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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington"
Includes ... Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge ... Cathlapotle ... Wappato Portage ... Campsite of November 4, 1805 ... Campsite of March 29, 1806 ... Lake River ... River "S" Unit ... Carty Unit ... Bachelor Island Unit ... Post Office Lake ... Roth Unit ... Ridgeport Dairy Unit ...
Image, 2014, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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American Bittern, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Ridgefield, Washington. River "S" Unit. Image taken September 10, 2014.


Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge ...
The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is located on the shore of the Lower Columbia River, 10 miles downstream from Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, with the headquarters being located in Ridgefield, Washington. It is bordered on the east by Lake River and on the west by the Columbia. Sections of the Refuge reach as far south as Vancouver Lake.

The Ridgefield Refuge was established in 1965 in response to a need to establish winter habitat for the dusky Canada Goose whose nesting areas in Alaska were severly impacted by the violent earthquake of 1964. The refuge covers over 5,000 acres of flood plain habitat, seasonal and permanent wetlands, and agricultural lands.

Ridgefield NWR is part of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which also includes nearby Steigerwald Lake NWR, and three other Refuges further up the Columbia River Gorge.


Image, 2013, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Canada Geese, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Ridgefield, Washington. River "S" Unit. Image taken February 10, 2013.
Image, 2009, Rest Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Dusky Canada Goose, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Image taken November 4, 2009.


Ridgefield NWR Units ...
The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is comprised of five units -- by acquisition date they are the River "S" Unit, the Carty Unit, the Roth Unit, the Bachelor Island Unit, and the Ridgeport Diary Unit.

River "S" Unit:   On May 18, 1965, the River "S" Unit became the first property acquired in the Ridgefield Refuge. This property had historically been a cattle ranch, with extensive improved and canarygrass pastures. The River "S" Unit has a popular 4.2 mile auto tour route and 1.2 mile seasonal hiking trail. This unit and the Bachelor Island unit are managed to maximize habitat for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife.

Carty Unit:   The Carty Unit was acquired in 1966 and this area had also been used primarily for grazing. This Unit was named after the principle settler and landowner, James Carty. The Carty unit has a 2-mile self guided hiking trail, and has preservation of the natural Columbia River floodplain as its goal. A historic Cathlapotle townsite, which was visited by Lewis and Clark in 1806, is included in the Carty Unit. Lewis and Clark also camped on the Carty Unit on March 29, 1806.

Roth Unit:   The Roth Unit was acquired from Rosa Roth in 1969 and 1970 and has preservation of the natural Columbia River floodplain as its goal. The Roth Unit includes the upper half of Campbell Lake, a popular wintering spot for Sandhill Cranes.

Bachelor Island Unit:   In 1985 the Bachelor Island Unit was purchased from the Zimmerly family. The Bachelor Island Unit is managed to maximize habitat for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife.

Ridgeport Dairy Unit:   Areas in the Ridgeport Dairy Unit were purchased between 1991 and 1995, with the last section between Campbell Lake and Lake River acquired in 2007. As with the Carty and Roth Units, the Ridgeport Dairy Unit has preservation of the natural Columbia River floodplain as its goal. The Ridgeport Dairy Unit includes Post Office Lake, where Lewis and Clark had their camp of November 4, 1805.

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Lewis and Clark and the Ridgefield NWR ...
The Lewis and Clark expedition came through this area twice, camping in the Ridgeport Dairy Unit near Post Office Lake on November 4, 1805, and on their return, setting up camp in a meadow on the Carty Unit near a Cathlapotle village on March 29, 1806.

