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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Sacajawea State Park, Washington"
Includes ... Sacajawea State Park ... Sacajawea or Sacagawea ??? ... Campsite of October 16-17, 1805 ... Ainsworth ... Wanapum Village ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2003, Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sacajawea State Park, Washington. Lewis and Clark camped at this location (the actual location is now under the waters of Lake Wallula, behind McNary Dam) October 16 and October 17, 1805. Image taken September 29, 2003.


Sacajawea State Park ...
Sacajawea State Park is a 284-acre marine, day-use park located in Pasco, Washington, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 325, where the Snake River merges with the Columbia. Eight miles upstream lie Bateman Island - the furthest upstream the expedition explored - and the mouth of the Yakima River. Ten miles downstream lie Wallula, Washington, and the mouth of the Walla Walla River. On the right bank of the Columbia, directly across from Sacajawea State Park is Two Rivers County Park, which has and excellent view looking back towards the State Park. Behind Two Rivers County Park rises the Horse Heaven Hills. Sacajawea State Park is located on a plain of the great Lake Missoula floods which swept through the area 12,000 years ago. It features 9,100 feet of freshwater shoreline with the park's lands being sand dunes interspersed with wetland ponds. The property was deeded to Washington State Parks in 1931, and was named for Sacajawea, a Shoshoni Indian woman who traveled with the Lewis and Clark expedition. Lewis and Clark spent two nights here in October 1805.

Sacajawea or Sacagawea ??? ...
According to the "pbs.org" website (2011):

"... Captain Clark wrote that the 'great object was to make every letter sound' in recording Indian words in their journals. The pronunciation of Sacagawea’s name in years since the expedtion as 'Sacajawea' does not match 'Sah-cah' gah-we-ah,' the way that the captains recorded the young Shoshone woman’s name. In fact, her name -- made by joining the Hidatsa words for bird ('sacaga') and woman ('wea') -- was written 17 times by the explorers in their journals and on their maps, and each time it was spelled with a 'g' in the third syllable. ..."

Also from "pbs.org" website:

"... Sacagawea, with the infant Jean Baptiste, was the only woman to accompany the 33 members of the permanent party to the Pacific Ocean and back. Baptiste, who Captain Clark affectionately named 'Pomp' or 'Pompy' for his 'little dancing boy' frolicking, rode with Sacagawea in the boats and on her back when they traveled on horseback. Her activities as a member of the Corps included digging for roots, collecting edible plants and picking berries; all of these were used as food and sometimes, as medicine. On May 14, 1805, the boat Sacagawea was riding in was hit by a high wind and nearly capsized. She recovered many important papers and supplies that would otherwise have been lost, and her calmness under duress earned the compliments of the captains. ..."

Lewis and Clark arrive at the Columbia River ...
Lewis and Clark reached the junction of the Snake River with the Columbia River on October 16, 1805, and they set up camp in the vicinity of today's Sacajawea State Park, on the Columbia side, a little upstream of the point. The men remained there for two days.

"... we arrived at the great Columbia river, which comes in from the northwest. We found here a number of natives, of whose nations we have not yet found out the names.    We encamped on the point between the two rivers. The country all round is level, rich and beautiful, but without timber ..." [Gass, October 16, 1805]

Campsite of October 16-17, 1805 ...
Lewis and Clark reached the junction of the Snake River with the Columbia River on October 16, 1805, and they set up camp in the vicinity of today's Sacajawea State Park, on the Columbia side, a little upstream of the point. The men remained there for two days.

"... We halted a Short time above the Point and Smoked with the Indians, & examined the Point and best place for our Camp, we Camped on the Columbia River a little above the point ..." [Clark, October 16, 1805, first draft]

"...We halted above the point on the river Kimooenim to Smoke with the Indians who had collected there in great numbers to view us, ... after Smokeing with the Indians who had collected to view us we formed a camp at the point near which place I Saw a fiew pieces of Drift wood ..." [Clark, October 16, 1805]

"... towards evening we arived at the big forks. the large River which is wider than the Columbia River comes in from a northerly direction. the Country around these forks is level Smooth plain. no timber. not a tree to be Seen as far as our Eyes could extend. a fiew willows Scattering along the Shores ..." [Ordway, October 16, 1805]

