Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge"
Includes ... Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge ... Columbia River Estuary ... Twilight Eagle Sanctuary ... Campsite of November 26, 1805 ... Cathlamet Bay ... Karlson Island ... Tronson Island ... Miller Sands ... Mott Island ... "Termination Islands" ...
Image, 2003, Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge, Cathlamet Bay, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lewis and Clark NWR, Columbia River Estuary, Cathlamet Bay. Looking from the Twilight Eagle Sanctuary viewing platform, across Cathlamet Bay, part of the Columbia River Estuary and the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Image taken August 2, 2003.


Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge ...
The Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge is located upstream of Astoria, Oregon, and extends from Tongue Point and Cathlamet Bay upstream to Welch Island which is just west of Tenasillahe and Puget Islands. The Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for Columbia White-tailed Deer lies on its eastern borders.

The Refuge ...
The Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge includes most of the islands and open water in the Lower Columbia River Estuary between Columbia River Mile (RM) 18 and RM 25. The refuge boundary encompasses 35,000 acres of mostly tidelands and open water, and 8,313 acres of islands and sand bars. The islands are accessible by boat. Some of the islands are visible from U.S. Highway 30, five miles east of Astoria, Oregon. The refuge provides wintering and resting areas for estimated up to 1,000 tundra swans, up to 5,000 geese and up to 30,000 ducks. Other species include shorebirds and bald eagles. Estuarine waters provide vital food resources for juvenile salmon as they pause to become acclimated to salt water before entering the Pacific Ocean.

Islands and Sands of the Lewis and Clark NWR ...
Islands and Sands around Cathlamet Head and Knappa Slough
Brush Island  
Fitzpatrick Island
  • In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition called an island "Capsize I.", located in the vicinity of today's Fitzpatrick Island.
Goose Island  
Grassy Island  
Horseshoe Island  
Karlson Island
  • The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Karlson Island" official in 1941.
  • Variations in names have been "Carlson" and "Carlsen".
  • Karl Karlson filed a Homestead Claim in 1892.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records, show a Karl Karlson being issued a land title for 172.1 acres on February 7, 1893, for parts of T8N R7W Section 6, under the 1820 "Sale-Cash Entry".
  • Good views of Karlson Island can be had from the boat dock at Knappa.
Marsh Island --- Marsh Island Light  
Miller Sands
  • Once called "Snag Island Spit", the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Miller Sands" official in 1959.
Minaker Island  
Pillar Rock Island and Jim Crow Sands  
Quinns Island  
Snag Island  
Tronson Island
  • The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records, show an Iver Tronson being issued a land title for 160 acres on October 31, 1893, for parts of T8N R6W Section 5, under the 1820 "Sale-Cash Entry". Plotted on today's maps that parcel is a little south of Tronson Island near the junction of Prairie Channel, Blind Slough, and Knappa Slough.
  • Good views of Tronson Island can be had from the boat dock at Aldrich Point
Welch Island
  • Early on seen as "Welches Island", the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Welch Island" official in 1915.
  • In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition had Welch Island as part of Tenasillahe Island and called the entire area "Katalamet I.".
Woody Island
  • "... Woody Island   [in 1889]:   This low island is the first fir-covered island near the main channel of the river. As soon as a vessel has rounded Tongue Point this island shows dark and distinct from the other islands to the southwest of it, which are covered with cottonwood and brushes. It lies one mile souteast from Jim Crow Point, and the main channel passes between them. The island is about one mile long, east and west, by half a mile wide. The fir trees are on its western end, with a few straggling ones on the eastern extremity. On the north shore of Woody Island was a fishing station in 1885. ..." [NOAA "Coast Pilot", 1889"]
Islands in Cathlamet Bay
Green Island  
Lois Island
  • The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Lois Island" official in 1976.
McGregor Island  
Mott Island
Russian Island  
Seal Island  

Views around the Lewis and Clark NWR ...

