Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Lake River, Washington"
Includes ... Lake River ... "Vancouver Slough" ... Ridgefield ... Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge ...
Image, 2003, Lake River from Ridgefield, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lake River from Ridgefield, Washington. Lake River looking downstream, as seen from the Kayak Launch, Ridgefield, Washington. Image taken, September 13, 2003.


Lake River ...
Lake River is an 11-mile-long channel on the Washington side of the Columbia River running parallel to the Columbia. Lake River originates at Vancouver Lake to the south at Columbia River Mile (RM) 98, and then merges with the Columbia at the northern tip of Bachelor Island at RM 88. Sections of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge border the entire length of Lake River and the community of Ridgefield lies along the ridge to the east. Lake River flows past Campbell Lake, Post Office Lake, Green Lake, and Shillapoo Lake. It is named after its source, Vancouver Lake.

Lewis and Clark and Lake River ...
On November 5, 1805 Lewis and Clark passed an island which they called the island "Green Bryor Isd" (today's Bachelor Island), separated from the shore by a "narrow Chanel". Today the upper end of this channel is known as "Bachelor Island Slough" and the lower end is "Lake River".

"... N.30oW. 3 miles    to the South West Side of an Island Seperated from the Stard. Side by a narrow channel    river widens to about 1 1/2 miles    Green bryor Isl.. [Clark, November 5, 1805, first draft]

"... passed an Isld. Covered with tall trees & green briers Seperated from the Stard. Shore by a narrow Chanel at 9 miles    I observed on the Chanel which passes on the Stard Side of this Island a Short distance above its lower point is Situated a large village, the front of which occupies nearly 1/4 of a mile fronting the Chanel, and closely Connected, I counted 14 houses in front    here the river widens to about 1 1/2 miles." [Clark, November 5, 1805]

Campsite of March 29, 1806 ...
On their return in 1806, Lewis and Clark camped on the banks of Lake River, in a beautiful meadow upsteam of a village of 14 houses, today referred to as the "Cathlapotle village". Lewis and Clark's camp is known as "Wapato Portage".
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Cathlapotle Village and Plankhouse Replica ...
Lewis and Clark first pass by the Cathlapotle Village on November 5, 1805, and then on March 29, 1806, on their return, they stop to visit and camp nearby. Today a 37 by 78-foot replica of a Chinook plankhouse has been built at the Ridgefield Refuge. Two hundred and fifty-six logs split into 305 planks went into building the house. The plankhouse foundation was prepared during Summer 2003 and the house was completed with opening ceremony on March 29, 2005, the 199th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's visit.
[More]

Image, 2009, Ridgefield NWR, Washington, click to enlarge
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Cathlapotle Village plankhouse location, Ridgefield NWR, Washington. Portland State University professor talking about Village history. Flagged tree shows the location of the northeast corner of the early plankhouse. Image taken, October 10, 2009.
Image, 2005, Cathlapotle Plankhouse click to enlarge
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Front, Cathlapotle Plankhouse replica, Carty Unit, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Image taken, April 27, 2005


Charles Wilkes and Lake River ...
In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition, visited Vancouver and the surrounding areas. He called today's Lake River the "Callepuya".
[More]

"... One afternoon, we rode with Mr. Douglass to visit the dairy-farm, which lies to the west of Vancouver, on the Callepuya. This was one of the most beautiful rides I had yet taken, through fine prairies, adorned with large oaks, ash, and pines. ... " [Wilkes, May 1841]

"... At Warrior Point we entered the Callepuya, for the purpose of avoiding the current of the river. At this time of the year this branch forms and extensive range of lakes, which reaches to within a mile of Vancouver. The river was now high enough to make it convenient for us to take his route. Shortly after entering the Callepuya, we were obliged to encamp, which we did in rather an inauspicious-looking place; but the bank had not yet absorbed sufficient moisture tomake it even wet or damp. ... On the approach to Vancouver, we passed one of the dairies, and some rich meadow-land, on which were grazing herds of fine cattle. We afterwards saw some flocks of sheep of the best English and Spanish breeds. ... It becoming necessary to make a short portage within a mile of Vancouver, we concluded to walk thither by the road ... " [Wilkes, May 1841]

Early Lake River and Ridgefield, Washington ...
Throughout history Lake River has had many names, including "Calapuya Creek", "Calipaya Inlet", "Vancouver Slough", and "Lake River".

