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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Sandy River, Oregon"
Includes ... Sandy, Oregon ... Sandy River ... "Quicksand River" ... "Baring River" ... Sandy River Two Mouths ... Sandy River Delta ... Hunters Campsite of April 1, 1806 ... Sundial Island ... Broughton Bluff ... Barlow Road ... Revenue Bridge ... Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area ... Dabney State Recreation Area ... Historic Columbia River Highway ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2003, Sandy River looking upstream from Lewis and Clark State Park, click to enlarge
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Sandy River looking upstream from Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, Oregon. Broughton Bluff, part of the Chamberlain Hill Boring Lava Cone, is in the background. Image taken October 18, 2003.


Sandy River ...
The Sandy River originates on the slopes of Mount Hood, Oregon, and drains about 508 square miles (330,000 acres) of northwest Oregon. The river flows 55 miles from its source on Mount Hood to its mouth, entering the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 120.5. Directly across from the mouth of the Sandy River is Washougal, Washington, Lady Island, and the mouth of the Washougal River. Upstream on the Washington shore is Cottonwood Beach, the location of Lewis and Clark's camp from March 31, 1806 until April 6, 1806. On the Oregon side near its mouth the Sandy winds around the west side of Chamberlain Hill, one of the Boring Lava Volcanoes. Upstream in the Columbia are the small islands Gary, Flag, and Chatham, and downstream lies Chinook Landing. The community of Troutdale is on the Sandy's left (western) bank where Beaver Creek enters the Sandy (approximately Sandy River Mile (RM) 3.0). The Sandy River merges into the Columbia forming the Sandy River delta.

Image, 2005, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River, Oregon. Image taken August 27, 2005.
Image, 2003, Sandy River looking downsteam towards I-84, click to enlarge
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Sandy River, Oregon. Looking downstream towards Interstate-84 Bridge, near the Sandy River's confluence with the Columbia River. Image taken October 18, 2003.


Sandy, Oregon ...
The Oregon community of Sandy was named after the Sandy River. It began as a rest area for pioneers on the Oregon Trail, and was a western point for the historic Barlow Road, the wagon route around Mount Hood.
[More]

Image, 2010, Sandy, Oregon, click to enlarge
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"Welcome to Sandy, Gateway to Mount Hood", Sandy, Oregon. Image taken July 17, 2010.
Image, 2010, Sandy, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mural, Sandy, Oregon. There are several murals throughout the community of Sandy. This one depicts a family on the Oregon Trail. Image taken July 17, 2010.


Sandy River Drainage ...
According to the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website (2004), the principal tributaries to the Sandy River include the ZigZag River, Still Creek and Salmon River in the upper reach, and the Bull Run River, Little Sandy River, Gordon Creek, Cedar Creek and Beaver Creek in the lower reach. The headwaters of the Sandy and ZigZag Rivers are greatly influenced by glaciers and steep unstable slopes on the western flank of Mount Hood, a Cascade Range volcano with an elevation of 11,235 feet.

Image, 2005, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River, Oregon. View looking upstream, near Stark Street Bridge. Broughton Bluff is on the left. On April 1, 1806, three men from the Lewis and Clark expedition explored the Sandy River as far up as today's Stark Street Bridge. Image taken August 27, 2005.
Image, 2005, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River, Oregon. View looking downstream near the Stark Street Bridge. Image taken August 27, 2005.
Image, 2003, Sandy River looking downstream from Lewis and Clark State Park, click to enlarge
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Sandy River looking downstream from Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, Oregon. Image taken October 18, 2003.


Two mouths of the Sandy ...
Throughout history the Sandy River has had two mouths, the upper one entering the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 123, and the lower one entering at RM 120.5. In 1931 a dike/dam was built to block the main upper (easternmost) channel, allowing all flow to enter the Columbia at the lower mouth. That is today's Sandy River. The upper channel is a sluggish slough. The arms of the Sandy surround and are included in a wooded wetland with ponds, sloughs, bottomlands, woodlands, and prairies, known as the Sandy River Delta.

In 1806 and 1806 Lewis and Clark noted the two mouths with an "island" inbetween.

"... a verry Considerable Stream Dischargeing its waters through 2 Chanels which forms an Island of about 3 miles in length on the river and 1 1/2 miles wide, composed of Corse Sand which is thrown out of this quick Sand river ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805]

"... This morning early we dispatched Sergt. Pryar with two men in a small canoe up quicksand river with orders to proceed as far as he could and return this evening. ... Sergt. Pryar returned in the evening and reported that he had ascended the river six miles; that above the point at which it divides itself into two channels it is about 300 yds wide tho' the channel is not more than 50 yds and only 6 ft deep. ..." [Lewis, April 1, 1806]

In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition named this island "Bachelet I.", with the upper mouth being named "Quichel's R." and the lower mouth becoming "Palle Creek". These names did not stick. The upper mouth of the Sandy became the "Sandy River" and the lower mouth became the "Little Sandy River", and the "island" between them became the northern part of the "Sandy River Delta" - today the 600-acre "Sundial Island". In the 1930s, the Oregon Department of Fish diked/damed the upper mouth of the Sandy to improve the smelt run, with the waters of the upper Sandy being diverted into the lower mouth. The upper mouth became a slough as it filled in with silt. The "island" became pastureland. The area today is known as the Sandy River Delta and includes hiking trails, birding environments, and an off-leash dog park.


