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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Starvation Creek and Starvation Creek State Park, Oregon"
Includes ... Starvation Creek ... Starvation Creek Falls ... "Starvout Creek" ... Starvation Creek State Park ...
Image, 2003, Starvation Creek State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Starvation Creek State Park, Oregon. Image taken October 25, 2003.


Starvation Creek State Park ...
Starvation Creek State Park, Oregon, is located on the Columbia River, 10 miles west of Hood River, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 159.5. The park is Exit 54 (eastbound only) off of Interstate 84. Viento State Park is located one mile upstream. Downstream is Shellrock Mountain and on the Washington side is Wind Mountain and the Collins Point Landslide. Directly across from Starvation Creek is Dog Mountain. The waterfall at Starvation Creek is one of many waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge.

What's in a Name ??? ...
Starvation Creek State Park came by its name in 1884. According to the Oregon State Archives website (2004):

"... The Pacific Express train carrying 148 passengers and crew rolled out of The Dalles heading west on schedule to arrive in Portland later that day, December 18, 1884. Along the way a blizzard trapped the train between two avalanches with 25 foot high snow drifts. A relief party finally reached them on Christmas Day by foot. Among those helping the hungry passengers was "one hog who had the misfortune of being in Hood River at the time." A week later the train was able to retreat to The Dalles. It finally reached Portland three weeks late on January 7, 1885. ..." [Oregon State Archives website, March 2004]

Starvation Creek was originally called "Starvout Creek".


Starvation Creek Falls ...
The falls at Starvation Creek cascade 186 feet and are the easternmost of spectacular waterfalls over Columbia River basalt on the Oregon side of the Columbia.

Lewis and Clark and Starvation Creek ...
On October 30, 1805, Captain Clark wrote about four cascades on the Oregon side.

"... Saw 4 Cascades caused by Small Streams falling from the mountains on the Lard. Side,    a remarkable circumstance in this part of the river is, the Stumps of pine trees [Submerged Forest] are in maney places are at Some distance in the river, and gives every appearance of the rivers being damed up below from Some cause which I am not at this time acquainted with ..." [Clark, October 30, 1805]

The possiblities for those four falls are - upstream to downstream in a two-mile stretch - Starvation Creek and Falls, the seasonal Cabin Creek and Falls, Warren Creek and Falls, Wonder Creek and Lancaster Falls, Lindsey Creek and Falls, and Summit Creek and Falls.


Image, 2006, Starvation Creek, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Walkway, Starvation Creek. View from the Starvation Creek Rest Area. Image taken September 29, 2006.
Image, 2006, Starvation Creek, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Starvation Creek, looking upstream. View from the Starvation Creek Rest Area. Image taken September 29, 2006.


Early Starvation Creek ...
During the 1800s Starvation Creek was the site of Chinese "coolie ovens" used in the building of the railroad.

Starvation Creek in 1940 ...

From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"... Starvation Creek empties into the Columbia at 134.5 m. Here is STARVATION CREEK STATE PARK, so named because at this point in 1884 an Oregon Washington Railroad & Navigation train was marooned for two weeks in thirty foot snowdrifts, and food was with difficulty carried to the starving passengers. Newspapers of that day gave columns of space to this story, telling how car seats were burned in addition to all coal in the locomotive tender, that passengers might be kept from freezing.

Near LINDSAY CREEK, 135.7 m., is a bronze plaque commemorating the commencement in 1912 the building of the first section of the Columbia River Highway. SHELL ROCK MOUNTAIN, 136.9 m. (2,068 alt.), is opposite WIND MOUNTAIN, which is in Washington. The Indians believed that the Great Spirit set the whirlwinds blowing in constant fury about Wind Mountain as a punishment to those who, breaking the taboo, had taught the white men how to snare salmon. ..."

[NOTE: The bronze plaque commemorating the beginning of the Historic Columbia River Highway now sits at the rest area at Starvation Creek.]


Image, 2006, Bronze plaque, Starvation Creek State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bronze Plaque for the beginning of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Located at the Starvation Creek Rest Area. Image taken September 29, 2006.


Views from Starvation Creek State Park ...

Good views of Shellrock Mountain, Wind Mountain and the Collins Point Landslide can be had looking downstream from Starvation Creek State Park. A nice view of Dog Mountain can be had directly across the Columbia.

