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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Oregon Portage Road, 1856 ... "
Includes ...
Image, 2014, Path, Oregon Portage Road, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
East path leading to old remnant Oregon's 1850s portage road. Image taken June 5, 2014.


1856 Oregon Portage Road ...
A portion of the early 1856 Oregon portage road around the Cascade Rapids still exists today. Both the east and west end of this remnant can be reached from the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail between Eagle Creek and the Toothrock Trailhead, east of Tanner Creek.

Early Portage around the Cascade Rapids ...
Until the Cascade Canal and Locks opened in 1896, folks traveling up and down the Columbia River had to portage around the Cascade Rapids. Carts, trams, wagons, railroads, and military roads developed, with each end of the portage connected to Steamboats.
[More]

1855-1862 ... Kilborn, Ruckel, Olmstead, and the Oregon Portage around the Cascade Rapids ...
In 1855 W.R. Kilborn built a portage road on the south side of the Cascade Rapids. Joseph Ruckel and Harrison Olmstead then took over operations and improved the road.

"Rather than following the water level, later used by the railroad portage, the original wagon road around the Cascades, climbed 425 feet, a steep ascent for the plodding oxen used to draw cumbersome wagons." [Federal Writers' Project, 1940]

"The advantages of the newly constructed portage road were set out in the ... advertisement which ran for a short time in the Portland Weekly Oregonian, commencing with the issue of February 9, 1856, and a news item in that issue stated that "a new road around the portage of the Cascades on the Oregon side has been completed and goods are now being transported on this side with safety and dispatch." [Gill, 1924]

By 1858 or early 1859 a lower level road known as the "Oregon Portage Railroad", constructed entirely of wood, began operation at the base of Toothrock.

"The Oregon Portage Railroad was built over the small rocky elevation which marks the eastern end of the present Bonneville station grounds, through which barrier the Union Pacific trains now dash. Between this point and the western bank of Eagle Creek the traveler passes the Tooth rock, whose base was then washed by the Columbia at least during flood stages, and this depression was crossed by a heavily built trestle where today is a solid embankment ...   It is not clear at what time the Oregon Portage Railroad was first operated, but it seems a fair conclusion that it was in use late in 1858 or early in 1859, the next reference to it which has been found being included in the Portland Advertiser of June 14, 1859. Speaking of unusual high water in the Columbia river this newspaper records that "at the Cascades the water has risen above the mark of 1853, and swept off about 300 feet of Ruckel and Olmstead's Rail Road near the upper warehouse and all of the bridge around the Big Tooth near the Lower Landing." [Gill, 1924]

According to Gill (1924):

"During the winter of 1860-61, the owners of the Oregon Portage Railroad were repairing the line because of the damage occurring in the 1859 rise of the Columbia river ..." "The Portland Daily Oregonian of May 28, 1861, told the news that "The railroad on the Oregon side was finished last week and cars passed over it. All the transportation will now be done over this road." [Gill, 1924]

In 1862 the Oregon Steam Navigation Company "absorbed the rival portages" and built a new portage on the north side which opened in April 1863. [Scott, 1917]


Location ...

Image, 2014, Oregon Portage Road, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
GPS, west path leading to old remnant Oregon's 1850s portage road. Image taken June 5, 2014.


N 45° 38' 10.0"
W 121° 56' 34.4"
Image, 2014, Oregon Portage Road, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
GPS, east path leading to old remnant Oregon's 1850s portage road. Image taken June 5, 2014.


N 45° 38' 29.1"
W 121° 55' 34.6"

... NOTES ...


From:
Wm. H. McNeal, 1953 ...

"[Samuel Lancaster said:] 'The first wagon road on the Oregon side of the Columbia river was completed Feb. 9, 1856 and ran from Bonneville to the Cascades.'"

Source:    Wm. H. McNeal, 1953, "History of Wasco County, Oregon"


From:
National Register for Historic Places Registration Form, Columbia River Highway, 2000 ...
"The first wagon road in the Gorge ran from the town of Bonneville to the site of the future Cascade Locks -- a distance of six miles -- and was completed in 1856. It climbed to an elevation of over 400 feet on steep grades around a portage at the Cascades of the Columbia River. This road only ran a short distance, however, and met the needs of a select few. Journeys on it, carrying supplies from Fort Vancouver to men stationed east of the Cascade Mountains, proved onerous."

