Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Smith Point, Astoria, Oregon"
Includes ... Smith Point ... "Point George" ... "Young's Point" ... "Astor Point" ... Astoria ... Youngs Bay Bridge ... Highway 101 ...
Image, 2012, Smith Point, Astoria, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Smith Point as seen from Highway 101, Astoria, Oregon. Image taken July 31, 2012.


Smith Point ...
Smith Point is the western tip of Astoria, Oregon and the upstream tip of Youngs Bay. It is also the location for the eastern end of the Youngs Bay Bridge (Highway 101).

Lewis and Clark and Smith Point ...
Lewis and Clark called Smith Point "Meriwethers point", after Captain Lewis, the first of the party to see the point. In November 1805, Captain Clark and most of the men stayed at camp at Tongue Point, while Captain Lewis and a scouting party continued west, looking for a spot to build their winter quarters. They passed Smith Point and entered into Youngs Bay.

"... S. 35 W. 2 ml. along the point, land still high and thickly timbered here a deep bay commences runing ..." [Lewis, November 29, 1805]

On their return trip home in 1806, Captain Clark called Youngs Bay "Meriwethers Bay" and the Smith Point "Meriwethers Point". Tongue Point was called "Point William".

"... proceeded on, thro' Meriwethers Bay, there was a Stiff breese from the S. W. which raised Considerable Swells around Meriwethers point ... above point William we came too .... here we Encampd. for the night having made 16 miles. ..." [Clark, March 23, 1806]

Early Smith Point ...
Smith Point had many names throughout its history.

In 1792 Lieutenant Broughton of the Captain George Vancouver Expedition, called it "Point George".

"... From this point, the coast takes a sudden turn to the south, and the shores within the inlet take a direction S. 74 E. four miles to another point, which obtained the name of Point George ..." [Broughton, October 22, 1792]

Lewis and Clarked called the point "Meriwethers point".

"... proceeded on, thro' Meriwethers Bay, there was a Stiff breese from the S. W. which raised Considerable Swells around Meriwethers point ... above point William we came too .... here we Encampd. for the night having made 16 miles. ..." [Clark, March 23, 1806]

The British Survey of 1839 (Belcher) called it "George Point", while the U.S. Exploring Expedition in 1841 (Wilkes) called it "Youngs Point".

An 1844 French map of the Columbia River shows it as "Pte. George".

The 1851 Coast Survey Map (No.640) "Mouth of Columbia River, Survey of the Coast of the United States", shows the point as "Young's Pt.". The map also shows an "Astor Pt." which corresponds to what is today's downtown waterfront east of the Astoria-Megler Bridge.

The Coast Survey's 1852 triangulation used "Smith's Point".

The 1858 "Coast Pilot" calls the point "Point George", as does the 1862 "Coast Pilot" (see more below). Seven years later the 1869 "Coast Pilot" lists the point as "Youngs Point" with the upper section being "Astor Point", while the 1870 Coast Survey Map (No.640) "Columbia River, Sheet No.1" shows "Smith's Pt.", with the area of Astor Point not being named but showing the development of the city roads. The 1892 map (now Map No.6140) has the name "Smith Pt.".

Smith Point was named for Samuel C. Smith, who took a donation land claim on property which included the point. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Smith Point" official in 1915.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records shows a Samuel C. Smith being granted title to 276.463 acres of T8N R9W Sections 7 and 18, and T8N R10W Sections 12 and 13, on March 27, 1866 (Oregon Donation Act of 1850).

According to McArthur and McArthur (2003) the Oregon Historical Quarterly (v.1, p.321) the Indian name for the point was "O-wa-pun-pun".


