Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"'With Lewis and Clark, From Celilo to the Sea', Oregon Sunday Journal, August 13, 1905"
Includes ... Oregon Sunday Journal ... Oregon Daily Journal ...
Image, 2010, Beacon Rock, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Beacon Rock, Washington, as seen from boat dock. Beacon Rock is a large 840-foot-high basalt plug. The Missoula Floods eroded away the softer outer material. View from Beacon Rock boat dock. Pierce National Wildlife Refuge is at the waters edge. Image taken November 2, 2010.

"With Lewis and Clark, From Celilo to the Sea" ...
   Oregon Sunday Journal, August 13, 1905 ...

"Nobody is better qualified to give an accurate account of the journey of Lewis and Clark and their party 100 years ago than Frank J. Smith, who has twice made the identical journey by canoe, following with painstaking accuracy the route of the explorers, camping where they camped, using portage, walking and following down to the trifling details every point of their journey. In addition to these trips, which have never been attempted by any one else since the explorers, Mr. Smith has spent 30 years on the river, has given weeks and months to personal visits to the camping places of the explorers and has familiarised himself with every foot of ground over which the party traveled. The first of the series of three articles which he has prepared on the explorers' journey from Celilo to the sea was published in The Sunday Journal magazine of August 6. Following is the second of the series:

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. The journal states after passing Nelson creek that just below this creek they passed, along the right side of three small islands on the right bank of the river, with a larger island on the opposite side, and landed on an island very near the right shore at the head of the great shoot, and opposite two smaller islands at the fall or shoot itself. The island that they encamped upon is a picturesque spot near the Washington shore, near where the old portage wharf boat used to be moored, while the three islands spoken of as being on the right bank of the river above have nearly succumbed to the raging torrents that annually sweep down the river and today are merely rock and sand banks, appearing above the surface. The three mentioned are now known as the two Sullivan islands and Little Memaloose.

Above the spot where these islands are situated is now the village of Stevenson, the county seat of Skamania county. The large island spoken of on the opposite side has passed out of existence, and only a sandbar extending out from the Oregon shore marks the spot. The journal states that the party had made 15 miles that day, while the river surveys now give it as 16.

During this, their last two days' journey on the middle Columbia, they made mention of some of the prominent points that they had passed, but many that have become noted landmarks to the thousands of tourists that pass up and down the river annually were either unobserved or thought unworthy of special mention. Between their camp at Crates Point and the Klickitat river on the Washington shore are the first points that are from a scenic standpoint beautiful and awe-inspiring. The first is what is known as the Devil's slide. High up the mountain side is a chute extending from the top of the mountain to the river below; for a portion of the way it is lined on either side by huge slabs of basalt many feet in thickness. Immediately below, on the same side of the river, is what is commonly known as Grant's castle, a towering, massive reproduction of the castles of feudal days. It rests on a shelf of the mountain, 300 feet above the river, while the roof of its watch-tower, six stories above, is 800 feet above the surface of the waters below. Nature has been lavish with this colossal structure, painting it a steel gray, green foliage of the cliffs adjoining; windows, portholes and terraces are also given it, all of which combined make it look at first glance as if it had been built by the hand of man.

Sacajawea's Statue.

The next point of interest is what is known as Squaw rock, or Sacajawea's statue. High up on a basaltic cliff, hundreds of feet above the water's edge, stands, solitary and alone, a perfect image of a woman with her babe slung on her back in the position the early Indian women carried their infants. The image is hewn out by the forces of nature, seemingly with great care, for from the decks of passing steamers may be seen the flowing tresses, short dress, blanket and profile of mother and child outlined against the sky. In the evening the setting sun casts its rays upon this spot, bringing out in bold relief the image of Sacajawea and her child facing the west, the goal of 100 years ago. Of the many rocks in the Columbia gorge resembling man, bird and beast, this rock is the nearest perfection.

One half mile farther down the stream and just below the mouth of the Klickitat river is Memaloose castle. Memaloose castle, a counterpart of Grant's castle, shows the effects of the elements to a greater degree; the top has crumbled away, and falling on the terraces below ahs given to it a dome shape, while the body of the castle still holds its shape. In coming up stream the castles are indistinct, and can hardly be located by those who have never before seen them, but while immediately opposite and above they are clearly outlined and are readily found by the passing tourist.

The Coming of the White Man.

