodges of Indians on the Stard. Side, proceeded on about two miles lower and landed and encamped near five Lodges of nativs, drying fish ..." [Clark, October 21, 1805]

" ... we went 32 miles and encamped at some Indian lodges, where we procured wood from the natives to cook with." [Gass, October 21, 1805]

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was upstream on the Washington side of the Columbia near the town of Roosevelt. Their next camp was downstream near Wishram, Washington.


Image, 2012, John Day Dam from Washington State Highway 14, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
John Day Dam as seen from Washington State Highway 14. On October 21, 1805, Lewis and Clark camped on the Washington State side of the Columbia River, just downstream of the John Day Dam. Image taken June 6, 2012.


Campsite of April 22, 1806 ...
Lewis and Clark's campsite of April 22, 1806, was on the Washington side of the Columbia River upstream of today's John Day Dam. The route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#77] shows the camp to be almost directly across but yet a bit downstream of the mouth of the John Day River. Oddly, Lewis and Clark make no mention of the John Day River in their journals for this day [vol.7]. The map has two labels for April 22, 1806, but only one "camp flag". On the Washington State side of the river is labeled "Encamped 22d April 1806" and on the Oregon side is marked "Campd 22d April 1806". Their previous camp near the John Day Dam on October 21, 1805, was located downstream of the dam.

"... we proceeded on up the river about 4 miles to a village of 7 mat Lodges.     here our Chopunnish guide informed me that the next villg. was at Some distance and that we Could not get to it to night, and that there was no wood to be precured on this Side.     a man offered to Sell us a horse for a Canoe.     just at that moment we discovered one of our Canoes on the opposit Side.     we concluded to Camp here all night with the expectation of precureing some horses. ..." [Clark, April 22, 1806]

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was located two miles upstream of Wishram, Washington at the base of Haystack Butte. Their camp of April 23, 1806, was upstream of Rock Creek, Washington.


Image, 2012, Columbia River upstream of the John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River as seen from upstream of John Day Dam. On April 22, 1806, Lewis and Clark camped on the Washington State side of the Columbia River, just upstream of the John Day Dam, and nearly across from the mouth of the John Day River. The John Day River is just visible above the dam. Image taken June 6, 2012.


Campsite of Patrick Gass, April 21, 1806 ...
On the night of April 21, 1806, Patrick Gass and three other men were on the Oregon side of the Columbia and did not make the river crossing to rejoin the main group camped on the Washington side near Haystack Butte. They camped on the Oregon side upstream of the mouth of the Deschutes River, closer to today's John Day Dam and the town of Rufus.

"... At 10 o'clock we set out from the first narrows with 3 horses of our own and one we borrowed, and 2 canoes all loaded heavy. I went with three other men in the canoes, and had dome difficulty in passing the short narrows. About 3 in the afternoon we arrived at the great falls of Columbia, where we met with Captain Clarke and the men that were with him. Here we got another horse; carried our canoes and baggage round the falls and halted for dinner. ... We halted here two hours and then proceeded on again. The party that went by land had to leave the river, and take out to the hill a part of the way. I crossed with my canoe to the south side where there is the best water, and passed a large rock island, opposite to which the Sho-sho-ne river flows in from the south. We went on till dark, and then run our small canoe among some willows, and laid down to sleep. ..." [Gass, April 21, 1806]

Patrick Gass re-joined the main unit of the Lewis and Clark group the next day and he spent the night of April 22 camped with them on the Washington side of the Columbia upstream of the John Day Dam. A canoe of Colter and Potts however spent the night of April 22 on the Oregon side of the Columbia.

"... We proceeded on about 3 miles, when the wind became so violent, that we could not proceed any further, and halted and unloaded our canoes. Having remained here two hours, the other canoe came up, and we proceeded on though the wind was high and river rough. At sunset I crossed over, where the party going by land came in sight, and halted at a small village on the north side; but the other canoe kept on along the southern shore ..." [Gass, April 22, 1806]

Campsite of John Colter and John Potts, April 22, 1806 ...

While Patrick Gass spent the night of April 21 on the Oregon side of the Columbia, he re-joined the main unit of the Lewis and Clark group on the 22nd. The canoe of Private John Colter and Private John Potts however couldn't make the crossing and they spent the night of April 22 on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, quite possibly near the mouth of the John Day River.

"... after Capt Lewis Came up we proceeded on through a open ruged plain about 8 miles to a Village of 6 Houses on the river.    here we observed our 2 Canoes passing up on the opposit Side and the Wind too high for them to join us. I halted at the mouth of a run    above the village near Some good grass to let the horses graze and for the party to dine. ...    after we proceeded on up the river about 4 miles to a village of 7 mat Lodges.    here our Chopunnish guide informed me that the next villg. was at Some distance and that we Could not get to it to night, and that there was no wood to be precured on this Side. ...    just at the moment we discovered one of our Canoes on the opposit Side.    we concluded to Camp here all night with the expectation of precureing some horses. ... [Clark, April 22, 1806]

"Tuesday 22nd.    We proceeded on about 3 miles, when the wind became so violent, that we could not proceed any further, and halted and unloaded our canoes. Having remained here two hours, the other canoe came up, and we proceeded on though the wind was high and river rough. At sunset I crossed over, where the party going by land came in sight, and halted at a small village on the north side; but the other canoe kept on along the southern shore ..." [Gass, April 22, 1806]

"Wednesday 23rd.    We had a cloudy morning. I went also by water to day, and we had very laborious work in getting along. In the evening we met the party at a large village of the Wal-la-waltz nation, on the north side of the river; where the other canoe had also arrived. Here we halted, unloaded the canoes and encamped. ..." [Gass, April 23, 1806]


John Day Dam, etc.

