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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Tomahawk Island, Oregon"
Includes ... Tomahawk Island ... "Sand Island" ... Columbia Beach ... Lotus Isle ... Lotus Isle Park ... North Portland Harbor ... Kayaks and Canoes ...
Image, 2003, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
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Tomahawk Island. Tomahawk Island, Oregon as seen from Ryan Point, Washington. Image taken June 15, 2003.


Tomahawk Island ...
Lewis and Clark gave the name "Tomahawk Island" to a small island between "Image Canoe Island" (today's Hayden Island) and the prairie on the north shore of the Columbia River, which would become Vancouver, Washington. Tomahawk Island is not named on their route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#79] but is named on the draft map [map#88]. This name came after an incident where Captain Clark's tomahawk pipe was stolen.

"... we continued our rout along the N.E. shore of the river to the place we had halted to dine on the 4th of Novembr opposite to the center of Immage canoe island where the Indians stole Capt. Clarks tomahawk. ..." [Lewis, March 30, 1806]

The Tomahawk Island of Lewis and Clark's day was eventually washed away (as is typical of Columbia River islands), however, after the construction of the Interstate 5 Bridge a new island began forming off the upstream (eastern) end of Hayden Island. In 1927 the United States Board of Geographic Names was petitioned to assign the name to the new island. According to the "PDXHistory website" (2006):

"... In 1927, the name of the island was changed to Tomahawk Island. Portland school children had a contest to name the island. It was chosen because according to legend, an Indian removed a tomahawk that was on display at the Lewis & Clark Exposition in 1905. It is said that he buried the tomahawk on what had been known as Sand Island. ..." ["PDXHistory.com" website, 2006]

Today, Tomahawk and Hayden Islands have almost been consolidated into one island by river silting and road construction. Much of the land of Tomahawk Island is now covered with gated communities and elegant homes and the area is a boating mecca with marinas and houseboats, and several boat dealers and nautical supply shops. Tomahawk Island was once the home of the Columbia Beach and Lotus Isle Amusement Parks.


Views of Tomahawk Island ...

Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island Beach, click to enlarge
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Tomahawk Bay Moorage. View of Tomahawk Bay Moorage, with condominiums along the Washington State shore in the background where on March 30, 1806, Lewis and Clark set up camp. Image taken July 1, 2006.
Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island Beach, click to enlarge
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Tomahawk Bay Moorage. Image taken July 1, 2006.
Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island Beach, click to enlarge
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Beach on the south shore of Tomahawk Island. North Portland Harbor is in the background. Image taken July 1, 2006.
Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island Beach, click to enlarge
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Tomahawk Island shoreline bordering North Portland Harbor. Image taken July 1, 2006.


North Portland Harbor ...
The North Portland Harbor is the official name of the channel which separates Hayden Island and Tomahawk Island from the mainland Oregon. Throughout history it has had other names, including the "Oregon Slough" and "Hayden's Slough". In 1913 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "North Portland Harbor" the official name.
[More]

Image, 2006, North Portland Harbor, from Tomahawk Island, Oregon, click to enlarge
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North Portland Harbor, from Tomahawk Island, Portland, Oregon. The Interstate 5 is in the background. Image taken July 1, 2006.
Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island Beach, click to enlarge
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Chalet, Tomahawk Island houseboat. North Portland Harbor is in the background. Image taken July 1, 2006.


Columbia Beach ...
Between 1916 and 1926 the Columbia Beach Amusement Company operated a swimming beach/amusement park/camping ground (which they called "Columbia Beach") on Tomahawk Island, then known as "Sand Island".

"... Columbia Beach had excellent camping facilities and the dance floor was one of the largest in the country. There were dances seven days a week. There was a miniature railway, a ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, a motordome, a midway, athletic fields, a delicatessen, a grocery store and a roller skating pavilion. According to an ad in the Sunday Oregonian from June 20, 1920, you could ride an airplane for free at Columbia Beach. You could fix a picnic lunch, take the Vancouver Line streetcar to the Park, watch a ballgame and visit the zoo. Then you could dance away the afternoon and night. ..." ["PDXHistory.com" website, 2006]

In 1926 a file destroyed the dance pavilion and the amusement park declined soon after.