Sandy River Delta ...
The Sandy River Delta was once a wooded wetland with ponds, sloughs, bottomlands, woodlands, and prairies located around the two mouths of the Sandy River.
[More]

Images of the Sandy River Delta ...

Image, 2009, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Upper eastern mouth of the Sandy River, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2009.
Image, 2009, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Upper eastern mouth of the Sandy River, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2009.
Image, 2009, Sandy River Delta, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Crossing the Sandy River Delta dike/dam. Image taken June 28, 2009.


Lewis and Clark and the "Quicksand River" ...
Lewis and Clark passed the Sandy River on November 3, 1805, and called the river "Quicksand River", after finding the mouth shallow and impassable.

"... at 3 miles I arrived at the enterance of a river which appeared to Scatter over a Sand bar, the bottom of which I could See quite across and did not appear to be 4 Inches deep in any part; I attempted to wade this Stream and to my astonishment found the bottom a quick Sand, and impassible -- I called to the Canoes to put to Short. I got into the Canoe and landed below the mouth. & Capt Lewis and my Self walked up this river about 1 1/2 miles to examine this river which we found to be a verry Considerable Stream Dischargeing its waters through 2 Chanels which forms an Island of about 3 miles in length on the river and 1 1/2 miles wide, composed of Corse Sand which is thrown out of this quick Sand river Compressing the waters of the Columbia and throwing the whole Current of its waters against its Northern banks, within a Chanel of 1/2 a mile wide, Several Small Islands 1 mile up this river, This Stream has much the appearance of the River Platt: roleing its quick Sands into the bottoms with great velocity after which it is divided into 2 Chanels by a large Sand bar before mentioned, the narrowest part of this River is 120 yards ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805]

What caused this sand bar ??? ... According to Cynthia Gardner of the U.S. Geological Survey [Gardner, et.al., 2000] an eruption of Mount Hood occurred a few years before the passage of Lewis and Clark.

"In 1805, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark named a river on the south side of the Columbia River gorge the "Quicksand River." Their description of a wide, shallow river with a bed "formed entirely of quicksand," bears little resemblance to the narrow, moderately deep river we call today the Sandy River. What happened? The answer lay 50 miles away at Mount Hood. An eruption in the 1790's caused a tremendous amount of volcanic rock and sand to enter the Sandy River drainage. That sediment was still being flushed downstream when Lewis and Clark saw and named the river. Since 1806, the river has removed the excess sediment from its channel. The Toutle River in southwest Washington was similarly affected by the 1980 eruptions of Mount St. Helens."

While Lewis and Clark generally called the river "Quicksand" River, the phrase "Sandy River" did appear.

"... passed the Lower mouth of Sandy river at 3 miles ...     river wide The Countrey below quick Sand river on the Lard Side is low Piney Countrey. ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805, first draft]

"... This morning our Officers sent Serjeant Pryor & 2 of our party in a Canoe in order to go 5 or Six Miles up <Quick Sand or> Quicksand or Sandy River ... " [Whitehouse, April 1, 1806]

"... Myself and 4 men went below the mouth of Sandy river, and killed an elk, some deer and a black bear. ..." [Gass, April 2, 1806]

"... The natives that were still with us, informed our Officers, that there was a large River, which emptied itself into the Columbia River, on the South side, below Sandy River ..." [Whitehouse, April 2, 1806]

Image, 2004, Sandy River Bridge Sign, click to enlarge
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History Sign, Sandy River, Oregon. Signpost is located next to the Crown Point Highway Bridge across the Sandy River, located at Sandy River Mile 3. Image taken June 27, 2004.


Lewis and Clark explore the Sandy River ...
Lewis and Clark for the second time passed the Sandy on their return in April 1806. While the men spent six days at Cottonwood Beach campsite, Lewis and Clark sent three of the men to expore "as far as he could" up the Sandy River.

"... This morning early we dispatched Sergt. Pryar with two men in a small canoe up quicksand river with orders to proceed as far as he could and return this evening. ...     Sergt. Pryar returned in the evening and reported that he had ascended the river six miles; that above the point at which it divides itself into two channels it is about 300 yds wide tho' the channel is not more than 50 yds and only 6 ft deep.     this is a large vollume of water to collect in so short a distance; I therefore think it probable that there are some large creeks falling into it from the S.W.     the bed of this stream is formed entirely of quicksand; it's banks are low and at preasent overflows.     the water is turbid and current rapid. -- the following are the courses taken by Sergt. Pryor. S.10ow. 1 M. to a point on the Lard. side passing a large Island on Stard. S.24oE. 2 m. to the head of an Island near the Lard. shore. S 33oE. 4 m. to a stard. point passing several islands on the Lard. side and a creek 50 yds. wide on Stard at 1 1/2 miles.     the river from hence appeared to bend to the East.     he heard falls of water.     several different tribes informed us that it heads at Mount Hood. ..." [Lewis, April 1, 1806]

Sergeant Pryor reached as far as today's Dabney State Recreation Area, located at Sandy River Mile (RM) 6 (see more below).