After landing on the island at the head of the rapids Captain Lewis went with five men to the village, which was situated just below where the town of Stevenson is now located, and secured of them berries, nuts and fish. Captain Clark went down the rapids to locate the best route for a portage. He followed an Indian path for about one mile, and came to a village on an elevated situation, the houses of which had been large, but built in a different form from any that he had yet seen. The greater part of their houses had been taken down and placed in a pond to destroy the vermin that infested them. The spot where the village was situated is now occupied by an icehouse, built by the O. R. & N. Co. in the early '60s, and can be plainly seen from the river, while the pond spoken of is now called Icehouse lake.

After going about three miles Lewis [in error, Clark] returned to camp, owing to the lateness of the hour. The following morning he again walked down the river, proceeding along the same path of the evening before, which led him through a thick wood and along a hillside, till two and one half miles from the camp he struck the river at the place the Indians made their portage to the head of the rapids, now known as Sheridan's point. About a half a mile below this point, at what is known as Middle landing, he came to a house, the only remnant of a town which, from its appearance, was very ancient.

Ancient Place of Burial.

(to come)

At Garrison Rapids.

After examining this place Captain Clark went on, and found the river as before strewn with large rocks, against which the water ran with great rapidity. Just below the vaults the mountain, which is low on the right side, leaves the river and is succeeded by an open stony level, which extends down the river, while on the left the mountain is still high and rugged. At one and a half miles distant he came to a village of four houses, which were then vacant and the doors barred up; on looking in he saw the usual quantity of utensils still remaining, from which he concluded that the inhabitants were at no great distance, collecting roots or hunting, in order to lay in their food supply for the winter. He left them and went on about two miles to a difficult rocky rapid, which was the last in view. The spot on which this village was located is now known as Moffitt's Landing; the rapid below is known as Garrison rapids. Here on the right are the remains of a large and ancient village, which can be plainly traced by the holes for the houses, and for the fish. After he had examined these rapids and the neighboring country he returned to camp by the route by which he came. The only game he had obtained was a sandhill crane.

Passing the Rapids.

November 1 the party began the task of taking the canoes over the rapids. This they did by skidding their canoes on poles laid on the rocks to the foot of the main rapids; carrying their goods along the rocks, they embarked again. They spoke of a bad rapid opposite an old village, now known as Umatilla reef, which today has lost its terrors, having been partly blown out by the government. After passing this they spoke of a high rock at the head of an island near the left shore, which is now known as Squaw island, at the head of Bradford's island. Passing this, they proceeded on to the rapid below, where they camped for the night. They spoke of Bradford's island as being about three miles long, while the distance is now only a short two miles. The meridian altitude gave them the latitude of their camp as 45 degrees 44 minutes 3 seconds north. Near their camp was an Indian village, the occupants of which were inferior to those seen above the rapids.

One the following morning, November 2, examined Garrison rapids and found it too dangerous to pass with loaded canoes, so they sent the baggage by land. At this point the channel was obstructed by rocks reaching over 30 feet out of the water, but which have since been removed, greatly improving the channel.

After leaving the foot of Garrison rapids they passed the upper point of an island, which they named Strawberry island; on account of the many strawberry-vines that they saw upon it. This is now known as Hamilton island. At this place they first noticed the tidewater. The small islands below Hamilton's -- now called Ives and Mosquito islands -- also are mentioned.

At Castle Rock.

Castle rock they mentioned as a high perpendicular rock about 800 feet high and about 400 yards around, which they called Beacon rock. The height of the rock was underrated, as the test of an aneroid on the summit gives it as 1,146 feet, while its base covers 13.4 acres. Just below the rock they spoke of an Indian village of nine houses between two creeks. The spot is now known as Butler's island. A small stream coming in from the hills empties in the swampy ground between the island and the Washington shore, with an outlet above and below the island. On this island many relics have been unearthed in such quantities that it is evident that in the past this has been an exceedingly large village.

Four miles below the village at Butler's island the explorers spoke of a point of land on the right, where the hills become lower but are still thickly timbered. This is now known as Archer point, opposite Oneonta gorge, and adjacent to Archer mountain.

Lone Rock Was Phoca Rock.

(to come)

At the Sandy.

(to come)

Near Portland's Site.

(to come)

Source:    Oregon Sunday Journal, August 13, 1905, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2015.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...

Columbia River GorgeReturn to

*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 Newspaper 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.
July 2015