Image, 2004, Tronson Island, Lewis and Clark NWR, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tronson Island, Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Looking across from Aldrich Point, Oregon. Image taken November 20, 2004.
Image, 2004, Tronson Island, Lewis and Clark NWR, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tronson Island, Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Looking across from Aldrich Point, Oregon. Image taken November 20, 2004.
Image, 2003, Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge, Cathlamet Bay, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lewis and Clark NWR, Columbia River Estuary, Cathlamet Bay. Looking from the Twilight Eagle Sanctuary viewing platform, across Cathlamet Bay, part of the Columbia River Estuary and the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Image taken August 2, 2003.
Image, 2004, Knappa Slough, Karlson Island, Lewis and Clark NWR, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Knappa Slough, Karlson Island, Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Looking upstream on Knappa Slough, with Karlson Island on the left. Image taken June 16, 2004.


Campsite of November 26, 1805 ...
Lewis and Clark's campsite of November 26, 1805, was within today's Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge, along the south bank of Cathlamet Bay at the Twilight Eagle Sanctuary.
[More]

Early History ...
Lewis and Clark refered to the area of Cathlamet Bay and the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Area as the "Seal Islands". See Cathlamet Bay for more information.

In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition grouped the islands of today's Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge together and called them "Termination Islands". His map of this area (Navigation Chart of the Columbia River, Sheet No.2, from Astoria to Katalamet Head) shows no islands near Tongue Point and a different array of islands off the west coast of Cathlamet Head.


Columbia River Estuary ...
The Columbia River Estuary is where the fresh water of the land mingles with the salt water of the ocean. As the Columbia River nears the Pacific, the slowing current deposits the river's silt load to form low, marshy islands and sandbars. Twice a day, the islands are part of the land, and twice they are reclaimed by the water where rising ocean tides slow the river's current. These estuary islands form a chain that begins just above Tongue Point, and follows the Oregon shore of the main channel through Cathlamet Bay and then upriver past Aldrich Point to Welch Island and Tenasillahe Island.

Image, 2004, Cathlamet Bay near Tongue Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cathlamet Bay, Oregon, just upstream of Tongue Point, with Mott Island. Mott Island is treed island in the background, and is part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. Image taken May 25, 2004.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 7, 1805 ...
A cloudy foggey morning Some rain. we Set out [from their camp at Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County, Washington] early proceeded under the Stard Shore under a high rugid hills with Steep assent the Shore boalt and rockey, the fog So thick we could not See across the river [typical for this area in the winter], two Canos of Indians met and returned with us to their village which is Situated on the Stard Side behind a cluster of Marshey Islands [Puget Island and the Hunting Islands] , on a narrow chanl. of the river [Cathlamet Channel] through which we passed to the Village of 4 Houses, [Cathlamet, Washington area] ....

Those people call themselves War-ci--cum ...

after delaying at this village one hour [Cathlamet, Washington area] and a half we Set out piloted by an Indian dressed in a Salors dress, to the main Chanel of the river, the tide being in we Should have found much dificuelty in passing into the main Chanel from behind those islands [Puget Island and the Hunting Islands],     without a pilot, a large marshey Island [Tenasillahe Island] near the middle of the river near which Several Canoes Came allong Side with Skins, roots fish &c. to Sell, and had a temporey residence on this Island, here we See great numbers of water fowls about those marshey Islands; here the high mountanious Countrey approaches the river on the Lard Side [near Clifton, Oregon], a high mountn. to the S W. about 20 miles [Saddle Mountain], the high mountans. Countrey Continue on the Stard Side, about 14 miles below the last village and 18 miles of this day we landed at a village of the Same nation [Skamokawa, Washington]. This village is at the foot of the high hills on the Stard Side back of 2 Small Islands [today, Price Island lies between Skamokawa and the Columbia River] it contains 7 indifferent houses built in the Same form of those above, ... opposit to this Village the high mountaneous Countrey leave the river on the Lard Side [downstream of Aldrich Point] below which the river widens into a kind of Bay [Cathlamet Bay] & is Crouded with low Islands Subject to be Covered by the tides [today this is the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Lower Columbia River Estuary] - we proceeded on about 12 miles below the Village [Skamokawa] under a high mountaneous Countrey on the Stard. Side. Shore boald and rockey and Encamped under a high hill [ridge of Jim Crow Point] on the Stard. Side opposit to a rock [Pillar Rock] Situated half a mile from the Shore, about 50 feet high and 20 feet Diamieter,     we with dificuelty found a place Clear of the tide and Sufficiently large to lie on and the only place we could get was on round Stones on which we lay our mats rain Continud. moderately all day & Two Indians accompanied us from the last village, they we detected in Stealing a knife and returned, our Small Canoe which got Seperated in the fog this morning joined us this evening from a large Island Situated nearest the Lard Side below the high hills on that Side, the river being too wide to See either the form Shape or Size of the Islands on the Lard Side [part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge].