Lotus Isle ...
In 1930 the Lotus Isle Company built the "Lotus Isle Amusement Park" on Tomahawk Island, a park which was known as the "Wonderland of the Pacific Northwest". The park spread over 128 acres, had over 40 rides, and for a time it was Portland's largest amusement park, besting Jantzen Beach Park. Access to Lotus Isle Amusement Park was either by a fixed wooden bridge crossing North Portland Harbor, or riding the Vancouver Streetcar and getting off at the main gate. Trajedies and disasters plagued the park, forcing it to close in 1932 in bankruptcy. Today, while some of the rides still exist -- the 4-abreast Herschell Spellman Carousel, made in 1914, is at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and the Spirit of the Alpine Coaster is at the Playland Giant Dipper in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada -- nothing remains of the park. Tomahawk Island Drive goes to where the Amusement Park once stood.

Views from the end of Tomahawk Island Drive ...

Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
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Wildflowers. North Portland Harbor is in the background. Image taken July 1, 2006.
Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
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Eastern tip of Tomahawk Island. View from between the fence. The eastern tip of Tomahawk Island is gated off. Image taken July 1, 2006.


Lotus Isle Park ...
In 1992 the City of Portland acquire 1.1 acres on the south and west side of Tomahawk Island Drive where they maintain a small park called "Lotus Isle Park". The park is on a spit of land jutting into North Portland Harbor. Pilings from the 700-foot trestle that once carried the streetcars to Hayden Island are still visible.

Image, 2006, Lotus Isle Park, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
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Lotus Isle Park, Tomahawk Island, Portland, Oregon. Image taken July 1, 2006.
Image, 2006, Lotus Isle Park, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
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Lotus Isle Park, Tomahawk Island, Portland, Oregon. Image taken July 1, 2006.


Kayaks and Canoes ...

Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Kayaks. View at Alder Creek Kayak Supply, Tomahawk Island. Image taken July 1, 2006.
Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Kayaks and Canoes. View at Alder Creek Kayak Supply, Tomahawk Island. Image taken July 1, 2006.
Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Kayaks and Canoes. View at Alder Creek Kayak Supply, Tomahawk Island. Image taken July 1, 2006.
Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Alder Creek Kayak Supply, Tomahawk Island. Image taken July 1, 2006.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 4, 1805 ...
A cloudy cool morning wind from the West we Set out at 1/2 past 8 oClock [from their camp on the north side of Government Island, approximately across from Fisher's Landing], one man Shannon Set out early to walk on the Island [Government Island] to kill Something, he joined us at the lower point with a Buck. This island is 6 miles long and near 3 miles wide thinly timbered     (Tide rose last night 18 inches perpndicular at Camp) near the lower point of this diamond Island [Government Island] is The head of a large Island Seperated from a Small one by a narrow chanel [Lewis and Clark show two large islands on their maps, both in today's Government Island area], and both Situated nearest the Lard Side, those Islands [even today the Government Island reach is a complex of many islands] as also the bottoms are thickly Covered with Pine &c. river wide, Country low on both Sides; [since 1983 the Interstate 205 bridge crosses Government Island connecting Oregon to Washington]     on the Main Lard Shore a Short distance below the last Island we landed at a village of 25 Houses: [near Portland International Airport]; ...     This village contains about 200 men of the Skil-loot nation ...

at 7 miles below this village passed the upper point of a large Island [Hayden Island] nearest the Lard Side, a Small Prarie [Jolie Prairie, today the location of Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airpark. Lewis and Clark camp on this prairie on their return] in which there is a pond [one of the many ponds which use to dot this area] opposit on the Stard. here I landed and walked on Shore, about 3 miles a fine open Prarie for about 1 mile, back of which the countrey rises gradually and wood land comencies Such as white oake, pine of different kinds, wild crabs with the taste and flavour of the common crab and Several Species of undergroth of which I am not acquainted, a few Cottonwood trees & the Ash of this countrey grow Scattered on the river bank, ...     joined Capt. Lewis at a place he had landed with the party for Diner. ...

dureing the time we were at dinner those fellows Stold my pipe Tomahawk which They were Smoking with [Tomahawk pipe, thus giving rise to the name Tomahawk Island] ...    we proceeded on

[The men have passed through the area which, 20 years later, Dr. John McLoughlin would choose for a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, later to become Fort Vancouver and eventually the city of Vancouver, Washington.]

