Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Lewis and Clark Bridge"
Includes ... Lewis and Clark Bridge ... Longview Bridge ... National Register of Historic Places ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2004, Mount St. Helens and the Lewis and Clark Bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lewis and Clark Bridge, with Mount St. Helens, Washington. Lewis and Clark Bridge, as seen from Oregon Highway-30, downstream of Rainier, Oregon. The bridge spans the Columbia River from Longview, Washington, to Rainier, Oregon. Mount St. Helens, Washington, is in the background. Image taken February 11, 2004.


Lewis and Clark Bridge ...
Lewis and Clark passed through this area of the Columbia River on November 6, 1805 on their journey to the Pacific Ocean, and again on March 27, 1806, on their return. The "Lewis and Clark Bridge" opened on March 29, 1930, and crosses the Columbia River between Longview, Washington, and Rainier, Oregon. The bridge is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 66, two miles downstream of the mouth of the Cowlitz River. Downstream on the Oregon side lies Dibblee Point Beach and Walker Island. Lewis and Clark spent the night of March 29, 1806, on Walker Island. The Lewis and Clark Bridge was originally called the "Longview Bridge" but was rededicated and renamed the Lewis and Clark Bridge in 1980.

Image, 2005, Dibblee Point Beach, looking upstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Dibblee Point Beach, Oregon, looking upstream. The Lewis and Clark Bridge is in the fog in the background. Image taken February 19, 2005.


History ...
The Lewis and Clark Bridge is a cantilever bridge, which at the time of its construction, was the longest and highest in the country, at 8,192 feet long (including the approaches) and with the roadway sitting at 210 feet above the Columbia. The bridge was designed by engineer Joseph Baermann Strauss, who also designed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Originally a privately owned toll bridge, the state of Washington bought the bridge in 1947 and replaced wooden approach spans with steel and concrete approach spans. Tolls were removed in 1965, and in 1980 the bridge was rededicated and renamed the Lewis and Clark Bridge.

In 1982 the "Longview Bridge" was added to the National Register of Historic Places (Structure, #82004208).


Views from Rainier City Park ...

Image, 2004, Lewis and Clark Bridge from Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lewis and Clark Bridge from Rainier, Oregon. Looking downstream at the Lewis and Clark Bridge, from city park, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 21, 2004.
Image, 2004, Lewis and Clark Bridge, from Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lewis and Clark Bridge as seen from Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 21, 2004.


Crossing the Bridge ...

Image, 2006, On the Lewis and Clark Bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Crossing the Lewis and Clark Bridge, heading east into Washington. Lewis and Clark Bridge spans the Columbia River from Longview, Washington, to Rainier, Oregon. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2006, On the Lewis and Clark Bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Crossing the Lewis and Clark Bridge, heading east into Washington. Lewis and Clark Bridge spans the Columbia River from Longview, Washington, to Rainier, Oregon. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2004, On the Lewis and Clark Bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
On the Lewis and Clark Bridge. Lewis and Clark Bridge spans the Columbia River from Longview, Washington, to Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 11, 2004.


"Fog So Thick" ...
More than once along their journey Lewis and Clark mention the thick fog which formed along the Columbia. On November 3, 1805, it delayed their leaving their camp at Rooster Rock, more than 60 miles upstream from Rainier, Oregon.

"... The Fog So thick this morning that we could not See a man 50 Steps off, this fog detained us untill 10 oClock at which time we Set out ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805]

[More]

Image, 2005, Fog, On the Lewis and Clark Bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
"Fog So Thick". View heading west to Oregon on the Lewis and Clark Bridge. Image taken November 15, 2005.


Painting the Bridge ...

Image, 2011, Painting the bridge, Lewis and Clark Bridge from Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Painting the Lewis and Clark Bridge, as seen from Rainier, Oregon. Looking at the upstream side of the Lewis and Clark Bridge, as seen from moving car on Highway 30, Rainier, Oregon. Car frame is lower right corner. Image taken September 4, 2011.


With Mount St. Helens ...
Great views of the Lewis and Clark Bridge and Mount St. Helens can be had from the Oregon side of the river west of Rainier, Oregon. Take Highway 30 heading west and climb the hill. Two viewpoints are along the hill westbound lanes only.

