Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Rock Fort, Oregon"
Including ... Rock Fort ... Mill Creek ... Campsite of October 25-27, 1805 ... Campsite of April 15-17, 1806 ... National Register of Historic Places ...
Image, 2011, Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sign, Lewis and Clark campsite, Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken October 6, 2011.


Rock Fort ...
Rock Fort is located in The Dalles, Oregon, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 189.5, just below Mill Creek. Four miles downstream is Rocky Island and Crates Point, Oregon, and upstream is The Dalles Dam.

Lewis and Clark and Rock Fort ...
Lewis and Clark camped at Rock Fort twice, the first time being on their journey downstream October 25-27, 1805, and then again on their journey upstream, April 15-17, 1806.

Image, 2011, Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lewis and Clark campsite, Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken October 6, 2011.
Image, 2011, Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lewis and Clark campsite, Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken October 6, 2011.


Campsite of October 25-27, 1805 ...
On their journey down the Columbia River in October 1805, Lewis and Clark spent three days at the Rock Fort Campsite.

"... river about a mile wide and Crouded with Sea otters, & drum was Seen this evening     we took possession of a high Point of rocks to defend our Selves in Case the threts of those Indians below Should be put in execution against us. Sent out Some hunters to look if any Signs of game, one man killed a Small deer & Several others Seen     I killed a goose, and Suped hartily on venison & goose. Camped on the rock     guard under the hill ..." [Clark, October 25, 1805, first draft]

"... we proceeded on down the water fine, rocks in every derection for a fiew miles when the river widens and becoms a butifull jentle Stream of about half a mile wide, Great numbers of the Sea Orter about those narrows and both below and above. we Came too, under a high point of rocks on the Lard. Side below a creek of 20 yards wide and much water, as it was necessary to make Some Selestial observations we formed our Camp on the top of a high point of rocks, which forms a kind of <artif> fortification in the Point between the river & Creek, with a boat guard, this Situation we Concieve well Calculated for defence, and Conveniant to hunt under the foots of the mountain to the West & S. W. where timber of different kinds grows ..." [Clark, October 25, 1805]

"... At night we came to a place where there is a considerable quantity of timber on the hills; both oak and pine, and encamped at the mouth of a creek on the south side. ..." [Gass, October 25, 1805]

"...we Camped below the mouth of a creek on a point of rocks on the Lard. Side. the country timbred back a little from the River ..." [Ordway, October 25, 1805]

"... we then proceeded on about eight miles the hils high Some pine and oak timbr. to be Seen the River got Smooth. we Campd. on a high point of rocks little below the mouth of a creek on the Lard. Side. timbered country hack from the River each Side. ..." [Whitehouse, October 25, 1805, first draft]

"... We proceeded on, & went about 8 Miles further down the River. The hills the whole of this distance, were high on both sides of the River, and we saw some pine & Oak timber, The River ran smooth all this way, We encamped near a high point of Rocks, a small distance below the mouth of a creek, which lay on the South side of the River; The Country laying a small distance back, from where we are encamped, is cover'd with Timber. And the Land on both sides of the River, is barren land ..." [Whitehouse, October 25, 1805]

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was on the Washington side of the Columbia River near Horsethief Butte. The campsite of October 28, 1805, was on Rocky Island near Crates Point, Oregon.


Campsite of April 15-17, 1806 ...
In April 1806 on their return up the Columbia River, Lewis and Clark once again stopped at the "rock fort Camp", and again spent three days.

