Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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
Click image to enlarge
Tomahawk Island. Tomahawk Island, Oregon as seen from Ryan Point, Washington. Image taken June 15, 2003.


Tomahawk Island ...
Tomahawk Island is a one-mile-long island located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River between River Mile (RM) 107 and RM 108. Today it is connected to Hayden Island, creating one island. 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.

Lewis and Clark and 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.


Views ...

Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island Beach, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
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
Click image to enlarge
Tomahawk Bay Moorage. Image taken July 1, 2006.
Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island Beach, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
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
Click image to enlarge
Tomahawk Island shoreline bordering North Portland Harbor. Image taken July 1, 2006.


Tomahawk Island, etc.

  • Columbia Beach ...
  • Kayaks and Canoes ...
  • Lotus Isle Amusement Park ...
  • Lotus Isle Park ...
  • North Portland Harbor ...
  • Old Streetcar Trestle ...


Columbia Beach ...
Between 1916 and 1926 the Columbia Beach Amusement Company operated a swimming beach/amusement park/camping ground (which they called "Columbia Beach") at the east end of 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.


Image, Columbia Beach, Portland, Morning Oregonian, August 11, 1917, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
ADVERTISEMENT, Columbia Beach, "Morning Oregonian", August 11, 1917. The "Morning Oregonian", August 11, 1917, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspaper Archives, University of Oregon Libraries website, 2015.


Kayaks and Canoes ...

Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
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. 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.


Lotus Isle Amusement Park ...
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. Tragedies 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.

Image, 2006, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
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 1.72 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.

"Historical Information:

The park was named after Portlandís largest amusement park called Lotus Isle, the Million-Dollar Pleasure Paradise. Lotus Isle spread out over 128 acres east of Jantzen Beach and it officially opened June 28, 1930. It was known as the Wonderland of the Pacific Northwest and you could take in over 40 rides at the amusement park. The parkís name was derived from the Lotus Water Lily, which was associated with euphoria and enlightenment in Oriental and Egyptian mythology.

The short-lived amusement park was plagued by debt, alleged gangland connections, and a plane crash which destroyed several buildings. It closed after the 1932 season and a bonfire was set to virtually destroy all memory of the park.

Today, much of this land has been developed, including moorages, houseboats, marinas, and condos. From the park, you can still see the pilings from the 700-foot trestle that once carried the streetcars that went on to Hayden Island and then to Vancouver, Washington."


Source:    Portland Parks and Recreation website, 2019.


Image, 2006, Lotus Isle Park, Tomahawk Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lotus Isle Park, Tomahawk Island, Portland, Oregon. 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.


Old Streetcar Trestle ...
Pilings from an old 700-foot trestle that once carried streetcars from Portland to Tomahawk Island can still be seen in North Portland Harbor. This "Vancouver Street Car" let passengers off at the Lotus Isle Depot, at the entrance to Lotus Isle Amusement Park. A good view of the remaining pilings can be had from the east side of today's Lotus Isle Park on Tomahawk Island, or from the end of the road at Bridgeton.

"... BY STREET CAR -- Vancouver car anywhere in city; get off at Lotus Isle Depot. You're at the gates. ..." ["PDXHistory.com" website, 2006, Newspaper ad from June 27, 1930]

[More]


Image, 2006, North Portland Harbor with old streetcar trestle, from Tomahawk Island, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
North Portland Harbor, from Tomahawk Island, Portland, Oregon. Pilings in foreground are the remains of old streetcar trestle connecting Oregon with Hayden Island. View from Lotus Isle Park, Tomahawk Island. Image taken July 1, 2006.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 4, 1805 ...





Clark, March 30, 1806 ...





Clark, April 2, 1806 ...




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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, 2019;
  • 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.
/Regions/Places/tomahawk_island.html
September 2008