Hunters Campsite of April 1, 1806 ...
While the Lewis and Clark "main camp" was located across the Columbia River at Cottonwood Beach, a group of hunters spent the night of April 1, 1806, on the Oregon side of the Columbia "above the enterance of Q. Sand River", a location today known as the Sandy River Delta.
[More]

View from Airliner ...

Image, 2010, Sandy River, click to enlarge
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Sandy River, as seen from airliner landing at PDX. Day overcast and drizzly. Image taken October 10, 2010.


Early Sandy River ...
On October 30, 1792, Lieutenant Broughton of the Captain George Vancouver Expedition passed by the Sandy River and named it "Baring River".

"... From hence a large river bore S.5 E., which was afterwards seen to take a southwestwardly direction, and was named Baring River ..." [Broughton, October 30, 1792]

Lewis and Clark passed the Sandy River on November 3, 1805, and generally called the river "Quicksand River", altho the phrase "Sandy River" did appear in the journals (see above). Lewis and Clark also noted the fact that there were two mouths to the Sandy River, which they called the "upper mouth" and the "lower mouth", with an "island" inbetween.

"... a verry Considerable Stream Dischargeing its waters through 2 Chanels which forms an Island of about 3 miles in length on the river and 1 1/2 miles wide, composed of Corse Sand which is thrown out of this quick Sand river ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805]

In 1838 the "Map of the United States Territory of Oregon West of the Rocky Mountains, Exhibiting the various Trading Depots or Forst occupied by the British Hudson Bay Company, connected with the Western and northwestern Fur Trade. Compiled in the Bureau of Topographical Engineers, from the latest authorities, under the direction of Col. J.J. Abert, by Wash: Hood." had the river labeled "Quicksand R.".

In 1841 Charles Wilkes and the U.S. Exploring Expedition mapped this area and gave the two mouths of the Sandy separate names. The lower mouth became "Palle Creek" and the upper mouth became "Quichel's R.", with the "island" inbetween the mouths being called "Bachelet I.". Directly across from these two rivers and Bachelet Island, was "Frost I.", today known as Lady Island and "Evarts Bay", today the mouth of the Washougal River. On the Columbia River inset on Wilke's "Map of the Oregon Territory" the Washougal River is labeled "Evets R.".

The 1902 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey map calls the lower mouth "Little Sandy River" and the upper mouth the "Sandy River", with numerous unnamed islands shown between the two mouths.

The 1948 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey map also has the "Little Sandy River" downstream, and the "Sandy River" upstream, with the "Sandy River" showing a dike and siltation in its channel. Unnamed islands and sloughs are between the two mouths.


Sandy River and the Barlow Road ...
Early pioneers on the Oregon Trail often skipped the last leg of the journey down the Columbia, instead electing to take the Barlow Road trail around the south side of Mount Hood. Wagons left The Dalles and headed south, crossed the Cascade Range on the south side of Mount Hood, then turned west and headed to the Willamette Valley. The pioneers had to cross the Sandy River twice. The first crossing was just east of today's Rhododendron and later near today's Brightwood. The second crossing was just east of the community of Sandy, today known as the "Revenue Bridge", a location which would become a Barlow Road tollgate.
[More Sandy River and the Barlow Road]

Image, 2012, Sandy, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River Revenue Bridge, Sandy, Oregon. This new Revenue Bridge was completed in 2009, replacing a bridge which had been in place since 1952. Image taken July 13, 2012.


Sandy River near Troutdale ...
The Sandy River lies about a mile west of the community of Troutdale. To get to communities and markets east the Sandy River had to be crossed.

During the last half of the 1800s a ferry crossed the Sandy River approximately two miles upstream from the Sandy's confluence with the Columbia River.. The approximate crosssing was at the location of today's boat launch at the Lewis and Clark State Recreation area. The ferry often transported many Oregon Trail travelers who chose the "river route" from The Dalles instead of the "land route" (Barlow Road). Around 1890 the ferry was replaced by a bridge.

Robert A. Habersham's 1889 "Multnomah County" map shows three crossings of the Sandy River near Troutdale. Furthest north is the Railroad line with a "wagon bridge" crossing just south, aligning with today's "Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale". Further south is another "wagon bridge" crossing the Sandy aligning itself with today's Stark Street Bridge crossing.

Today's "Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale" was built in 1912. It connected to the "market roads" heading to Chanticleer Point. Today's Woodard Road is a remnant of that road.

Today's "Sandy River Bridge, Stark Street" replaced an old wooden bridge in 1914.

The Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale and the Sandy River Bridge, Stark Street, were connected in 1916. These two bridges became known as the starting points of the Historic Columbia River Highway.



Having fun !!! ...

Image, 2009, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River "recreation", as seen from the Sandy River Delta. Image taken June 28, 2009.
Image, 2009, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River "recreation", as seen from the Sandy River Delta. Image taken June 28, 2009.


