Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Linnton, Oregon"
Includes ... Linnton ... Tualatin Mountains ...
Image, 2006, Linnton, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Linnton, Oregon. Image taken March 19, 2006.

Linnton ...
The Oregon community of Linnton is located on Oregon's Highway 30 along the Willamette River at River Mile (RM) 5 (approximately Columbia River Mile 105). The western end of the St. Johns Bridge leading to the community of St. Johns is located one mile upstream, and the head of the Multnomah Channel and upstream tip of Sauvie Island are located 1.5 miles downstream. The Tualatin Mountains rise above the community. North of Linnton along Highway 30 is the small community of Burlington and Scappoose. South along Highway 30 begins Portland.

Lewis and Clark and Linnton ...
Captain Clark and seven of his men journeyed through the Linnton area on April 2, 1806, as they explored the Willamette River, traveling as far as the St. Johns area. They again passed the Linnton area on April 3, 1806 as they returned back to the Columbia River. They spent the night of April 2 camped across from Linnton at the location of today's Terminal 4.

"... high bold Shore on the Starboard Side ..." [Clark, April 2, 1806]

Image, 2013, Linnton, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Linnton, Oregon. Image taken January 2, 2013.

Early Linnton ...
Lewis and Clark passed the location of Linnton, Oregon, on April 2, 1806, and again the next day, April 3.

Linnton was laid out in 1843 by Peter H. Burnett (who would go on to become the first governor of California) and M.M. McCarver. Burnett and McCarver named their community "Linnton" after Senator Lewis Fields Linn of Missouri, who, in the 1830s was a strong supporter for American occupation of Oregon and for granting land to settlers. Senator Linn's ideas went on to become the Donation Land Act in 1850. The Linnton Post Office was established in 1889 and discontinued in 1975. Today the community of Linnton is part of the City of Portland.

"... Linnton, another town named for Senator Linn, was laid out in 1843 by Peter Burnett of Champoeg and Morton M. McCarver of Oregon City. Burnett stated, "I have no doubt that this place will be the great commercial town of the territory." Hoping to tap trade with the Tualatin Valley, a road graded up Cornelius Pass proved impassable and their venture failed. Burnett went to California to become their first governor. An 1843 pioneer settler of Linnton, James John, moved across the river and started St. Johns in 1865. It became part of Portland in 1915, two years before Linnton joined the growing city. ..." [End of the Oregon Trail website, 2006]

In 1914 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made the name "Linnton" official. Other variants seen were "Linton".

Linnton in 1940 ...
From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"... LINNTON, 7.9 m., a part of Portland since 1915, was founded in the 1840s by Peter H. Burnett, later, first governor of California. He visioned the tiny town as the future metropolis of the Columbia Valley but Portland drew most of the shipping trade and Linnton languished. At present it is an important industrial district of the city; large lumber shipments leave from its wharves. ..."

Street Scenes ...

Image, 2006, Linnton, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Street scene, Linnton, Oregon. View from car driving west on Highway 30. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2012, Linnton, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Street scene, Linnton, Oregon. View from car driving west on Highway 30. Image taken January 13, 2012.
Image, 2012, Linnton, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Street scene, Linnton, Oregon. View from car driving west on Highway 30. Image taken February 4, 2012.

Linnton, etc.

  • Harvey Scott, 1890 ...
  • "Linton Landing Post Light" ...
  • Linnton to St. Johns Ferry ...

Harvey Scott, 1890 ...
"On the Willamette and the Columbia, numberless other points strove to become place. ... Below the present site of Portland, on the right bank of the Willamette, was St. Johns, founded by John Johns, whose brick store is still a conspicuous mark on the green slope of this beautiful little spot. At the head of Sauvies' Island was Linnton, a most ambitious point, established as early as 1844 by M.M. McCarver, with the assistance of Peter Burnett, both of whom were brainy and stalwart men, famous in early history. ... Near the mouth of the Willamette Slough was Milton, founded in 1846 by Captain Nathaniel Crosby. On the Oregon shore opposite the lower end of Sauvies' Island where the lower mouth of the Willamette unites with the Columbia was set St. Helens on a natural site of great beauty. It was established about 1845-46 by Captain Knighton and others."

Source:    Harvey Whitefield Scott, 1890, "History of Portland, Oregon: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers: D. Mason & Company, Portland.

"Linton Landing Post Light" ...
According to the 1895 "Lights and Fog Signals of the United States" (1895, Government Printing Office) the "Linton Landing Post Light" was a fixed red lantern on the western gable of an unpainted sawmill on the wharf at Linton, Oregon. The light was established in 1887.

Linnton to St. Johns Ferry ...
The Linnton to St. Johns ferry began in 1905.

May 22, 1921:
"... [on the] St. Johns ferry, cross [the Willamette] to the Linnton road. The ferry is free and runs back and forth constantly, entrailing but little delay. In planning the trip it should be remembered that the second Sunday of each month is "boiler day" for the ferry, however, and it is not in operation. An excellent view is secured of the lower harbor and the splendid municipal terminals at St. Johns."

Source:    "Sunday Oregonian", May 22, 1921, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, Univeristy of Oregon Libraries, 2016.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

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

  • "endoftheoregontrail.org" website, 2006;
  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016;
  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • Oregon State Archives website, 2006;
  • Scott, H.W., 1890, "History of Portland, Oregon: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers: D. Mason & Company, Portland;
  • 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