"... Having gone 21 miles we arrived at the great Columbia river, which comes in from the northwest. We found here a number of natives, of whose nations we have not yet found out the names. We encamped on the point between the two rivers. The country all round is level, rich and beautiful, but without timber. ..." [Gass, October 16, 1805]

"... towards evening we arived at the forks of the river which came from a northly direction and is larger than this Columa. R. the country around these forks is level Smooth barron plains not even a tree to be Seen as far as our eyes could extend a fiew willows along the Shores. we found about 2 hundred or upwards Camped on the point between the two Rivers. a verry pleasant place. we Camped near them on the point. ..." [Whitehouse, October 16, 1805]

A good view of the Columbia River, the "Point" the men camped on, and the mouth of the Snake River can be had from Two Rivers County Park, across the Columbia from Sacajawea State Park. On October 18, 1805, Lewis and Clark began their journey down the Columbia. Their campsite of October 18, 1805, was downstream at Spring Gulch.


Sacajawea State Park and the Missoula Floods ...
According to Washington State Parks and Recreation Sacajawea State Park guide (2015):

"During the last Ice Age, the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers looked very different. Rushing floodwaters were slowed by the narrow opening at Wallula Gap, backing up to form a huge temporary lake. Repeated floods covered the area under as much as 800 feet of water in a temporary slack-water basin now known as Lake Lewis."

Research has shown however that the flood waters reached an estimated 1,250 feet at Pasco, only eight miles upstream of Sacajawea State Park. Estimates at Wallula Gap were also at 1,250 feet.
[More]


Sacajawea State Park History ...
"For thousands of years, the site of Sacajawea State Park was a traditional gathering, fishing and trading place for Native peoples. Sahaptian-speaking Indians came to trade and to catch and dry fish for winter. Some people remained through the winter at this popular gathering place.

On October 16, 1805, the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery arrived at the confluence of the two rivers and stayed for two nights. They explored the area and traded with the friendly Native people before paddling down the Columbia River to the Pacific Coast. The park was eventually named for Sacagawea, the Agaiduka Shoshoni Indian woman who accompanied the Expedition.

The Northern Pacific Railroad established a construction site at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers in 1879. The site quickly grew into a town, which the railroad company named Ainsworth. The town peaked with a population of 1,500 people, but after Northern Pacific moved its construction work to other locations, the town eventually disappeared. Today, most of the original town site is within Sacajawea State Park.

In 1927, Thomas and Stacie Carstens donated an acre of land to the Daughters of the Pioneers of Washington -- Pasco Chapter to help preserve the original Corps of Discovery campsite. The women hand carried buckets of water to care for trees they planted to mark the location of the campsite and led the effort to erect the monument that still stands today. In 1931, the women deeded the land to Washington state, and the land was designated as a state park.

With support from the local communities and the state, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructed a museum at the park in 1938. The Sacajawea Museum was built to display Native American artifacts from the tribes of the Columbia Plateau. The museum, now known as the Sacajawea Interpretive Center, and three other WPA buildings are still in use.


Source:    "Your guide to Sacajawea State Park and Interpretive Center" brochure, Washington State Parks and Recreation website, 2015.


Views ...

Image, 2003, Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sacajawea State Park, Washington. View of greenery of Sacajawea State Park as seen from Two Rivers County Park, Pasco, Washington. The mouth of the Snake River is to the right. Image taken September 29, 2003.
Image, 2003, Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Gazebo, Sacajawea State Park, Washington. Image taken September 29, 2003.


The gazebo was built between 1933 and 1935 and was originally known as the "Vista House".
Image, 2005, Looking downstream, Columbia River, from Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Looking downstream, Columbia River, as seen from Sacajawea State Park. Image taken September 25, 2005.


Sacajawea State Park, etc.

  • Ainsworth ...
  • Seven Story Circles (Maya Lin) ...
  • Wanapum Village ...
  • Views from Sacajawea State Park ...


