Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Oak Point, Washington and Oak Point, Oregon"
Includes ... Oak Point, Washington ... Oak Point, Oregon ...
Image, 2007, Oak Point, Washington, from Mill Creek, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Oak Point, Washington, from Mill Creek. View from car driving west on Washington State Highway 4. The Columbia River is on the left. Image taken January 28, 2007.


Oak Point ...
Oak Point, Washington, is located on the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 54, fourteen miles west of Longview, Washington. On the eastern side of Oak Point winds Mill Creek, and just upstream is Abernethy Creek. Across from Oak Point is the former Oak Point, Oregon, the location of today's Port Westward. Also on the Oregon shore across from Oak Point, Washington, is the lower end of Bradbury Slough and the lower tip of Crims Island. Downstream from Oak Point, Washington, is County Line Park and Eagle Cliff.

Early Oak Point(s) ...
On October 28, 1792, Lieutenant Broughton of the George Vancouver Expedition named a place "Oak Point" on the Oregon side of the Columbia River near today's town of St. Helens, Oregon, near Caples Landing.

On March 26, 1806, the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through this area and Captain Lewis entered a comment in his journal about the oak trees on the tip of "Fannys Bottom", today the location of Port Westward on the Clatskanie River/Beaver Slough delta.

"... after dinner we proceeded on and passed an Elegant and extensive bottom on the South side and an island near it's upper point which we call Fanny's Island and bottom. the greater part of the bottom is a high dry prarie.   near the river towards the upper point we saw a fine grove of whiteoak trees ..." [Lewis, March 26, 1806]

On June 1, 1810, Nathan Winship, William Smith, and others of the Winship expedition on the ship Albatross came upon this (???) grove of oak trees on the south bank of the Columbia River, and named the locality "Oak Point". This point was west of and across Bradbury Slough from the west end of Crims Island, the location of today's Port Westward.

In 1841, Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition charted this Oregon Oak Point on his maps.

A few years after Wilkes, George Abernethy established a mill on the Washington side of the Columbia River and used the name "Oak Point". Oak Point has remained on the Washington side of the Columbia River ever since.


Image, 2012, Port Westward, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Port Westward, Oregon, once known as "Oak Point", looking across to today's Oak Point, Washington. Image taken August 27, 2012.


Road ...
"A Legislative act of 1866 made provision for a road from Cathlamet to Oak Point, but it was not until amany years later that this road was completed. Records show that sections of this highway were completed in 1928 and 1929."


Source:    Washington State Department of Transportation website, 2015, "History of Roads & Highways in the State of Washington.

Oregon White Oak ...
Lewis and Clark are given credit for "discovering" the Oregon White Oak. On October 20, 1805, Lewis and Clark first came saw the acorns of the Oregon White Oak in an Indian Lodge near Roosevelt, Washington, and were informed they were collected from the Celilo Falls area. It wasn't until the return trip however that Captain Lewis collected a sample of the oak to include in the expedition's botanical collection. Records show he collected the sample on March 26, 1806, at which time the men were below the mouth of the Cowlitz River. Explorers and traveleres called the oak grove at "Fanny's Bottom" - today's Clatskanie River floodplain - "Oak Point" for many years until the name became associated with a spot on the north side of the Columbia River.
[More]

Basalt Cliff ...
A massive basalt cliff on the Washington side of the Columbia River marks "Oak Point".

Image, 2005, Oak Point, Washington, from Bradbury Slough, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Oak Point, Washington, from Bradbury Slough, Oregon. Image taken February 21, 2005.
Image, 2003, Oak Point, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Basalt cliff below Oak Point, Washington. Image taken November 9, 2003.
Image, 2003, Oak Point basalt cliff, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Weathered basalt cliff below Oak Point. Image taken November 9, 2003.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 6, 1805, first draft ...
a cold wet morning. rain Contd. untill [blank] oClock     we Set out early [from Prescott Beach, Oregon, area] & proceeded on the Corse of last night &c.

N. 50 W. 1 mile
on the Lard. Side under Some high land.    bold rockey Shore

N. 60 W. 1 mile
under a bold rockey Shore on the Lard Side, opsd. the upper point of a Island [Cottonwood Island] close under the Stard Side the high lands closeing the river on that Side [Carrolls Bluff]    above river wide


N. 75 W. 12 miles
to a point of high land on the Lard Side, passed two Lodges on the Lard Side at 2 miles in a bottom, The high land [Carrolls Bluff] leave The river on the Stard. Side.    passd. a remarkable Knob of high land on the Stard. Side at 3 miles Close on the Waters edge [Mount Coffin, Lewis and Clark missed the Cowlitz River mouth] ...    passed a Island nearest the Lard. Side at 10 mile [Walker Island] the head of a Isd. on Std. [Fisher Island] opposit High Cliffs [Green Point, location of today's Mayger, Oregon], with Several Speces of Pine Cedars &c. arber vita & different Species of under groth.

N. 80 W. 2 miles
under a high clift on the Lard Side [Green Point, location of today's Mayger Island]     the lower point of the Island on Stard. [Fisher Island] opposit those hills are Covered thickly ...

N. 88 W. 5 miles
to a high Clift a little below an old village in the Stard. bend [possibly Bunker Hill, the location of today's Stella, Washington] and opposit an old village on a Lard. point of a handsom & extensive bottom [Beaver Slough/Clatskanie River bottom].     passed a Island in the middle of the river 3 miles long and one wide [Crims Island], passed a Small Island Close on the Stard. Side [Gull Island] & a lower point of a former Isld. below which the lands high & with Clifts to the river Stard. Side

S. 45 W. 5 miles
under a Clift of verry high land on the Stard. side [possibly the Oak Point and Eagle Cliff area] wind high a head. ...

