Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Steamboat Landing, Washington"
Includes ... Steamboat Landing ... Steamboat Landing Park ... Pendleton Woolen Mill ... "Chets Landing" ...
Image, 2003, Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington. View looking upstream towards Cottonwood Beach. Image taken July 3, 2003.


Steamboat Landing ...
Steamboat Landing is located in Washougal, Washington, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 113. Steamboat landing began as a natural boat landing located about a mile downstream from Cottonwood Beach. According to the Clark County, Washington, website (2014):

"... There's a natural boat landing that played an important role in the Oregon Trail about a mile downstream from Cottonwood Beach, next to the Port of camas-Washougal marina in present-day Washougal.

Many pioneers coming out west would arrive near the Dalles, Oregon, and make rafts to float down the Columbia River. A natural eddy at the landing would wash barges and rafts up against the north bank. From there settlers could avoid the British at Fort Vancouver by traveling to the interior of what would become Washington state or cross the river to the Oregon bank.

Two men came out on a wagon train, floated down the river, and arrived at the landing in 1845. One was George Washington Bush, the first free African-American man to make a home in Washington. He would found a community near Tumwater.

The second man, David Clark Parker decided to stay put at the landing and took a Donation Land Claim in 1846 that became Parker's Landing, a thriving little community in its day. Other settlers who followed Parker included Joseph Gibbons in 1847, J. Duncan in 1850, and J.E.C. Durgan in 1854. ..."

Today a floating dock provides a panoramic view of the Columbia River Gorge, Cottonwood Beach, and Mount Hood. A 2-mile Columbia River dike trail starts at Steamboat Landing and continues upstream to Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The pilings visible are remains from the old paddlewheel boat dock which extend across the highway to the Pendleton Woolen Mill.


Image, 2004, Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington. View looking upstream towards Cottonwood Beach. Image taken November 21, 2004.


Early Steamboat Landing ...
In the 1950s the area was known as "Chets Landing" and was used to land pontoon airplanes.

Clark County Heritage Site ...

"The first settlers near the mouth of the Washougal River arrived in 1845. By 1880, the community was large enough to support a dock; therefore, one was constructed a few hundred yards upstream from here. Some of the pilings are still visible. This dock became homeport for the steamer Calliope and later, the Jessie Harkins. Steamship passange to Portland was available dailty for both passengers and freight.

In 1908, the Seattle Portland and Spokane Railway opened the North Bank Line, providing rapid transport to Vancouver and Portland. This action, and the gravel surfacing of the wagon trail to Vancouver, forced the steamboat business to decline. By 1916, regularly scheduled streamboat trips no longer existed.

A few years later in the 1920s the Pendleton Woolen Mill switched from wood to oil heat. Pendleton constructed a separate dock to enable oil barges to tie up and unload. This dock was used through the 1950s, and you can identify the dock pilings and pieces of the pipeline immediately upstream of this rock fill.

In 1945, after Pendleton Woolen Mills deeded this piece of shoreline property to the City of Washougal for "street and public dock purposed" the rock fill upon which you stand was constructed."

Source:    Clark County Heritage Site Information sign at Steamboat Landing Park, 2004


Image, 2004, Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington. . Image taken November 21, 2004.


Views from Steamboat Landing ...

Image, 2004, Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Looking upstream from Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington. Image taken November 21, 2004.
Image, 2004, Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Looking downstream from Steamboat Landing, Washougal, Washington. Image taken November 21, 2004.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

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 1 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 1 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 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]





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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: City of Vancouver Parks and Recreation website, 2004; Fairhurst, R., 2006, Washougal, Images of America, Arcadia Publishing, San Francisco, California; Vancouver Audubon Society 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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August 2009