Campsite of November 4, 1805 ...
Lewis and Clark camped twice in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. The first was on their journey to the Pacific. On November 4, 1805 the men camped in the Post Office Lake area in the southern part of the Ridgefield Refuge. Their camp was just north of today's Post Office Lake, a location so teaming with waterfowl that Captain Clark wrote the following morning that "... 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]
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Image, 2004, Geese, Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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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]


Campsite of March 29, 1806 ...
Lewis and Clark, on their voyage down the Columbia River in 1805, identified a large Chinook village ("Cathlapotle") located at the confluence of the Columbia River, Lake River and the Lewis River. Lewis and Clark estimated that 900 inhabitants lived at the village. On March 29, 1806, they returned to trade and visit with them, and camped in a meadow ("Wapato Portage") one mile upstream of the village.
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Image, 2011, Ridgefield NWR, Washington, click to enlarge
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Meadow at Wapato Portage, Ridgefield NWR, Washington. Image taken September 23, 2011.


Views ...

Image, 2006, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. River "S" Unit. Image taken November 25, 2006.
Image, 2011, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Across Rest Lake, River "S" Unit, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Image taken December 11, 2011.
Image, 2006, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Across Rest Lake, River "S" Unit, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Image taken November 25, 2006.
Image, 2005, Oregon White Oak, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Oregon White Oak, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. This oak is located on the basalt bluff above the Columbia, in the Carty Unit. Image taken April 27, 2005.
Image, 2006, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Heron, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. River "S" Unit. Image taken December 30, 2006.


Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

  • Bachelor Island Unit ...
  • Carty Unit ...
  • Ridgeport Dairy Unit ...
  • River "S" Unit ...
  • Roth Unit ...

Bachelor Island Unit ...
The Bachelor Island unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is accessible only by boat and is closed to the public during the winter.
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Image, 2003, Bachelor Island, Washington, click to enlarge
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Bachelor Island, Washington. View from Sauvie Island. Image taken September 13, 2003.


Carty Unit ...
Lewis and Clark, on their voyage down the Columbia River in 1805, identified a large Chinook village ("Cathlapotle") located at the confluence of the Columbia River, Lake River and the Lewis River. Lewis and Clark estimated that 900 inhabitants lived at the village. On March 29, 1806, they returned to trade and visit with them, and camped in a meadow ("Wapato Portage") one mile upstream of the village. In 2005 a replica of a Cathlapotle Plankhouse was finished in the Carty Unit.
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Image, 2003, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Cathlapotle area, click to enlarge
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A meadow "near the village", Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington, Cathlapotle area. A section of Carty Lake is in the background. Image taken September 13, 2003.
Image, 2003, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Cathlapotle area, click to enlarge
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New Cathlapotle Plankhouse to be built in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Carty Unit. Duck Lake is in the background. Image taken September 13, 2003.


Ridgeport Dairy Unit ...
The Ridgeport Dairy Unit is the southernmost unit in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, and contains Post Office Lake, the location of Lewis and Clark's camp of November 4, 1805. Views of Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, and Mount Jefferson can be seen along this reach. Sauvie Island, Oregon extends the entire length running down the Oregon side of the Columbia River.
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Image, 2003, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Mount Hood, click to enlarge
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Post Office Lake and Mount Hood, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Mount Hood, Oregon, in the background. Image taken July 2, 2003.
Image, 2005, Columbia River and Sauvie Island, from Post Office Lake, click to enlarge
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Columbia River and Sauvie Island, from Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Image taken January 30, 2005.


River "S" Unit...
The River "S" Unit of the Ridgefield NWR has a 4.2 mile auto tour route and 1.5 mile seasonal hiking trail. This unit and the Bachelor Island unit are managed to maximize habitat for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife.
[More]

Image, 2012, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Red-tailed Hawk, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington, River "S" Unit. Image taken December 14, 2012.
Image, 2015, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Great Egret, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Ridgefield, Washington. River "S" Unit. Image taken August 8, 2015.
Image, 2011, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Cinnamon Teal, male, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington, River "S" Unit. Image taken May 3, 2011.
Image, 2013, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
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Yellow Warbler, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Ridgefield, Washington. River "S" Unit. Image taken May 28, 2013.


Roth Unit ...
[More]

Image, 2007, Ridgefield NWR, Washington, click to enlarge
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Sandhill Cranes in the Campbell Lake area, Roth Unit, Ridgefield NWR, Washington. Ridgefield NWR Refuge "Sandhill Crane Tour". Image taken October 12, 2007.

