Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Spring Gulch, Washington"
Includes ... Spring Gulch ... Spring Gulch Creek ... Campsite of October 18, 1805 ...
Image, 2005, Port Kelley and Spring Gulch Creek, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Port Kelley and Spring Gulch Creek. View of Port Kelley with Spring Gulch drainage visible (v-shape valley), as seen from Washington State Highway 730, south of Wallula Junction. Image taken September 25, 2005.


Spring Gulch ...
Port Kelley and Spring Gulch Creek, Washington, are located within the upstream end of the Wallula Gap, just south of the confluence of the Walla Walla River with the Columbia River. Port Kelley is at Columbia River Mile (RM) 312, and Spring Gulch is at RM 311. The Twin Sisters basalt feature is just upstream. McNary Dam and Umatilla, Oregon are approximately 20 miles downstream, and Richland, Washington and the Yakima River are approximately 20 miles upstream.

Lewis and Clark and Spring Gulch ...
Lewis and Clark's camp of October 18, 1805 was located near Spring Gulch Creek, on the left bank of the Columbia River. The campsite is now under the waters of Lake Wallula, the reservoir behind the McNary Dam.

Campsite of October 18, 1805 ...
Shortly after noon on October 18, 1805, Lewis and Clark and the "Corps of Discovery" left the location of today's Sacajawea State Park, and began their journey down the Columbia River.

"... Took our leave of the Chiefs and all those about us and proceeded on down the great Columbia river ..." [Clark, October 18, 1805]

"... At one we proceeded on down the Great Columbia, which is a very beautiful river. The course is something to the east of south for about 12 miles and then winds round to almost a west course. ..." [Gass, October 18, 1805]

"... about 2 oClock P. M. we Set out. two chiefs continued on with us. we proceeded on down the great Calumbia River which is now verry wide about 3/4 of a mile in General the country in general Smooth plains for about 10 miles down then the barron hills make close to the River on each Side ..." [Ordway, October 18, 1805]

"... about 2 oClock P. m. we Set out ... we proceeded on down the Columbia River, which is now verry wide from a half a mile to three forths wide and verry Smooth & pleasant the country level for about 16 miles down then the hills and clifts made near the River, and Some Rapid places in the River. ..." [Whitehouse, October 18, 1805, first draft]

The men made it 14 miles (on today's river). Lewis and Clark's camp of October 18, 1805 was located near Spring Gulch Creek, on the left bank of the Columbia River. The campsite is now under the waters of Lake Wallula, the reservoir created by the McNary Dam. On October 18, 1805, Captain Clark wrote:

"... formed a Camp on the Lard Side under a high hill nearly opposit to five Lodges of Indians ... we made 21 miles to day ..."

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was at Sacajawea State Park, and their campsite of October 19, 1805, was near the Oregon town of Irrigon.


Views ...

Image, 2005, Spring Gulch, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Spring Gulch, Washington. Image taken September 24, 2005.
Image, 2005, Spring Gulch, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Basalts on the upstream side of Spring Gulch, Washington. Image taken September 24, 2005.


Port Kelley and Spring Gulch ...

Image, 2003, Port Kelley and Spring Gulch Creek, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Port Kelley and Spring Gulch Creek. Port Kelley with Spring Gulch drainage visible (v-shape valley), as seen from Washington State Highway 730, south of Wallula Junction. Image taken September 29, 2003.


View from Spring Gulch ...

Image, 2005, Spring Gulch, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wallula Gap basalts as seen from Spring Gulch, Washington. View looking across the Columbia River. Image taken September 24, 2005.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

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 [from their camp, the location of today's Sacajawea State Park] and proceeded on down the great Columbia river     passed a large Island at 8 miles about 3 miles in length, a Island on the Stard. Side the upper point of which is opposit the center of the last mentioned Island and reaches 3½ miles below the 1st. Island and opposit to this near the middle of the river nine Lodges are Situated on the upper point at a rapid which is between the lower point of the 1st Island and upper point of this; great numbers of Indians appeared to be on this Island, and emence quantites of fish Scaffold     we landed a few minits to view a rapid which Commenced at the lower point, passd this rapid which was verry bad between 2 Small Islands two Still Smaller near the Lard. Side, at this rapid on the Stard. Side is 2 Lodges of Indians Drying fish, at 2½ miles lower and 14½ below the point passed an Island Close under the Stard. Side on which was 2 Lodges of Indians drying fish on Scaffolds as above