Great joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian [Clark's famous "Ocian in view! O! the Joy"], this great Pacific Octean [Pacific Ocean] which we been So long anxious to See. and the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rockey Shores (as I Suppose) may be heard distictly

we made 34 miles to day as Computed






Clark, November 26, 1805, first draft ...
Cloudy and Some rain this morning at daylight wind blew from the E N. E, we Set out and proceeded on up on the North Side of this great river to a rock in the river from thence we Crossed to the lower point of an [blank] Island passed between 2 Islands to the main Shore, and proceeded down the South Side [Cathlamet Bay] passed 2 Inlets & halted below the 2d at a Indian village of 9 large houses [Knappa, Oregon] - those Indians live on an emenence behind a Island or a Channel of the river not more than 300 yds wide, they live on fish & Elk and Wapto roots, of which we bought a few at a high price they Call them Selves Cat-tar-bets description



We proceeded on about 8 miles and Encamped in a deep bend to the South [location of today's Twilight Eagle Sanctuary], we had not been Encamped long ere 3 Indians Came in a Canoe to trade the Wapto roots - we had rain all the day all wet and disagreeable a bad place to Camp all around this great bend is high land thickly timbered brushey & almost impossible to penetrate we Saw on an Island below the village a place of deposit for the dead in Canoes-

Great numbers of Swan Geese Brant Ducks & Gulls in this great bend which is Crouded with low Islands covered with weeds grass &c. and overflowed every flood tide [today the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge] The people of the last village is-[blank] ...     We are now decending to see if a favourable place should offer on the So Side to winter &c.

from a high Point opsd. a high Isd down the South Side is S. 30 W 6 mls to a point of low land opsd. upr. pt of Isd. passed lowr. pt. 1st Isd. marshey. at the upr. pt. of 2 low Isd. opsd. each other at 4 miles



S. 12 E 2 miles
to an Indn. Cat-tar-bet vilg of 9 houses [Knappa, Oregon] passed an inlet 300 yds wide on Std at 1/2 a mile

S. 60 W 1 mile
to high land on the South

S. 70 W 1 do.
to a South point Low land a low Isd. opsd. pass the former

S. 50 W. 6 miles
to a high point S.

South 2 miles to a bend Camped

N. 70 W. 6 miles
to a point No. 1 a deep bend to the left

S. 50 W 8 miles
to Point No. 2 passing a deep bend to the South

S. 50 W 1 1/2 miles S. 40 W 1 1/2 miles
to Pt in Bay

The bay turns to the N of East & recves 2 other small Brooks



Clark, November 26, 1805 ...
Cloudy and Some rain this morning from 6 oClock. wind from the E. N. E, we Set out out early and crossed a Short distance above the rock out in the river, & between Some low marshey Islands to the South Side of the Columbia at a low bottom about 3 miles below Point Samuel [Aldrich Point] and proceeded near the South Side leaveing the Seal Islands [islands in Cathlamet Bay, today a part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge] to our right and a marshey bottom to the left 5 Miles to the Calt-har-mar Village [location of Knappa, Oregon] of 9 large wood houses on a handsom elivated Situation near the foot of a Spur of the high land behind a large low Island Seperated from the Southerly Shore by a Chanel of about 200 yards Wide, ...    