Image, 2005, Steaming Mount St. Helens and Longview, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Steaming Mount St. Helens and Longview, Washington. Image taken January 2, 2005.
Image, 2005, Steaming Mount St. Helens and Longview, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Steaming Mount St. Helens and Longview, Washington. Image taken January 2, 2005.
Image, 2007, Lewis and Clark Bridge from Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lewis and Clark Bridge from Rainier, Oregon. Image taken January 31, 2007.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Lewis and Clark Bridge, ca.1930
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Lewis and Clark Bridge, while under construction (?), ca.1930. Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1930, "On Columbia River and Pacific Highways, Columbia River - Longview Bridge, Longview, Wash.". View from the Oregon side. Mount St. Helens, Washington, is in the background. Published by Wesley Andrews, Inc., Baker, Oregon. Card #525. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Lewis and Clark Bridge, ca.1930
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Lewis and Clark Bridge, ca.1930. Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1930, "Columbia River Longview Bridge, Longview, Wash., On Columbia River and Pacific Highway.". Published by Wesley Andrews, Inc., Baker, Oregon. Card #631. Card is postmarked August 25, 1930. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Lewis and Clark Bridge, ca.1930s to 1940s
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Lewis and Clark Bridge, ca.1930s to 1940s. Penny Postcard, ca.1930s to 1940s, "Longview, Washington, Rainier, Oregon, Highway Bridge.". Photo by A.M. Prentiss. Caption on back reads: "Longview-Rainier Bridge, connecting Longview, Washington on the Pacific Highway with Rainier, Oregon, on the lower Columbia River Highway, 50 miles from Portland, Oregon. Published by The Rose City News Co., Portland, Oregon. Card #31. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Lewis and Clark Bridge, ca.1930s to 1940s
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Lewis and Clark Bridge, ca.1930s to 1940s. Penny Postcard, ca.1930s to 1940s, "On the Old Oregon Trail, Columbia River Longview Bridge, Longview, Washington to Rainier, Oregon.". Caption on back reads: "Main Span, 1,200 feet, Clear Height 195 feet, River Structure, 3,800 feet, Approaches 4,400 feet.". Published by Wesley Andrews, Inc., Baker, Oregon. Card #535. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, March 27, 1806 ...
a rainey disagreeable night     rained the greater part of the night     we Set out this morning verry early [from their camp on Walker Island] and proceeded on to two houses of the Skil-lute Indians on the South Side [downstream of Rainier, Oregon] here we found our hunters who had Seperated from us last evening.     the wind rose and the rain became very hard Soon after we landed here we were very friendly receved by the natives who gave all our party as much fish as they Could eate, ...     resumed our voyage at 12 oClock. The principal village of the Skil-lutes is Situated on the lower Side of the Cow-e-lis kee river [Cowlitz River] a fiew miles from it's enterance into the Columbia. ...     The Cow e lis kee river [Cowlitz River] is 150 yards wide, is deep and from Indian information navigable a very conslderable distance for canoes. it discharges itself into the Columbia about 3 miles above a remarkable knob [Mount Coffin] which is high and rocky and Situated on the North Side of the Columbia, and Seperated from the Northern hills of the river by a Wide bottom of Several Miles, to which it united [today the cities of Longview and Kelso, Washington]. I Suspect that this river Waters the Country lying west of a range of Mountains which passes the Columbia between the Great falls and rapids, and North of the Same nearly to the low country which Commences on the N W. Coast about Latitude 4o [blank] North. ...     at the distance of 2 miles above the village at which we brackfast we passed the enterance of this river [Cowlitz River]; we Saw Several fishing camps of the Skillutes on both Sides of the Columbia, and also on both Sides of this river. ...     late in the evening we passed the place we Camped the 5th of Novr. [Prescott Beach] and Encamped about 4 miles above at the Commencement of the Columbian Vally on the Stard. Side [near Goble, Oregon] below Deer Island [Deer Island, Oregon]. ...

[between Prescott Beach and Goble lies Coffin Rock, a basalt feature on the south side of the Columbia, now located on property owned by the Trojan Nuclear Facility]

Saw Cotton wood, Sweet Willow, w[hite] oake, ash and the broad leafed ash the Growth which resembles the bark &c. these form the groth of the bottom lands, whilst the Hills are almost exclusively Covered with the various Species of fir heretofore discribed. the black alder appears on Maney parts of the hills Sides as on the bottoms. before we Set out from the 2 houses where we brackfast we Sent on two Canoes with the best hunters, with orders to pro ceed as fast as they Could to Deer island [Deer Island, Oregon] and there to hunt and wait our arrival. we wish to halt at that place and repare 2 of our Canoes if possible. the Indians that visited us this evining remained but a Short time, they passed over to an Island [Sandy Island ???] and encamped. the night as well as the day proved Cold wet and excessively disagreeable. we Came 20 miles in the Course of this 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

Sources: National Register of Historic Places website, 2004, 2005; Washington's "HistoryLink.org" 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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September 2011