Lewis and Clark's Columbia River

"David Thompson Expedition, 1811"
"Journal of David Thompson", 1811, As Copied from the Original in the Archives of Ontario, Canada", Edited by T.C. Elliott, IN: The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, vol.15, no.1, March 1914.
(to come)

Excerpts from:
"Journal of David Thompson", 1811, As Copied from the Original in the Archives of Ontario, Canada", Edited by T.C. Elliott, IN: The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, vol.15, no.1, March 1914.

Comments presumably by T.C. Elliott, 1914.

Under Construction ...

July 8, 1811

Comments:   Today he runs Priest Rapids and passes the White or Marl Bluffs and camps at evening on the site of present city of Pasco, Washington; distance about 90 miles. At foot of the rapids he has an interesting "smoke" with the first of the Shahaptin tribes and it is quite possible that the white-haired man mentioned is the priest or medicine man after whom Alex. Ross says the rapids were named.

July 9, 1811

Comments:   From Pasco, after stopping to post his formal notice, Mr. Thompson descends the Columbia about 60 miles and camps in vicinity of either Castle Rock on the Oregon side or Carley on the Washington side. He spends four hours of the morning talking with Chief Yellepit of the Walla Walla tribe of Shahaptins, the same who entertained Lewis and Clark so sumptuously in 1805-06 as narrated in their journals. On the turn to the soutwestward just above Blalock Island Mt. Hood is sighted ahead of them.


"July 9th, Tuesday.    A stormy night and morning. Wind northesterly. At 6:10 A.M. set off [from near Pasco, Washington]   ...   to the junction of the Shawpatin River [Snake River]   with this, the Columbia. Here I erected a small pole with a half sheet of paper well tied about it, with these words on it: "Know hereby that this country is claimed by Great Britain as part of its territories, and that the N.W. Company of Merchants from Canada, finding the factory for this people inconvenient for them, do hereby intend to erect a factory in this place for the commerce of the country around. D. Thompson, Junction of the Shawpatin River [Snake River]   with the Columbia. July 9th, 1811." The Shawpatin River [Snake River]   may be about 500 yards wide, troubled waters and a strong current. Indians say when the water is low it is full of rapids and bad. ...   At 8:5 A.M. put ashore and at 1/4 P.M. set off. Here I met the principal chief of all the tribes of Shawpatin Indians [Chief Yellepit].   He had an American medal of 1801, Thomas Jefferson [Jefferson Peace Medal], and a small flag of that nation. He was a stately good looking man of about 40 years and well dressed. His band was small as he had separated himself for fishing, but he had cousins all around, and they all collected. He had his soldiers, who, when two old respectable chiefs approached went and met them about 100 yards from where we were smoking. I found him intelligent, he was also very friendly, and we discoursed a long time and settled upon the Junction of the Shawpatin River [Snake River]   for a House, etc. When he had smoked awhile with the others, he ordered all the women to dance, which they did as usual. He gave me two salmon and I made him a present of 2 feet of tobacco ...   See conical mountain right ahead alone and very high [Mount Hood],   seemingly a mass of snow. ...  The country is still a vast plain and getting more and more sandy. The Indians inform us that from the Shawpatin River [Snake River]   they go with horses in a day to the foot of the mountain [Blue Mountains],   which is now low and distant, the next day to the other side of the mountain, and the third day among the buffalo, but they fear the Straw Tent Snake Indians with whom they are at war. The course they point out is about east by south. ..."

July 10, 1811

Comments:   A short day's run of about 40 miles, but much time spent in smoking with the Indians at their fishing camps, and he learns of the arrival of the Tonquin at Astoria with the Astor or Pacific Fur Company traders. The camp for the night is below Squally Hook, probably near John Day river.

July 11, 1811

Comments:   Continuous and dangerous rapids and visits with the Indians permit a run of only about 30 miles today. The afternoon's camping place is a trifle uncertain, but Celilo Falls being entirely submerged that year he probably ran down to the head of the Upper Dalles or Ten Mile Rapids, then carried a short distance and camped between there and the Lower Dalles or Five Mile Rapids with the Echeloot Indians of Lewis and Clark. These are the Short and Long Narrows through which Lewis and Clark ran their pirogues to the great astonishment of these Indians, but at a different stage of the water.

July 12, 1811

Comments:   Both portages are short because of high water; the seals are seen in Big Eddy and the short "carry" is at Three Mile Rapids and the canoe is "gummed" just above The Dalles. The camp at evening is on Oregon side a little above the Cascade Locks. Distance traveled is about 55 miles.

July 13, 1811

Comments:   Owing to delay in starting and the portage around the Cascades, the day's run is only about 25 miles and the camp at evening near or opposite Rooster Rock. Point Vancouver, which is nearly opposite to Corbett, Oregon, just below, he seems familiar with, through the records in Vancouver's Voyages probably.

July 14, 1811

Comments:   Mr. Thompson travels about 85 miles today, and his camp at night is under the rocky cliffs some distance above Cathlamet on the Washington shore. He stops to boil salmon on Sauvies' Island, and Mt. St. Helens is sighted form about where the city of that name now stands.

July 15, 1811

Comments:   The islands and low marshes along the south shore of the Columbia are all inundated, but Mr. Thompson crosses over and follows that shore to Tongue Point and portages across where Capt. Clark carved his name on a tree December 3, 1805, but does not mention the tree. For contemporary accounts of his arrival at Astoria compare Franchere's Narrative, pp. 121-2, and Alex. Ross' Oregon Settlers, pp.85-6, and Irving's "Astoria".

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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


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.
September 2015