we proceeded on through a Deep bend to the South and encamped under a high hill [past Settler Point to the location of today's Twilight Eagle Sanctuary], where we found much difficuelty in precureing wood to burn, as it was raining hard, as it had been the greater part of the day. ...     from the Village quite around this bend to the West the land is high and thickly timbered with pine balsom &c. a Short distance below the Calt har mer Village [Knappa, Oregon] on the Island which is Opposit I observed Several Canoes Scaffold in which Contained their dead, as I did not examine this mode of deposing the dead, must refer it to a discription hereafter.



Whitehouse, November 26, 1805 ...
Tuesday Novemr. 26th    A cloudy wet morning, & we set out early. we proceeded about 1 Mile up the River & then crossed it. In doing of which we passed through several Islands. We proceeded on down the South side of the River, & came to an Inhabited Village of Indians. [Knappa, Oregon] We halted at this place for a short time; ... We continued on still down the River; the day being wet, cold and very disagreeable. We encamped in a thicket on the South shore [today the location of the Twilight Eagle Sanctuary]. ... We saw along the shore, a number of Islands that lay very low & marshy. The Geese, swan & Ducks are in the greatest plenty at this place, & our Hunters killed a number of them.





Clark, November 27, 1805 ...
Rained all the last night and this morning it Continues moderately [the men are camped in Cathlamet Bay near the Twilight Eagle Sanctuary, today part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge] ...    we proceded on between maney Small Islands [west end of Cathlamet Bay] passing a Small river [John Day River, Clatsop County] of [blank] yds wide which the Indians Call ____ [Biddle added the notation Kekemar<qu>ke] and around a verry remarkable point [Tongue Point] which projects about 1 1/2 Miles directly towards the Shallow bay [Grays Bay] the isthmus which joins it to the main land is not exceding 50 yards and about 4 Miles around. we call this Point William [Tongue Point]

below this point [Tongue Point] the waves became So high we were Compelled to land unload and traw up the Canoes, here we formed a Camp on the neck of Land which joins Point William [Tongue Point] to the main at an old indian hut. The rain Continued hard all day we are all Wet and disagreeable. one Canoe Split before we Got her out of the Water 2 feet- The water at our Camp Salt that above the isthmus fresh and fine-






Clark, March 24, 1806 ...
Sent out 15 men verry early this morning for the flesh of the two Elk killed by Drewyer and Fields yesterday. they returned at 8 oClock ...     Set out at half past 9 a. m. [from their camp at Mill Creek, on the east side of Tongue Point] and proceeded [South Channel, along the shore of Cathlamet Bay. They pass the John Day River, the location of today's Twilight Eagle Sanctuary, and today's Svensen Island] to the Cath lah mah Village [near Knappa, Oregon] at 1 P. M. and remained untill after 3 p. m. at this village ...     we proceeded on through Some difficult and narrow Channels [possibly Knappa Channel] between the Seal Islands [islands in Cathlamet Bay, today part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge], and the south side to an old village on the south side opposit to the lower War ki a com village [Skamokawa, Washington], and Encamped [Aldrich Point]. to this old villg. ...     Soon after we made our Camp 2 Indians visited us from the opposite Side, one of them Spoke Several words of English and repeeted the names of the traders, and many of the Salors.     made 16 Miles





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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

Sources: Astoria-USA website, 2004; Bureau of Land Management website, 2006, "General Land Office Records"; Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website, 2004; McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2004, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland; NOAA's "United States Coast Pilot", 31st edition; Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website, 2004; "TopoZone.com" website, 2006; U.S. Board of Geographic Names website, 2006; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 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.
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August 2013