Sandy River, etc.

  • Boat Ramp ...
  • Dabney State Recreation Area ...
  • Historic Columbia River Highway ...
  • Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area (Broughton Bluff) ...
  • Sandy River Bridge at Stark Street ...
  • Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale ...
  • Sandy River from Interstate 84 ...
  • Smelting and the Sandy River ...
  • Tad's Chicken 'n Dumplins ...
  • Thousand Acres Dog Park ...
  • Troutdale Ferry ...


Boat Ramp ...
There is a boat launch area across from the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, at Sandy River Mile (RM) 3. This was once the location of the Troutdale Ferry. See "Troutdale Ferry" below.


Dabney State Recreation Area ...
[More]

Image, 2015, Dabney State Recreation Area, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Dabney State Recreation Area sign, Sandy River, Oregon. Image taken March 16, 2015.
Image, 2005, Sandy River at Dabney State Recreation Area, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River, Oregon, as seen from Dabney State Recreation Area. Looking downstream towards the Stark Street Bridge. Lewis and Clark explored up the Sandy to about this location. Broughton Bluff is on the right. Image taken November 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Dabney State Recreation Area, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Dabney State Recreation Area, Sandy River, Oregon. Image taken November 19, 2005.


Historic Columbia River Highway ...
[More]

Image, 2015, Historic Columbia River Highway, Sandy River at Troutdale to Stark Street Bridge, click to enlarge
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Historic Columbia River Highway heading south, between the Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale and the Sandy River Bridge, Stark Street, Sandy River, Oregon. Broughton Bluff rises on the left. Image taken March 16, 2015.


Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area ...
Broughton Bluff ...
The Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area is located at Sandy River Mile (RM) 3, sixteen miles east of Portland, Oregon. Within the Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area lies Broughton Bluff, a popular climbing area. Take exit 18 off of Interstate 84.
[More]

Image, 2005, Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, Sandy River, Oregon. Image taken October 22, 2005.
Image, 2005, Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Fall colors, Broughton Bluff, Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, Sandy River, Oregon. Broughton Bluff rises east of the Sandy River (not visible on the right). Image taken October 22, 2005.


Sandy River Bridge at Stark Street ...
There are two "starting points" for the Historic Columbia River Highway, both bridges crossing the Sandy River. One is the Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale, completed in 1912, and the other is the Sandy River Bridge at Stark Street, completed in 1914.

"... Multnomah County, Oregon, constructed the Sandy River Bridge (Stark Street Bridge) to replace an old wooden Pratt through truss. The old bridge had collapsed, coincidentally on Good Roads' Day, April 25, 1914, dropping a five-ton truck into the river. It had served as part of the county's extensive rural road system. The river crossing was at the east end of Base Line Road, which dated from 1854 when 30 people petitioned for a road to be built from the Sandy River to Portland "following the baseline as closely as possible." Base Line Road followed the surveyor's baseline between Township 1 North and Township 1 South, of Range 3 East, Willamette Meridian. It became one of three routes leading from rural eastern Multnomah County to Portland.

The portion of the Sandy River near Base Line Road was popular with the Portland Automobile Club, and between 1912 and 1913 the organization constructed a frame and stone building west of the bridge for picnics and other club activities. Sometime in the 20th century Base Line Road became an extension of Stark Street and so took on this name. ..."


Source:    National Park Service, Historic American Engineering Record, Historic Columbia River Highway, Sandy River Bridge (Stark Street), HAER No. OR-36-B.


Penny Postcard, Sandy River Bridge, ca.1920, click to enlarge
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Penny Postcard: Sandy River Bridge, ca.1920. Sandy River, Oregon, and the Stark Street Bridge, located at Sandy River Mile 6. Caption reads "Sandy River Bridge at Auto Club Grounds - Beginning of the Columbia River Highway, Oregon". The Columbia River Highway was built between 1913 and 1922, at the beginning of the automobile age. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2015, Sandy River, Stark Street Bridge, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River Bridge at Stark Street, Troutdale, Oregon. View from Dabney State Park. Image taken March 16, 2015.
Image, 2015, Sandy River, Stark Street Bridge, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River, downstream, as seen from the Stark Street Bridge, Troutdale, Oregon. Image taken March 16, 2015.
Image, 2015, Sandy River, Stark Street Bridge, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River Bridge at Stark Street, Troutdale, Oregon. View looking east. Image taken March 16, 2015.
Image, 2015, Sandy River, Stark Street Bridge, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River Bridge at Stark Street, Troutdale, Oregon. View looking west. Image taken March 16, 2015.


Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale ...
There are two "starting points" for the Historic Columbia River Highway, both bridges crossing the Sandy River. One is the Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale, completed in 1912, and the other is the Sandy River Bridge at Stark Street, completed in 1914.