"... at three in the evening we arrived at the entrance of Quinnette creek which we ascended a short distance and encamped at the place we have called rockfort camp. ..." [Lewis, April 15, 1806]

"... 3 in the evening we arivied at the enterance of Quinnett Creek which we assended a Short distance and Encamped at the place we had Called rock fort Camp. ..." [Clark, April 15, 1806]

"... About three o'clock in the afternoon, we came to Rock Camp, where we stayed two days as we went down ..." [Gass, April 15, 1806]

"... about 3 P. M. we crossed over to the South Side and arived at rock Camp where we Camped on the 25th & 26th of Oct. last.     we went up the creek little above and Camped under high clift of rocks in order to lay here tomorrow & See if any horses can be purchased about the narrows or falls the plains are green & pleasant     Saw a number of horses feeding in it which are in good order as they have been wintered below in the narrow bottoms where the rushes abound &C.    we are Camped where has been an ancient large village     only the cellers now to be Seen. ..." [Ordway, April 15, 1806]

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was on the Washington side of the Columbia River near Major Creek. The campsite of April 18, 1806, was also on the Washington side of the Columbia near today's Spearfish Lake.


Image, 2011, Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Path to Lewis and Clark campsite, Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken October 6, 2011.
Image, 2011, Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Information area, Lewis and Clark campsite, Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken October 6, 2011.


Mill Creek ...
Rock Fort was located on Mill Creek. Lewis and Clark called the creek "Que-nett Creek".
[More]

National Register of Historic Places ...
In 1977 the plaque marker at Rock Fort was installed and dedication ceremonies took place in October. In 1980, the Rock Fort Campsite was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Site #80003389).

Columbia River from Rock Fort ...
(to come)


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark October 25, 1805, first draft ...
passed great numbers of rocks, good water and Came to at a high <bluff> point of rocks below the mouth of a Creek [Mill Creek, The Dalles, Oregon] which falls in on the Lard Side and head up towards the high Snow mountain [Mount Hood] to the S W.     this Creek [Mill Creek] is 20 yards wide and has Some beaver Signs at its mouth     river about 1/2 a mile wide and Crouded with Sea otters, & drum was Seen this evening     we took possession of a high Point of rocks to defend our Selves [Rock Fort] in Case the threts of those Indians below Should be put in execution against us. Sent out Some hunters to look if any Signs of game, one man killed a Small deer & Several others Seen     I killed a goose, and Suped hartily on venison & goose. Camped on the rock [Rock Fort]     guard under the hill.


Clark, October 25, 1805 ...





Clark, April 15, 1806 ...
We delayed this morning [their camp was near Dog Mountain] untill after brackfast in order to purchase Some horses of the Indians; accordingly we exposed Some articles in exchange for horses the nativs were unwilling to exchange their horses, we put up our merchindize and at 8 A M. Set out. we halted a fiew minutes at the Sepulchar rock [Memaloose Island] and examined the deposit of the dead at that place. those were Constructed in the Same manner of those already described below the rapids. Some of them were more than half filled with dead bodies. there were 13 Sepulchers on this rock which Stands near the Center of the river, and has a Cerface of about two acres above the water.. from hence we returned to the Northern Shore and Continued up it about 4 miles to a Village at the enterance of Cateract River [Klickitat River, today Lyle, Washington, is located at the mouth of the Klickitat.], here we halted and informed the nativs of our wish to purchase horses; the produced Several for Sale but would not take the articles we had in exchange for them. they wanted an instriment which the Northw Traders call an eye dag which we had not. we precured two dogs and departed we also halted at the two villages of the Chil luck kitequaws a fiew Ms. above with no better Sucksess. at 3 in the evening we arivied at the enterance of Quinnett Creek [Mill Creek, The Dalles, Oregon] which we assended a Short distance and Encamped at the place we had Called rock fort Camp [Rock Fort]. here we were visited by Some of the people from the Villages at the long Narrows [Fivemile Rapids] & Falls [Celilo Falls]. we informed them of our wish to purchase horses, and agreed to meet them on the opposit or north Side on tomorrow for the purpose of bartering with them. ...     after we landld and formed our Camp this evening Drewyer and some oths took a hunt and killed a Deer of the log tailed kind. it was a Buck and the young deer horns had Shot foth about two inches made [blank] miles to day.




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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:
  • Columbia Gorge Discover Center website, 2006;
  • National Register of Historic Places website, 2004;


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/rock_fort.html
March 2013