Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Point Ellice, Washington"
Includes ... Point Ellice ... "Point Distress" ... "blustering point" ... Astoria-Megler Bridge ...
Image, 2005, Point Ellice from Megler Rest Area, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Point Ellice, Washington. View from Megler Rest Area off of Washington Highway 401. Image taken November 9, 2005.


Point Ellice ...
Point Ellice is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 14, and is the Washington State end of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Upstream of Point Ellice is Megler, the location of Lewis and Clark's "dismal nitch" campsite. Downstream is McGowan, the location of Lewis and Clark's "Station Camp" campsite, where the men spent 10 days in November 1805.

Image, 2004, Astoria-Megler Bridge and Point Ellice, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Astoria-Megler Bridge and Point Ellice, Washington. View from Megler Rest Area. Image taken April 9, 2004.


Lewis and Clark and Point Ellice ...
In 1805 because of bad weather, Lewis and Clark were forced to camp for 5 days on the east side of Point Ellice in the Megler area, before being able to round the point and set up camp on a sandy beach which they would name Station Camp. The men called Point Ellice "Point Distress", "Stormy Point", and "Blustering Point".
"... fortunately the wind lay about 3 oClock     we loaded I in great haste and Set out     passed the blustering Point below which is a Sand beech, with a Small marshey bottom for 3 miles on the Stard. Side, on which is a large village of 36 houses deserted by the Inds. & in full possession of the flees, a Small Creek fall in at this village, which waters the Country for a few miles back; ... The tide meeting of me and the emence Swells from the main Ocean (imedeately in front of us) raised to Such a hite that I concluded to form a Camp on the highest Spot I could find in the marshey bottom, and proceed no further by water ..." [Clark, November 15, 1805, first draft]

"... About 3 oClock the wind luled, and the river became calm, I had the canoes loaded in great haste and Set Out, from this dismal nitch where we have been confined for 6 days passed, without the possibility of proceeding on ... proceeded on passed the blustering point below which I found a butifull Sand beech thro which runs a Small     below the mouth of this Stream is a villge of 36 houses uninhabited by anything except flees ... as the tide was Comeing in and the Seas became verry high imediately from the Ocian (imediately faceing us) I landed and formed a camp on the highest Spot I could find between the hight of the tides and the Slashers in a Samll bottom ..." [Clark, November 15, 1805]

Image, 2004, Point Ellice from Megler Rest Area, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Point Ellice, Washington. View from Megler Rest Area off of Washington Highway 401. Image taken April 9, 2004.


Point Ellice from Astoria, Oregon ...

Image, 2004, Point Ellice from Astoria, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Point Ellice, Washington, as seen from Astoria, Oregon. Point Ellice is the Washington end of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Image taken June 16, 2004.
Image, 2003, Across the Columbia River towards Point Ellice, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Across the Columbia River towards Point Ellice, Washington. Point Ellice is barely visible where the Astoria-Megler Bridge reaches the Washington shore. View from near Astoria Marina, Astoria, Oregon. Image taken August 2, 2003.
Image, 2005, Astoria-Megler Bridge, Washington side, from Coxcomb Hill, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Astoria-Megler Bridge, Washington side, and Point Ellice. View from Coxcomb Hill, Astoria, Oregon. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Astoria-Megler Bridge ...
Construction on the the Astoria-Megler Bridge was begun in 1962, completed in 1966, and formally dedicated August 27, 1966. It stretches 4.1 miles (21,474 feet) from Astoria, Oregon, across the mouth of the Columbia River, to Point Ellice, Washington.
[More]

Image, 2004, Astoria-Megler Bridge, from near Station Camp, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Astoria-Megler Bridge, as seen from near Station Camp. Point Ellice is to the left. Image taken April 9, 2004.


Early Point Ellice ...
Point Ellice was named by fur traders of the North West Company to honor Edward Ellice, a London agent of the company, who, in 1821, was instrumental in combining the North West Company with the Hudson's Bay Company. The point's Chinookan name was "Kah-eese". It also went by the Indian name "No-wehtl-kai-ilse".

In 1825 David Douglas mapped the point as "Point Ellice".

In 1839 Sir Edward Belcher of the British Admiralty Survey, called the point "Ellis Point".

In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition used "Point Ellice".


From the "Coast Pilots" ...
From the 1869 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot":

"... Point Ellice, on the northern side of the river, is two and three-quarters miles nearly east of Chinook Point; the sand beach between the two being in some places nearly a mile wide, running at the base of the hills, and surrounding a large lagoon near Chinook. From Point Adams it bears northeast, distant fourn and a third miles. Behind Point Ellice rise two hills, the southern of which is used as a range with Point Adams for denoting the entrance to the south channel, but, or course, the relative positions vary with every change of the bar. It was called Ellis Point by Belcher in 1839, and Point Ellice by the United States exploring expedition in 1841, and this spelling is found upon all recent maps, being named after Edward Ellice, then one of the directors of the Hudson Bay Company. The Indian name is No-wehtl-kai-ilse. ..."


View from Point Ellice ...

Image, 2004, Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens from Point Ellice, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens, as seen from Point Ellice, Washington. View from Point Ellice just east of the Astoria-Megler Bridge on-ramp. Image taken June 16, 2004.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 15, 1805 ...
Rained all the last night, this morning it became Calm and fair, I preposed Setting out [from their camp at Megler Cove, near Megler Rest Area], and ordered the Canoes Repared and loaded; before we could load our canoes the wind Sudenly Sprung up from the S.E. and blew with Such violence, that we could not proceed in Safty with the loading.     I proceeded to the point [Point Ellice] in an empty Canoe, and found that the waves dashed against the rocks with Such violence that I thought it unsave to Set out with the loaded Canoes -- The Sun Shown untill 1 oClock P M which ... About 3 oClock the wind luled, and the river became calm, I had the canoes loaded in great haste and Set Out, from this dismal nitich where we have been confined for 6 days passed [Megler area] ...     proceeded on passed the blustering point [Point Ellice] below which I found a butifull Sand beech thro which runs a Small     below the mouth of this Stream is a village of 36 houses uninhabited by anything except flees ...     as the tide was Comeing in and the Seas became verry high imediately from the Ocian (imediately faceing us) I landed and formed a camp on the highest Spot I could find between the hight of the tides, and the Slashers in a Small bottom [Station Camp, McGowan, Washington]     this I could plainly See would be the extent of our journey by water, as the waves were too high at any Stage for our Canoes to proceed any further down.     in full view of the Ocian from Point Adams to Cape Disapointment [Cape Disappointment], I could not See any Island in the mouth of this river as laid down by Vancouver. The Bay which he laies down in the mouth is imediately below me [Baker Bay]. This Bay we call Haleys bay from a favourate Trader with the Indians which they Say comes into this Bay and trades with them     Course to Point adams is S. 35o W. about 8 miles     To Cape Disapointment is S. 86o W. about 14 miles ... our men all Comfortable in their Camps which they have made of boards from the old Village above.     we made 3 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: Hay, K.G., 2004, The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail, Timber Press, Portland; Hitchman, R., 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society; NOAA website, U.S. Coast Pilot of California, Oregon, and Washington Territory - Pacific Coast, 1869, by George Davidson, Assistant, United States Coast Survey; Washington State Historical Society website, 2004, "Lasting Legacy".

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 2008