Source:    USDI/NPS National Register for Historic Places Registration Form, Columbia River Highway, 2000.


From:
Federal Writers' Project, 1940 ...

"... in 1846 all travelers seeking passage to the lower Columbia or Willamette Valleys halted at The Dalles, dismembered their wagons, loaded them upon rafts, and steering the rude barges down the Colubia to the Cascades, docked at the Cascades and portaged wagons and goods around the dangerous white water. Ropes, used as shorelines, guided the rafts to safety.

The Columbia River water route continued popular both for passengers and for freight, and a portage road was constructed in 1856 to accommodate traffic. Rather than following the water level, later used by the railroad portage, the original wagon road around the Cascades, climbed 425 feet, a steep ascent for the plodding oxen used to draw cumbersome wagons. Toll roads later permitted the passage of cattle and pack trains, but it was not until 1872 that the Oregon legislature made a appropriation to construct a road through the gorge. The present highway has been developed from the narrow, crooked road built with that appropriation. A serious barrier to quantity freight transportation during the era when mining booms in Idaho and eastern Oregon made steamboat transportation on the Columbia a huge business, the Cascades were again mastered, this time at water level by a wooden-railed portage tramway over which mule-drawn cars, laden with merchandise, rattled from one waiting steamer to another. This proved so profitable a venture that steel rails replaced the wooden ones, and the Oregon Pony, first steel locomotive to operate in Oregon and now on exhibition at the Union Station grounds in Portland, was imported to draw the cars. The importance of the Columbia River as a traffic artery being established, the locks were later built by the Federal Government."

Source:    Federal Writers' Project, 1940, "Oregon: End of the Trail".



From:
S.C. Lancaster and others, 1915 ...

"The first wagon road on the Oregon side of the river was completed on February 9th, 1856. It was less than six miles in length and ran from Bonneville to the Cascade Locks, passing over the top of a point of rock. The Portage Railroad was built at the base of this rock, which is the divide in the Cascade Range. The pioneer wagon road climbed to an elevation of four hundred and twenty-five feet on very steep grades to get by this difficult point. The new Columbia River Highway, which has no grade heavier than five per cent, passes around this point above the railroad, and below the old wagon road, at an elevation of two hundred and forty-five feet.

Although diligent search was made, no record could be found that would show exactly who built this first road. A news item in the "Oregonian" of February 9th, 1856, reads: "We are informed that a new road around the portage of the Cascadaes, on the Oregon side, has been completed and that goods are now being transported over this road with safety and dispatch." On the same date an article appeared in the "Oregonian" calling attention to the fact that W.R. Kilborn, who resided at the Lower Cascades, on the Oregon side, had perfected "arrangements for the transportation of freight over the portage at the Cascades on the Oregon side." Continuing, Mr. Kilborn said, "The road is now in complete order and my teams will always be in readiness."

The records in the United States Land Office at Portland show this road to have been in existence in 1859, just as it now is."

Source:    Samuel Christopher Lancaster, and others, 1915, "The Columbia: America's Great Highway Through the Cascade Mountains to the Sea, p.102-105.



From:
Leslie Scott, 1917 ...

"F.A. Chenoweth built a portage tram road at Cascades (north side) in 1850 (P.W. Gillette in Quarterly, vol.v, p.121). The Bradford brothers (D.F. and P.F.) rebuilt the road in 1856. In the latter year W.R. Kilborn built a rival portage on the south bank, which was rebuilt and improved by J.S. Ruckle and H. Olmsted in May, 1861. The Oregon Steam Navigation Company absorbed the rival portages in 1862 and built a new portage on the north side in 1862-63 (opened April 20, 1863), six miles long. The Celilo portage was a wagon road until the Oregon Steam Navigation Company finished a portage railroad, thirteen miles long, April 23, 1863."

Source:    Leslie M. Scott, 1917, The Pioneer Stimulus of Gold, IN: The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, 1917.


From:
Frank B. Gill, 1924 ...

Source:    Frank B. Gill, 1924, "Oregon's First Railway, The Oregon Portage Railroad at the Cascades of the Columbia River", IN: "The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society", Vol.XXV, No.3, September, 1924.