Skip to my Refuge website ...


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 4, 1805 ...
A cloudy cool morning wind from the West we Set out at 1/2 past 8 oClock [from their camp on the north side of Government Island, approximately across from Fisher's Landing], one man Shannon Set out early to walk on the Island [Government Island] to kill Something, he joined us at the lower point with a Buck. This island is 6 miles long and near 3 miles wide thinly timbered     (Tide rose last night 18 inches perpndicular at Camp) near the lower point of this diamond Island [Government Island] is The head of a large Island Seperated from a Small one by a narrow chanel [Lewis and Clark show two large islands on their maps, both in today's Government Island area], and both Situated nearest the Lard Side, those Islands [even today the Government Island reach is a complex of many islands] as also the bottoms are thickly Covered with Pine &c. river wide, Country low on both Sides; [since 1983 the Interstate 205 bridge crosses Government Island connecting Oregon to Washington]     on the Main Lard Shore a Short distance below the last Island we landed at a village of 25 Houses: [near Portland International Airport]; ...     This village contains about 200 men of the Skil-loot nation ...

at 7 miles below this village passed the upper point of a large Island [Hayden Island] nearest the Lard Side, a Small Prarie [Jolie Prairie, today the location of Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airpark. Lewis and Clark camp on this prairie on their return] in which there is a pond [one of the many ponds which use to dot this area] opposit on the Stard. here I landed and walked on Shore, about 3 miles a fine open Prarie for about 1 mile, back of which the countrey rises gradually and wood land comencies Such as white oake, pine of different kinds, wild crabs with the taste and flavour of the common crab and Several Species of undergroth of which I am not acquainted, a few Cottonwood trees & the Ash of this countrey grow Scattered on the river bank, ...     joined Capt. Lewis at a place he had landed with the party for Diner. ...

dureing the time we were at dinner those fellows Stold my pipe Tomahawk which They were Smoking with [Tomahawk pipe, thus giving rise to the name Tomahawk Island] ...    we proceeded on

[The men have passed through the area which, 20 years later, Dr. John McLoughlin would choose for a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, later to become Fort Vancouver and eventually the city of Vancouver, Washington.]

met a large & a Small Canoe from below, with 12 men the large Canoe was ornimented with Images carved in wood the figures of <man &> a Bear in front & a man in Stern, Painted & fixed verry netely on the <bow & Stern> of the Canoe, rising to near the hight of a man [Lewis and Clark then named Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island"]     two Indians verry finely Dressed & with hats on was in this canoe passed the lower point of the Island [Hayden Island] which is nine miles in length haveing passed 2 Islands on the Stard Side of this large Island [the location of Vancouver Landing and since 1917 the Interstate 5 Bridge connecting Oregon to Washington State], three Small Islands at its lower point [The downstream end of Hayden Island was at one time composed of small islands. One of these, Pearcy Island, would become today's Kelley Point.]. the Indians make Signs that a village is Situated back of those Islands on the Lard. Side and I believe that a Chanel is Still on the Lrd. Side [it wasn't until Lewis and Clark's return trip they would discover the mouth of the Willamette River] as a Canoe passed in between the Small Islands, and made Signs that way, probably to traffick with Some of the nativs liveing on another Chanel, at 3 miles lower [Sauvie Island is located at this stretch, but it is not until the return that Lewis and Clark recognize it as a separate island], and 12 Leagues below quick Sand river [Sandy River] passed a village of four large houses on The Lard. Side [on Sauvie Island], near which we had a full view of Mt. Helien [Mount St. Helens, Washington] which is perhaps the highest pinical in America from their base it bears N. 25 E about 90 miles- This is the mountain I Saw from the Muscle Shell rapid [Umatilla Rapids, Captain Clark actually saw Mount Adams] on the 19th of October last Covered with Snow, it rises Something in the form of a Sugar lofe- about a mile lower passed a Single house on the Lard. Side, and one on the Stard. Side, passed a village on each Side and Camped near a house on the Stard. Side [Post Office Lake vicinity, today within the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge] 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 ...

