Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Sandy River and the Barlow Road, Oregon"
Includes ... Sandy, Oregon ... Sandy River ... Barlow Road ... Revenue Bridge ...
Image, 2012, Sandy, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River Revenue Bridge, Sandy, Oregon. This new Revenue Bridge was completed in 2009, replacing a bridge which had been in place since 1952. Francis Revenue first built a bridge at this location in 1853. Between 1853 and 1865 this location became the Barlow Road's second tollgate. Image taken July 13, 2012.


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. After descending the trecherous Laurel Hill, the pioneers had to cross the Sandy River twice. The first crossing was just east of today's Rhododendron, and then later near today's community of Brightwood. The second crossing was just east of the community of Sandy at the location of the "Revenue Bridge". This location of became the Barlow Road's second tollgate.

"Upper Crossing" of the Sandy River ...
After descending Laurel Hill, the path of the early Barlow Road heads northwest, briefly staying on the west side of today's Oregon Highway 26 until the community of Rhododendron, where it crosses the road and today is under the pavement of East Arlie Mitchell Road. The route then keeps to the ridge north of the Zigzag River and heads west to where the Zigzag River merges with the Sandy River just north of the community of Zigzag. Here the path crosses the Sandy River about 1/3 mile above the junction with the Zigzag River, at a spot known as the first or "Upper Crossing" of the Sandy. Roads today following that general route are East Arlie Mitchell Road, Zigzag River Road, East Mountain Drive, and East Lolo Pass Road.

(T2S, R7E, Sec.34)


Image, 2012, Sandy River Upper Crossing, Barlow Road, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River looking downstream at the Barlow Road "Upper Crossing" of the Sandy River, Sandy River Mile 43. View from East Lolo Pass Road just north of East Mountain Drive. Image taken November 15, 2012.
Image, 2012, Sandy River Upper Crossing, Barlow Road, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River looking upstream at the Barlow Road "Upper Crossing" of the Sandy River, Sandy River Mile 43. View from East Lolo Pass Road just north of East Mountain Drive. Image taken November 15, 2012.


Following the Sandy River ...
After crossing the Sandy River at the "Upper Crossing", the route of the Barlow Road heads west, following the north bank of the Sandy River for nearly 20 miles before it dips south to once again cross the Sandy. Today's East Barlow Trail Road follows the eastern part of this route for nearly 6 miles, linking today's Oregon communities of Zigzag and Brightwood. From Brightwood the trail continues west for another 14 miles; a route today under the pavement of SE Marmot Road.

"South Alternative to the Barlow Road, Sandy River Crossing" ...
Sometime before 1882 the route of the Barlow Road was relocated to the south side of the Zigzag and Sandy Rivers and to the north of the Salmon River. This is an area where pioneers were settling. This "South Alternative" route of the Barlow Road roughly parallels today's Oregon Highway 26. This route crosses the Sandy River near the junction with the Salmon River, just west of the Oregon community of Brightwood. From there the road turns north and connects with the earlier northern Barlow Road route to the Marmot area and the Devil's Backbone. Today this southern route from Rhododendron to Brightwood is referred to as the "South Alternative of the Barlow Road".

(T2S, R6E, Sec.23)


Image, 2013, Sandy River at Brightwood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River at Brightwood, Oregon, looking downstream from Brightwood Bridge Road, Sandy River Mile 38.5. Brightwood Bridge Road crosses the Sandy River approximately one mile upstream from where the Sandy and the Salmon Rivers meet. Image taken July 8, 2013.
Image, 2013, Sandy River at Brightwood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River at Brightwood, Oregon, looking upstream from Brightwood Bridge Road, Sandy River Mile 38.5. Brightwood Bridge Road crosses the Sandy River approximately one mile upstream from where the Sandy and the Salmon Rivers meet. Image taken July 8, 2013.


"Lower Crossing" of the Sandy River ...
At Brightwood the two north and the "South Alternative" of the Barlow Road meet and follow the north side of the Sandy River. The route goes for nearly 15 miles, crossing the 7-mile-long ridge known as the "Devil's Backbone", until it turns south and crosses the Sandy River just east of today's community of Sandy. This crossing was known as the "Lower Crossing" of the Sandy. Between 1853 and 1865 this was the location of the Barlow Road's second Tollgate.

Image, 2012, Sandy, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River looking downstream from the Revenue Bridge, approximately Sandy River Mile 24, SE Ten Eyck Road, Sandy, Oregon. Image taken July 13, 2012.
Image, 2012, Sandy, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River looking upstream from the Revenue Bridge, approximately Sandy River Mile 24, SE Ten Eyck Road, Sandy, Oregon. Image taken July 13, 2012.


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:    (see Barlow Road sources);   

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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July 2013