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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Tongue Point, Oregon"
Includes ... Tongue Point ... "Point William" ... Campsite of November 27 - December 6, 1805 ... Campsite of March 23, 1806 ... Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2004, Tongue Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tongue Point, as seen from Astoria, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2005.


Tongue Point ...
Tongue Point is a 308-feet-high peninsula which protrudes nearly a mile (0.8 miles) into the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 18. It is connected with the Oregon side of the Columbia by a low, narrow neck. The peninsula is covered with trees. Tongue Point is the downstream margin of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. To the west of Tongue Point is Astoria, Oregon, and to the east is Cathlamet Bay. A buoy depot of the U.S. Coast Guard is located on the west side of Tongue Point near the inner end, while on the east side of Tongue Point are the concrete piers of the former naval base, built in 1942.

Image, 2004, Tongue Point from Megler Rest Area, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tongue Point, Oregon, from Megler Rest Area, Washington. Image taken April 9, 2004.
Image, 2004, Tongue Point from Megler Rest Area, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tongue Point, Oregon, from Megler Rest Area, Washington. Image taken June 16, 2004.


Campsite of November 27 - December 6, 1805 ...
Between November 27, 1805 and December 6, 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition set up their main camp on the west side of Tongue Point, on the neck of land connecting the point with the mainland. The majority of the party under Captain Clark remained at this camp until December 7, 1805, while Captain Lewis and five of the men proceeded to Youngs Bay and the Lewis and Clark River to find a suitable winter camp Fort Clatsop.

"... below this point the waves became So high we were Compelled to land unload and traw up the Canoes, here we formed a Camp on the neck of Land which joins Point William to the main at an old indian hut. The rain Continued hard all day we are all Wet and disagreeable. one Canoe Split before we Got her out of the Water 2 feet— The water at our Camp Salt that above the isthmus fresh and fine— ..." [Clark, November 27, 1805]

Rains continued throughout Lewis and Clark's stay on Tongue Point.

"... this is our present Situation; truly disagreeable. about 12 oClock the wind Shifted around to the N W. and blew with Such violence that I expected every moment to See trees taken up by the roots, maney were blown down. This wind and rain Continued with Short intervales all the latter part of the night. O! how disagreeable is our Situation dureing this dreadful weather. ..." [Clark, November 28, 1805]

"... There is more wet weather on this coast, than I ever knew in any other place; during a month, we have had three fair days; and there is no prospect of a change. ..." [Gass, December 5, 1805]

On the last night camped at Tongue Point the men had to move camp to higher ground when the tide came in.

"... The wind blew hard all the last night with a moderate rain, the waves verry high, the wind increased & from the S. W. and the rain Continued all day, about Dark the wind Shifted to the North cleared away and became fair weather. The high tide of today is 13 inches higher than yesterday, and obliged us to move our Camp which was in a low Situation, on higher ground Smoke exceedingly disagreeable. [Clark, December 6, 1805 ...

"... We had another wet morning, and were not able to set out. At noon it rained very hard, and the tide flowed so high, that in some part of our camp the water was a foot deep: we had therefore to remove to higher ground. In the afternoon it still continued to rain hard. ..." [Gass, December 6, 1805 ...

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was near the Twilight Eagle Sanctuary in Cathlamet Bay. They stayed on Tongue Point until December 7, 1805, when they left to setup camp at Fort Clatsop, where they would reside until the following spring.


Image, 2004, Tongue Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tongue Point, as seen from Astoria, Oregon. The "neck" of Tongue Point (on right) is where the Lewis and Clark expedition spent November 27 until December 6, 1805. Image taken June 16, 2004.


"Pebbles of Many Colors" ...
On November 29, 1805, Captain Clark wrote about the colorful "pebbles" located in their Tongue Point camp.

"... I Sent out two hunters to hunt deer, & one to hunt fowl, all the others employed in drying their leather and prepareing it for use, as but fiew of them have many other Clothes to boste of at this time, we are Smoked verry much in this Camp The Shore on the Side next the Sea is Covered with butifull pebble of various Colour ..." [Clark, November 29, 1805, first draft]

"... The winds are from Such points that we cannot form our Camp So as to provent the Smoke which is emencely disagreeable, and painfull to the eyes— The Shore below the point at our Camp is formed of butifull pebble of various colours. I observe but fiew birds of the Small kind, great numbers of wild fowls of Various kinds, the large Buzzard with white wings, grey and bald eagle's, large red tailed Hawks, ravens & Crows in abundance, the blue Magpie, a Small brown bird which frequents logs & about the roots of trees— Snakes, Lizards, Small bugs, worms, Spiders, flyes & insects of different kinds are to be <found> Seen in abundance at this time ..." [Clark, November 29, 1805]

According to Moulton in his online Lewis and Clark Journals, "The colored pebbles were probably derived from the Pliocene-age Troutdale Formation which contains rounded quartz and chert gravels derived from sources upstream in the Columbia Plateaus and deposited in this area by the Columbia River."


