Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Post Office Lake, Washington"
Includes ... Post Office Lake ... Ridgeport Dairy Unit, Ridgefield NWR ... Campsite of November 4, 1805 ... "I could not Sleep" ... Bald Eagle ...
Image, 2007, Post Office Lake, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Image taken, September 22, 2007.


Post Office Lake ...
Post Office Lake is within the Ridgeport Dairy Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. It is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 95. Upstream (south) lies Knapp Point and Knapp Landing, Shillapoo Lake wildlife area, Frenchmans Bar, Blurock Landing, and Vancouver Lake. Downstream (north) lies Campbell Lake and the main part of the Ridgefield Refuge, while west, across the Columbia from Post Office Lake are the Willow Bar Islands on the east shore of Sauvie Island. To the east lies Lake River and Green Lake. Post Office Lake is a remnant of the once natural floodplain of the Columbia River.

Ridgeport Diary Unit, Ridgefield NWR ...
Post Office Lake is within the Ridgeport Dairy Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. The Ridgeport Dairy Unit has preservation of the natural Columbia River floodplain as its goal.

Campsite of November 4, 1805 ...
Lewis and Clark's first campsite of November 4, 1805, was in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge at a spot just north of Post Office Lake.

"... Encamped on the Lard. Side. ..." [Clark, November 4, 1805, first draft]

"... N. 28 W. 3 miles to a Stard bend & campd. near a village on the Std. Side passed one on each Side, proceded on untill after dark to get Clere of Indians we Could not 2 Canoes pursued us and 2 others Came to us, and were about us all night we bought a fiew roots &c." [Clark, November 4, 1805, first draft]

"... we proceeded on untill one hour after dark with a view to get clear of the nativs who was constantly about us, and troublesom, finding that we could not get Shut of those people for one night, we landed and Encamped on the Stard. Side ..." [Clark, November 4, 1805]

"... We went 28 miles and encamped on the north side ..." [Gass, November 4, 1805]

"... we Came 28 miles this day and Camped after dark on the Stard Side     the geese and brants verry thick ..." [Ordway, November 4, 1805]

"... In the Evening we encamped, on the North side of the River, where we saw, Swan, Geese, Brants & ducks in the greatest abundance in the River. We came about 28 Miles this day, our Course being nearly West. ..." [Whitehouse, November 4, 1805]

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was on Government Island, and their campsite of November 5, 1805, was on the Oregon side of the Columbia River near Prescott Beach.


Image, 2004, Columbia River and Sauvie Island, from Post Office Lake, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River from north of Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Sauvie Island, Oregon, is across the Columbia. Image taken, January 30, 2005.


"I could not Sleep" ...
As Lewis and Clark setup their camp of November 4, 1805, Captain Clark suspected they were in for a noisy night.

"... The river here is 1 1/2 miles wide, and current jentle. opposite to our camp on a Small Sandy Island the brant & geese make Such a noise that it will be impossible for me to Sleap. ..." [Clark, November 4, 1805]

His journal entry of the next day proved him right.

"... a Cloudy morning Som rain the after part of last night & this morning. I could not Sleep for the noise kept by the Swans, Geese, white & black brant, Ducks &c. on a opposit base, & Sand hill Crane, they were emensely numerous and their noise horrid. We Set out at Sun rise & ..." [Clark, November 5, 1805, first draft]

"... Rained all the after part of last night, rain continues this morning, I [s]lept but verry little last night for the noise Kept dureing the whole of the night by the Swans, Geese, white & Grey Brant Ducks &c. on a Small Sand Island close under the Lard. Side; they were emensely noumerous, and their noise horid ..." [Clark, November 5, 1805]

Image, 2005, Geese, Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Geese, Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Image taken, January 30, 2005.

"... I could not Sleep for the noise kept by the Swans, Geese, white & black brant, Ducks &c. on a opposit base, & Sand hill Crane, they were emensely numerous and their noise horrid. ..." [Clark, November 5, 1805, first draft]


Early Post Office Lake ...
On October 28, 1792, William Broughton of the British Captain George Vancouver Expedition, viewed Mount St. Helens from the Post Office Lake area. Broughton mentions Point Warrior (today's Warrior Point), which is located on the northern tip of Sauvie Island.

"... In this situation the latitude was observed to be 45 degrees 41 minutes, longitude 237 degrees, 20 minutes; when Mt. St. Helens was seen lying from hence N.38E. or a distance from Point Warrior of about eight miles. [Broughton, October 28, 1792]

The 1860 and 1862 Washington Territory's cadastral surveys (tax survey) for T3N R1W, shows Post Office Lake but it is not named. Downstream Shillapoo Lake is called "Shallapoo Lake" and nearby Green Lake is called "Green's Lake". Lake River is shown and called "Vancouver Slough". Round Lake (between Shillapoo and Post Office) is depicted but not named.