This evening we Saw vines much resembling the raspberry which is verry thick in the bottoms. A range of high hills at about 5 miles on the Lard Side [Portland's West Hills'] which runs S. E. & N W. Covered with tall timber the bottoms below in this range of hills and the river is rich and leavel, Saw White geese with a part of their wings black. The river here is 1 miles wide, and current jentle. opposite to our camp on a Small Sandy Island [one of the small sandy islands prevelent in this stretch of the Columbia. Today the Willow Bar Islands on the east side of Sauvie Island lie across from Post Office Lake.] the brant & geese make Such a noise that it will be impossible for me to Sleap. we made 29 miles to day






Clark, November 5, 1805, first draft ...
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 [today this location is Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge]


Clark, November 5, 1805 ...
Rained all the after part of last night, rain continues this morning, I [s]lept but verry little last night [Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge] for the noise Kept dureing the whole of the night by the Swans, Geese, white & Grey Brant Ducks &c. on a Small Sand Island [one of the islands of the Ridgefield Refuge] close under the Lard. Side; they were emensely noumerous, and their noise horid- we Set out <at about Sun rise> early here the river is not more than 3/4 of a mile in width, passed a Small Prarie on the Stard. Side [quite possibly the location of today's Campbell Lake] passed 2 houses about 1/2 a mile from each other on the Lard. Side a Canoe came from the upper house, with 3 men in its mearly to view us, passed an Isld. Covered with tall trees & green briers [Bachelor Island] Seperated from the Stard. Shore by a narrow Chanel [Lake River or Bachelor Island Slough] at 9 [8?] miles I observed on the Chanel [Lake River or Bachelor Island Slough] which passes on the Stard Side of this Island [Bachelor Island] a Short distance above its lower point is Situated a large village [Cathlapotle Village, near where Lewis and Clark camped on March 29, 1806, a place now known as Wapato Portage], the front of which occupies nearly 1/4 of a mile fronting the Chanel, and closely Connected, I counted 14 houses in front here the river widens to about 1 1/2 miles. ...    about 1 1/2 miles below this village on the Lard Side behind a rockey Sharp point [Warrior Point, Sauvie Island], we passed a Chanel 1/4 of a mile wide [Multnomah Channel] which I take to be the one the Indian Canoe entered yesterday from the lower point of Immage Canoe Island [Hayden Island, at this point Lewis and Clark had not discovered Hayden Island and Sauvie Island were two separate islands]     a Some low clifts of rocks below this Chanel [St. Helens, Oregon], a large Island Close under the Stard Side opposit [Lewis River floodplain, home of Woodland, Washington, possibly more of an "island" in 1805 ???], and 2 Small Islands, below [today's Burke and Martin Islands], here we met 2 canoes from below,- below those Islands a range of high hills form the Stard. Bank of the river [Martin Bluff], the Shore bold and rockey, Covered with a thick groth of Pine     an extensive low Island [Deer Island], Seperated from the Lard side by a narrow Chanel, on this Island we Stoped to Dine I walked out found it open & covered with <Small> grass interspersed with Small ponds, in which was great numbr. of foul, the remains of an old village on the lower part of this Island, I saw Several deer ...     below the lower point of this Island [Deer Island] a range of high hills which runs S. E. forms the Lard. bank of the river the Shores bold and rockey & hills Covered with pine, [Lewis and Clark are passing Goble, Oregon, and the area around the Trojan Nuclear Power Facility     The high hills leave the river on the Stard. Side a high bottom between the hill & river [Kalama, Washington]. We met 4 Canoes of Indians from below, in which there is 26 Indians, one of those Canoes is large, and ornimented with Images on the bow & Stern. That in the Bow the likeness of a Bear, and in Stern the picture of a man- we landed on the Lard. Side & camped [near Prescott Beach, Oregon] a little below the mouth of a creek [Kalama River] on the Stard. Side a little below the mouth of which is an Old Village which is now abandaned-;     here the river is about one and a half miles wide. and deep, The high Hills which run in a N W. & S E. derection form both banks of the river the Shore boald and rockey, the hills rise gradually & are Covered with a thick groth of pine &c. The valley [Columbian Valley] which is from above the mouth of Quick Sand River [Sandy River] to this place may be computed at 60 miles wide on a Derect line, & extends a great Distanc to the right & left rich thickly Covered with tall timber, with a fiew Small Praries bordering on the river and on the Islands; Some fiew Standing Ponds & Several Small Streams of running water on either Side of the river; This is certainly a fertill and a handsom valley, at this time Crouded with Indians. The day proved Cloudy with rain the greater part of it, we are all wet cold and disagreeable- I saw but little appearance of frost in this valley which we call <Wap-pa-too Columbia> from the root or plants growing Spontaniously in this valley only ...     We made 32 miles to day by estimation-