(Note: this text is as written by Frank Gill, but has been reformatted into outline format for this webpage. Not all paragraphs from original are presented here. Bold highlighted headings are not in the original but were added for this webpage. Frank Gill's references have been inserted within the text instead of at the bottom of the page as he placed them.)

A Foreword:

  • "In gathering the material for this article the author has confined himself almost wholly to two sources, the local newspapers of the period, which, happily, have in large part been preserved, and the records of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company. Together with these I have had the benefit of the personal recollections of John W. Stevenson and his sister, Mrs. Barbara A. Bailey, who have lived in western Oregon since 1853 and were both identified with the Oregon Portage Railroad and the sawmill operated in connection with it, for a period of six or seven years. ...

    There seem to be no records extant, of those kept by Joseph S. Ruckel and Harrison Olmstead, the builders of Oregon's first railroad, or of their early contemporaries in the field of transportation.

    I have not hesitated to call the Oregon Portage line the first railroad in Oregon, because the only prior construction to which the designation of "railroad" ...

    When the Bradford railroad on the north or right bank of the Columbia river was built, in 1851, this was in Oregon Territory, but as so very shortly afterward, the national government set up Washington Territory out of what had been North Oregon, the writer has considered it only consistent with the facts to speak of that means of transportation as the first railroad in Washington, and the first on the Pacific slope. ..."



1855-1857, Portage Road:

  • "... The Fashion began again on a regular schedule shortly after the middle of July, 1855, at first twice a week, but later triweekly, between Portland and the Cascades (Oregon Weekly Times, July 21, 1855); the Wasco commenced her trips between the Cascades and The Dalles about August 1 and the Portland paper (Oregon Weekly Times, August 4, 1855) which announced the beginning of the Wasco's service, gave the news that a portage on the Oregon side of the river at the Cascades would be completed two weeks later. No subsequent mention of the new Oregon portage is found in the newspapers of 1855, but it may be concluded that some sort of a road with teams and wagons and storage warehouses was very shortly put into use for the transfer of business between the Wasco and the Fashion, as these steamboats continued to operate a through service between Portland and The Dalles, and the Bradford portage was in hostile hands."

  • "Colonel Ruckel took up his residence at what was called the Middle Cascades, on the Oregon bank of the Columbia, and it would appear that he lived there for several years, until 1862. It seems also that he and his associates early acquired a contract for the transportation of government supplies, for the Oregon Weekly Times of March 8, 1856 referred to him as the "agent of the Quartermaster's Department at the Cascades."

  • "The advantages of the newly constructed portage road were set out in the following advertisement which ran for a short time in the Portland Weekly Oregonian, commencing with the issue of February 9, 1856, and a news item in that issue stated that "a new road around the portage of the Cascades on the Oregon side has been completed and goods are now being transported on this side with safety and dispatch.""

    PORTLAND, CASCADES and DALLES

    The undersigned having made arrangements for the transportation of Freight over the Portage at the Cascades, on the Oregon side, and having the necessary Teams, Boats, etc., will receive and transport with the utmost dispatch all FREIGHT, GOODS WARES AND MERCHANDISE by the steamers Fashion and Wasco and other conveyances.

    The Road is now in complete order. My teams will always be in readiness; good Warehouses have been erected, and my personal attention given to the business.

    W.R. KILBORN,
    Feb. 9, 1856.    Lower Cascades, Oregon side.


  • "This wagon road portage to be effective must have extended from the present station of Bonneville to the present town of Cascade Locks, but no details of its route or character seem to have been published. What became of Captain Kilborn, who had, we may surmise, built the road and its warehouses and provided its teams and boats, does not appear. The writer [Gill] has not found his name mentioned in the available literature subsequent to the time of the Indian attack upon the small settlements on the Washington side of the Columbia at the Cascades, in March, 1856, upon which occasion the Captain loaded the residents of the Oregon side in a large batteau and navigated them in safety down the river to the vicinity of Portland (Portland Weekly Oregonian, March 29, 1856). It is a fair presumption that he returned and continued operations on the Oregon portage wagon road, perhaps selling out later to Ruckel and his partners. The wagon road portage was evidently in use until near the close of 1858."