S. 50 W. 1 mile
under a high rockey Hill of pine. The Indians leave us, Steep assent, Som Clifts

S. 75 W. 1 mile
under a high hill with a bold rocky Shore, high assent     river about 1 mile wide

West 1 mile
under a high Steep hill bold rockey Shore, Encampd under the hill on Stones [near Cape Horn of Wahkiakum County] Scercely land Sufficent between the hills and river Clear of the tide for us to lie. Cloudy & rain all wet and disagreeable. this evening made large fires on the Stones and dried our bedding. ...



Clark, November 6, 1805 ...
A cool wet raney morning we Set out [from their camp at Prescott Beach] early at 4 miles pass 2 Lodges of Indians in a Small bottom on the Lard Side I believe those Indians to be travelers. opposit is <the head of a long narrow Island close under the Starboard Side [Cottonwood Island], back of this Island two Creeks fall in about 6 miles apart,> [Cowlitz River delta, Longview, Washington. Today the "two Creeks" are the Cowlitz River and Coal Creek Slough.] and appear to head in the high hilley countrey to the N. E. opposit <this long Island is 2 others one Small and about the middle of the river> the other larger and nearly opposit its lower point [today the location of Walker Island and Lord Island complex], and opposit a high clift of Black rocks [Green Point, location of Mayger, Oregon] on the Lard. Side at 14 miles; ...     here the hills leave the river on the Lard. Side, a butifull open and extensive bottom [Clatskanie River delta] in which there is an old Village, one also on the Stard. Side a little above both of which are abandened by all their inhabitents except Two Small dogs nearly Starved, and an unreasonable portion of flees The Hills and mountains are covered with Sever kinds of Pine ...     Some willow on the waters edge,   passed an Island 3 miles long and one mile wide [Crims Island ... Crims Island is separated from the Oregon shore by the Bradbury Slough.], <one> close under the Stard. Side below the <long narrow Island> below which the Stard Hills are verry from the river bank and Continues high and rugid on that Side all day, ... [Lewis and Clark pass, but do not mention today's Germany Creek, Abernethy Creek, and Mill Creek]     we came too to Dine on the long narrow Island [Crims Island] found the woods So thick with under groth that the hunters could not get any distance into the Isld. ...     river about one mile wide hills high and Steep on the Std. [cliffs of Oak Point] no place for several Miles suffcently large and leavil for our camp we at length Landed at a place [Eagle Cliff and Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County] which by moveing the Stones we made a place Sufficently large for the party to lie leavil on the Smaller Stones Clear of the Tide     Cloudy with rain all day we are all wet and disagreeable, had large fires made on the Stone and dried our bedding and Kill the flees, which collected in our blankets at every old village we encamped near     I had like to have forgotten a verry remarkable Knob [Mount Coffin, Longview, Washington, now destroyed] riseing from the edge of the water to about 80 feet high, and about 200 paces around at its Base and Situated <on the long narrow Island> [Longview, Washington area, the Cowlitz River delta] above and nearly opposit to the 2 Lodges we passed to day, it is Some distance from the high land & in a low part of the Island [Cowlitz River delta]






Clark, March 26, 1806 ...
The wind blew So hard untill 8 A M. that we detained [at their camp on the Clatskanie River/Beaver Slough, across from the upstream tip of Wallace Island], we gave a Medal [Jefferson Peace Medals] to a Man by the name of Wal-lal-le a principal man among the Cath lah mahs, he appeared very thankfull for the honor Confured on him and presented us with a large Sturgion [Columbia River White Sturgeon]. we Continued our rout up the river to an old Village on the South Side where we halted for dinner. we met on the way the principal Chief of the Cathlahmahs, Sh-hh-wh-cop, who had been up the river on a trading voyage, he gave us some Wappato and fish, we also purchased Some Wappato Soon after halted for dinner at an Old Village <at> on the South point [today's Port Westward, originally was called "Oak Point"] opposit the lower pt. of Fannys Island [Crims Island]. ...     here our hunters joined us haveing killed 3 Eagles and a large Wild goose. I had now an oppertunity of Comparing the bald <and> with the grey Eagle; I found the grey Eagle about 1/4 largest, its legs and feet were dark which those of the bald eagle were of a fine orrange yellow; the iris of the eye is also of a dark yellowish brown, while that of the Grey is of a light Silvery colour with a Slight admixture of yellow.     after dinner I walked on Shore through an eligant bottom on the South Side [Clatskanie River/Beaver Slough Delta] opposit to Fannys Island [Crims Island]. This bottom we also Call fannys bottom it is extensive and an open leavel plain except near the river bank which is high dry rich oak land [Oak Point]. I saw Some deer & Elk at a distance in the Prarie. we continued untill late in the evening and encamped on a Small Island near the Middle of the river [Walker Island] haveing made 18 Miles. 2 Indians Visited us this evining.



Lewis, March 26, 1806 ...
after dinner we proceeded on and passed an Elegant and extensive bottom on the South side and an island near it's upper point which we call Fanny's Island [Crims Island, the "upper point" is today's Port Westward] and bottom [Clatskanie River/Beaver Slough delta] .     the greater part of the bottom is a high dry prarie. near the river towards the upper point we saw a fine grove of whiteoak trees [Oak Point, Oregon]; we saw some deer and Elk at a distance in the prarie, but did not delay for the purpose of hunting them. we continued our rout after dinner untill late in the evening and encamped on the next island [Walker Island] above fanny's Island [Crims Island]; we found it difficult to obtain as much wood as answered our purposes.





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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:    Hitchman, R., 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society;    McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2004, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;    Washington State Department of Transportation website, 2015, "History of Roads & Highways in the State of Washington;   

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 2011