met a large & a Small Canoe from below, with 12 men the large Canoe was ornimented with Images carved in wood the figures of <man &> a Bear in front & a man in Stern, Painted & fixed verry netely on the <bow & Stern> of the Canoe, rising to near the hight of a man [Lewis and Clark then named Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island"]     two Indians verry finely Dressed & with hats on was in this canoe passed the lower point of the Island [Hayden Island] which is nine miles in length haveing passed 2 Islands on the Stard Side of this large Island [the location of Vancouver Landing and since 1917 the Interstate 5 Bridge connecting Oregon to Washington State], three Small Islands at its lower point [The downstream end of Hayden Island was at one time composed of small islands. One of these, Pearcy Island, would become today's Kelley Point.]. the Indians make Signs that a village is Situated back of those Islands on the Lard. Side and I believe that a Chanel is Still on the Lrd. Side [it wasn't until Lewis and Clark's return trip they would discover the mouth of the Willamette River] as a Canoe passed in between the Small Islands, and made Signs that way, probably to traffick with Some of the nativs liveing on another Chanel, at 3 miles lower [Sauvie Island is located at this stretch, but it is not until the return that Lewis and Clark recognize it as a separate island], and 12 Leagues below quick Sand river [Sandy River] passed a village of four large houses on The Lard. Side [on Sauvie Island], near which we had a full view of Mt. Helien [Mount St. Helens, Washington] which is perhaps the highest pinical in America from their base it bears N. 25 E about 90 miles- This is the mountain I Saw from the Muscle Shell rapid [Umatilla Rapids, Captain Clark actually saw Mount Adams] on the 19th of October last Covered with Snow, it rises Something in the form of a Sugar lofe- about a mile lower passed a Single house on the Lard. Side, and one on the Stard. Side, passed a village on each Side and Camped near a house on the Stard. Side [Post Office Lake vicinity, today within the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge] we proceeded on untill one hour after dark with a view to get clear of the nativs who was constantly about us, and troublesom, finding that we could not get Shut of those people for one night, we landed and Encamped on the Stard. Side ...

This evening we Saw vines much resembling the raspberry which is verry thick in the bottoms. A range of high hills at about 5 miles on the Lard Side [Portland's West Hills'] which runs S. E. & N W. Covered with tall timber the bottoms below in this range of hills and the river is rich and leavel, Saw White geese with a part of their wings black. The river here is 1 miles wide, and current jentle. opposite to our camp on a Small Sandy Island [one of the small sandy islands prevelent in this stretch of the Columbia. Today the Willow Bar Islands on the east side of Sauvie Island lie across from Post Office Lake.] the brant & geese make Such a noise that it will be impossible for me to Sleap. we made 29 miles to day






Clark, March 30, 1806 ...
we got under way verry early [from their camp near Wapato Portage] and had not proceeded to the head of the island [Bachelor Island] before we met with the three men of the Clan-nar-min-a-mon's who met us yesterday brackfast at the upper point of the Island [Bachelor Island] we met Several of the Clackstar and Cath-lah-cum-up in two canoes. Soon after we were overtaken by Several Canoes of different tribes who reside on each Side of the river the three above Tribes and the Clh-in-na-ta cathy-lah-nah-qui-up & Cath-lah-com-mah-tup reside on each Side of Wappato inlet [Multnomah Channel] and back of Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] which Island is formed by a Small Chanel which passes from the Lower part of Image Canoe Island [Hayden Island] into an inlet which makes in from the S W. Side, and receves the water of a Creek which heads with the Kil a mox River. this wappato Island [Sauvie Island] is about 18 or 20 Miles long and in places from 6 to 10 miles wide high & furtile with ponds on different parts of it in which the nativs geather Wappato. nearly opposit the upper point of the Isld. behing which we encamped last night, or on the Wappato Isld. is Several Camps of the nativs catching Sturgion. about 5 miles Still higher up and on the N E. Side we halted for brackfast at the place which We had encamped the 4th of November last [near Post Office Lake, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge]. here we were visited by several canoes of Indians from two Towns a Short distance above on the Wappato Island [Sauvie Island]. the 1st of those Tribes Call themselves Clan-nah-quah and Situated about 2 miles above us, the other about a mile above Call themselves Mult-no-mah ...     at 10 a. m. we Set out and had not proceeded far before we came to a landing place where there was Several large canoes hauled up, and Sitting in a canoe, appearantly waiting our arival with a view to join the fleet indian who was then along Side of us. this man informed he was a Shoto and that his nation resided a little distance from the river. we landed and one of the indians pointed to the Shoto village which is Situated back of Pond [Vancouver Lake] which lies parrelal with the river on the N E. Side nearly opposit the Clan-nah quah village. here we were also joined by Several Canoes loaded with the natives from the Island who Continued to accompany us untill about 4 oClock when they all returned and we proceeded on to the place the Indians Stole my Tomahawk 4th Novr. last [Hayden Island] and Encamped in a Small Prarie ["Jolie Prairie" where Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airpark would some day be located] above a large Pond on N. E and opposit the Center of image Canoe Island [Hayden Island]. capt Lewis walked out and Saw Several deer. Jo. Field Shot at Elk he killed and brought in a fine duck. ...     we made 22 Miles only to day the wind and a Strong current being against us all day, with rain. discovered a high mountain S E. Covered with Snow which we call Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon]






