Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Nelson Creek, Skamania County, Washington"
Includes ... Nelson Creek ... Rock Creek ...
Image, 2015, Nelson Creek, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Nelson Creek, Skamania County, Washington. (to come)

Nelson Creek ...
Nelson Creek, Skamania County, Washington, lies on the eastern side of the Washington town of Stevenson, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 151.5. Downstream is Rock Creek and Rock Cove and upstream is Souther Creek and Carson Creek. Further upstream is the Wind River.

Lewis and Clark and Nelson Creek ...
On October 30, 1805, Lewis and Clark spotted "... a large creek on the Stard. Side in the mouth of which is an Island, ...". Today historians say this was Rock Creek. However early on it was thought to be nearby Nelson Creek.

According to the "Sunday Oregonian", August 13, 1905:

"... Two and one half miles below Wind river the Lewis and Clark party came to a creek on the right, with an island in its mouth. This is now called Nelson creek, but the shifting sands have covered the rocky island spoken of at its mouth, closed up one of the channels, and is unrecognisable from the account given by the exploring party. ..."

Nelson Creek lies just under three miles downstream of the Wind River while Rock Creek lies approximately 4.5 miles downstream of Wind River. Captain Clark's first draft of October 30, 1805 places their "large Creek ... with an Island in the mouth" at 4 miles downstream of Wind River.

Nelson Creek, etc.

  • Nelson Creek Store for Sale, 1892 ...
  • Nelson Creek Flume, 1895 ...
  • Nelson Creek Lumber Company, 1902 ...

Nelson Creek Store for Sale, 1892 ...
Nelson Creek, Skamania County, Wash.

"A most fitting place for trade business in Cord Wood, etc. Por particulars apply to the postmaster Nelson post office, Washington."

Source:    "The Dalles Times-Mountaineer", August 6, 1892, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2015.

Nelson Creek Flume, 1895 ...
"Skamania Pioneer:   The new scow Thompson, is now taking on her first load of wood at the Nelson creek flume. She is a well built scow equipped with all the latest improvements, and is a credit to her builders. We understand that Capt. G.W. Thompson, well known on the river ever since scows have been run here, will have charge of her."

Source:    "The Dalles Weekly Chronicle", November 20, 1895, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2015.

Nelson Creek Lumber Company, 1902 ...
Skamania County:

"... Within the borders of this county are primeval forests of cedar, pine, hemlock, spruce and yellow and red fir, unmarred by the ax or saw. Only a few mills are in operation, the Oregon Lumber Company leading, from whose five miles of flume a continual stream of lumber pours into the Columbia River. The Storey & Keeler Lumber company will take the principal part of their logs from the Wind River Valley, having just completed in Wind River vast improvements at an outlay of thousands of dollars. This mill will have a capacity of 60,000 feet. Near Stevenson the Nelson Creek Company is in operation with a daily output of 25,000 feet. ..."

Source:    "Mourning Oregonian", January 1, 1902, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2015.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 30, 1805 (first draft) ...
[from Wind River]

S 45 W 2 miles to a large rock in the river, passed Several rocks and a large Sand bar on the Lard. Sid    verry large rock near the Stard. Side    High Mounts. on each Side, ruged and covd. with a variety of timber Such as Pine Spruce Seder Cottonwood Oake

S 30 W 4 miles to a Island, at the Commencement of the grand Shute and the Stard. Side where we Campd.    passed maney large rocks in the river ... a large Creek on the Std. Side at 2 miles, with an Island in the mouth.    passed 3 Islands on the Stard. one on the Lard above 2 Small Islands opsd. to us on which there growes 6 large Pine, 4 rock Islands which almost Chokes up the river --    a deep bay to th Stard. on which the Indians live in 8 large worm Houses    2 ponds back of this on the Stard 1 above Islands, one on the Lard. side. Several Small rocks -- indift. pts.

Clark, October 30, 1805 ...
A cool morning, a moderate rain all the last night, after eating a partial brackfast of venison we Set out [from their camp near Drano Lake and the Little White Salmon River]     passed Several places where the rocks projected into the river & have the appearance of haveing Seperated from the mountains and fallen promiscuisly into the river, Small nitches are formed in the banks below those projecting rocks which is comon in this part of the river, Saw 4 Cascades caused by Small Streams falling from the mountains on the Lard. Side,

[The possiblities in a two-mile area are - upstream to downstream - Starvation Creek and Falls, the seasonal Cabin Creek and Falls, Warren Creek and Falls, Wonder Creek and Lancaster Falls, Lindsey Creek and Falls, and Summit Creek and Falls.]

a remarkable circumstance in this part of the river is, the Stumps of pine trees [Submerged Forest]

[The Submerged Forest existed along the reach from above Dog Mountain/Viento Creek on the upstream edge and Wind Mountain/Shellrock Mountain on the downstream edge.]

are in maney places are at Some distance in the river, and gives every appearance of the rivers being damed up below from Some cause which I am not at this time acquainted with [Bonneville Landslide],     the Current of the river is also verry jentle not exceeding 1 1/2 mile pr. hour and about 3/4 of a mile in width. Some rain, we landed above the mouth of a Small river on the Stard. Side [Wind River] and Dined ...   :  here the river widens to about one mile large Sand bar in the middle, a Great [rock] both in and out of the water, large <round> Stones, or rocks are also permiscuisly Scattered about in the river, ...     this day we Saw Some fiew of the large Buzzard    Capt. Lewis Shot at one, those Buzzards are much larger than any other of ther Spece or the largest Eagle white under part of their wings &c. [California Condor] ...     The bottoms above the mouth of this little river [Wind River] <which we Call> is rich covered with grass & firn & is about 3/4 of a mile wide rich and rises gradually, below the river (which is 60 yards wide above its mouth) the Countery rises with Steep assent. we call this little river <fr Ash> New Timbered river from a Speces of Ash <that wood> which grows on its banks of a verry large and different from any we had before Seen, and a timber resembling the beech in bark <& groth> but different in its leaf which is Smaller and the tree smaller. passed maney large rocks in the river and a large creek on the Stard. Side in the mouth of which is an Island [Rock Creek near Stevenson, Washington], passed on the right of 3 Islands <on> near the Stard. Side, and landed on an Island close under the Stard. Side at the head of the great Shute [head of the Cascades Rapids], and a little below a village of 8 large houses on a Deep bend on the Stard. Side, and opposit 2 Small Islands imediately in the head of the Shute, which Islands are covered with Pine, maney large rocks also, in the head of the Shute. Ponds back of the houses, and Countrey low for a Short distance. The day proved Cloudy dark and disagreeable with Some rain all day which kept us wet. The Countary a high mountain on each Side thickly Covered with timber, Such as Spruc, Pine, Cedar, Oake Cotton &c. &c.     I took two men and walked down three miles to examine the Shute and river below proceeded along an old Indian path, passd. an old village at 1 mile [vicinity of Ice House Lake] ...     I found by examonation that we must make a portage of the greater perpotion of our Stores 2 1/2 miles, and the Canoes we Could haul over the rocks, I returned at Dark ...     a wet disagreeable evening, the only wood we could get to burn on this little Island on which we have encamped [near Ashes Lake, the island is now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir. Ashes Lake was near the head of the Cascade Rapids. Across from Ashes Lake is Cascade Locks, Oregon.] is the newly discovered Ash, which makes a tolerable fire. we made fifteen miles to daye

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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

  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2015;

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 2015