Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Rocky Island, Oregon"
Includes ... Rocky Island ... Crates Point ... Squaw Island ... Columbia Gorge Discovery Center ... Campsite of October 28, 1805 ...
Image, 2011, Rocky Island from Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rocky Island from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken October 6, 2011.


Rocky Island ...
Rocky Island is located along the Oregon shore at Columbia River Mile (RM) 186.5. Downstream is Crates Point and upstream is Rock Fort and The Dalles. The two small islands across from Rocky Island which hug the Washington shore are called "Squaw Islands". Transmission lines from Bonneville Power cross the Columbia on these islands. Good views of Rocky Island can be had from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. The center lies on the east side of Crates Point where the basalt creates a cliff, dropping to the lower land of today's Rocky Island.

Lewis and Clark and Rocky Island ...
Lewis and Clark's campsite of October 28, 1805 was on or near today's Rocky Island.

Campsite of October 28, 1805 ...
Lewis and Clark's campsite of October 28, 1805, was on the Oregon side of the Columbia River on the east side of the Crates Point cape. The route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#78] shows the camp across from an island in the Columbia off the Washington shore. While Lewis and Clark do not mention camping on an island, nor do they show one on their route map, the 1860 cadastral survey (tax survey) map and later maps do show an island in the location of today's Rocky Island.

"... North 1 mile to a rock Island on the Stard. Side. we had not landed long eer an Indian Canoe Came from below with 3 Indians in it, those Indians make verry nice Canoes of Pine. Thin with aporns & Carve on the head imitation of animals & other heads; ... great many Indians came down from the uppr Village & Sat with us, Smoked, rained all the evenig & blew hard from the West    encamped on the Lard Side opsd. an Rock in a verry Bad place ... " [Clark, October 28, 1805, first draft]

"... We continued on our way a short distance further down the River, when the Wind rose so high from the Westward, & the Waves ran also so high, that our officers thought it dangerous to proceed. We came too with our Canoes under a Clift of rocks, which lay on the South side of the River. We had several squalls of wind during this day. We encamped on the So. side of the River. One of our party killed one Deer, & wounded another; in the Evening, near a small pond; a short distance back from the River, which deer he brought to our Camp. ..." [Whitehouse, October 28, 1805]

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was at Rock Fort, and their campsite of October 29, 1805, was on the Washington side near the Little White Salmon River.


Early Rocky Island ...
Lewis and Clark camped on the east side of Crates Point on October 28, 1805. They make no mention of an Island at that location and there is no island on their route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#78].

On an Oregon 1860 cadastral survey (tax survey) for T2N R13E, "Rocky Island" was depicted and named. The peak at Crates Point was depicted but not named.

On the 1865 cadastral survey, Edward Crate had 640.93 acres as Claim No.38 in the Crates Point area, T2N R13E, Section 20. Rocky Island, just east of there, was depicted but not named and the peak of Crates Point was not depicted nor named.

The 1934 U.S. Geological Survey topographic map "The Dalles Quadrangle", shows "Crates Point", the community of "Crates" to the east along the railroad tracks, and inbetween the two an unlabeled hook of land which would become Rocky Island.

The 1946 NOAA navigation map " " shows Crates Point with the Squally Point Light on the Columbia, and in the locality of Rocky Island (still connected to land) is the Crates Point Light.



From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 28, 1805, first draft ...
a windey morning loaded our Canoes and Set out at 9 oClock a m ...     Wind from West

N. 50 W. 2 miles Cove in a Lard. bend Clift of rocks on each Side of 90 feet high, fiew pine

N. 10 W. 2 miles to an Indian village of the Chee-luck-it-te-quar nation of 8 houses in the form of those above, passed the mouth of a Small Creek

... the wind rose and we were obliged to lie by about 1 mile below on the Lard. Side

North 1 mile to a rock Island on the Stard. Side. we had not landed long eer an Indian Canoe Came from below with 3 Indians in it, those Indians make verry nice Canoes of Pine. Thin with aporns & Carve on the head imitation of animals & other heads; ...     rained all the evenig & blew hard from the West encamped on the Lard Side opsd. an Rock in a verry Bad place



Clark, October 28, 1805 ...
A cool windey morning we loaded our Canoes and Set out at 9 oClock, a. m. [Rock Fort] ...     we proceeded on river inclosed on each Side in high Clifts of about 90 feet of loose dark coloured rocks     at four miles we landed at a village of 8 houses on the Stard. Side under Some rugid rocks, Those people call themselves Chil-luckit-te-quaw, ...     here we purchased five Small Dogs, Some dried buries, & white bread made of roots, the wind rose and we were obliged to lie by all day at 1 mile below on the Lard. Side [vicinity of Rocky Island at Crates Point]. ...     wind blew hard accompanied with rain all the evening, our Situation not a verry good one for an encampment, but Such as it is we are obliged to put up with, the harbor is a Safe one [Rocky Island at Crates Point], we encamped on the Sand wet and disagreeable ...



Gass, October 28, 1805 ...
Just before day light there was a shower of rain; but at sun rise the morning was fine and clear. At 8 o'clock we embarked, went about 4 miles, and halted at a small village of the natives and got some dogs from them. Here we stayed about an hour and proceeded on again for about a mile, when we were compelled to stop on account of the wind, which blew so hard ahead that we were unable to continue our voyage. In the course of the day there were some showers of rain. In the evening one of the men went out and killed a fine deer. We were in good safe harbour and remained there all night, accompanied by the natives.


Ordway, October 28, 1805 ...
rained hard the later part of last night. cleared up this morning we then loaded the canoes and Set out proceeded on down a fiew miles and halted at a Small village on the Stard side where we bought several dogs Some berrys &C. Saw a british musket copper tea kittles &C. among them. we then went on a Short distance further the wind rose So high N W that obledged us to halt on the Lard. Side under Some clifts of rocks. the Indians came in their canoes to our camps. one of the party killed a Deer and wounded another this evening a Short distance back near a pond. a little rain this evening.


Whitehouse, October 28, 1805 ...
We continued on our way a short distance further down the River, when the Wind rose so high from the Westward, & the Waves ran also so high, that our officers thought it dangerous to proceed. We came too with our Canoes under a Clift of rocks, which lay on the South side of the River. We had several squalls of wind during this day. We encamped on the So. side of the River. One of our party killed one Deer, & wounded another; in the Evening, near a small pond; a short distance back from the River, which deer he brought to our Camp.




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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; Oregon Bureau of Land Management website, 2005; U.S. Bureau of Land Management website, 2006, General Land Office Records.

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 2011