Campsite of March 23, 1806 ...
Lewis and Clark's campsite of March 23, 1806, was along the banks of Cathlamet Bay, on the east side of Tongue Point just before reaching the mouth of the John Day River (Clatsop County). Their camp was located on the right bank of a small creek, today called "Mill Creek".
[More]

Image, 2004, East side of Tongue Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
East side of Tongue Point. View is looking at the area of Lewis and Clark's campsite of March 23, 1806, lower foreground along the Columbia. Mill Creek is just visible merging into the Columbia. Image taken May 25, 2004.


Naming of Tongue Point ...
Tongue Point was first named in 1792 by Lieutenant William Broughton of the George Vancouver expedition.

"... Mr. Broughton very judiciously concluded that I was desirous that he should explore and examine this opening on the coast; and in order that no time should be lost in carrying this service into execution, he proceeded at two in the afternoon, with the first of the flood and a strong gale at S.W. up the inlet, keeping the Village point, which lies S. 70. E. five miles from cape Disappointment, well open with a remarkable projecting point, that obtained the name of Tongue Point, (on the southern shore, appearing like an island.) The depth of water here was not less than four fathoms ..." [Vancouver, October 21, 1792]

On November 27, 1805, Lewis and Clark rounded an isthmus of land they called "Point William" after William Clark.

"... a verry remarkable point which projects about 1 1/2 Miles directly towards the Shallow bay     the isthmus which joins it to the main land is not exceding 50 yards and about 4 Miles around.     we call this Point William ..." [Clark, November 27, 1805]

The "Shallow bay" is Grays Bay, on the Washington side of the Columbia.


Views of Tongue Point ...

Image, 2003, Columbia River and Tongue Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tongue Point, as seen from Astoria, Oregon. Image taken August 2, 2003.
Image, 2004, Tongue Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tongue Point, as seen from Astoria, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2005.
Image, 2004, Tongue Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tongue Point, as seen from Astoria, Oregon. The "neck" of Tongue Point (on right behind the NetLoft building) is where the Lewis and Clark expedition spent November 27 until December 6, 1805. Image taken June 16, 2004.


Tongue Point in 1858 ...
From the 1858 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's "Coast Pilot":

"Tongue Point bears E. NE. 8 3/4 miles from Point Adams, and NE. 1/2 E., 3 1/2 miles from Astor Point. It is a high, bold bluff covered with trees, and connected with the main by a moderately low, narrow, strip of land. As first made, off the entrance, it appears like a low wooded island. Close to it runs the Woody Island channel, which is plainly foreshadowed in Belcher's survey of the river. Between the last two points lie the rival villages of Upper and Lower Astoria."


Tongue Point in 1940 ...
From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"... At 100.7 m. is TONGUE POINT STATE PARK; here is a junction with a gravel road.

Right on this road to TONGUE POINT LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE BASE, 0.7 m. Built on a projection extending into the wide mouth of the Columbia River, this base is the repair depot for the buoys that guide navigators along the watercourses of the two states. Tongue Point was so named by Broughton in 1792. A proposal to establish a naval air base at this point, agitated for many years, has been at last approved by Congress (1939) and funds appropriated for beginning construction. ..."


Tongue Point in WWI and WWII ...
In 1919 Congress approved the construction of a submarine and destroyer base at Tongue Point, Oregon, and in 1921, Clatsop County transferred ownership of 395 acres to the federal government and dredging began. Construction was completed in 1924, with a breakwater and four wooden finger piers extending into Cathlamet Bay. However, with decreased military appropriation following World War I, the base was never used. In 1939 the actual ground breaking for the naval station began with three out of the four old wooden finger piers being removed. Tongue Point was to be a base for amphibious seaplane patrols of the coastline. This proved difficult due to the logs and other floating debris on the Cathlamet Bay which made takeoffs and landings hazardous. During World War II, the facility's most significant role was a site for pre-commissioning and commissioning escort aircraft carriers (better known as "jeep flattops") built in the big Victory ship yards in the Portland-Vancouver area. Other wartime activities included air crew training and routine patrol flights. Following World War II, the base was converted to a moorage facility for the Ready Reserve fleet, and eight new concrete piers were built out into Cathlamet Bay. From 1946 to 1962, the U.S. Navy stored as many as 250 mothballed Liberty ships at Tongue Point. In 1962 Tongue Point Naval Air Station was deactivated.