Clark, March 30, 1806 ...
we got under way verry early [from their camp near Wapato Portage] and had not proceeded to the head of the island [Bachelor Island] before we met with the three men of the Clan-nar-min-a-mon's who met us yesterday brackfast at the upper point of the Island [Bachelor Island] we met Several of the Clackstar and Cath-lah-cum-up in two canoes. Soon after we were overtaken by Several Canoes of different tribes who reside on each Side of the river the three above Tribes and the Clh-in-na-ta cathy-lah-nah-qui-up & Cath-lah-com-mah-tup reside on each Side of Wappato inlet [Multnomah Channel] and back of Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] which Island is formed by a Small Chanel which passes from the Lower part of Image Canoe Island [Hayden Island] into an inlet which makes in from the S W. Side, and receves the water of a Creek which heads with the Kil a mox River. this wappato Island [Sauvie Island] is about 18 or 20 Miles long and in places from 6 to 10 miles wide high & furtile with ponds on different parts of it in which the nativs geather Wappato. nearly opposit the upper point of the Isld. behing which we encamped last night, or on the Wappato Isld. is Several Camps of the nativs catching Sturgion. about 5 miles Still higher up and on the N E. Side we halted for brackfast at the place which We had encamped the 4th of November last [near Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge]. here we were visited by several canoes of Indians from two Towns a Short distance above on the Wappato Island [Sauvie Island]. the 1st of those Tribes Call themselves Clan-nah-quah and Situated about 2 miles above us, the other about a mile above Call themselves Mult-no-mah ...     at 10 a. m. we Set out and had not proceeded far before we came to a landing place where there was Several large canoes hauled up, and Sitting in a canoe, appearantly waiting our arival with a view to join the fleet indian who was then along Side of us. this man informed he was a Shoto and that his nation resided a little distance from the river. we landed and one of the indians pointed to the Shoto village which is Situated back of Pond [Vancouver Lake] which lies parrelal with the river on the N E. Side nearly opposit the Clan-nah quah village. here we were also joined by Several Canoes loaded with the natives from the Island who Continued to accompany us untill about 4 oClock when they all returned and we proceeded on to the place the Indians Stole my Tomahawk 4th Novr. last [Hayden Island] and Encamped in a Small Prarie ["Jolie Prairie" where Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airpark would some day be located] above a large Pond on N. E and opposit the Center of image Canoe Island [Hayden Island]. capt Lewis walked out and Saw Several deer. Jo. Field Shot at Elk he killed and brought in a fine duck. ...     we made 22 Miles only to day the wind and a Strong current being against us all day, with rain. discovered a high mountain S E. Covered with Snow which we call Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon]





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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

Source:    Hay, K.G., 2004, The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail, Timber Press, Portland;    Hitchman, 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society;    "Recreation.gov" website, 2004;    U.S. Bureau of Land Management website, 2011;    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, 2004, 2009;   

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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October 2016