Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Rufus and Preachers Eddy, Oregon"
Includes ... Rufus ... Preachers Eddy ... John Day Dam ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2006, Rufus, Oregon, from Interstate 84, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rufus, Oregon, from Interstate 84. View is west towards Mount Hood on the horizon. The Columbia River is to the right. Image taken October 2, 2006.

Rufus ...
Rufus, Oregon, is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 213, two miles downstream of the John Day Dam and five miles upstream of the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge. The Sam Hill Memorial Bridge connects Biggs/Biggs Junction, Oregon, with Maryhill, Washington. Upstream of Rufus is the John Day Dam and four miles upstream of Rufus is the John Day River. The now-gone Oregon community of Grant was located downstream of Rufus. Grant was wiped out during the "Great Flood of 1894".

Early Rufus ...
Rufus was named for Rufus C. Wallis, the original settler in the community. He arrived from Tennessee and settled in the Rufus area in 1884. The Rufus Post Office was established in 1886, with Wallis as the first postmaster.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Mangement's General Land Office Records (2006) database shows Rufus C. Wallis being given title to 179.8 acres (1820 Sale-Cash Entry) on June 3, 1896, of T3N R17E Section 31, and 163.8 acres (1820 Sale-Cash Entry) on August 28, 1896, of T3N R17E Section 31.

The 1880 cadastral survey (tax survey) map shows "W. M. Barnett" living on land bordering the Columbia River in T3N R17E, Section 31, and a "Store" is shown in this section on the map.

From the City of Rufus ...
"The origins of Rufus began in 1884 with the arrival of Rufus C. Wallis from Tennessee. The first name of the town was Wallis Station in honor of Mr. Wallis who ran a ferry boat and a warehouse and was considered the second largest wheat shipper on record. The early town site consisted of approximately five acres which Wallis surveyed, platted and deeded to the city out of his homesteaded area in 1892. ... Rufus flourished when William H. Biggs, at a legislative session in Salem in 1885, succeeded in securing passage of a bill which compelled the railroads to place sidings where needed, and two of those places were Biggs and Rufus.

Rufus' population experienced an expansion period after the flood of 1894 which literally washed out the neighboring town to the west, Grant. Grant was never rebuilt and the majority of its citizens moved to Rufus. ...

Rufus' third major growth period came during the construction of the John Day Dam between the years of 1959 and 1968, Interstate 84, and other nearby federally funded construction projects. Incorporation as a city came in 1965. ... As the projects were completed between 1965 and 1970, the population declined. ... Although today there are not as many businesses as in the past the mild climate of Rufus and its location close to The Dalles have resulted in a number of people choosing Rufus for a place of retirement."

Source:    "cityofrufus.net" website, 2011

Views ...

Image, 2006, Columbia River at Rufus, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River at Rufus, Oregon. Image taken October 2, 2006.
Image, 2006, Columbia River downstream John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River at Rufus, Oregon. Image taken October 2, 2006.
Image, 2006, Downstream John Day Dam, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rabbitbrush at Rufus, Oregon. Image taken October 2, 2006.
Image, 2005, Columbia River Basalts, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River basalts, Rufus, Oregon. Image taken May 24, 2005.
Image, 2005, Columbia River Basalts, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River basalts, Rufus, Oregon. Image taken May 24, 2005.

Rufus, etc.

  • Preacher's Eddy ...
  • Rufus and Preacher's Eddy Treaty Fishing Access Sites ...

Preachers Eddy ...
Preachers Eddy (often seen as "Preacher's Eddy") is located approximately one mile upstream of Rufus and just below Giles French Park and the John Day Dam. The name "Preachers Eddy" is an early name for this area. A search of the Oregon Historic Newspaper Archives website (2016, University of Oregon Libraries) found the name in use by 1879. Today Preachers Eddy is known for its Walleye fishing.

"Some of the best walleye fishing in North America can be found in the mighty Columbia River, and especially at a place called the Preacherís Eddy. ... The Preacherís Eddy is just one of the many popular walleye spots in Lake Celilo, the impoundment created by The Dalles Dam in the Columbia River Gorge. Anther early-season spot is the Deadline below the John Day Dam ... there are some tricky currents and rocky shoals just below the surface. Itís not a place for beginners. Below that hole is the Preacherís Eddy itself, and just below that on the Washington side is an area called The Willows. Thereís more good water on the Oregon side, running from the Giles French Park boat ramp down past the grain elevators. All of these are good early-season bets, and also during periods of high water. ..." [Game & Fish Online Magazine, 2006]

"Preacher's Eddy: Just downriver from The Deadline, Preacher's Eddy has long been famous for its big fish. While not as difficult to fish as The Deadline, this stretch has an undulating bottom, running anywhere from 12 to 32 feet. Schneider considers this prime depth for walleye. As you troll or drift downstream, you must continually adjust the depth of your bait to keep it on the bottom." [Oregon Walleye Fishing Guides, Columbia River Walleye website, 2016]

Rufus and Preacher's Eddy Treaty Fishing Access Sites, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission ...
All four Columbia River treaty tribes enjoy fishing rights along the Columbia from the Bonneville to McNary dams. This 147-mile stretch of the river is called Zone 6. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) operates and maintains 31 fishing sites (2015, Note: the website map only shows 30 sites) in Zone 6. These sites were set aside by Congress to provide fishing locations to Indian fishers whose traditional fishing grounds were inundated behind dams.

