Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Memaloose Island"
Includes ... Memaloose Island ... Memaloose State Park ... "Sepulchar Rock" ... Victor Trevitt ...
Image, 2008, Memaloose Island, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Memaloose Island from Memaloose State Park Overlook, Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon. Image taken August 23, 2008.


Memaloose Island ...
On October 29, 1805, Lewis and Clark called Memaloose Island "Sepulchar Island". It was one of several islands commented on by Lewis and Clark as containing burial vaults for the Indian tribes that lived along the Columbia River.

"... passed three large rocks in The river the middle rock is large long and has Several Squar vaults on it. we call this rockey Island the Sepulchar ..." [Clark, October 29, 1805]

Several islands in the Columbia River are named "Memaloose", the accepted spelling adopted by the United States Board of Geographic Names (USBGN). The name is derived from "Memaloose Ilahee", Chinook jargon for "land of the dead". Lower Memaloose Island, the one called "Sepulchar" by Captain Clark, is downstream from the mouth of the Klickitat River and upstream of Major Creek. Major Creek was the location of Lewis and Clark's campsite of April 14, 1806. Good views of Memaloose Island are from the Historic Columbia River Highway on the Oregon side of the Columbia, or from the Memaloose Rest Stop on Interstate 84. This "Lower" Memaloose Island is overlooked by Memaloose State Park on the Oregon side of the Columbia, and Chamberlain Park on the Washington side of the Columbia. The island is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 178.


Memaloose -- Island of the Dead ...
OREGON HISTORY
Memaloose -- Island of the Dead

"Until very recent times, the Indian peoples of the Columbia River did not bury their dead. Instead, bodies were wrapped in robes or tule mats and deposited in canoes that were placed in the woods, on rocky points, or in cedar vaults on islands like Memaloose. The name Memaloose is derived from the Chinook word memalust, which means "to die".

The Corps of Discovery, under the command of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, passed this island in their quest to reach the Pacific Ocean on 29 October 1805 -- they called it "Sepulcher Island" (burial island). On their homeward journey, the explorers visited the island on 15 April 1806, and Lewis noted, "thirteen sepulchers on this rock which stands near the center of the river and has a surface of about 2 acres above high water mark."

Memaloose Island is one of several "islands of the dead" once found in the Columbia River. Many of these islands are today covered by the backwaters of Columbia's dams -- only one-third of this island seen by Lewis and Clark is visible above the river today.

The lone monument visible on Memaloose Island marks the grave of Victor Trevitt, a pioneer printer, businessman, state legislator, and friend of the Indians. Trevitt requested burial here among the people he loved. Ironically, water rising behind the Bonneville Dam proompted relocation of Indian graves during the 1930s, but Victor Trevitt's grave remains."


Source:   Oregon History Sign, Memaloose Rest Stop, Interstate 84, Oregon.


Image, 2013, Memaloose Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Oregon History sign, Memaloose Island. View from Memaloose Rest Area, Interstate 84, Oregon. Image taken April 3, 2013.


Memaloose Island, etc.

  • Historic Columbia River Highway (Memaloose Overlook) ...
  • Memaloose State Park ...
  • Victor Trevitt ...


Historic Columbia River Highway (Memaloose Overlook) ...
[More Historic Columbia River Highway]
[More HCRH Route]

  • HMP 76.3 ... Memaloose Overlook (1920)

  • Memaloose Overlook (1920):   "This scenic overlook is north of the CRH and contains a basalt rubble masonry wall and graveled paths. It gives visitors a view of Memaloose Island, one of several islands in this stretch of the Columbia where local Indians buried their dead. The plaque there replaces one with an unknown origin." [National Historic Landmark Nomination Form, 1996]

    "This scenic overlook is on the north side of the highway and contains a masonry wall and gravel overlook area. The overlook commands a view of Memaloose Island in the Columbia River, a Native American burial ground. This sacred burial area was partially inundated when the Bonneville Dam was completed in the late 1930s, impounding water upstream." [National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 1983]



Memaloose State Park ...
Memaloose State Park is located off Interstate 84, eleven miles west of The Dalles, Oregon, and offers good views of Memaloose Island. Views of Washington's Rowena Gap basalts can also be seen as well as the drainage valley of Major Creek, the location of Lewis and Clark's campsite of April 14, 1806.

Penny Postcard, Memaloose Island, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Memaloose Island, Columbia River, Oregon.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1901-1907), "Memaloose Island". Copyright 1908. Postmarked June 1909. Published by Benj. A. Gifford, The Dalles, Oregon. Made in Germany. Card No.208. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2008, Memaloose State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Memaloose State Park Overlook, Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon. Image taken August 23, 2008.


Victor Trevitt ...
The granite obelisk on the island is the grave of Victor Trevitt, a pioneer who wished to be buried with his Indian friends.

Penny Postcard, Memaloose Island, Oregon
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Victor Trevitt grave, Memaloose Island, Columbia River, Oregon.
Penny Postcard, Undivided Back (1901-1907), "Indian Burying Ground on a Columbia River Island, Oregon". Published by E.P. Charlton & Co., Portland, Or. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2005, Memaloose Island grave marker, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Victor Trevitt grave marker, Memaloose Island. View from Memaloose Rest Area, Interstate 84, Oregon. Image taken September 25, 2005.
Image, 2013, Memaloose Island grave marker, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Victor Trevitt grave marker, Memaloose Island. View from Memaloose Rest Area, Interstate 84, Oregon. Image taken April 3, 2013.


"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. The postcards now have become a image of history.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 29, 1805 ...




Columbia River GorgeReturn to
Menu
 






*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:
  • Washington State Historical Society website, 2004, "Lasting Legacy";


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.
/Regions/Places/memaloose_island.html
September 2008