  • "In April, 1856, the owners of the steamboat Belle having bought and rebuilt the wrecked Gazelle ...   renaming her Senorita had substituted this larger steamboat for the Belle on the run between Portland and the Cascades (Oregon Weekly Times, April 12, 1856). Immediately afterward the United States government began, under the supervision of Lieutenant G.H. Derby of the Engineers' Department, the building of a military road around the Cascades on the Washington side (Portland Weekly Oregonian, May 17, 1856), and in that fall a coach was placed on this road by private interests, for the conveyance of passengers across the portage (Oregon Weekly Times, September 27, 1856). Further, Bradford & Co. were during the spring and summer of 1856 rebuilding and improving their portage railroad (Oregon Weekly Times, September 27, 1856), and before winter set in they had contracted for the building of a steamboat which they named the Hassaloe, larger than the Mary, and to operate in her stead between the Cascades and The Dalles (Oregon Weekly Times, November 3, 1856). These improvements stirred the less prosperous owners of the "Oregon Transportation Line", ...   and Colonel Ruckel during the following season built the larger and more powerful steamboat Mountain Buck (Portland Weekly Oregonian, August 1, 1857) to replace the Fashion between Portland and the Cascades."

  • "Unnoticed by the newspapers of the day, there had come into the Territory by this time one Harrison Olmstead, who became a partner of Ruckel in the control of the Oregon Portage. Olmstead acquired ownership of the land bordering on the Columbia river for a little over a mile, including the landmark known from its supposed resemblance to a double tooth (John W. Stevenson's statement to the writer.) as Tooth Rock, and the mouth of Eagle Creek. Ruckel became the owner of the next claim eastward, from the Olmstead holdings, partly in Multnomah county and reaching up the river bank past the so-called "Middle Cascades" where he built his home. Below Olmstead's acquisition, and embracing the present station and picnic grounds at Bonneville, John C. Tanner had his claim. Above the Ruckel land was the claim of John Chipman, including the sites of the afterward constructed government canal and locks and the settlement now called Cascade Locks. While the Ruckel and Olmstead properties really controlled it, the Tanner and Chipman claims were needed for full ownership of the portage and were eventually purchased by the owners of the central portions."

  • "Ruckel and his partners in the Oregon Transportation Line now determined to build a portage railroad similar to the Bradford one. Accordingly negotiations were had with John Chipman, the owner of the claim at the upper landing ...

    "On this first day of September A.D. 1857, before the undersigned Clerk of the District Court for the 2nd Judicial District of Oregon personally appeared, John Chipman, J.S. Ruckel and Harrison Olmstead each and all personally known to me to be the persons whose names are subscribed to the foregoing instrument of writing and who signed, sealed and delivered the same, and acknowledged that they signed, sealed, delivered and executed the same freely and vountarily for the uses and purposes therein set forth. Witness Jas. W. Davis, Clerk and the seal of said Court affixed the day and year above written."

    "I hereby certify that I have this 28th day of August A.D. 1858 recorded the within lease at length in Book A, page 150 and forward in the records of Wasco County, Oregon. W.C. Moody, Auditor and Recorder."



1858-1859, Portage Railroad:

  • "... the prospect of a railroad on the Oregon side, which was going to extend, if constructed, along the full length of the four and one-half mile portage ..."

  • "The survey and detailed plans of the Oregon Portage Railroad were made by John W. Brazee (Bancroft, History of Oregon), a civil engineer of Portland afterward for twenty years in the service of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company ...  Brazee superintended the construction of the Railroad, a necessary part of which was the Eagle Creek sawmill operated by water power drawn through a flume from that stream. Close by the sawmill a headquarters building, used as a residence by the superintendent but accomodating the employees of the mill and the railroad, was built, and other structures were erected for housing the horses and mules that drew the little four-wheeled cars with which the Railroad was provided. There was one passenger car, covered in to protect the passengers in the event of rain or cold weather, and the mules were driven tandem fashion, three or four being, if the occasion warranted it, attached to the train (John W. Stevenson's statement to the author [Gill])."

  • "The Railroad itself was constructed entirely of wood, which it may be assumed was supplied by the Eagle Creek sawmill; the rails were of fir, in sections six inches square and laid at a gauge close to, if not actually five feet, as indicated by the photographs of the line which have been preserved. The space between the rails was covered with planking and the bridges on the line were solidly constructed for the loads they were expected to carry, that at Eagle Creek being a framed cantilever and the others framed trestles. There was a large amount of bridging, because it was a great deal less expensive to draw upon the adjacent forests for timber than with the methods then available to build up earth embankments. The Oregon Portage Railroad was built over the small rocky elevation which marks the eastern end of the present Bonneville station grounds, through which barrier the Union Pacific trains now dash. Between this point and the western bank of Eagle Creek the traveler passes the Tooth rock, whose base was then washed by the Columbia at least during flood stages, and this depression was crossed by a heavily built trestle where today is a solid embankment."