[Today this reach has been inundated by the waters of Lake Wallula, the reservoir behind the McNary Dam. The Burbank Slough - part of the McNary National Wildlife Refuge - dominates the eastern bank of the Columbia and two islands which remain offshore of Wallula are Crescent Island and Badger Island.]    

at 16 miles from the point [junction of the Snake River with the Columbia, location of today's Sacajawea State Park] the river passes into the range of high Countrey at which place the rocks project into the river from the high clifts [Wallula Gap] which is on <both> the Lard. Side about 2/3 of the way across those of the Stard Side about the Same distance, the Countrey rises here about 200 feet above The water and is bordered wth black rugid rocks [Columbia River Basalt],     at the Commencement of this high Countrey [Wallula Gap] on Lard Side a Small riverlet falls in [Walla Walla River] which appears to passed under the high County in its whole cose     Saw a mountain bearing S. W. conocal form Covered with Snow [Mount Hood, Oregon].    passed 4 Islands, at the upper point of the <first> 3rd is a rapid, on this Island is two Lodges of Indians, drying fish, on the fourth Island Close under the Stard. Side is nine large Lodges of Indians Drying fish on Scaffolds as above [Yellepit area]; at this place we were called to land, as it was near night and no appearance of wood [Lewis and Clark are in the Port Kelley area, where today the islands offshore are under the waters of Lake Wallula.],     we proceeded on about 2 miles lower to Some willows, at which place we observed a drift log     formed a Camp on the Lard Side [Spring Gulch] under a high hill nearly opposit to five Lodges of Indians; Soon after we landed, our old Chiefs informed us that the large camp above "was the Camp of the 1st Chief of all the tribes in this quarter [Chief Yellepit], and that he had called to us to land and Stay all night with him, that he had plenty of wood for us &" This would have been agreeable to us if it had have been understood perticelarly as we were compelled to Use drid willows for fuel for the purpose of cooking, we requested the old Chiefs to walk up on the Side we had landed and call to the Chief to come down and Stay with us all night which they did;     ... we made 21 miles to day.






Clark, April 27, 1806 ...
This morning we were detained untill 9 A M in consequence of the absence of one of Shabono's horses. the horse being at length recovered we Set out and to the distance of 15 miles passed through a Country Similar to that of yesterday. (passed Muscle Shell rapid) [Umatilla Rapids at the location of today's McNary Dam] and at the experation of this distance again approached the river, and are rocky abrupt and 300 feet high [basalts of Wallula Gap].     we assended the hill [on the north and west sides of the Wallula Gap] and marched through a high plain 10 miles where we again returned to the river [Columbia River].     we halted altho we had not reached the Wal-lah-lal-lah village as we had been led to believe by our guide who informed us that the village was that the place we Should next return to the river, ...,     made a Small fire and boiled a Small quantity of our <boiled> jurked meat on which we dined; while here we were met by the principal Chief of the Wal lah wal lah Nation and Several of his nation. this chief by name Yel lep-pet had visited us on the morning of the 19th of Octr. at our encampment imedeately opposit to us [Spring Gulch Creek]; we gave him at that time a Small medal [Jefferson Peace Medal], and promised him a large one on our return. he appeared much gratified at Seeing us return. he envited us to remain at his village 3 or 4 days and assured us that we Should be furnished with a plenty of Such food as they had themselves, and Some horses to assist us on our journey. after our Scanty repast we Continued our March accompanied by Yelleppit and his party to the Village which we found at the distance of Six miles, Situated on the North Side of the river [near the former Washington town of Yellepit]. about 16 miles below the enterance of Lewis's river [Snake River]. This Chief is a man of much influence not only in his own nation but also among the neignbouring tribes and nations.— the village Consists of 15 large mat Lodges. ...     the Indians informed us that there was a good road Which passed from the Columbia opposit to this Village to the enterance of Kooskooske [Clearwater River] on the S. Side of Lewis's river [Snake River], they also informed us, there were a plenty of Deer and Antilopes on the road with good water and grass. we knew that a road in that direction if the Country would permit it would Shorten the rout at least 80 miles. the Indians also inform us that the County was leavel and the road good, under those circumstances we did not hesitate in pursueing the rout recommended by our guide and Corroberated by Yetleppit and others. we Concluded to pass our horses over early in the morning.— made 31 miles to day—





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

Sources: Port Kelley and Spring Gulch information courtesy NOAA, Office of Coast Survey website, 2003, and Fort Walla Walla Museum website, 2003

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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June 2009