Ainsworth ...
According to the Washington State Parks and Recreation's Sacajawea State Park guide (2015):

"The Northern Pacific Railroad established a construction site at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers in 1879. The site quickly grew into a town, which the railroad company named Ainsworth. The town peaked with a population of 1,500 people, but after Northern Pacific moved its construction work to other locations, the town eventually disappeared. Today, most of the original town site is within Sacajawea State Park."

Robert Hitchman writes in Place Names of Washington (1985, Washington State Historical Society):

"This long-abandoned railroad construction town was 2 miles east of present-day Pasco, near the mouth of Snake River, Franklin County. It was founded in October 1879, by Northern Pacific Railway engineers as a western base for operations. Its importance terminated when rail traffic between Pasco and Tacoma started to move through Stampede Tunnel in the Cascades, rather than via the Wallula route. Building of a bridge across Snake River and the elimination of a ferry were contributing factors. It was named for Capt. J.C. Ainsworth, a prominent official of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company."


Seven Story Circles (Maya Lin) ...
The seven large "Story Circles" are large rings of basalt, some raised and others set into the ground, with themes from Native cultures sandblasted into the rock.


Wanapum Village ...
During the summer of 2005 Sacajawea State Park hosted a re-creation of a traditional Wanapum native village, built by the Wanapum Band of Native Americans, Grant County PUD, and the Wanapum Heritage Center.

Image, 2005, Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sacajawea State Park, Washington. Re-creation of a traditional Wanapum native village, built by the Wanapum Band of Native Americans, Grant County PUD, and the Wanapum Heritage Center. Image taken September 25, 2005.
Image, 2005, Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sacajawea State Park, Washington. Re-creation of a traditional Wanapum native village, built by the Wanapum Band of Native Americans, Grant County PUD, and the Wanapum Heritage Center. Image taken September 25, 2005.


Views from Sacajawea State Park ...
Sacajawea State Park offers good views of the mouth of the Snake River where it merges with the Columbia, and across the Columbia towards the Horse Heaven Hills. Upstream the Pasco-Kennewick Cable Bridge can be seen.

Image, 2005, Horse Heaven Hills from Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mouth of the Snake River looking towards the Columbia River and the Horse Heaven Hills. View from Sacajawea State Park. Image taken September 25, 2005.

"... we arrived at the great Columbia river, which comes in from the northwest. We found here a number of natives, of whose nations we have not yet found out the names.    We encamped on the point between the two rivers. The country all round is level, rich and beautiful, but without timber ..." [Gass, October 16, 1805]
Image, 2003, Kennewick and Horse Heaven Hills from Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Homes of Kennewick, Washington, and the Horse Heaven Hills. Looking across the Columbia River towards the Horse Heaven Hills. Image taken from Sacajawea State Park near the mouth of the Snake River, Washington, September 29, 2003.
Image, 2003, Cable Bridge, from Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River and Pasco-Kennewick "Cable Bridge", as seen from Sacajawea State Park, Kennewick, Washington. Image taken September 29, 2003.
Image, 2005, Cable Bridge from Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River and the Pasco-Kennewick "Cable Bridge", as seen from Sacajawea State Park. View of old railroad bridge is in the foreground. Image taken September 25, 2005.
Image, 2005, Snake River from Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Looking up the Snake River. View from Sacajawea State Park, from boat dock near "the point" at Sacajawea State Park, looking upstream Snake River. Image taken September 25, 2005.
Image, 2005, Columbia River looking downstream from Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Looking down the Columbia River from Sacajawea State Park, Washington. On October 18, 1805, Lewis and Clark left their camp at today's Sacajawea State Park, and began their journey down the Columbia River. Image taken September 25, 2005.

"... This morning Cool and fare wind from the S. E. ...    Took our leave of the Chiefs and all those about us and proceeded on down the great Columbia river ..."
[Clark, October 18, 1805]


"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, Sacajawea State Park, ca.1940s Penny Postcard: Sacajawea State Park, Washington, ca.1940s. Penny Postcard, ca.1940s, "Sacajawea State Park, State of Washington." In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 16, 1806, first draft ...
S. 28 W. 6 ½ miles to the Junction of Columbia R. in the Point Stard [Sacajawea State Park, where the Snake River joins the Columbia River] Passed the rapid opposit the upper Point of the Said Island and Passed a Small Isd. on Lard Side opposit, passed the lower point of the Island on Stard Side at 2 1/2 miles a gravelley bare in the river at 3 miles, river wide Countrey on each side low, a rainge of hills on the west imedeately in front of the opposit side of Columbia [Horse Heaven Hills. Today Two Rivers County Park is located across from the Snake River at the base of the Horse Heaven Hills.]