  • "It is not clear at what time the Oregon Portage Railroad was first operated, but it seems a fair conclusion that it was in use late in 1858 or early in 1859, the next reference to it which has been found being included in the Portland Advertiser of June 14, 1859. Speaking of unusual high water in the Columbia river this newspaper records that "at the Cascades the water has risen above the mark of 1853, and swept off about 300 feet of Ruckel and Olmstead's Rail Road near the upper warehouse and all of the bridge around the Big Tooth near the Lower Landing: damage estimated about $10,000". Clearly, therefore, by this time the Railroad had been built from the upper landing at the present town of Cascade Locks to the lower landing at or near the mouth of Tanner Creek, just west of the present Union Pacific station of Bonneville."

  • "John Stevenson and his sister, Mrs. Bailey, say that it was common, sixty years ago, to speak of the Oregon Portage Railroad, the "Ruckel Railroad" as it was commonly known, as built without a dollar. By promises of payment, rather than with cash, Ruckel, they say, persuaded men to work for him in the building of the railroad. ..."


1860-1861, Portage Railroad:

  • "During the winter of 1860-61, the owners of the Oregon Portage Railroad were repairing the line because of the damage occurring in the 1859 rise of the Columbia river ...   As early as January 3, 1861, Colonel Ruckel, who had become a director of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, informed the board at a regular meeting that "the railroad on the Oregon side of the Columbia river at the Cascades would be ready to receive and transport freight on Monday the third day of February next" -- so the minutes record. This, we may assume referred to the upper section of the railroad which was all that was needed while the Carrie Ladd was able to reach the middle landings. ...

  • "At last the repairs were completed, or nearly so, and the railroad was in condition to be operated, the Pacific Christian Advocate of May 11, 1861, stating that Ruckel and Olmstead's railroad at the Cascades is completed and in a condition to carry freight from the upper to the lower landing. Four cars are now in operation upon the track. A wharf boat has been placed at the upper landing for the reception of freight. This road is a valuable improvement ..."

  • "The last day of operation of the Bradford portage was May 17, and the Oregon Portage Railroad was given all the business beginning May 20. The Portland Daily Oregonian of May 28, 1861, told the news that "The railroad on the Oregon side was finished last week and cars passed over it. All the transportation will now be done over this road." On the following day the same newspaper printed a report of the editor's travels written from The Dalles on May 25 which included this:

    "The transit of freight and passengers over the Cascade portage is now on the Oregon side of the Columbia. The new rail-road of Col. Ruckel's is near completion and freight has to be hauled only a few hundred yards from the lower terminus. The length of the road will be four miles and it is well constructed, with every desirable facility for transferring freight to The Dalles Steamers.""

  • "John Chipman deeded his donation land claim at the upper landing to Harrison Olmstead on August 31, 1861, and John C. Tanner deeded his land at the lower landing to Olmstead on November 15, 1861; these conveyances put the entire portage property in the name of Harrison Olmstead."

  • "The Dalles Mountaineer was quoted in September, 1861 (Portland Weekly Oregonian, September 28, 1861), as stating that "Colonel Ruckel's rail road at the Cascades is in complete order and *** one hundred tons can be sent over it daily.""



From:
Gill, 1924, Images from 1867 ...


