Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Multnomah Channel, Oregon"
Includes ... Multnomah Channel ... Sauvie Island Bridge ... Scappoose Bay ... "Call's River" ... Sauvie Island Boat Ramp ...
Image, 2005, Multnomah Channel from the Sauvie Island Bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Multnomah Channel from the Sauvie Island Bridge. View is looking downstream with Oregon mainland on the left and Sauvie Island on the right. Image taken November 20, 2005.


Multnomah Channel ...
The 21-mile-long Multnomah Channel forms the western shore of Sauvie Island, with its mouth (downstream end) on the Oregon side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 86.5, and its head branching from the Willamette River at RM 3.5. Today the community of St. Helens is located on the Oregon shore where the Multnomah Channel merges with the Columbia River. The Tualatin Mountains rise above the southeastern half of the Multnomah Channel and Sauvie Island.

"Multnomah" ...
According to the State of Oregon's "Blue Book", the name "Multnomah" is derived from "nematlnomaq", probably meaning "downriver". Lewis and Clark made note of the Indian village of Multnomah on Sauvie Island in 1805, and applied that name to all local Indians.

Lewis and Clark and the Multnomah Channel ...
Lewis and Clark passed the mouth of the Multnomah Channel on November 5, 1805.

"... about 1 miles below this village on the Lard Side behind a rockey Sharp point, we passed a Chanel of a mile wide which I take to be the one the Indian Canoe entered yesterday from the lower point of Immage Canoe Island ..." [Clark, November 5, 1805]

On Lewis and Clark's return in March 1806 and called the Channel "Wappato Inlet".

"... we passed a large inlet 300 yds in width     this inlet or arm of the river extends itself to the South 10 or 12 M. to the hills on that side of the river and receives the waters of a small creek which heads with killamucks river, and that of a bayau which passes out of the Columbia about 20 miles above, the large Island thus formed we call wappetoe island ..." [Lewis, March 29, 1806]

"... dureing the time we were at Brackfast a Canoe with three Indians of the Clan-nar-min-na-mon Nation came down, ...     they reside on Wappato Inlet which is on the S W. side about 12 miles above our encampment of the last night and is about 2 miles from the lower point, four other Tribes also reside on the inlet and Sluce which passes on the South W. Side of the Island ..." [Clark, March 29, 1806]

"... Soon after we were overtaken by Several Canoes of different tribes who reside on each Side of the river the three above Tribes and the Clh-in-na-ta cathy-lah-nah-qui-up & Cath-lah-com-mah-tup reside on each Side of Wappato inlet and back of Wappato Island which Island is formed by a Small Chanel which passes from the Lower part of Image Canoe Island into an inlet which makes in from the S W. Side, and receves the water of a Creek which heads with the Kil a mox River. ..." [Clark, March 30, 1806]

The upstream end of the Multnomah Channel is on the Willamette River at River Mile (RM) 3.5. Captain Clark passed this upper end of the channel on April 2, 1806, as he explored the lower reaches of the Willamette River, reaching as far upstream as the Oregon community of St. Johns. Clark referred to the Multnomah Channel as a "Sluce" which separated "Wappato island" (Sauvie Island) from the mainland of Oregon.

"... S.10oW. 3 miles to a Sluce 80 yards wide which devides Wappato island from the Main Stard. Side Shore passing a Willow point on the Lard. Side. ..." [Clark, April 2, 1806]

Early Multnomah Channel ...
In 1792 Lieutenant Broughton of the Captain George Vancouver Expedition passed by the downstream end of the Multnomah Channel on October 28, 1792, and called the channel "Call's River", apparently after Sir John Call.

"... At point Warrior the river is divided into three branches; the middle one was the largest, about a quarter of a mile wide, and was considered as the main brach; the next most capacious took an easterly directions, and seemed extensive, to this the name of Rushleigh's River was given; and the other that stretched to the S. S. W. was distinguished by the name of Call's River. ..." [Broughton, October 28, 1792]

(Warrior Point is the downstream tip of Sauvie Island and "Rushleigh's River" is today's Lewis River.)

Lewis and Clark pass the mouth of the Multnomah Channel on November 5, 1805, and on their return on March 29, 1806, they refer to the Channel as "Wappato Inlet". On April 2, 1806, Captain Clark passes the head of Multnomah Channel as he explores the Willamette River (see above).

In 1841 Charles Wilkes and the U.S. Exploring Expedition used "Warrior Branch" because the channel joined the Columbia River at Warrior Point on Sauvie Island.

