Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Miller Island, Washington"
Includes ... Miller Island ...
Image, 2004, Miller Island, downstream tip, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Miller Island, Washington, from downstream on Washington State Highway 14. Image taken April 24, 2004.


Miller Island ...
Miller Island is located in Washington State, directly across the the Deschutes River, Oregon. Haystack Butte and the Columbia Hills rise above Miller Island on the Washington side of the Columbia. Maryhill Museum is located slightly upstream, and presents good views of the upsteam end of Miller Island. Miller Island stretches between Columbia River Mile (RM) 203 and 205.

View from airliner ...

Image, 2012, Miller Island to the John Day Dam, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River from Miller Island (left) to the John Day Dam (right), including the Deschutes River drainage and the wind turbines on the hills below Goldendale, Washington, as seen from airliner heading towards PDX. Mid afternoon, clouds, gray, and drizzle. Image taken April 24, 2012.


Lewis and Clark and Miller Island ...
Lewis and Clark first passed Miller Island on October 22, 1805, while journeying down the Columbia River towards the Pacific Ocean.

"... at 9 mls. passed a bad rapid at the head of a large Island of high, uneaven [rocks], jutting over the water, a Small Island in a Stard. Bend opposit the upper point, on which I counted 20 parcels of dryed and pounded fish; on the main Stard Shore opposit to this Island five Lodges of Indians are Situated Several Indians in Canoes killing fish with gigs, <and nets> &c. opposit the center of this Island of rocks which is about 4 miles long we discovered the enterence of a large river on the Lard. Side which appeared to Come from the S. E. ..." [Clark, October 22, 1805]

On their return, on April 21, 1806, the men camp on the Washington side of the Columbia just across from Miller Island's western tip. They then pass by the island while traveling overland on April 22, 1806, however they make no mention of any island in their journals. Patrick Gass, traveling by canoe, passed Miller Island on April 21, 1806, and mentions a "large rock island". Gass also refers to the Deschutes River as the "Sho-sho-ne river".

"... The party that went by land had to leave the river, and take out to the hill a part of the way. I crossed with my canoe to the south side, where there is the best water, and passed a large rock island, opposite to which the Sho-sho-ne river flows in from the south. ..." [Gass, April 21, 1806]

Early Miller Island ...
Miller Island lies in T2N R15E, and includes parts of Sections 13, 14, 15, 22, and 23.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, Thomas J. Miller was granted title to 160.75 acres of T2N R15E, Section 14, on February 20, 1895 (1873 Timber Culture). On August 18, 1897, Thomas J. Miller was granted title to 164.50 acres of T2N R15E, Section 15 and 81 acres of Section 13 (1820 Sale-Cash Entry). On November 24, 1899, Thomas J. Miller was granted title to 174.09 acres of T2N R15E, Section 22 (1862 Homestead EntryOriginal).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, Joseph J. Miller was granted title to 132.15 acres of T2N R15E, Section 23, on August 25, 1903 (1862 Homestead EntryOriginal).

The 1913 Klickitat County plat map for T2N R15E (courtesy "rootsweb.com") shows Thomas J. Miller, Sr., and Joseph J. Miller, having Donation Land Claims (DLC) on Miller Island.


Views ...

Image, 2004, Miller Island from road to the Deschutes, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Miller Island, Washington, from road to the mouth of the Deschutes River, Oregon. Image taken March 20, 2004.
Image, 2005, Miller Island, as seen from Maryhill Museum, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Miller Island as seen from Maryhill Museum, Washington. Image taken May 24, 2005.


Miller Island Today ...
Today Miller Island is located within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and is a favorite paddling destination. The island is only accessible by boat. According to the U.S. Forest Service website (2016), in 2010 Miller Island was closed to overnight camping, open fires, and metal detecting.

"Miller Island is closed to overnight camping, open fires, and metal detecting. A closure order has been placed on these activities and is enforceable by fines. " [U.S. Forest Service website, 2016]


Image, 2011, Pictographs, Horsethief Lake Park, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pictograph block which was removed from Miller Island and now on display at Horsethief Lake Park (Columbia Hills State Park), Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 22, 1805 ...
A fine morning calm and fare we Set out [downstream of the John Day Dam] at 9 oClock passed a verry bad rapid [today the location of the "Sam Hill Memorial Bridge", U.S. Highway 97 crossing from Biggs Junction, Oregon, to Maryhill, Washington. The rapid, which was labeled "Five-Mile Rapid" in 1858, is now under the waters of the Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam.] at the head of an Island close under the Stard. Side [???], above this rapid on the Stard. Side is Six Lodges of nativs Drying fish [Maryhill vicinity], at 9 mls. passed a bad rapid [Deschutes Rapid, also under the waters of Lake Celilo] at the head of a large Island [Miller Island] of high, uneaven [rocks], jutting over the water, a Small Island in a Stard. Bend [???] opposit the upper point, on which I counted 20 parcels of dryed and pounded fish; on the main Stard Shore opposit to this Island five Lodges of Indians are Situated Several Indians in Canoes killing fish with gigs [Haystack Butte, Columbia Hills, vicinity], <and nets> &c. opposit the center of this Island of rocks [Miller Island] which is about 4 miles long we discovered the enterence of a large river on the Lard. Side [Deschutes River] which appeared to Come from the S. E. - we landed at Some distance above the mouth of this river [Deschutes River] and Capt. Lewis and my Self Set out to view this river above its mouth, as our rout was intersepted by a deep narrow Chanel which runs out of this river into the Columbia a little below the place we landed, leaveing a high dry rich Island of about 400 yards wide and 800 yards long here we Seperated, I proceeded on to the river and Struck it at the foot of a verry Considerable rapid [Deschutes Rapids], here I beheld an emence body of water Compressd in a narrow Chanel of about 200 yds in width, fomeing over rocks maney of which presented their tops above the water, when at this place Capt. Lewis joined me haveing ....     at about two miles above this River appears to be confined between two high hils below which it divided by numbers of large rocks, and Small Islands covered with a low groth of timber, and has a rapid as far as the narrows three Small Islands in the mouth of this River, <we returned> this River haveing no Indian name that we could find out, except "the River on which the Snake Indians live," we think it best to leave the nameing of it untill our return [Deschutes River].

we proceeded on pass the mouth of this river [Deschutes River] at which place it appears to discharge 1/4 as much water as runs down the Columbia. at two miles below this River passed Eight Lodges on the Lower point of the Rock Island [Miller Island] aforesaid at those Lodges we saw large logs of wood which must have been rafted down the To war-ne hi ooks River [Deschutes River], below this Island [Miller Island] on the main Stard Shore is 16 Lodges of nativs; here we landed a fiew minits to Smoke, the lower point of one Island opposit [???] which heads in the mouth of Towarnehiooks River [Deschutes River] which I did not observe untill after passing these lodges     about 1/2 a mile lower passed 6 more Lodges on the Same Side and 6 miles below the upper mouth of Towarnehiooks River [Deschutes River] the comencement of the pitch of the Great falls [Celilo Falls], opposit on the Stard. Side is 17 Lodges of the nativs [near Wishram, Washington]     we landed and walked down accompanied by an old man to view the falls [Celilo Falls], and the best rout for to make a portage ...     we made 19 miles to 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:    "rootsweb.com" website, Klickitat County, Jeffrey L. Elmer, 2016;    U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, 2016;   

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 2016