Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Kelley Point, Oregon"
Includes ... Kelley Point ... Hall J. Kelley ... Kelley Point Park ... "Belle Vue Point" ... Pearcy Island ... Willamette River Lighthouse ... Columbia Slough ...
Image, 2003, Kelley Point and mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, from Blurock Landing, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Kelley Point (treed area middle left) and mouth of the Willamette River (to the right of Kelley Point), and the point of Sauvie Island (treed area right) thought by some to be Broughton's "Belle Vue Point"). View from Blurock Landing, Washington. Image taken July 2, 2003.

Kelley Point ...
Kelley Point, Oregon, is located at the junction of the Willamette River with the Columbia River, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 101. Kelley Point is the right bank point of the Willamette. Directly across the Willamette from Kelley Point is Sauvie Island, and across the Columbia from Kelley Point on the Washington side is Blurock Landing, a spot where five Cascade Range volcanoes can easily be viewed from the parking lot. Upstream of Kelley Point is Hayden Island.

Hall J. Kelley ...
Kelley Point was officially named in 1926 after Hall J. Kelley, an early promotor of Oregon. In 1829, Kelley drew up plans for a great city on the peninsula between the Columbia and the Willamette Rivers. Kelley was also famous for his proposal to name the Cascade Range Peaks after U.S. Presidents.

Early Kelley Point ...
Kelley Point was once a separate island separated by sloughs from the mainland Oregon, and known as "Pearcy's Island". The City of Portland covered the flood-prone peninsula with tons of river dredgings to create Kelley Point Park.

In 1792, Lieutenant Broughton on his exploration of the Columbia River, passed by the Kelley Point/Belle Vue Point area, and refered to "two small woody islets". They called the Willamette River the "River Munnings".

"... they passed ... a small river leading to the southwestward; and half a mile further on the same shore came to a larger one that took a more southerly course. The entrance of the latter, about a quarter of a mile in width, are two small woody islets; the ajacent country extending from its banks presented a most beautiful appearance. This river Mr. Broughton distinguished by the name of River Munnings. Its southern point of entrance, situated in latitude 45o 39', longitude 237o 21', commanded a most delightful prospect of the surrounding region, and obtained the name of Belle Vue Point ..." [Broughton/Vancouver, October 29, 1792]

In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition noted the islands at the mouth of the Willamette River.

"... the upper mouth of the Willamette, which flows into the Columbia, between Billy Bruce and Johnson's Islands. From this point, the river takes a bend to the southeast ..."

An 1854 cadastral survey (tax survey) for T2N R1W showed two islands at the mouth of the Willamette River. The island on the north side of the mouth of the Willamette would eventually merge with Sauvie Island and would become today's Belle Vue Point. The island on the south side of the mouth of the Willamette when merged with mainland Oregon would become Kelley Point. The map also shows a small island off of the Kelley Point island which also would become part of Kelley Point, and a second small island in the slough separating the Kelley Point island from mainland Oregon, which would become part of mainland Oregon.

An 1888 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Chart "Columbia River Sheet No.6, Fales Landing to Portland" has the same four islands, with sand bars in the sloughs separating the islands from land. The mouth of the Willamette River runs between the islands. "Coon I." was the island off of Sauvie Island, "Pearcy's Island" was the island which was to become Kelley Point and "Pearcy's Slough" separated the island from mainland Oregon. "Ramsey's I." was the small island on the southwest side of the slough, with the Columbia Slough entering into the Willamette River behind Ramsey's Island. "Nigger Tom I." was the small island off of Pearcy's Island which would later become part of Kelley Point.

Views ...

Image, 2003, Mouth of the Willamette River, from Kelley Point Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mouth of the Willamette River, as seen from Kelley Point Park. Sauvie Island is in the background. Image taken September 13, 2003.
Image, 2003, downstream tip Hayden Island from Kelley Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hayden Island as seen from Kelley Point Park. Downstream tip of Hayden Island, Oregon, as seen from Kelley Point, Oregon. Image taken September 13, 2003.

Kelley Point, etc.

  • Belle Vue Point ...
  • Columbia Slough ...
  • Five Volcanoes ...
  • Kelley Point Park ...
  • Willamette River Lighthouse ...

Belle Vue Point ...
Today, directly across Kelley Point on Sauvie Island is Belle Vue Point, a spot some historian say was the "Belle Vue Point" named in 1792 by Lieutenant Broughton, of the Captain George Vancouver expedition. Other historians state that Kelley Point is Broughton's "Belle Vue Point", as Kelley Point is on the "southern" bank of the mouth of the Willamette River. The "River Munnings" is today's Willamette River.