Clark, October 16, 1805 ...
and having taken Diner Set out and proceeded on [on the Snake River] Seven miles to the junction of this river and the Columbia which joins from the N. W. [junction of the Snake with the Columbia, location of today's Sacajawea State Park]     passd. a rapid two Islands and a graveley bare, and imediately in the mouth a rapid above an Island. In every direction from the junction of those rivers the Countrey is one Continued plain low and rises from the water gradually, except a range of high Countrey [Horse Heaven Hills, Two Rivers County Park is located across from the mouth of the Snake River at the base of the Horse Heaven Hills.] which runs from S. W & N E and is on the opposit Side about 2 miles distant from the Collumbia and keeping its derection S W untill it joins a S W. range of mountains [Blue Mountains]. We halted above the point on the river Kimooenim [Snake River] to smoke with the Indians who had collected there in great numbers to view us, ... we formed a camp at the point [Sacajawea State Park] near which place I Saw a fiew pieces of Drift wood after we had our camp fixed and fires made, a Chief came from their Camp which was about 1/4 of a mile up the Columbia river ...     Great quantities of a kind of prickley pares, much worst than any I have before Seen of a tapering form and attach themselves by bunches



Gass, October 16, 1805 ...
Having gone 21 miles [they are on the Snake River] we arrived at the great Columbia river, which comes in from the northwest. We found here a number of natives, of whose nations we have not yet found out the names. We encamped on the point between the two rivers [location of today's Sacajawea State Park]. The country all round is level, rich and beautiful, but without timber


Whitehouse, October 16, 1805 ...
Towards evening we arrived at a large fork that came into this River [Snake River] from a Northerly direction & was much large than the fork which we descended which we supposed to be the Columbia River -- The country round where the forks of these two River lay was level & smooth barren plains, with not a Tree to be seen as far as our Eyes could extend. Along the Shores grew a few Willows. We found upwards of 200 Indians, that were encamped on a point of land, that lay between these two Rivers, in a very pleasant situated place. We Encamped near those Indians on the same point of land [Sacajawea State Park].





Clark, October 18, 1805, first draft ...
Measured the width of the Columbia River, from the Point [location of today's Sacajawea State Park] across to a Point of view is S 22° W from the Point up the Columa to a Point of view is N. 84° W. 148 poles, thence across to the 1st point of view is S 28½ E

Measured the width of Ki moo e nim River [Snake River}, from the Point across to an object on the opposit side is N. 41½ E from the Point up the river is N. 8 E. 82 poles thence accross to the Point of view is N. 79° East

Distance across the Columbia 960¾ yds water

Distance across the Ki-moo-e nim 575 yds water ..."



Clark, October 18, 1805 ...
This morning Cool and fare wind from the S. E. ...     Took our leave of the Chiefs and all those about us and proceeded on down the great Columbia river [They left their camp at today's Sacajawea State Park, located at the junction of the Snake River with the Columbia. The men will pass the mouth of the Walla Walla River, reach the Wallula Gap, and camp for the night near Spring Creek Gulch.]



Ordway, October 18, 1805 ...
. a clear pleasant morning. we delayed here untill after 12 oClock to day Capt. Clark measured Columbian River and the Ki mo e nem Rivers [Snake River] and found the Columbia River to be 860 yards wide, and the ki moo e nem R. to be 475 yards wide at the forks.




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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:    Kubik, Barbara J., 2001, "Research Report: The Story of Sacajawea State Park";    Maya Lin Confluence Project website, 2015;    "pbs.org" website, 2011;    Sacajawea State Park information courtesy Washington State Parks and Recreation website, 2003, 2015;   

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 2015