Clark, April 2, 1806 ...
This morning we came to a resolution to remain at our present encampment [Cottonwood Beach, Washougal, Washington] or Some where in this neighbourhood untill we had obtained as much dried meat as would be necessary for our voyage as far as the Chopunnish. ...     about this time Several Canoes of the nativs arived at our Camp [Cottonwood Beach] among others two from below with Eight men of the Shah-ha-la Nation those men informed us that they reside on the opposit Side of the Columbia near Some pine trees which they pointed to in the bottom South of the Dimond Island [Government Island], they Singled out two young men whome they informed us lited at the Falls of a large river [Willamette Falls] which discharges itself into the Columbia on it's South Side Some Miles below us. we readily provailed on them to give us a Sketch of this river [Willamette River] which they drew on a Mat with a coal, it appeared that this river which they Call Mult-no'-mah discharged itself behind the Island we call the image Canoe island [Hayden Island], and as we had left this Island to the South both in decending & assending the river we had never Seen it. they informed us that it was a large river and runs a Considerable distance to the South between the Mountains. I deturmined to take a Small party and return to this river and examine its Size and Collect as much information of the nativs on it or near its enterance into the Columbia of its extent, the Country which it waters and the nativs who inhabit its banks &c. I took with me Six Men. Thompson J. Potts, Peter Crusat, P. Wiser, T. P. Howard, Jos. Whitehouse & my man York in a large Canoe, with an Indian whome I hired for a Sun glass to accompany me as a pilot. at half past 11 A. M. I Set out ...     at 8 miles passed a village on the South side [Chinook Landing and Blue Lake area] at this place my Pilot informed me he resided and that the name of his tribe is Ne-cha-co-lee, this village is back or to the South of Dimond island [Government Island], and as we passed on the North Side of the island both decending & assending did not See or know of this Village. I proceeded on without landing at this village. at 3 P. M. I landed at a large double house of the Ne-er-cho-ki-oo tribe of the Shah-ha-la Nation. at this place we had Seen 24 aditional Straw Huts as we passed down last fall [November 4, 1805, in the vicinity of the Portland International Airport] and whome as I have before mentioned reside at the Great rapids of the Columbia [Celilo Falls].     on the bank at different places I observed Small Canoes which the women make use of to gather Wappato & roots in the Slashes. those Canoes are from 10 to 14 feet long and from 18 to 23 inches wide in the widest part tapering from the center to both ends in this form and about 9 inches deep and So light that a woman may with one hand haul them with ease, and they are Sufficient to Carry a woman on Some loading. I think 100 of those canoes were piled up and Scattered in different directions about in the Woods in the vecinity of this house, the pilot informed me that those Canoes were the property of the inhabitents of the Grand rapids who used them ocasionally to gather roots. ...