Image, 2003, Dog Mountain, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Shellrock Mountain, Oregon (left) and Wind Mountain, Washington (right). View from near parking area of Starvation Creek State Park. Interstate 84 is in the middleground. Image taken July 5, 2003.
Image, 2004, Shellrock Mountain, Oregon, from Starvation Creek, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Shellrock Mountain, Oregon, as seen from Starvation Creek State Park, Oregon. Interstate 84 is in the foreground. Image taken September 24, 2004.
Image, 2004, Wind Mountain and the Collins Slide, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wind Mountain, Collins Point, and the Collins Landslide, Washington. View from Starvation Creek State Park, Oregon. Image taken September 24, 2004.
Image, 2004, Dog Mountain, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Dog Mountain, Washington, as seen from Starvation Creek State Park. View from near parking area of Starvation Creek State Park. Barrier of Interstate 84 is in foreground. Image taken September 24, 2004.
Image, 2006, Union Pacific 3159, Starvation Creek, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Union Pacific 3159 heading east, passing Starvation Creek. View from the Starvation Creek Rest Area. Interstate 84 is in the foreground and Dog Mountain is in the background. Image taken September 29, 2006.
Image, 2006, Union Pacific 3159, Starvation Creek, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Closeup, Union Pacific 3159 heading east, passing Starvation Creek. View from the Starvation Creek Rest Area. Image taken September 29, 2006.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 30, 1805 ...
A cool morning, a moderate rain all the last night, after eating a partial brackfast of venison we Set out [from their camp near Drano Lake and the Little White Salmon River]     passed Several places where the rocks projected into the river & have the appearance of haveing Seperated from the mountains and fallen promiscuisly into the river, Small nitches are formed in the banks below those projecting rocks which is comon in this part of the river, Saw 4 Cascades caused by Small Streams falling from the mountains on the Lard. Side,

[The possiblities in a two-mile area are - upstream to downstream - Starvation Creek and Falls, the seasonal Cabin Creek and Falls, Warren Creek and Falls, Wonder Creek and Lancaster Falls, Lindsey Creek and Falls, and Summit Creek and Falls.]

a remarkable circumstance in this part of the river is, the Stumps of pine trees [Submerged Forest]

[The Submerged Forest existed along the reach from above Dog Mountain/Viento Creek on the upstream edge and Wind Mountain/Shellrock Mountain on the downstream edge.]

are in maney places are at Some distance in the river, and gives every appearance of the rivers being damed up below from Some cause which I am not at this time acquainted with [Bonneville Landslide],     the Current of the river is also verry jentle not exceeding 1 1/2 mile pr. hour and about 3/4 of a mile in width. Some rain, we landed above the mouth of a Small river on the Stard. Side [Wind River] and Dined ...   :  here the river widens to about one mile large Sand bar in the middle, a Great [rock] both in and out of the water, large <round> Stones, or rocks are also permiscuisly Scattered about in the river, ...     The bottoms above the mouth of this little river [Wind River] <which we Call> is rich covered with grass & firn & is about 3/4 of a mile wide rich and rises gradually, below the river (which is 60 yards wide above its mouth) the Countery rises with Steep assent. we call this little river <fr Ash> New Timbered river from a Speces of Ash <that wood> which grows on its banks of a verry large and different from any we had before Seen, and a timber resembling the beech in bark <& groth> but different in its leaf which is Smaller and the tree smaller. passed maney large rocks in the river and a large creek on the Stard. Side in the mouth of which is an Island [Rock Creek near Stevenson, Washington], passed on the right of 3 Islands <on> near the Stard. Side, and landed on an Island close under the Stard. Side at the head of the great Shute [head of the Cascades Rapids], and a little below a village of 8 large houses on a Deep bend on the Stard. Side, and opposit 2 Small Islands imediately in the head of the Shute, which Islands are covered with Pine, maney large rocks also, in the head of the Shute. Ponds back of the houses, and Countrey low for a Short distance. The day proved Cloudy dark and disagreeable with Some rain all day which kept us wet. The Countary a high mountain on each Side thickly Covered with timber, Such as Spruc, Pine, Cedar, Oake Cotton &c. &c.     I took two men and walked down three miles to examine the Shute and river below proceeded along an old Indian path, passd. an old village at 1 mile ...     I found by examonation that we must make a portage of the greater perpotion of our Stores 2 1/2 miles, and the Canoes we Could haul over the rocks, I returned at Dark ...     a wet disagreeable evening, the only wood we could get to burn on this little Island on which we have encamped [near Ashes Lake, the island is now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir. Ashes Lake was near the head of the Cascade Rapids. Across from Ashes Lake is Cascade Locks, Oregon.] is the newly discovered Ash, which makes a tolerable fire. we made fifteen miles to daye





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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; Norman, D.K., Busacca, A.J., and Teissere, R., 2004, Geology of the Yakima Valley Wine Country - A Geologic Field Trip Guide from Stevenson to Zillah, Washington, Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Field Trip Guide 1, June 2004; Oregon State Archives website, 2004, 2006; Oregon State Parks and Recreation website, 2004.

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