The 1863 cadastral survey map doesn't even have Post Office Lake depicted, however "Green's Lake" and "Shallapoo Lake" are both named. The area of Post Office Lake is shown as Claim No.39, belonging to John Dillon. The northern part of Post Office Lake is within Claim No.38, belonging to J.B. Knapp.

Two Post-Office Bar Post Lights were established in 1883. (See more below).

The 1888, U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey's "Columbia River Sheet No.6, Fales Landing to Portland" (Chart No.6145) has Post Office Lake named.

An 1888 Plat Map of "Clarke County" has Post Office Lake named "Dillon Lake".

The 1897 U.S. Geological Survey's 1:62,000 scale "Portland Quadrangle" topographic map shows "Post Office Lake".


Early Maps ...

Image, 1888, Map detail, NOAA,  click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
1888, Map detail, Oregon's Willow Bar, Washington's Lake River, Post Office Lake, and Knapp Landing, Vancouver Lake Lowlands, Vancouver, Washington. U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's Chart #6145, "Columbia River, Fales Landing to Portland, Sheet #6", 1888.

Includes "Lower Willow Bar", "Lake River, "Post Office Lake", "Halfway Pt." and "Knapp's Landg.".
Image, 1897, topographic map, Shillapoo Lake,  click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
1897 Topographic Map detail showing Vancouver Lake Lowlands from Post Office Lake to Shillapoo Lake. U.S. Geological Survey's "Portland Quadrangle", 1:62,000 scale, original courtesy Perry-Castaneda Library, University of Texas Libraries, 2018.

Including Post Office Lake, Green Lake, Round Lake, Curtis Lake, Shillapoo Lake, Buckmire Slough, and the northern half of Vancouver Lake.


The Post Office ??? ...
While this webmaster has not yet found any hard proof of the "Post Office" in Post Office Lake (2018), one could assume it was in reference to the Lake River Post Office.

The 1859 "Official Register of the United States" (U.S. Government Printing Office) lists a "Lake River" Post Office with M.R. Hathaway and then Jeremiah S. Hathaway as Postmasters. In the 1862 and 1864 "Official Register", the Lake River Postmaster is Samuel R. Whipple.

Quite possibly - the 1862 and 1863 cadastral survey maps show the Donation Land Claim of S.R. Whipple being located just north of the northern end of Post Office Lake. A connection to the name perhaps ???

The Lake River Post Office was not listed in the 1866 "Official Register".


Views ...

Image, 2003, Post Office Lake, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Post Office Lake width Mount Hood, Oregon, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Image taken July 2, 2003.
Image, 2005, Mount St. Helens and Post Office Lake, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Post Office Lake and Mount St. Helens. Image taken, January 30, 2005.
Image, 2005, Post Office Lake and Mount Hood, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Post Office Lake, Washington, and Mount Hood, Oregon. Image taken January 30, 2005.


Post Office Lake, etc.

  • Post-Office Post Lights (upper and lower) ...


Post-Office Bar Post Lights (upper and lower) ...
Despite the similar name, the "Post Office Post Lights" were not associated with Post Office Lake but were located at "Post Office Bar" in the Willamette River approximately between Willamette River Mile 1 and RM 2.

According to the 1895 "Lights and Fog Signals of the United States" (1895, Government Printing Office) there were two Post Lights located on the Post Office Bar. The lower light was a fixed red lantern on a white pile in the breakwater, and located on Sauvie Island below Post-Office Bar. The upper light was a fixed white lantern on a tree and located on Sauvie Island at Post-Office Bar. Both were established in 1883.

"Postoffice bar lower light ... This light is a fixed white light of about 45 candlepower, shown 18 feet above the water from a white arm on a single unpainted pile in a revetment protecting the west bank of the river, about 1 1/2 miles, 230 1/2 degrees true (SSW. 5/8 W. mag.) from Willamette River lighthouse."


Source:    "Morning Oregonian", August 19, 1912, Historic Oregon Newspaper Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2018.



From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 4, 1805 ...





Clark, November 5, 1805 ...





Clark, March 30, 1806 ...




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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:
  • NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2005, Historical Map and Chart Collection;
  • Oregon Bureau of Land Management website, 2005;
  • "Rootsweb.com" website, 2005;


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.
/Regions/Places/post_office_lake.html
September 2008