"For fisheries management purposes, the 292-mile stretch of the Columbia River that creates the border between Washington and Oregon is divided into six zones. Zones 1-5 are between the mouth of the river and Bonneville Dam, a distance of 145 miles. Oregon and Washington manage the commercial fisheries that occur in these zones. Zone 6 is an exclusive treaty Indian commercial fishing area. This exclusion is for commercial fishing only. Non-commercial sports fishers may still fish in this stretch of the river." [Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission website, 2016]

The Zone 6 sites include 19 Treaty Fishing Access sites (Bonneville, Wyeth, White Salmon, Stanley Rock, Lyle, Dallesport, Celilo, Maryhill, Rufus, Preachers Eddy, North Shore, LePage Park, Pasture Point, Roosevelt Park, Pine Creek, Threemile Canyon, Alderdale, Crow Butte, and Faler Road), five "In-lieu" sites (Cascade Locks, Wind River, Cooks, Underwood, and Lone Pine), two "Shared-use" sites (Avery and Sundale Park, for both Tribal use and Public use), and four "Unimproved" sites with no services (Goodnoe, Rock Creek, Moonay, and Aldercreek).

"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. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Rufus, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Wigwam Cafe, Rufus, Oregon, ca.1950s. Penny Postcard, Chrome, ca.1950s. Caption on the back reads: "Wigwam -- Cafe, Motel & Service Station located where the John Day meets the Columbia River. Featuring one of Oregon's largest private arrowhead collections. Owners, Leonard & Doris Cotton, Rufus, Oregon." Natural Color R Card, from Kodachrome. A Mike Roberts Color Production, Berkeley 2, Calif. Distributed by Western Sales Co., 1034 La Point, Boise, Idaho. Card #SC2681. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 22, 1805 ...
A fine morning calm and fare we Set out [downstream of the John Day Dam] at 9 oClock passed a verry bad rapid [today the location of the "Sam Hill Memorial Bridge", U.S. Highway 97 crossing from Biggs Junction, Oregon, to Maryhill, Washington. The rapid, which was labeled "Five-Mile Rapid" in 1858, is now under the waters of the Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam.] at the head of an Island close under the Stard. Side [???], above this rapid on the Stard. Side is Six Lodges of nativs Drying fish [Maryhill vicinity], at 9 mls. passed a bad rapid [Deschutes Rapid, also under the waters of Lake Celilo] at the head of a large Island [Miller Island] of high, uneaven [rocks], jutting over the water, a Small Island in a Stard. Bend [???] opposit the upper point, on which I counted 20 parcels of dryed and pounded fish; on the main Stard Shore opposit to this Island five Lodges of Indians are Situated Several Indians in Canoes killing fish with gigs [Haystack Butte, Columbia Hills, vicinity], <and nets> &c. opposit the center of this Island of rocks [Miller Island] which is about 4 miles long we discovered the enterence of a large river on the Lard. Side [Deschutes River] which appeared to Come from the S. E. - we landed at Some distance above the mouth of this river [Deschutes River] and Capt. Lewis and my Self Set out to view this river above its mouth, as our rout was intersepted by a deep narrow Chanel which runs out of this river into the Columbia a little below the place we landed, leaveing a high dry rich Island of about 400 yards wide and 800 yards long here we Seperated, I proceeded on to the river and Struck it at the foot of a verry Considerable rapid [Deschutes Rapids], here I beheld an emence body of water Compressd in a narrow Chanel of about 200 yds in width, fomeing over rocks maney of which presented their tops above the water, when at this place Capt. Lewis joined me haveing ....     at about two miles above this River appears to be confined between two high hils below which it divided by numbers of large rocks, and Small Islands covered with a low groth of timber, and has a rapid as far as the narrows three Small Islands in the mouth of this River, <we returned> this River haveing no Indian name that we could find out, except "the River on which the Snake Indians live," we think it best to leave the nameing of it untill our return [Deschutes River].

we proceeded on pass the mouth of this river [Deschutes River] at which place it appears to discharge 1/4 as much water as runs down the Columbia. at two miles below this River passed Eight Lodges on the Lower point of the Rock Island [Miller Island] aforesaid at those Lodges we saw large logs of wood which must have been rafted down the To war-ne hi ooks River [Deschutes River], below this Island [Miller Island] on the main Stard Shore is 16 Lodges of nativs; here we landed a fiew minits to Smoke, the lower point of one Island opposit [???] which heads in the mouth of Towarnehiooks River [Deschutes River] which I did not observe untill after passing these lodges     about 1/2 a mile lower passed 6 more Lodges on the Same Side and 6 miles below the upper mouth of Towarnehiooks River [Deschutes River] the comencement of the pitch of the Great falls [Celilo Falls], opposit on the Stard. Side is 17 Lodges of the nativs [near Wishram, Washington]     we landed and walked down accompanied by an old man to view the falls [Celilo Falls], and the best rout for to make a portage ...     we made 19 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

  • Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission website, 2016;
  • City of Rufus website, 2011;
  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • 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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Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
January 2016