Image, 2014, Oregon Portage Road, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
HISTORICAL PHOTO, "Mule Power Train on the Oregon Portage Railroad in 1867". From: Gill, 1924. Original photo courtesy Mrs. Barbara A. Bailey.
Image, 2014, Oregon Portage Road, click to enlarge
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HISTORICAL PHOTO, "On the Oregon Portage Railroad in 1867, showing the Tooth and Eagle Creek Bridges". From: Gill, 1924. Original photo courtesy Oregon Historical Society.
Image, 2014, Oregon Portage Road, click to enlarge
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HISTORICAL PHOTO, "The Sawmill, Headquarters Building and Eagle Creek Bridge of the Oregon Portage Railroad in 1867, looking toward Bonneville". From: Gill, 1924. Original photo courtesy Oregon Historical Society.
Image, 2014, Oregon Portage Road, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
HISTORICAL PHOTO, "Middle Landing or Middle Cascades on the Oregon Portage Railroad viewed from the Washington side of the river in 1867". From: Gill, 1924. Original photo courtesy Mrs. Barbara A. Bailey.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 31, 1805 ...
A Cloudy rainey disagreeable morning I proceeded down the river to view with more attention [Cascade Locks area] we had to pass on the river below, the two men with me Jo. Fields & Peter Crusat proceeded down to examine the rapids the Great Shute [Cascade Rapids] which commenced at the Island on which we encamped [Ashes Lake, now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir] Continud with great rapidity and force thro a narrow chanel much compressd. and interspersed with large rocks for a mile, at a mile lower is a verry Considerable rapid at which place the waves are remarkably high, and proceeded on in a old Indian parth 2 miles by land thro a thick wood & hill Side, to the river where the Indians make a portage, from this place I dispatched Peter Crusat (our principal waterman) back to follow the river and examine the practibility of the Canoes passing, as the rapids appeared to continue down below as far as I could See, I with Jo. Fields proceeded on, at a mile below the end of the portage [Fort Rains] ...     at 2 miles lower & 5 below our Camp I passed a village of 4 large houses abandend by the nativs, with their dores bared up, ...     from a Short distance below the vaults the mountain which is but low on the Stard. Side leave the river, and a leavel Stoney open bottom Suckceeds on the Said Std. Side for a great Distance down, the mountains high and rugid on the Lard Side this open bottom is about 2 miles a Short distance below this village is a bad Stoney rapid and appears to be the last in view I observed at this lower rapid the remains of a large and antient Village which I could plainly trace by the Sinks in which they had formed their houses, as also those in which they had buried their fish- from this rapid to the lower end of the portage [vicinity of Fort Cascades at the lower end of Hamilton Island] the river is Crouded with rocks of various Sizes between which the water passes with great velociety createing in many places large Waves, an Island which is Situated near the Lard. Side [Bradford Island] occupies about half the distance the lower point of which is at this rapid. immediately below this rapid the high water passes through a narrow Chanel through the Stard. Bottom forming an Island of 3 miles <wide> Long & one wide, I walked through this Island [Hamilton Island] which I found to be verry rich land, and had every appearance of haveing been at Some distant period Cultivated. at this time it is Covered with grass intersperced with Strawberry vines. I observed Several places on this Island where the nativs had dug for roots and from its lower point I observed 5 Indians in a Canoe below the upper point of an Island near the middle of the river Covered with tall timber [???],    which indued me to believe that a village was at no great distanc below, I could not See any rapids below <for> in the extent of my view which was for a long distance down the river, which from the last rapids [Middle Cascades] widened and had everry appearance of being effected by the tide,- I deturmind to return to Camp 10 miles distant [on an island by Ashes Lake, across from Cascade Locks, Oregon], a remarkable high detached rock Stands in a bottom on the Stard Side [Beacon Rock] near the lower point of this Island on the Stard. Side about 800 feet high and 400 paces around, we call the Beaten rock.     a Brook [Hamilton Creek] falls into the narrow Chanel [Hamilton Slough, today's Greenleaf Slough] which forms the Strawberry Island [Hamilton Island], which at this time has no running water, but has every appearance of dischargeing emence torrents &c. &c. Jo. Fields Shot a Sand hill Crane. I returned by the Same rout on an Indian parth passing up on the N W. Side of the river to our Camp at the Great Shute [an island near Ashes Lake, across from Cascade Locks, now under the waters of Bonneville Reservoir]. found Several Indians from the village, I Smoked with them; Soon after my return two Canoes loaded with fish & Bear grass for the trade below, came down from the village at the mouth of the Catterack River [Klickitat River], they unloaded and turned their Canoes up Side down on the beech, & camped under a Shelveing rock below our Camp ...