On March 29, 1806, Lewis and Clark camped on the mainland shore of Lake River just upstream of the location where the Lewis River and Lake River meet the Columbia. Today this campsite is known as Wapato Portage.

In 1841, Charles Wilkes, of the U.S. Exploring Expedition called Lake River "Calapuya Creek" or the "Callepuya" (see above).

On the 1854 cadastral survey (tax survey) for T4N R1W, Bachelor Island is "Columbia Island", and Lake River is "Vancouver Slough". The Carty homestead is located on the east bank of Lake River, south of the junction of Lake River and Bachelor Island Slough, in the location of today's lower tip of Carty Lake. On the 1854 map, Carty Lake is presumed to be the small unnamed lake near the Carty homestead.

On the 1860 and 1862 Washington Territory's cadastral surveys (tax survey) for T3N R1W, Lake River is called "Vancouver Slough".

The 1881 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's Chart No.5, "Kalama to Fales Landing" and the 1888 Chart No.6, "Fales Landing to Portland" have Lake River listed as "Lake River". Carty Lake is depicted but unnamed, and closer to the location of today.

The 1888, U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey's "Columbia River Sheet No.6, Fales Landing to Portland" (Chart No.6145) has Post Office Lake named. Other nearby features are "Lake River" (Lake River) and "Shallowpool Lake", today's Shillapoo Lake located south of Post Office Lake. Between Shillapoo Lake and the Columbia River is a stretch labeled "Upper Willow Bar" which runs from "Hewlett's Pt." (Hewlett Point) south to "Round Lake" (still Round Lake) north. "Upper Willow Bar" is today's Frenchmans Bar and Caterpillar Island. On the Oregon side across from Post Office Lake is "Lower Willow Bar", the location of today's Willow Bar Islands, and "Willow Bar Pt.", today's Willow Point. "Lower Willow Bar" is shown as a mixture of small islands and sloughs.

An 1888 Plat Map of "Clarke County" has Lake River named "Lake River" and a Post Office at today's Ridgefield called "Union Ridge". Donation Land Claims (DLC) were F. Shobart (DLC) south of town, A. Quigley (DLC) north of town, and J. Carty (DLC) in the are of today's Carty Lake.


Views from NW Krieger Road ...

Image, 2015, Lake River, Ridgefield, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lake River (upper water) as seen from NW Krieger Road, Ridgefield, Washington. Swampy ponds are visible in the middleground. Image taken February 13, 2015.
Image, 2015, Lake River, Ridgefield, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lake River (middle water) as seen from NW Krieger Road, Ridgefield, Washington. Swampy ponds are visible in the foreground and Campbell Lake is behind the trees. Image taken February 13, 2015.


Views from Ridgefield ...

Image, 2013, Lake River, Ridgefield, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lake River as seen from Ridgefield, Washington. Image taken October 6, 2013.
Image, 2013, Lake River, Ridgefield, Washington, click to enlarge
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Lake River recreation, Ridgefield, Washington. Image taken October 6, 2013.
Image, 2013, Lake River, Ridgefield, Washington, click to enlarge
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Lake River gage house, Ridgefield, Washington. Image taken October 6, 2013.
Image, 2013, Lake River, Ridgefield, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lake River as seen from Ridgefield, Washington. Image taken October 6, 2013.
Image, 2013, Lake River, Ridgefield, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lake River looking upstream, as seen from Ridgefield, Washington. Image taken October 6, 2013.
Image, 2013, Lake River, Ridgefield, Washington, click to enlarge
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Lake River looking downstream, as seen from Ridgefield, Washington. Image taken October 6, 2013.


Views from Ridgefield Refuge Bridge ...