  • Cliff Park, Washington ...
  • Giles French Park Oregon ...
  • Lake Umatilla ...
  • Rufus, Oregon ...


Cliff Park, Washington ...
Cliff Park lies on the Washington side of the Columbia River below the John Day Dam, and presents a great view upstream of the dam, and downstream of Mount Hood, Oregon.

Image, 2004, John Day Dam from Cliff Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
John Day Dam from Cliff Park, Washington. Image taken April 24, 2004.
Image, 2004, Cliff behind Cliff Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Looking downstream towards Mount Hood, Oregon, from Cliff Park, Washington. Image taken April 24, 2004.
Image, 2004, Cliff behind Cliff Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cliff behind Cliff Park, Washington. Image taken April 24, 2004.


Giles French Park, Oregon ...
Giles French Park is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park which lies on the Oregon side of the Columbia River below the John Day Dam. The park was named after Giles French, a Sherman County historian and for many years the Publisher and Editor of the Sherman County Journal. Giles French was honored in the Oregon Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1994.

Image, 2005, John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fishing platforms and Giles French Park, located below the John Day Dam, Oregon. Image taken May 24, 2005.


Lake Umatilla ...
Lake Umatilla is the reservoir behind the John Day Dam.
[More]

Image, 2004, Mouth of the John Day River from Washington State Highway 14, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lake Umatilla, the reservoir behind the John Day Dam, looking towards the mouth of the John Day River. View from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken April 24, 2004.


Rufus, Oregon ...
Rufus is the small Oregon community which lies two miles below the John Day Dam.
[More]

Image, 2006, Columbia River downstream John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River as seen from downstream of John Day Dam, at Rufus, Oregon. Image taken October 2, 2006.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 21, 1805 ...
A verry cool morning wind from the S. W. we Set out verry early and proceeded on, last night [their previous camp was downstream of Roosevelt, Washington] we could not Collect more dry willows the only fuel, than was barely Suffient to cook Supper, and not a Sufficency to cook brackfast this morning, passd. a Small Island at 5½ miles a large one 8 miles in the middle of the river, Some rapid water at the head and Eight Lodges of nativs opposit its Lower point on the Stard. Side, we came too at those lodges, bought some wood and brackfast. ...     at 2 miles lower passed a rapid, large rocks Stringing into the river of large Size [near Blalock Canyon], opposit to this rapid on the Stard. Shore is Situated two Lodges of the nativs drying fish here we halted a fiew minits to examine the rapid before we entered it which was our constant Custom, and at all that was verry dangerous put out all who could not Swim to walk around, after passing this rapid we proceeded on passed anoothe rapid at 5 miles lower down, above this rapid on <the Stard. Side> five Lodges of Indians fishing &c. [near Rock Creek where they would camp on their return, on April 23, 1806] above this rapid maney large rocks on each Side at Some distance from Shore, one mile passed an Island Close to the Stard. Side, below which is two Lodge of nativs, a little below is a bad rapid which is bad crouded with hugh rocks Scattered in every Direction which renders the pasage verry Difficuelt a little above this rapid on the Lard. Side emence piles of rocks appears as if Sliped from the Clifts under which they lay passed great number of rocks in every direction Scattered in the river 5 Lodges a little below on the Stard. Side, and one lodge on an Island near the Stard. Shore opposit to which is a verry bad rapid, thro which we found much dificuelty in passing, the river is Crouded with rocks in every direction, after Passing this dificult rapid to the mouth of a Small river on the Larboard Side [John Day River] 40 yards wide descharges but little water at this time, and appears to take its Sourse in the Open plains to the S. E.     from this place I proceved Some fiew Small pines on the tops of the high hills and bushes in the hollars. imediately above & below this little river [John Day River] comences a rapid which is crouded with large rocks in every direction, the pasage both crooked and dificuelt, we halted at a Lodge to examine those noumerous islands of rock which apd. to extend maney miles below,—. great numbs. of Indians came in canoes to View us at this place, after passing this rapid which we accomplished without loss; <we passed> winding through between the hugh rocks for about 2 miles—. (from this rapid the Conocil mountain [Mount Hood] is S. W. which the Indians inform me is not far to the left of the great falls; this I call the Timm or falls mountain it is high and the top is covered with Snow) imediately below the last rapids there is four Lodges of Indians on the Stard. Side, proceeded on about two miles lower and landed and encamped near five Lodges of nativs, drying fish [Washington side just downstream of today's John Day Dam] those are the relations of those at the Great falls [Celilo Falls], ...     this part of the river is furnished with fine Springs which either rise high up the Sides of the hills or on the bottom near the river and run into the river. the hills are high and rugid a fiew scattering trees to be Seen on them either Small pine or Scrubey white oke. ...     we made 33 miles to day.