"... The Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale (HAER No.OR-36-A) is one of two beginning points of the Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH). The other is the Sandy River Bridge (Stark Street) (HAER No. OR-36-B), which connects Stark Street with the Historic Columbia River Highway at milepost 16.7. Both Sandy River bridges are the only steel truss spans on the highway. Constructed in 1912, the Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale is the oldest structures on the Historic Columbia River Highway and the oldest state-owned metal truss bridge in Oregon. Multnomah County built it as part of a large farm-to-market road improvement campaign of the 1910s. The bridge initially served nearby rural residents from the rolling fields high above the Columbia River east of Troutdale. Just east of the bridge, the county road rose steeply, with 10 to 20 percent grades to reach an elevation nearing 700 feet in the district near Chanticleer Inn, 22 miles from downtown Portland.

In 1916, well after other more eastern sections of the HCRH were completed, Multnomah County cut a new, 1 1/2 mile long road through 200-foot rock bluffs, along the south side of the Sandy River. This new route eliminated excessive grades and achieved a water-level road from the Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale to the new Sandy River Bridge (Stark Street) completed in 1914. Both bridges served as a feeders for traffic along the Historic Columbia River Highway, which in this part of Multnomah County was simply a realignment over gentle grades of existing couty roads. Estimated construction cost was $23,600."


Source:    National Park Service, Historic American Engineering Record, Historic Columbia River Highway, Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale, HAER No. OR-36-A.


Image, 2003, Sandy River looking upstream from Lewis and Clark State Park, click to enlarge
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Sandy River looking upstream from Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, Oregon. Broughton Bluff, part of the Chamberlain Hill Boring Lava Cone, is in the background. Image taken October 18, 2003.
Image, 2004, Sandy River Bridge looking downstream, click to enlarge
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Sandy River looking downsteam from the Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale, Oregon. Bridge across the Sandy River, located at Sandy River Mile 3, today part of the "Crown Point Highway". Image taken June 27, 2004.
Image, 2015, Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale, Oregon. View looking east. Image taken March 16, 2015.
Image, 2015, Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River Bridge at Troutdale, Oregon. View looking east. Image taken March 16, 2015.


Sandy River from Interstate 84 ...
(to come)

Image, 2015, Sandy River looking upstream from Interstate 84, click to enlarge
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Sandy River looking downstream from Interstate 84, Troutdale, Oregon. Image taken March 7, 2015.


Smelting and the Sandy River ...
"A commercial smelt fishery has operated from time to time in the Sandy River at Troutdale. The accompanying photographs [note: not included here] were taken in 1907 and 1922 respectively. In 1927 one of the outfits, Knarr and Sons, sold 53 1/2 tons of the small fish to the Bonneville Hatcheries and the following year 23 tons.

In 1957 a half million pounds of smelt were taken from the Sandy by commerical fishermen - most of them destined for cat food. Then in 1958 the smelt suddenly disappeared and did not make another run until 1971. They had returned to their former large numbers by 1977 when 800,000 pounds were taken by commercial fishermen. In 1979, the last year for which figures were available [note: 1980 publication], 600,000 pounds were taken. Ten commercial outfits operated on the Sandy during the 1977 season, among them the largest vessels were 25 foot gillnet boats, the smallest were 16 foot aluminum rowboats. The smelt do not penetrate far upstream, and the Troutdale bridge at River Mile 3.1 is the upper limit of commerical boat fishing. The runs generally last about three weeks each spring."

Source:    James E. Farnell, Ph.D., Research Analyst, 1980, "Sandy and Hood River Navigability Studies", Division of State Lands, Salem, Oregon, July 1980.


[More]

Image, 2015, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Smelt fishing, Sandy River, Oregon. View from moving car. Nice spring day. Image taken March 7, 2015.


Tad's Chicken 'n Dumplins, Troutdale, Oregon ...
Tad's Chicken 'n Dumplins, located on the banks of the Sandy River at Troutdale, was one of the early eateries on the Columbia River Highway.
[More]

"Yes, There Really Was a Tad! ...  

Handsome Tad Johnson, known locally as a rascal and a fisherman, (in that order,) opened his roadhouse in the late 1920s at the east end of the Sandy River Bridge. Prohibition was still in effect, the smelt ran free, Bonnie and Clyde made the news and the Historic Columbia River Highway was new then.

This makes Tad's one of the first, and now one of the last, remaining Historic Columbia River Highway roadhouses from that era. To give you some perspective, Tad Johnson's original roadhouse was built just after Multnomah Falls Lodge and a little before Timberline Lodge, making it an important part of the lasting legacy of hospitality in the Columbia River Gorge, the Sandy River Delta and the Mt. Hood Watershed.

The original Tad's was primarily a fish-house, a place to eat fresh, local seafood. The food was simple and regional, perfect for hungry travelers and the new migrants moving into Oregon. As part of that Northwest legacy, we still feature fish and chips and salmon smoked in-house from local Alder trees.

Tad's moved to its current location in the forties. The restaurant added Chicken and Dumplings to the menu and never looked back. After I-84 was built, Tad's was still a local favorite with its dance floor, jukeboxes, lunch counter and later, its open-air patio and full bar. ..."


Source:    Tad's Chicken 'n Dumplins website, 2014.