Image, 2006, Lake River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Bridge across Lake River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Looking west, River "S" Unit. Image taken, November 25, 2006.
Image, 2006, Lake River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Lake River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Looking upstream from wooden bridge, at Ridgefield NWR River "S" Unit. Image taken, November 25, 2006.
Image, 2006, Lake River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Lake River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Looking downstream from wooden bridge, at Ridgefield NWR River "S" Unit. Image taken, November 25, 2006.
Image, 2006, Lake River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Reflections, Fall colors, Lake River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. View at Ridgefield NWR River "S" Unit. Image taken, November 25, 2006.
Image, 2006, Lake River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fall colors, Lake River, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. View at Ridgefield NWR River "S" Unit. Image taken, November 25, 2006.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 5, 1805 ...
Rained all the after part of last night, rain continues this morning, I [s]lept but verry little last night [Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge] for the noise Kept dureing the whole of the night by the Swans, Geese, white & Grey Brant Ducks &c. on a Small Sand Island [one of the islands of the Ridgefield Refuge] close under the Lard. Side; they were emensely noumerous, and their noise horid- we Set out <at about Sun rise> early here the river is not more than 3/4 of a mile in width, passed a Small Prarie on the Stard. Side [quite possibly the location of today's Campbell Lake] passed 2 houses about 1/2 a mile from each other on the Lard. Side a Canoe came from the upper house, with 3 men in its mearly to view us, passed an Isld. Covered with tall trees & green briers [Bachelor Island] Seperated from the Stard. Shore by a narrow Chanel [Lake River or Bachelor Island Slough] at 9 [8?] miles I observed on the Chanel [Lake River or Bachelor Island Slough] which passes on the Stard Side of this Island [Bachelor Island] a Short distance above its lower point is Situated a large village [Cathlapotle Village, near where Lewis and Clark camped on March 29, 1806, a place now known as Wapato Portage], the front of which occupies nearly 1/4 of a mile fronting the Chanel, and closely Connected, I counted 14 houses in front here the river widens to about 1 1/2 miles. ...    about 1 1/2 miles below this village on the Lard Side behind a rockey Sharp point [Warrior Point, Sauvie Island], we passed a Chanel 1/4 of a mile wide [Multnomah Channel] which I take to be the one the Indian Canoe entered yesterday from the lower point of Immage Canoe Island [Hayden Island, at this point Lewis and Clark had not discovered Hayden Island and Sauvie Island were two separate islands]     a Some low clifts of rocks below this Chanel [St. Helens, Oregon], a large Island Close under the Stard Side opposit [Lewis River floodplain, home of Woodland, Washington, possibly more of an "island" in 1805 ???], and 2 Small Islands, below [today's Burke and Martin Islands], here we met 2 canoes from below,- below those Islands a range of high hills form the Stard. Bank of the river [Martin Bluff], the Shore bold and rockey, Covered with a thick groth of Pine     an extensive low Island [Deer Island], Seperated from the Lard side by a narrow Chanel, on this Island we Stoped to Dine I walked out found it open & covered with <Small> grass interspersed with Small ponds, in which was great numbr. of foul, the remains of an old village on the lower part of this Island, I saw Several deer ...     below the lower point of this Island [Deer Island] a range of high hills which runs S. E. forms the Lard. bank of the river the Shores bold and rockey & hills Covered with pine, [Lewis and Clark are passing Goble, Oregon, and the area around the Trojan Nuclear Power Facility     The high hills leave the river on the Stard. Side a high bottom between the hill & river [Kalama, Washington]. We met 4 Canoes of Indians from below, in which there is 26 Indians, one of those Canoes is large, and ornimented with Images on the bow & Stern. That in the Bow the likeness of a Bear, and in Stern the picture of a man- we landed on the Lard. Side & camped [near Prescott Beach, Oregon] a little below the mouth of a creek [Kalama River] on the Stard. Side a little below the mouth of which is an Old Village which is now abandaned-;     here the river is about one and a half miles wide. and deep, The high Hills which run in a N W. & S E. derection form both banks of the river the Shore boald and rockey, the hills rise gradually & are Covered with a thick groth of pine &c. The valley [Columbian Valley] which is from above the mouth of Quick Sand River [Sandy River] to this place may be computed at 60 miles wide on a Derect line, & extends a great Distanc to the right & left rich thickly Covered with tall timber, with a fiew Small Praries bordering on the river and on the Islands; Some fiew Standing Ponds & Several Small Streams of running water on either Side of the river; This is certainly a fertill and a handsom valley, at this time Crouded with Indians. The day proved Cloudy with rain the greater part of it, we are all wet cold and disagreeable- I saw but little appearance of frost in this valley which we call <Wap-pa-too Columbia> from the root or plants growing Spontaniously in this valley only ...     We made 32 miles to day by estimation-





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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

Source: Hitchman, 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society; NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2005, Historical Map and Chart Collection; Oregon Bureau of Land Management website, 2005; "Rootsweb.com" website, 2005; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, website, 2005, "Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge"; U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) website, 2006;

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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September 2008