Lewis, April 22, 1806 ...
we proceeded on through an open plain country about 8 miles to a village of 6 houses of the Eneshur nation [near today's Maryhill Museum],   here we observed our 2 canoes passing up on the opposite side; the wind being too high for them to pass the river they continued on.    we halted at a small run [historians suggest perhaps Harley Canyon]  just above the village where we dined on some dogs which we purchased of the inhabitants and suffered our horses to graize about three hours.    there is no timber in this country we are obliged to purchase our fuel of the natives, who bling it from a great distance.    while we halted for dinner we purch a horse.    after dinner we proceeded on up the river about 4 miles to a village of 7 mat lodges of the last mentioned nation [vicinity of the John Day Dam.    here our Chopunnish guide informed us that the next village was at a considerable distance and that we could not reach it tonight.    the people at this place offered to sell us wood and dogs, and we therefore thought it better to remain all night.    a man blonging to the next village above proposed exchanging a horse for one of our canoes, just at this moment one of our canoes was passing [Patrick Gass and Reubin Field].    we hailed them and ordered them to come over but the wind continued so high that they could not join us untill after sunset and the Indian who wished to exchange his horse for the canoe had gone on. Charbonoe purchased a horse this evening.    we obtained 4 dogs and as much wood as answered our purposes on moderate terms.    we can only afford ourselves one fire, and are obliged to lie without shelter, the nights are cold and days warm.—    Colter and Pots had passed on with their canoe.


Clark, April 22, 1806 ...
last night 2 of our horses broke loose and Strayed of at a Short distance. at 7 oClock we loaded up and Set out [their camp was two miles upstream of Wishram, Washington, across from the western tip of Miller Island, at the base of Haystack Butte], haveing previously Sent off the Canoe with Colter and Potts   we had not arived at the top of the hill which is 200 feet [Columbia Hills] before Shabonos horse threw off his load and went with great Speed down the hill to the Village ...     and delayed Capt. Lewis and the rear party ...     dureing the time the front of the party was waiting for Cap Lewis, I assended a high hill from which I could plainly See the range of Mountains which runs South [Cascade Mountains] from Mt. Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] as far as I could See. I also discovered the top of Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon] which is Covered with Snow and is S 10° W. Mt. Hood is S. 30° W. the range of mountains are Covered with timber and also Mt Hood to a sertain hite. The range of Mountains has Snow on them. I also discovered some timbered land in a S. derection from me, Short of the mountains. Clarks river which mouthes imedeately opposit to me [Deschutes River] forks at about 18 or 20 miles, the West fork runs to the Mt Hood and the main branch Runs from S. E.     after Capt Lewis Came up we proceeded on through a open ruged plain about 8 miles to a Village of 6 Houses on the river. here we observed our 2 Canoes passing up on the opposit Side and the Wind too high for them to join us. I halted at the mouth of a run [Historians suggest perhaps Harley Canyon] above the village near Some good grass to let the horses graze and for the party to dine. ...     after we proceeded on up the river about 4 miles to a village of 7 mat Lodges. here our Chopunnish guide informed me that the next villg. was at Some distance and that we Could not get to it to night, and that there was no wood to be precured on this Side. a man offered to Sell us a horse for a Canoe. just at the moment we discovered one of our Canoes on the opposit Side [quite possibly near the mouth of the John Day River].    we concluded to Camp here all night with the expectation of precureing some horses [across from the John Day River]. ...     the air I find extreemly Cold which blows Continularly from Mt. Hoods Snowey regions. ...     we made 14 miles to day with the greatest exirtion. Serjt. Gass & R. Fields joined us with one Canoe this evening. the other Canoe with Colter & pots is a head.





Columbia PlateauReturn to
Menu
 



SNAKE RIVER CONFLUENCE | COLUMBIA PLATEAU
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE | VANCOUVER PLAINS | JOURNEY TO THE PACIFIC
CAMPSITES


HOME | REGIONS | PENNY POSTCARDS | MY CORPS OF DISCOVERY
IMAGE INDEX | LINKS | ABOUT THIS SITE


COLUMBIA RIVER IMAGES - HOME
NORTHWEST JOURNEY - HOME
NORTHWEST BIRDING
RIDGEFIELD NWR - BIRDS
COMPLETE BIRD LIST - PHOTOS
THE BARLOW ROAD
THE COLUMBIA RIVER HIGHWAY
WILDFLOWERS and WEED BLOSSOMS



*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:    Sherman County Museum website, 2006;    University of Oregon website, 2006;    U.S. Corps of Engineers, Portland District website, 2004;   

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/john_day_dam.html
© 2017, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
June 2012