Image, 2014, Troutdale, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Tad's Chicken-n-Dumplins, on the Sandy River, Troutdale, Oregon. Image taken December 29, 2014.
Image, 2014, Troutdale, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Tad's Chicken-n-Dumplins, on the Sandy River, Troutdale, Oregon. Image taken December 29, 2014.


Thousand Acres Dog Park ...
(to come)


Troutdale Ferry ...
During the last half of the 1800s a ferry crossed the Sandy River approximately two miles upstream from the Sandy's confluence with the Columbia River, today the location of the Oregon community of Troutdale. The approximate crosssing was at the location of today's boat launch at the Lewis and Clark State Recreation area. The ferry often transported many Oregon Trail travelers who chose the "river route" from The Dalles instead of the "land route" (Barlow Road). Around 1890 the ferry was replaced by a bridge.

Image, 2003, Sandy River near Troutdale, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sandy River, Oregon, near Troutdale, from right bank looking downstream towards Lewis and Clark Recreation Area boat ramp. Image taken October 18, 2003.
Image, 2015, Boat ramp, Sandy River near Troutdale, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Boat ramp, Sandy River, Oregon, near Troutdale, Oregon. Image taken March 7, 2015.
Image, 2015, Boat ramp, Sandy River near Troutdale, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Boat ramp, Sandy River, Oregon, near Troutdale, Oregon. Image taken March 7, 2015.


"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. The Penny Postcard today has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Sandy River Bridge, ca.1920, click to enlarge
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Penny Postcard: Sandy River Bridge, ca.1920. Sandy River, Oregon, and the Stark Street Bridge, located at Sandy River Mile 6. Caption reads "Sandy River Bridge at Auto Club Grounds - Beginning of the Columbia River Highway, Oregon". The Columbia River Highway was built between 1913 and 1922, at the beginning of the automobile age. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Sandy River and Broughton Bluff, ca.1920, click to enlarge
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Penny Postcard: Sandy River and Broughton Bluff, Oregon, ca.1920. Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "The Bluffs Near Troutdale Bridge, Showing Sandy River to the Right, Columbia River Highway, Oregon.". Published by Americhrome, Portland, Oregon. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 3, 1805, first draft ...
The fog So thick this morning we did not think it prudent to Set out [from their camp at Rooster Rock] untill <it Cleared away at> 10 oClock we Set out and proceeded on verry well, accompanied by our Indian friends- ...     The water rose <2> Inches last night the effects of tide. The Countrey has a handsom appearance in advance no mountains extensive bottoms- the water Shallow for a great distance from Shore-. The fog continued thick untill 12 oClock, we Coasted, and halted at the mouth of a large river on the Lard Side [Sandy River], This river throws out emence quanty of <quick> Sand and is verry Shallow, th narrowest part 200 yards wide bold Current, much resembling the river Plat, Several Islands about 1 mile up and has a Sandbar of 3 miles in extend imedately in its mouth, discharging it waters by 2 mouths, and Crowding its Corse Sands So as to throw the Columbia waters on its Nothern banks, & confdg it to ½ ms. in width Passed a Small Prarie on the Stard. Side above [location of Washougal, Washington, Cottonwood Beach, and William Clark Park], a large Creek [Washougal River] opposit qk Sand River [Sandy River] on the Stard. Side, extensive bottoms and low hilley Countrey on each Side (good wintering Place) a high peaked mountain Suppose to be Mt. Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] is on the Lard Side S. 85° E. 40 miles distant from the mouth of quick Sand river [Sandy River]. ...

West 3 miles
to the upper mouth of quick Sand <mountain> river [Sandy River], Country low on each Side rising to a hilley Countrey passed a large Creek opposit Std. Side [Washougal River] & 2 Sand bars

S. 70° W. 7 miles
to the upper point of a large Island [Government Island] Covered with [blank]     passed the Lower mouth of Sandy river [Sandy River] at 3 miles opposit the head of a large Island Std. Side faced with rocks and the <edge> Side is pine & Cotton a large Creek falls in [Washougal River] oppost to the head of this Island Isld of Fowls [Lady Island] as I Saw Som 1000 pass over to the head of this Island on the Stard Sd. passed Some ruged rocks in the middle of the river opposit the Island- river wide The Countrey below quick Sand river [Sandy River] on the Lard Side is low Piney Countrey [eastern end of the Columbia Slough, located on the floodplain of the Willamette River and the Columbia]. Passed the lower point of the Island [Lady Island] at 3½ miles long & 1½ wide- emence quantity of Geese, Brants, Ducks & Sea otter, Some of the large & Small kind of Swan, & Sand hill Cranes-also luns & White gulls

S. 87° W. 3 miles
on the North Side of the Island [Government Island] and Encamped ...     we Camped on the Island, and Sent out hunters on it and Capt. Lewis walked out, after Dark Capt. Lewis with 3 men went into a large Pond on this Island & killed a Swan & Several ducks. ...