From the "Coast Pilots" ...
From the 1858 "Report, The Superintendant of the Coast Survey Showing the Progress of the Survey During the Year 1858", U.S. Senate:

"... Point George is the first point made after passing eastward of Clatsop beach. Immediately behind it the land is high and densely wooded; and around its southern face opens Young's river. It was called "Point George" by Broughton in 1792; "George Point" by Belcher in 1839; "Young's Point" by the U.S. Exploring Expedition in 1841; "Smith's Point" by the Coast Survey, in the triangulation of 1852; but it is, we believe, generally known as "Young's Point. ..."

From the 1862 "Coast Pilot":

"... Point George, on the southern side of the river, is the first point made after passing eastward of Clatsop beach. Immediately behind it the land is high and densely wooded; and around its southern face opens Young's river. It was called "Point George" by Broughton in 1792; "George Point" by Belcher in 1839; "Young's Point" by the United States Exploring Expedition in 1841; "Smith's Point" by the Coast Survey, in the triangulation of 1852; but it is, we believe, generally known as Young's Point.

Astor Point, on the southern side of the river, lies E. 3/4 N., distant 5 1/3 miles from Point Adams. It is low at the river bank, but has moderately high wooded land behind it. The southern channel passes close to it. The name is derived from a Coast Survey triangulation and secondary astronomical station upon it, but it is in reality a part of Point George. ..."

From the 1869 "Coast Pilot":

"... Young's Point, on the southern side of the river, is the first point made after passing eastward of Clatsop Beach. Immediately behind it the land is high and densely wooded; and around its southern face opens Young's River. It was called "Point George" by Broughton in 1792; "George Point" by Belcher in 1839; "Young's Point" by the United States exploring expedition in 1841; "Smith's Point" by the Coast Survey, in the triangulation of 1852; but it is, we believe, generally known as Youngs Point.

Astor Point, on the southern side of the river, lies east three-quarters north, distant five and a third miles from Point Adams. It is low at the river bank, but has moderately high wooded land behind it. The southern channel passes close to it. The name is derived from a Coast Survey triangulation and secondary astronomical station upon it, but it is in reality a part of Young's Point. ..."

From the 1889 "Coast Pilot":

"... The Astor Point of a few years since is completely obliterated and the place is covered by part of the town of Astoria, which has projected itself out to deep water. The whole shore is covered with buildings and with wharves; the line of wharves is carried eastward from near Smith's Point for two miles to Upper Astoria; and even still further towards Tongue Point. Astoria has developed so largely since the inception of the salmon fisheries for the catching and preserving of that fish, that the whole bght between Astor Point and Upper Astoria is now a straight line and the twenty-five or thirty wharves project into the deep waters of the channel... The rough hill-sides have been cleared of the dense growth of fir, and now fine houses, schools, and churches, climb up the steep slopes. ..."

Views ...

Image, 2003, Astoria, Oregon, and the Astoria-Megler Bridge, from U.S. Highway 101, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Smith Point, Astoria, Oregon, with Astoria-Megler Bridge. View of the Astoria-Megler Bridge and Smith Point, with the eastern end of the Youngs Bay Bridge reaching Smith Point (on the right). View from car while crossing the Youngs Bay Bridge (U.S. Highway 101). Image taken August 2, 2003.
Image, 2005, Astoria and Youngs Bay, from mouth of the Lewis and Clark River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Smith Point, Astoria, and Youngs Bay, as seen from the mouth of the Lewis and Clark River. Image taken November 15, 2005.
Image, 2005, Smith Point and Astoria, Oregon, from Coxcomb Hill, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Smith Point and Astoria, Oregon, from the Astoria Column on Coxcomb Hill. Looking west at the mouth of the Columbia River, from Coxcomb Hill, location of the Astoria Column. Youngs Bay is to the left and the Astoria-Megler Bridge is to the right. Smith Point is the westerly tip of Astoria. Point Adams can be seen in the upper distance. Image taken April 19, 2005.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...
 




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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources:    McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;    NOAA Office of Coast Surveys website, 2006;    U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office (GLO) website, 2006;    U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) website, 2006; Washington State University Libraries Archives website, 2006, "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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September 2008