Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Rainier, Oregon"
Includes ... Rainier, Oregon ... Mount Rainier ... Rainier City Park ... "Rainier - The River Town" Mural ... National Register of Historic Places ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2008, Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Welcome banner, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken August 31, 2008.


Rainier ...
Rainier, Oregon, is located on the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 68, and lies across from Longview and Kelso, Washington. Also across the Columbia from Rainier is the mouth of the Cowlitz River and Cottonwood Island. On the Oregon side of the Columbia, three miles upstream, is Prescott Beach, the location of Lewis and Clark's camp of November 5, 1805. Further upstream are the oregon communities of Goble, Deer Island, Columbia City, and St. Helens. Downstream on the Oregon side are Walker and Lord Islands, Green Point, and the town of Mayger. The Lewis and Clark Bridge which connects Rainier to Longview lies two miles downstream or Rainier city center.

Mount Rainier from Rainier, Oregon ...

Image, 2004, Mount Rainier from Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mount Rainier from Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 11, 2004.
Image, 2004, Mount Rainier and Longview, Washington, click to enlarge
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Mount Rainier and Longview, Washington, as seen from Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 11, 2004.


Lewis and Clark and Rainier, Oregon ...
Lewis and Clark were in the Rainier, Oregon and Longview/Kelso, Washington area on November 6, 1805, on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Captain Clark noted Cottonwood Island (the "long Island") off the Washington shore, and Walker and Lord Islands and Green Point off the Oregon shore.

"... 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, and opposit a high clift of Black rocks on the Lard. Side ..." [Clark, November 6, 1805]

Lewis and Clark again visited the area on their way upstream on March 27, 1806.


Rainier's Columbia River shoreline ...

Image, 2006, Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. View from Rainier City Park, looking upstream. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2006, Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. View from Rainier City Park, looking upstream. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2006, Tug boat, as seen from Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Tugboat, as seen from Rainier, Oregon. View from Rainier City Park. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Tugboats, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2006, Columbia River shoreline, as seen from Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Columbia River shoreline, as seen from Rainier, Oregon. View from Rainier City Park. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2006, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Columbia River shoreline, as seen from Rainier, Oregon. View from Rainier City Park. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2004, Lewis and Clark Bridge from Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Lewis and Clark Bridge from Rainier, Oregon. Looking downstream at the Lewis and Clark Bridge, from city park, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 21, 2004.
Image, 2004, Lewis and Clark Bridge, from Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Lewis and Clark Bridge as seen from Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 21, 2004.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Rainier, Oregon, scene, with old fish buiding in the background. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mallards, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.


Early Rainier ...
Lewis and Clark were in the Rainier, Oregon, area on November 6, 1805, on their way to the Pacific Ocean, and then again on their way back home on March 27, 1806 (see above).

Rainier, Oregon, was founded by Charles E. Fox who settled there in 1851 and was the first postmaster. He called the town "Eminence", a name which was to change in 1852 to "Rainier", after Mount Rainier, which is visible from the higher hills. The town of Rainier was incorporated in 1881.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records (GLO) website (2007) shows title being granted to Charles E. Fox on June 13, 1881, for 293.32 acres for parts of T7N R2W Sections 16, 17, 20, and 21, under the 1850 "Oregon-Donation Act".

The U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) website (2007) lists "Eminence Post Office" as a previous name for the Rainier Post Office.

From the 1909 NOAA "Coast Pilot":

"... Between Astoria and Portland there are numerous landings and settlements, dependent either on the fisheries or acting in some cases as shipping points for the country immediately behind them; these are ports of call for the regular river steamers. Deep-draft vessels do not as a rule stop between Astoria and Portland, except for lumber cargoes at Rainier, Goble, Westport, Knappton, and some small mills. ..."