"... This river Mr. Broughton distinguished by the name of River Munnings. Its southern point of entrance, situated in latitude 45o 39', longitude 237o 21', commanded a most delightful prospect of the surrounding region, and obtained the name of Belle Vue Point; from whence the branch of the river, at least that which was so considered, took a direction about S.57E. for a league and a half. [Broughton, October 29, 1792]


Columbia Slough ...
The southern border of Kelley Point Park is the Columbia Slough, which enters the Willamette River at River Mile (RM) 1. The Columbia Slough is a 60-square-mile watershed located on the floodplain of the Willamette and the Columbia, and includes approximately 32,700 acres, 6 lakes, 3 ponds, and 50 miles of waterways. The Columbia Slough begins at Fairview Lake and meanders west for 19 miles to Kelley Point where it empties into the Willamette.

Image, 2006, Mouth of the Columbia Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Slough merging with the Willamette River, Oregon. View from Kelley Point Park. Image taken February 4, 2006.
Image, 2006, Woods, Kelley Point Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Woods, Kelley Point Park, Portland, Oregon. View from Kelley Point Park. Image taken February 4, 2006.

Five Volcanoes ...
Kelley Point is located on the southern bank of the Willamette River, as it enters the Columbia River, where, on April 2, 1806, Captain Clark wrote:

"... from the enterance of this river, I can plainly See Mt. Jefferson which is high and Covered with snow S.E. Mt. Hood East, Mt St. Helians a high humped Mountain to the East of Mt St. Helians. I also Saw the Mt. Raneer Nearly North ..." [Clark, April 2, 1806]

The "high humped Mountain to the East of Mt St. Helians" is Mount Adams. The five peaks, Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood, Oregon, and Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Rainier, Washington, can be seen throughout this stretch of the river.

Image, 2003, Mount Hood, Oregon, from Kelley Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mount Hood, Oregon, from Kelley Point, Oregon. Image taken September 13, 2003.

"... Mt. Hood East ..."
[Clark, November 2, 1806]

Kelley Point Park ...
Kelley Point Park is located at the junction of the Willamette River with the Columbia River. In 1979, the city of Portland acquired 96 acres from the Port of Portland, including Kelley Point. Kelley Point Park today is a picnic/day use park.

Image, 2003, Columbia River looking downstream from Kelley Point Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River looking downstream from Kelley Point, with mouth of the Willamette River entering from left behind pilings. Image taken September 13, 2003.

Willamette River Lighthouse ...
In 1895 a lighthouse was constructed near today's Kelley Point where the Willamette River met the Columbia. In 1935 the lighthouse was electrified and no longer needed keepers to light the lantern or ring the fog bell. It was sold and moved during the 1940s and burned during the 1950s.

Penny Postcard, Columbia River - Willamette River Lighthouse, Oregon, ca.1910
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Columbia River - Willamette River Lighthouse, ca.1910.
Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Light House at the Junction of Columbia and Willamette Rivers.". Published by Portland Post Card Co., Portland, Oregon. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.

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

Clark, April 2, 1806 ...
This morning we came to a resolution to remain at our present encampment [Cottonwood Beach, Washougal, Washington] or Some where in this neighbourhood untill we had obtained as much dried meat as would be necessary for our voyage as far as the Chopunnish. ...     about this time Several Canoes of the nativs arived at our Camp [Cottonwood Beach] among others two from below with Eight men of the Shah-ha-la Nation those men informed us that they reside on the opposit Side of the Columbia near Some pine trees which they pointed to in the bottom South of the Dimond Island [Government Island], they Singled out two young men whome they informed us lited at the Falls of a large river [Willamette Falls] which discharges itself into the Columbia on it's South Side Some Miles below us. we readily provailed on them to give us a Sketch of this river [Willamette River] which they drew on a Mat with a coal, it appeared that this river which they Call Mult-no'-mah discharged itself behind the Island we call the image Canoe island [Hayden Island], and as we had left this Island to the South both in decending & assending the river we had never Seen it. they informed us that it was a large river and runs a Considerable distance to the South between the Mountains. I deturmined to take a Small party and return to this river and examine its Size and Collect as much information of the nativs on it or near its enterance into the Columbia of its extent, the Country which it waters and the nativs who inhabit its banks &c. I took with me Six Men. Thompson J. Potts, Peter Crusat, P. Wiser, T. P. Howard, Jos. Whitehouse & my man York in a large Canoe, with an Indian whome I hired for a Sun glass to accompany me as a pilot. at half past 11 A. M. I Set out ...     at 8 miles passed a village on the South side [Chinook Landing and Blue Lake area] at this place my Pilot informed me he resided and that the name of his tribe is Ne-cha-co-lee, this village is back or to the South of Dimond island [Government Island], and as we passed on the North Side of the island both decending & assending did not See or know of this Village. I proceeded on without landing at this village. at 3 P. M. I landed at a large double house of the Ne-er-cho-ki-oo tribe of the Shah-ha-la Nation. at this place we had Seen 24 aditional Straw Huts as we passed down last fall [November 4, 1805, in the vicinity of the Portland International Airport] and whome as I have before mentioned reside at the Great rapids of the Columbia [Celilo Falls].     on the bank at different places I observed Small Canoes which the women make use of to gather Wappato & roots in the Slashes. those Canoes are from 10 to 14 feet long and from 18 to 23 inches wide in the widest part tapering from the center to both ends in this form and about 9 inches deep and So light that a woman may with one hand haul them with ease, and they are Sufficient to Carry a woman on Some loading. I think 100 of those canoes were piled up and Scattered in different directions about in the Woods in the vecinity of this house, the pilot informed me that those Canoes were the property of the inhabitents of the Grand rapids who used them ocasionally to gather roots. ...

