Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"McCord Creek and Elowah Falls, Oregon"
Includes ... McCord Creek ... Pierce Creek ... Kelly Creek ... Elowah Falls ... Upper McCord Creek Falls ... McCord Fishwheel ...
Image, 2011, McCord Creek sign, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
McCord Creek sign as seen from Interstate 84, Oregon. Image taken May 14, 2011.


McCord Creek ...
McCord Creek merges with the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 143. Upstream are Moffett Creek, Tanner Creek, and Eagle Creek. Also upstream is the Bonneville Dam. Downstream are the Oregon communities of Warrendale and Dodson. Directly across from the mouth of McCord Creek is Pierce and Ives islands, Washington, and slightly upstream is Hamilton Island. The mouth of McCord Creek lies within the John B. Yeon State Park and can be reached on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.

Image, 2014, McCord Creek, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
McCord Creek, looking upstream, from McCord Creek Bridge on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Image taken June 9, 2014.
Image, 2014, McCord Creek, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
McCord Creek, looking downstream, from McCord Creek Bridge on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Image taken June 9, 2014.


Early McCord Creek ...
According to McArthur and McArthur (2003), McCord Creek was named after pioneer W.R. McCord, who built the first fish wheels near the mouth of the stream.

"... This creek has had several names, including Pierce Creek and Kelly Creek. A committee representing various historical organizations recommended that it be named McCord Creek, and that name was adopted by the USBGN. This was in honor of W.R. McCord, a pioneer of Oregon who built the first fish wheels near the mouth of the stream. The falls near the highway are named Elowah, and the creek runs through John B. Yeon State Scenic Corridor. ..." [McArthur and McArthur, 2003]

The fishwheel on the east bank at the mouth of McCord Creek however was known as the "Kelly Wheel".

According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database (2014), on May 31, 1892, Myron P. Kelley was granted title to 146.58 acres in T2N R7E, parts of Section 31 (1862 Homestead Entry Original).

Previous names for McCord Creek included "Kelly Creek" and "Pierce Creek". The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "McCord Creek" official on January 1, 1915.


McCord Creek in 1940 ...

From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"... At the eastern end of the McCord Creek Bridge, 152.6 m., is a petrified stump that is believed to have matured long before the Cascade Range was thrust up. ..."



McCord Creek, etc.

  • Elowah Falls ...
  • Elowah Falls Trailhead ...
  • Elowah Falls Trail Water Tank ...
  • Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail ...
  • Upper McCord Creek Falls ...


Elowah Falls ...
Elowah Falls was given it's name by a committee of Mazamas and other outdoor organizations. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made it official on January 1, 1915. An earlier name for the falls was Kelley Falls.

From Friends of the Columbia Gorge website (2011):

"... At Elowah Falls, McCord Creek crashes into a huge amphitheater made up of several distinct lava flows. This is a fairly easy hike, appropriate for most beginners, leading to a 289-foot waterfall. There is a small amount of climbing involved, with a summit in the middle of the hike. ..."

Elowah Falls Trailhead ...
John B. Yeon State Park is a jumping off point for the Elowah Falls Trail. From the west side of the parking lot, follow the trail up to junction and veer left on the lower trail to Elowah Falls. Elowah Falls is located on McCord Creek, approximately 1/2 mile up from its merging with the Columbia River.

Image, 2014, John B. Yeon State Park, Elowah Falls Trailhead, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Trailhead, Elowah Falls, John B. Yeon State Park, Oregon. Image taken June 5, 2014.
Image, 2014, Elowah Falls Trail, Columbia River Gorge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Elowah Falls trail, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. Trail section near trailhead. Image taken June 5, 2014.


Elowah Falls Trail Water Tank ...
(to come)

Image, 2014, Water Tank, Elowah Falls Trail, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Water Tank, Elowah Falls trail, John B. Yeon State Scenic Corridor, Oregon. Image taken June 5, 2014.
Image, 2014, Water Tank, Elowah Falls Trail, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Water Tank, Elowah Falls trail, John B. Yeon State Scenic Corridor, Oregon. Image taken June 5, 2014.
Image, 2014, Water Tank, Elowah Falls Trail, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Water Tank, Elowah Falls trail, John B. Yeon State Scenic Corridor, Oregon. Image taken June 5, 2014.


Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail ...
John B. Yeon State Park is the trailhead for the western end of a section of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. The biking/hiking section between the Park and Cascade Locks is 6.5 miles long. The trail crosses McCord Creek at 0.33 miles.

Image, 2014, John B. Yeon State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Trailhead, Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, John B. Yeon State Park to Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken June 5, 2014.
Image, 2014, Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
McCord Creek Bridge, Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Image taken June 9, 2014.
Image, 2014, Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
McCord Creek Bridge, Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. Image taken June 9, 2014.


Upper McCord Creek Falls ...
(to come)


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 2, 1805 ...
Examined the rapid below us [from their camp at Fort Rains, looking at the Cascade Rapids] more pertcelarly the danger appearing too great to Hazzard our Canoes loaded, dispatched all the men who could not Swim with loads to the end of the portage below, I also walked to the end of the portage with the carriers where I delayed untill everry articles was brought over and canoes arrived Safe. here we brackfast and took a Meridn. altitude 59 45' 45" about the time we were Setting out 7 Squars came over loaded with Dried fish, and bear grass neetly bundled up, Soon after 4 Indian men came down over the rapid in a large canoe.     passed a rapid at 2 miles & 1 at 4 miles opposite the lower point of a high Island on the Lard Side [Bradford Island], and a little below 4 Houses on the Stard. Bank, a Small Creek on the Lard Side [Tanner Creek] opposit Straw berry Island [Hamilton Island], which heads below the last rapid, opposit the lower point of this Island [Hamilton Island] passed three Islands covered with tall timber [today there are two, Ives and Pierce] opposit the Beatin rock [Beacon Rock]    Those Islands are nearest the Starboard Side, imediately below on the Stard. Side passed a village of nine houses [indentified on Atlas map#79 as the "Wah-clallah Tribe of Shahala Nation", location near today's Skamania and Skamania Landing], which is Situated between 2 Small Creeks [Woodard Creek and Duncan Creek], and are of the Same construction of those above; here the river widens to near a mile, and the bottoms are more extensive and thickly timbered, as also the high mountains on each Side, with Pine, Spruce pine, Cotton wood, a Species of ash, and alder.     at 17 miles passed a rock near the middle of the river [Phoca Rock], about 100 feet high and 80 feet Diamuter,     proceed on down a Smoth gentle Stream of about 2 miles wide, in which the tide has its effect as high as the Beaten rock [Beacon Rock] or the Last rapids at Strawberry Island [Hamilton Island],- Saw great numbers of waterfowl of Different kinds, Such as Swan, Geese, white & grey brants, ducks of various kinds, Guls, & Pleaver [today just below Beacon Rock is Franz National Wildlife Refuge]. ...     we encamped under a high projecting rock on the Lard. Side [Rooster Rock, with Crown Point rising above it],     here the mountains leave the river on each Side [leaving the Columbia River Gorge, Steigerwald Land NWR is on the north and the Sandy River delta is on the south], which from the great Shute to this place is high and rugid [Columbia River Gorge]; thickly Covered with timber principalley of the Pine Species. The bottoms below appear extensive and thickly Covered with wood.     river here about 2 miles wide.     Seven Indians in a Canoe on their way down to trade with the nativs below, encamp with us, those we left at the portage passed us this evening and proceeded on down The ebb tide rose here about 9 Inches, the flood tide must rise here much higher- we made 29 miles to day from the Great Shute [Cascade Locks]-





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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:    Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, 2011;    Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center website, 2011;    McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society;    Donaldson, I.J., and Cramer, F.K., 1971, Fishwheels of the Columbia, Binfords and Mort, Publishers, Philadelphia;    Oregon State Archives website, 2011;    U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, 2014;    U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) website, 2011;   

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.
June 2014