Rainier in 1940 ...
From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"... RAINIER, 47.5 m. (23 alt., 1,353 pop.), named for Mount Rainier, which is often visible to the northeast, was an important stop in the days of river commerce. The town was founded by Charles E. Fox in 1851. First called Eminence, its name was later changed to Fox's Landing and finally to Rainier. In 1854 F. M. Warren erected a large steam sawmill and began producing lumber for the homes and other buildings of the settlers. Rainier was incorporated in 1885. At Rainier is a toll bridge connecting with Longview, Washington (car and driver, 80c; maximum, $1).

From the winding curves of RAINIER HILL (671 alt.) there is a fine view of Longview, Washington, and the narrow roadway of the bridge spanning the river, hundreds of feet below. The summit is reached at 50.6 m. ..."


Street Scenes ...

Image, 2007, City Hall, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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City Hall building, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.

Rainier's City Hall was built by 1925.
Image, 2007, City Hall, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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City Hall building, Rainier, Oregon. View from moving car. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2011, Street scene, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Street scene looking north, Rainier, Oregon. View from moving car on Highway 30, headed north. Image taken September 4, 2011.


Around Rainier, etc.

  • 1888 House ...
  • Old Fish Building along Waterfront ...
  • Mural ...
  • Rainier City Park ...
  • Waterfront ...

"1888 House" ...
The "1888 House" (officially the "George F. Moeck House") was built in 1888 and is located at the northern end of the community of Rainier. It can be seen from Highway 30, going through town. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 14, 1978 (Historic Person, #78002283).


George Moeck House:

"This house is known by most people as the 1888 House, and it even has the words "1888 House" on it, and an "1888 House" sign in front of it, but officially it is the Moeck House. It was built in 1888, naturally, as the home of George F. Moeck. Moeck once owned most of West Rainier, the area known as Kentucky Flats. Moeck was a founding member of the Rainier Masonic Lodge and was postmaster of the Rainier post office from 1892-1897. The Moeck House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 14, 1978."

Source:   Robert D. West's "~Westr" website, "myweb.msoe.edu".


Image, 2011, 1888 House, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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"1888 House", Rainier, Oregon. View from moving car on Highway 30, headed north. Image taken September 4, 2011.


Old Fish Building Along the Waterfront ...
Personal correspondence with Hank Bartholomew (2007), resident of Rainier since 1997, reveals this old building was once the "Norris Docks" and used as a fish processing and warehouse structure.

Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Old building along the Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Old fish processing and warehousing building along Rainier's southeastern waterfront. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Old building along the Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Old fish processing and warehousing building along Rainier's southeastern waterfront. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Old building along the Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Old fish processing and warehousing building along Rainier's southeastern waterfront. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Old building along the Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Old fish processing and warehousing building along Rainier's southeastern waterfront. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Old building along the Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Old fish processing and warehousing building along Rainier's southeastern waterfront. Image taken February 17, 2007.


"Rainier - The River Town" Mural ...
"Rainier - The River Town" Mural, created by Rainier Students, is located in Rainier, Oregon, one block downhill from Oregon Highway 30 and Rainier City Hall building.
[More]

Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mural and street corner, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.


Rainier City Park, September 11, 2001, Memorial Plaque ...

Image, 2006, September 11, 2001 Memorial at Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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September 11, 2001 Memorial at Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2004, September 11, 2001 Memorial at Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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September 11, 2001 Memorial at Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken August 29, 2004.


Waterfront ...

Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mount St. Helens, from waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. The downstream tip of Cottonwood Island is visible on the right. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mount St. Helens, from waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Mount St. Helens is white snow covered "peak" in the middleground. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mount St. Helens, from waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Mount St. Helens is white snow covered "peak" in the middleground. Image taken February 17, 2007.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Penny Postcards today show us a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Rainier, Oregon, ca.1911, click to enlarge
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Penny Postcard: Main Street, looking west, Rainier, Oregon, ca.1911. Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1911, "Main Street looking West, Rainier, Ore.". Published by C. Kropf, Milwaukee. Card #1538. Card is postmarked January 25, 1911. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Rainier, Oregon, Mills, ca.1916, click to enlarge
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Penny Postcard: Mill, Rainier, Oregon, ca.1916. Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1916, "One of the Big Mills, Rainier, Ore.". Card is postmarked March 21, 1916. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Log chute on the Columbia River, ca.1915, click to enlarge
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Penny Postcard: Log Chute on the Columbia River, ca.1915. Penny Postcard, ca.1915, "Log Chute, on Columbia River". Published by the Pacific Novelty Co., San Francisco, California. Card #O.41. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.

Known as "The Incline", this railway was built by John B. Yeon in order to lower train car loads of logs from the rim above Rainier, Oregon, down to the slough below. The "Incline" was part of the Yeon and Pelton Company which operated at the beginning of the 1900s, and located three miles from Rainier.




From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

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 27, 1806 ...
a rainey disagreeable night     rained the greater part of the night     we Set out this morning verry early [from their camp on Walker Island] and proceeded on to two houses of the Skil-lute Indians on the South Side [downstream of Rainier, Oregon] here we found our hunters who had Seperated from us last evening.     the wind rose and the rain became very hard Soon after we landed here we were very friendly receved by the natives who gave all our party as much fish as they Could eate, ...     resumed our voyage at 12 oClock. The principal village of the Skil-lutes is Situated on the lower Side of the Cow-e-lis kee river [Cowlitz River] a fiew miles from it's enterance into the Columbia. ...     The Cow e lis kee river [Cowlitz River] is 150 yards wide, is deep and from Indian information navigable a very conslderable distance for canoes. it discharges itself into the Columbia about 3 miles above a remarkable knob [Mount Coffin] which is high and rocky and Situated on the North Side of the Columbia, and Seperated from the Northern hills of the river by a Wide bottom of Several Miles, to which it united [today the cities of Longview and Kelso, Washington]. I Suspect that this river Waters the Country lying west of a range of Mountains which passes the Columbia between the Great falls and rapids, and North of the Same nearly to the low country which Commences on the N W. Coast about Latitude 4o [blank] North. ...     at the distance of 2 miles above the village at which we brackfast we passed the enterance of this river [Cowlitz River]; we Saw Several fishing camps of the Skillutes on both Sides of the Columbia, and also on both Sides of this river. ...     late in the evening we passed the place we Camped the 5th of Novr. [Prescott Beach] and Encamped about 4 miles above at the Commencement of the Columbian Vally on the Stard. Side [near Goble, Oregon] below Deer Island [Deer Island, Oregon]. ...

[between Prescott Beach and Goble lies Coffin Rock, a basalt feature on the south side of the Columbia, now located on property owned by the Trojan Nuclear Facility]

Saw Cotton wood, Sweet Willow, w[hite] oake, ash and the broad leafed ash the Growth which resembles the bark &c. these form the groth of the bottom lands, whilst the Hills are almost exclusively Covered with the various Species of fir heretofore discribed. the black alder appears on Maney parts of the hills Sides as on the bottoms. before we Set out from the 2 houses where we brackfast we Sent on two Canoes with the best hunters, with orders to pro ceed as fast as they Could to Deer island [Deer Island, Oregon] and there to hunt and wait our arrival. we wish to halt at that place and repare 2 of our Canoes if possible. the Indians that visited us this evining remained but a Short time, they passed over to an Island [Sandy Island ???] and encamped. the night as well as the day proved Cold wet and excessively disagreeable. we Came 20 miles in the Course of this 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: McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland; National Register of Historic Places website, 2011; NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2006; Oregon State Archives website, 2004, 2005; Rainier City website, 2007, and personal communication with Hank Bartholomew; U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records (GLO) website, 2007; U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) website, 2007; West, R.D., 2011, Robert D. West's "~Westr" website, "myweb.msoe.edu".

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