Clark, November 3, 1805 ...
The Fog So thick [typical of the Pacific Northwest in the fall and spring] this morning that we could not See a man 50 Steps off, this fog detained us untill 10 oClock at which time we Set out [from their camp at Rooster Rock], ...    I walked on the Sand beech Lard. Side, opposit the canoes as they passed allong. The under groth rushes, vines &c. in the bottoms too thick to pass through, at 3 miles I arrived at the enterance of a river [Sandy River] which appeared to Scatter over a Sand bar, the bottom of which I could See quite across and did not appear to be 4 Inches deep in any part; I attempted to wade this Stream and to my astonishment found the bottom a quick Sand, and impassable- I called to the Canoes to put to Shore, I got into the Canoe and landed below the mouth, & Capt Lewis and my Self walked up this river about 1½ miles to examine this river which we found to be a verry Considerable Stream Dischargeing its waters through 2 Chanels which forms an Island [Sandy River Delta, which has had various names throughout history] of about 3 miles in length on the river and 1½ miles wide, composed of Corse Sand which is thrown out of this quick Sand river Compressing the waters of the Columbia and throwing the whole Current of its waters against its Northern banks, within a Chanel of ½ a mile wide, Several Small Islands 1 mile up this river, This Stream has much the appearance of the River Platt: roleing its quick Sands into the bottoms with great velocity after which it is divided into 2 Chanels by a large Sand bar before mentioned, the narrowest part of this River is 120 yards-on the Opposit Side of the Columbia a <large Creek> falls in [Washougal River]     above this Creek on the Same Side is a Small prarie [location of Washougal, Washington, Cottonwood Beach, now the home of Captain William Clark Park, and the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge]. extensive low country on each Side thickly timbered [low area upstream of Cottonwood Beach and Captain William Clark Park is the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge].

The Quick Sand river [Sandy River] appears to pass through the low countrey at the foot of those high range of mountains in a Southerly direction,- The large Creeks which fall into the Columbia on the Stard. Side [Washougal River] rise in the Same range of mountains to the N. N. E. and pass through Some ridgey land- A Mountain which we Suppose to be Mt. Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] is S. 85° E about 47 miles distant from the mouth of quick sand river [Sandy River]     This mtn. is Covered with Snow and in the range of mountains which we have passed through and is of a Conical form but rugid- after takeing dinner at the mouth of this river [Sandy River]  we proceeded on passed the head of a Island [Lady Island] near the lard Side [???] back of which on the Same Side and near the head a large Creek falls in [Washougal River, today the town of Camas, Washington, lies between Lady Island and the Washougal River], and nearly opposit & 3 miles below the upper mouth of quick Sand river is the lower mouth, [for?] This Island [Lady Island] is 3 1/2 miles long, has rocks at the upper point, Some timber on the borders of this Island in the middle open and ponney. Some rugid rocks in the middle of the Stream opposit this Island.   <proceeded in> to Center of a large Island in the middle of the river which we call Dimond Isld. [Government Island] from its appearance, here we met 15 Indn men in 2 canoes from below, they informed us they Saw 3 vestles below &c. &c. we landed on the North Side of this Dimond Island and Encamped [on the north side of Government Island, perhaps opposite Fishers Landing],     Capt. L walked out with his gun on the Island, Sent out hunters & fowlers- below quick Sand River [Sandy River] the Countrey is low rich and thickly timbered on each Side of the river  [on the Oregon side this area is the eastern end of the Columbia Slough, located on the floodplain of the Willamette River with the Columbia River],   the Islands open & Some ponds river wide and emence numbers of fowls flying in every direction Such as Swan, geese, Brants, Cranes, Stalks, white guls, comerants & plevers &c. also great numbers of Sea Otter in the river [Harbor Seals] -     a Canoe arrived from the village below the last rapid ...     Capt Lewis borrowed a Small Canoe of those Indians & 4 men took her across to a Small lake in the Isld. [Government Island] ...    ...  :  note the mountain we Saw from near the forks proves to be Mount Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon]



Gass, November 3, 1805 ...
The morning was foggy: one of the men went out and killed a fine buck. At 9 we proceeded on, but could not see the country we were passing, on account of the fog, which was very thick till noon when it disappeared, and we had a beautiful day. We at that time came to the mouth of a river on the south side [Sandy River], a quarter of a mile broad, but not more than 6 or 8 inches deep, running over a bar of quicksand. At this place we dined on venison and goose; and from which we can see the high point of a mountain covered with snow, in about a southeast direction from us [Mount Hood, Oregon]. Our Commanding Officers are of opinion that it is Mount Hood, discovered by a Lieutenant of Vancoover, who was up this river 75 miles. The river that falls in here [Sandy River] has two mouths, through which it drives out a considerable quantity of sand into the Columbia. Opposite the lower mouth there is a handsome island [Lady Island]. At 2 o'clock we proceeded on, and passed another island [part of the Government Island complex]. The country on both sides appears level and closely timbered: on the river the timber is cotton wood, maple and some ash; and back from it mostly spruce pine. We made 13 miles and encamped on a large island [Government Island], in which is a large pond full of swans, geese and ducks. On our way and here we killed some of each kind. At night, Captain Lewis had a small canoe carried over to the pond in order to hunt by moon light; but the party did not happen to have good luck, having killed only a swan and three ducks.