I left them [village near today's Portland International Airport] and proceeded on on the South Side [North Portland Harbor] of Image Canoe Island [Hayden Island] which I found to be two Islands hid from the opposit Side by one near the Center of the river. the lower point of the upper and the upper point of the lower cannot be Seen from the North Side of the Columbia on which we had passed both decending and ascending and had not observed the apperture between those islands. at the distance of 13 Miles below the last village [location of Portland International Airport] and at the place I had Supposed was the lower point of the image Canoe island [Hayden Island], I entered this river which the nativs had informed us of, Called Mult no mah River [Willamette River] so called by the nativs from a Nation who reside on Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] a little below the enterance of this river. Multnomah [Willamette River] discharges itself in the Columbia on the S. E. and may be justly Said to be the Size of that noble river. Multnomah had fallen 18 inches from it's greatest annual height. three Small Islands are situated in it's mouth [Belle Vue Point and Kelley Point, on opposite sides of the mouth of the Willamette, use to be islands] which hides the river from view from the Columbia.     from the enterance of this river [Willamette River] , I can plainly See Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon] which is high and Covered with snow S. E. Mt. Hood East [Mount Hood, Oregon], Mt St. Helians [Mount St. Helens, Washington] a high humped Mountain to the East of Mt St. Helians [Mount Adams, Washington, is east of Mount St. Helens]. I also Saw the Mt. Raneer [Mount Rainier, Washington] Nearly North. Soon after I arived at this river an old man passed down of the Clark a'mos Nation who are noumerous and reside on a branch of this river which receives it's waters from Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon] which is emensely high and discharges itself into this river one day and a half up, this distance I State at 40 Miles. This nation inhabits 11 Villages their Dress and language is very Similar to the Quath-lah-poh-tle and other tribes on Wappato Island [Sauvie Island].

The Current of the Multnomar [Willamette River] is as jentle as that of the Columbia glides Smoothly with an eavin surface, and appears to be Sufficiently deep for the largest Ship. I attempted fathom it with a Cord of 5 fathom which was the only Cord I had, could not find bottom ? of the distance across. I proceeded up this river 10 miles from it's enterance into the Columbia to a large house on the N E. Side and Encamped near the house [downstream of Cathedral Park and the St. Johns Bridge, Portland, Oregon, near Portland's Terminal 4.], the flees being So noumerous in the house that we could not Sleep in it.

this is the house of the Cush-hooks Nation who reside at the falls of this river which the pilot informs me they make use of when they Come down to the Vally to gather Wappato. he also informs me that a number of other Smaller houses are Situated on two Bayous which make out on the S. E. Side a little below the house. this house appears to have been laterly abandoned by its inhabitants ...     The course and distance assending the Molt no mar R [Willamette River] from it's enterance into the Columbia at the lower point of the 3rd Image Canoe island.

[This area has changed during the past 200 years. Lewis and Clark called today's Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island". Their "3rd Image Canoe Island" however maybe in reference to the "three Small Islands are situated in it's mouth" (see journal entry above), two of the islands possibly were islands which are today's Belle Vue Point on Sauvie Island, and Pearcy Island which eventually became Kelley Point. Lewis and Clark's route map (Map#79 and Map#80, Moulton, Vol.1) shows a long "Image Canoe Island" with two small islands on the north side of "Image Canoe Island", and three small islands at the mouth of the "Multnomah R.". ]

S. 30 W. 2 Miles to the upper point of a Small Island [???] in the Middle of Moltnomar river [Willamette River]. thence

S. 10 W. 3 miles to a Sluce 80 yards wide [Multnomah Channel] which devides Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] from the Main Stard. Side Shore passing a Willow point on the Lard. Side [???].

S. 60 E. 3 miles to a large Indian house on the Lard Side below Some high pine land.

[Lewis and Clark's map plotted against an 1888 map of the area shows this location to be closer to 2 miles from the Multnomah Channel, just upstream from Portland's Terminal 4, and across from the community of Linnton.]

high bold Shore on the Starboard Side [Tualatin Mountains]. thence

S. 30 E 2 miles to a bend under the high lands on the Stard Side [St. Johns Bridge area located at the base of the Tualatin Mountains]

miles 10 passing a Larborad point [???].

thence the river bends to the East of S East as far as I could See [the stretch through Portland, Oregon]. at this place I think the wedth of the river may be Stated at 500 yards and Sufficiently deep for a Man of War or Ship of any burthern.

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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

  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • NOAA Office of Coast Survey website 2005;
  • Portland Parks and Recreation website, 2005;

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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Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
September 2008