This Great Shute or falls [Upper Cascade Rapids] is about a mile with the water of this great river Compressed within the Space of 150 paces in which there is great numbers of both large and Small rocks, water passing with great velocity forming & boiling in a most horriable manner, with a fall of about 20 feet, below it widens to about 200 paces and current gentle for a Short distance. a Short distance above is three Small rockey Islands, and at the head of those falls, three Small rockey Islands are Situated Crosswise the river, Several rocks above in the river & 4 large rocks in the head of the Shute; those obstructions together with the high Stones which are continually brakeing loose from the mountain on the Stard Side and roleing down into the Shute aded to those which brake loose from those Islands above and lodge in the Shute, must be the Cause of the rivers daming up to Such a distance above, <and Show> where it Shows Such evidant marks of the Common current of the river being much lower than at the present day






Clark, November 1, 1805 ...
A verry Cool morning wind hard from the N. E. [Lewis and Clark's camp of October 31, 1805, was across from Cascade Locks, on an island off the Washington shore near Ashes Lake, now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir.] The Indians who arrived last evining took their Canoes on ther Sholders and Carried them below the Great Shute ["Lower Falls of the Columbia", the "Cascade Rapids"], we Set about takeing our Small Canoe and all the baggage by land 940 yards of bad Slippery and rockey way [this rocky location later became the location of the Bridge of the Gods]     The Indians we discoverd took ther loading the whole length of the portage 2 miles, to avoid a Second Shute [Lower Cascades, by Bonneville Dam] which appears verry bad to pass, and thro' which they passed with their empty canoes. Great numbers of Sea Otters [Harbor Seals], they are So cautious that I with dificuelty got a Shot at one to day, which I must have killed, but could not get him as he Sunk

we got all our baggage over the Portage of 940 yards, after which we got the 4 large Canoes over by Slipping them over the rocks on poles placed across from one rock to another, and at Some places along partial Streams of the river. in passing those canoes over the rocks &c. three of them recived injuries which obliged us to delay to have them repared. [the lower end of the portage at Fort Rains] ...






Clark, April 10, 1806 ...
Collins went out in the bottom to hunt [on the Oregon side of the Columbia in the Bonneville Dam area] agreeable to the order of last evening, and gibsons Crew was derected to delay for Collins dureing which time they were derected to Collect rozin from the pines in the bottom near our Camp [near Tanner Creek]     at 6 A M. we Set out and proceeded to the lower point of the Island [Bradford Island]    from whence we were Compelled to draw our Canoes up a rapid for about 1/4 mile which we Soon performed. Collins & gibson haveing not yet Come over we derected Serjt. Pryor to delay on the Island untill Gibson Came over & assist him with the large toe roap which we also left and to join us at a village of four houses of the Clah-lah-lar Tribe which is opposit to this Island on North Side at which place we intened to brackfast [vicinity of today's North Bonneville].    in crossing the River which at this place is not more than 400 yards wide we fell down a great distance owing to the rapidity of the Current. ...    at 10 oClock Sergt. Pryor and Gibson joined us with Collins who had killed 3 deer. these were all of the blacktailed fallow kind. We Set out and Continued up on the N. Side of the river with great dificuelty in Consequence of the Rapidity of the Current and the large rocks which forms this Shore; the South Side of the river is impassable. [On the Oregon side is the Eagle Creek and Ruckel Creek drainages, neither of which was mentioned in the Journals.]

As we had but one Sufficent toe roap and were obliged to employ the Cord in getting on our Canoes the greater part of the way we could only take them one at a time which retarded our progress very much. by evening we arived at the portage on the N. Side [Fort Rains] where we landed and Conveyed our baggage to the top of the hill about 200 paces distant where we found [formd?] a Camp. we had the Canoes drawn on Shore and Secured. the Small Canoe got loose from the hunters and went adrift with a tin cup & a tomahawk in her; the Indians Caught her at the last Village and brought her up to us this evening for which we gave them two knives; the Canoe overset and lost the articles which were in her..





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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:    See listing at Cascade Rapids.    Also:    Gill, F.B., 1924, "Oregon's First Railway, The Oregon Portage Railroad at the Cascades of the Columbia River", IN: "The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society", Vol.XXV, No.3, September, 1924.    Jackson, W.T., 1952, Wagon Roads West; a Study of Federal Road Surveys and Construction in the Trans-Mississippi West, 1846-1869, University of California Press;    McNeal, Wm. H., 1953, "History of Wasco County, Oregon";    USDI/NPS National Register for Historic Places Registration Form, Columbia River Highway, 2000;

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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June 2014