Clark, April 1, 1806 ...
This morning early [from their camp at Cottonwood Beach] we dispatched Sergt. Pryor, with two men in a Small canoe up quick sand river [Sandy River] with orders to proceed as far as he Could and return this evening. we also Sent a party of three hunters over the river to hunt a large bottom of woodland and prarie above the enterance of Q. Sand River; the ballance of the hunters we Sent out in different directions on this Side of the Columbia, and employed those about Camp in makeing a rope of Elk Skin.

The information given by the indians to us last night respecting quick Sand river was corrobarated by Sundery other indians who visited us in the Course of this day. we were now convinced that if there information <must> be just; that Some Considerable river which flowed into the Columbia on it's South Side below us which we have not yet Seen [correct, they have yet to discover the Willamette River], as the extensive vally on that Side of the river lying between the mountanious Country of the Coast, and the western mountains must be watered by Some Stream, which we had heretofore Supposed was the quick Sand river [Sandy River]. but if it be a fact that Quick Sand river heads in Mount Hood it must leave the vally within a fiew miles of it's enterance, and runs nearly parrilal with the Columbia River upwards. we indeavered to assertained by what Stream the South portion of the Columbia Vally was watered, but could obtain no Satisfactory information of the waters on this head. they inform us that the quick Sand river is not naviagable any distance in consequence of falls and rapids; and that no nation inhabit it. Sergt. Pryor returned in the evening and reported that he had assended the river Six Miles; that above the point which it divides itself into two Chanels, it is about 300 yards wide tho' the Chanel is not more than 50 yards, and only 6 feet deep. the other part of the river from 2 to 4 inches water, the bead of this river is formed entirely of quick Sand; its banks are low and at present overflown. the water is turbed and current rapid.— The following are the Courses taken by Sergt. Pryor.— "S. 10° W. 1 mile to a point on the Lard. Side passing a large island on Stard Side. S 24° E. 2 m. to the head of the island near the Lard Shore. S 33° E 4 m. to a Stard. point passing several islands on the Lard Side and a Creek 50 yards wide on the Stard. Side at 1 ½ miles. the river from hence upwards bend to the East. a fall of water heard at no great distance up this river." Several diffirent tribes of indians inform us that it heads at Mount Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] which is in view. ...



Ordway, April 1, 1806 ...
Sergt. Pryor & three men was Sent 5 or 6 miles up Quick Sand River [Sandy River] to make discovries & Several hunters went up the Seal River [Washougal River] a hunting & others went out in different directions a hunting. a number of the natives visited us as they were passing down the River late in the afternoon Sergt. Pryor returned had been about 4 miles up quick Sand River [Sandy River] found the current rapid & only about 4 feet deep. he killed one deer. the other hunter returned had killed 4 Elk and 2 deer and an otter the hunters tells us that the country back from the River is rich land Some praries and rich plains &C. a number of Savages passing down the River in their canoes. we discovred yesterday the top of a high white Mountain Some distance to the Southward our officers name it Mount Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon, which they saw and named two days earlier on March 30.].     2 canoe loads of Savages Camped near us.


Whitehouse, April 1, 1806 ...
This morning our Officers sent Serjeant Pryor & 2 of our party in a Canoe in order to go 5 or Six Miles up <Quick Sand or> Quicksand or Sandy River, (the River we passed last Evening) & Several of our Men were sent out a hunting. A number of the Natives visited us in their Canoes, as they were passing down the River. these Canoes were loaded with fish Roots &ca— I went up Quick Sand River about 4 Miles. The backwater from the Columbia River went only a quarter of a mile up that River, & then it is a continual rapid as far as I went, & full of Islands, and Sands barrs. Serjeant Pryor killed on his route 1 Deer which he & his party brought to our Camp. Our hunters also returned, & had killed 4 Elk 2 Deer & an Otter. On my route up Quicksand River I saw a Creek [Moulton states either Big Creek or Smith Creek] which lay on the East side of that River which was about 50 yards wide. The Quick Sand River is 350 Yards wide & only 50 Yards of Water the remainder being entirely a Quick Sand.— I found this river part of the way up it, 6 feet deep, & the remainder as far up it as I went, only 6 inches deep of water & 4 inches quick sand. we saw a high mountain laying a great distance off to the Southward of us, which appeared to be covered with snow. Our Officers named this Mountain Jefferson Mountain. We had a number of Indians encamped near us for the Night. they came in 2 Canoes




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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:    Bonneville Power Administration website, 2006, "Sandy River Delta Habitat Restoration Project, 2001 Annual Report";   City of Sandy website, 2011;   Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website, 2004;   Farnell, J.E., Research Analyst, 1980, "Sandy and Hood River Navigability Studies", Division of State Lands, Salem, Oregon, July 1980;   Gardner, et.al., 2000, Mount Hood -- History and Hazards of Oregon's Most Recently Active Volcano: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet #060-00;   McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press;   NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2004;   Oregon Historical Society website, 2009;   Query, C., 2008, A History of Oregon Ferries since 1826;   Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce website, 2011;   Washington State University website, 2005, "Early Washington Maps: A Digital Collection";  

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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