I left them [village near today's Portland International Airport] and proceeded on on the South Side [North Portland Harbor] of Image Canoe Island [Hayden Island] which I found to be two Islands hid from the opposit Side by one near the Center of the river. the lower point of the upper and the upper point of the lower cannot be Seen from the North Side of the Columbia on which we had passed both decending and ascending and had not observed the apperture between those islands. at the distance of 13 Miles below the last village [location of Portland International Airport] and at the place I had Supposed was the lower point of the image Canoe island [Hayden Island], I entered this river which the nativs had informed us of, Called Mult no mah River [Willamette River] so called by the nativs from a Nation who reside on Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] a little below the enterance of this river. Multnomah [Willamette River] discharges itself in the Columbia on the S. E. and may be justly Said to be the Size of that noble river. Multnomah had fallen 18 inches from it's greatest annual height. three Small Islands are situated in it's mouth [Belle Vue Point and Kelley Point, on opposite sides of the mouth of the Willamette, use to be islands] which hides the river from view from the Columbia.     from the enterance of this river [Willamette River] , I can plainly See Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon] which is high and Covered with snow S. E. Mt. Hood East [Mount Hood, Oregon], Mt St. Helians [Mount St. Helens, Washington] a high humped Mountain to the East of Mt St. Helians [Mount Adams, Washington, is east of Mount St. Helens]. I also Saw the Mt. Raneer [Mount Rainier, Washington] Nearly North. Soon after I arived at this river an old man passed down of the Clark a'mos Nation who are noumerous and reside on a branch of this river which receives it's waters from Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon] which is emensely high and discharges itself into this river one day and a half up, this distance I State at 40 Miles. This nation inhabits 11 Villages their Dress and language is very Similar to the Quath-lah-poh-tle and other tribes on Wappato Island [Sauvie Island].



The Current of the Multnomar [Willamette River] is as jentle as that of the Columbia glides Smoothly with an eavin surface, and appears to be Sufficiently deep for the largest Ship. I attempted fathom it with a Cord of 5 fathom which was the only Cord I had, could not find bottom ? of the distance across. I proceeded up this river 10 miles from it's enterance into the Columbia to a large house on the N E. Side and Encamped near the house [downstream of Cathedral Park and the St. Johns Bridge, Portland, Oregon, near Portland's Terminal 4.], the flees being So noumerous in the house that we could not Sleep in it.



this is the house of the Cush-hooks Nation who reside at the falls of this river which the pilot informs me they make use of when they Come down to the Vally to gather Wappato. he also informs me that a number of other Smaller houses are Situated on two Bayous which make out on the S. E. Side a little below the house. this house appears to have been laterly abandoned by its inhabitants ...     The course and distance assending the Molt no mar R [Willamette River] from it's enterance into the Columbia at the lower point of the 3rd Image Canoe island.

[This area has changed during the past 200 years. Lewis and Clark called today's Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island". Their "3rd Image Canoe Island" however maybe in reference to the "three Small Islands are situated in it's mouth" (see journal entry above), two of the islands possibly were islands which are today's Belle Vue Point on Sauvie Island, and Pearcy Island which eventually became Kelley Point. Lewis and Clark's route map (Map#79 and Map#80, Moulton, Vol.1) shows a long "Image Canoe Island" with two small islands on the north side of "Image Canoe Island", and three small islands at the mouth of the "Multnomah R.". ]

S. 30 W. 2 Miles to the upper point of a Small Island [???] in the Middle of Moltnomar river [Willamette River]. thence

S. 10 W. 3 miles to a Sluce 80 yards wide [Multnomah Channel] which devides Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] from the Main Stard. Side Shore passing a Willow point on the Lard. Side [???].

S. 60 E. 3 miles to a large Indian house on the Lard Side below Some high pine land.

[Lewis and Clark's map plotted against an 1888 map of the area shows this location to be closer to 2 miles from the Multnomah Channel, just upstream from Portland's Terminal 4, and across from the community of Linnton.]

high bold Shore on the Starboard Side [Tualatin Mountains]. thence

S. 30 E 2 miles to a bend under the high lands on the Stard Side [St. Johns Bridge area located at the base of the Tualatin Mountains]

miles 10 passing a Larborad point [???].

thence the river bends to the East of S East as far as I could See [the stretch through Portland, Oregon]. at this place I think the wedth of the river may be Stated at 500 yards and Sufficiently deep for a Man of War or Ship of any burthern.





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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: "PDXHistory.com" website, 2006; Portland Parks and Recreation website, 2006; Washington State Historical Society website, 2004, "Lasting Legacy";

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