The 1858 "Report, The Superintendant of the Coast Survey Showing the Progress of the Survey During the Year 1858", U.S. Senate, calls the Multnomah Channel the "Warrior branch or slough of the Willamette" and states it is 2 miles long. The "Multnomah island" is today's Sauvie Island.

"... From the Cowlitz the next course of the Columbia is SE. 2/3 S. for 27 miles to the mouth of the Willamette river, about 16 miles above the Cowlitz. The Warrior branch or slough of the river makes in from the west side and runs around Multnomah island, coming into the Willamette two miles above its mouth. ..."

The channel also went by the name "Willamette Slough". In 1913 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made offical "Multnomah Channel".



Views ...

Image, 2005, Tualatin Mountainns, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tualatin Mountains and the Multnomah Channel. View from the Sauvie Island Bridge looking downstream on the Multnomah Channel. The Tualatin Mountains rise on the left. Image taken November 20, 2005.
Image, 2005, Multnomah Channel, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Multnomah Channel. View from Sauvie Island looking across to the Oregon mainland. The Multnomah Channel flows down the western side of Sauvie Island, and connects the Willamette River to the Columbia River. Image taken November 8, 2005.
Image, 2014, Multnomah Channel from Sauvie Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Multnomah Channel homes as seen from Sauvie Island, Oregon. The Multnomah Channel flows down the western side of Sauvie Island, and connects the Willamette River to the Columbia River. Image taken December 13, 2014.
Image, 2005, Multnomah Channel at Sauvie Island Bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Multnomah Channel homes near the Sauvie Island Bridge. Image taken November 20, 2005.


Multnomah Channel, etc.

  • One Overcast Day ...
  • Sauvie Island Boat Ramp ...
  • Sauvie Island Bridge ...
  • Scappoose Bay ...
  • Tip of Sauvie Island ...


One Overcast Day ...

Image, 2014, Multnomah Channel from Sauvie Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Multnomah Channel homes as seen from Sauvie Island, Oregon. The Multnomah Channel flows down the western side of Sauvie Island, and connects the Willamette River to the Columbia River. Image taken December 13, 2014.
Image, 2014, Multnomah Channel from Sauvie Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Multnomah Channel homes as seen from Sauvie Island, Oregon. The Multnomah Channel flows down the western side of Sauvie Island, and connects the Willamette River to the Columbia River. Image taken December 13, 2014.


Sauvie Island Boat Ramp ...
Sauvie Island Boat Ramp, on Multnomah Channel, is a Portland Metro Park, a boat ramp, and picnic area on the west side of Sauvie Island.
[More]

Image, 2005, Multnomah Channel, Sauvie Island Boat Ramp, Sauvie Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sauvie Island Boat Ramp on Multnomah Channel, Sauvie Island, Oregon. Image taken November 8, 2005.
Image, 2005, Multnomah Channel from Sauvie Island Boat Ramp, Sauvie Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Multnomah Channel, looking downstream, as seen from Sauvie Island Boat Ramp, Sauvie Island, Oregon. Image taken November 8, 2005.
Image, 2005, Multnomah Channel from Sauvie Island Boat Ramp, Sauvie Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Multnomah Channel, looking downstream, as seen from Sauvie Island Boat Ramp, Sauvie Island, Oregon. Image taken November 8, 2005.


Sauvie Island Bridge ...
In 1950 the Sauvie Island Bridge was constructed across Multnomah Channel, linking Sauvie Island with mainland Oregon. The replacement bridge is scheduled to open in 2008.
[More]

Image, 2008, Sauvie Island Bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Old Bridge and New Bridge, Sauvie Island Bridge, Sauvie Island, Oregon. Image taken February 23, 2008.


Scappoose Bay ...
Scappoose Bay is a side-channel to Multnomah Channel and merges with the channel approximately one mile before Multnomah Channel merges with the Columbia River. The Oregon community of St. Helens is situated in the Scappoose Bay watershed.
[More]

Image, 2004, Marina at Scappoose Bay, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Marina at Scappoose Bay, Oregon. Mount Adams, Washington, is in the distance. Image taken August 29, 2004.


Tip of Sauvie Island ...

Image, 2015, Mouth of the Multnomah Channel, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mouth of the Multnomah Channel as it merges into the Columbia River. View from St. Helens, Oregon, looking at the mouth of the Multnomah Channel. Warrier Point, Sauvie Island, is on the right and the Washington shore is across the Columbia. Image taken April 20, 2015.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 5, 1805 ...





Clark, March 29, 1806 ...





Clark, March 30, 1806 ...





Clark, April 2, 1806 ...




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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:
  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2005;
  • U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 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.
/Regions/Places/multnomah_channel.html
June 2015