Penny Postcard, Tongue Point Naval Base, Astoria, Oregon, ca.1950s
Click image to enlarge
Tongue Point Naval Base, Astoria, Oregon, ca.1950s:
Penny Postcard, "Tongue Point Naval Base, Astoria, Ore.". ca.1946 to 1962. Divided back. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2004, Piers, east of Tongue Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Piers into Cathlamet Bay, east of Tongue Point, Oregon. Mott Island, located in Cathlamet Bay, is in the background. Image taken May 25, 2004.


Tongue Point Lumber Company ...
In 1908 the Tongue Point Lumber Company sold out to the Hammond Lumber Company. The mill burned down in 1922.

Finest Lumber Mill in the World

"The new mill, built by Geo. W. Hume, of San Francisco, in Astoria, and to be operated by the Tongue Point Mill Company, of which he is the sole owner, cut its first log recently. The trial of the mill was a perfect success in every way, and its beginning operations means considerable for the future prosperity of this city. Mr. Hume built the mill for his son, William R. Hume, who will be its business manager, and James Winters, who designed the mill and directed its construction, will be its superintendent. It is a broad statement to make, but a fact, that this mill stands today, in every detail of equipment and efficiency, the finest lumber mill in the world, this being acknowledged by every practical mill man who has examined it, and so considered by the lumber trade journals. The plant occupies about 21 acres of ground, and is very conveniently arranged for handling rail and cargo business, and its cost, complete, will exceed $250,000.

The planing mill will be equipped with two Mershon resaws, one 16x30 four-sided Invincible timber planer, five Invincible matchers and surfacers, and two stickers. The box factory will be equipped with the latest box manufacturing machinery. When the mill is in full operation it will have a capacity of 140,000 feet in ten hours, or 250,000 feet per day.."

Source:    The Pacific Monthly, January 1904, vol.XI, no.1



"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Hammond Lumber Mills, Astoria, ca.1910, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Hammond Lumber Mills, Astoria, Oregon, ca.1910. Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Hammond Lumber Mills, showing millions of feet of floating lumber, Astoria, Oregon." Published by Pacific Novelty Co., San Francisco, California. Card #3313. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Tongue Point Naval Base, Astoria, Oregon, ca.1950s
Click image to enlarge
Tongue Point Naval Base, Astoria, Oregon, ca.1950s:
Penny Postcard, "Tongue Point Naval Base, Astoria, Ore.". ca.1946 to 1962. Divided back. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 27, 1805, first draft ...
Some rain all the last night & this morning ...     we proceeded on, around Point William [Tongue Point] th Swells became high and rained so hard we Concluded to halt and dry our Selves, Soon after our landing the wind rose from the East and blew hard accompanied with rain, this rain obliged us to unload & draw up our Canoes, one of which was Split to feet before we got her out of the river, this place the Peninsolely is about 50 yards and 3 miles around this point of Land. water Salt below not Salt above


Clark, November 27, 1805 ...
Rained all the last night and this morning it Continues moderately [the men are camped in Cathlamet Bay near the Twilight Eagle Sanctuary, today part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge] ...    we proceded on between maney Small Islands [west end of Cathlamet Bay] passing a Small river [John Day River, Clatsop County] of [blank] yds wide which the Indians Call ____ [Biddle added the notation Kekemar<qu>ke] and around a verry remarkable point [Tongue Point] which projects about 1 1/2 Miles directly towards the Shallow bay [Grays Bay] the isthmus which joins it to the main land is not exceding 50 yards and about 4 Miles around. we call this Point William [Tongue Point]

below this point [Tongue Point] the waves became So high we were Compelled to land unload and traw up the Canoes, here we formed a Camp on the neck of Land which joins Point William [Tongue Point] to the main at an old indian hut. The rain Continued hard all day we are all Wet and disagreeable. one Canoe Split before we Got her out of the Water 2 feet- The water at our Camp Salt that above the isthmus fresh and fine-






Clark, November 29, 1805 ...
The wind and rain Continued all the last night [while at their camp at Tongue Point], this morning much more moderate. the waves Still high and rain Continues. Capt Lewis and 5 hunters Set out in our Indian Canoe (which is Calculated to ride wave) dow to the place we expected to find Elk from the Inds. information, the[y] pointed to a Small Bay which is yet below us [Youngs Bay] — I Sent out 2 men to hunt Deer which I expected might be on the open hill Sides below, another to hunt fowl in the deep bend above the point [Cathlamet Bay], all the others engaged drying their leather before the fire, and prepareing it for use—they haveing but fiew other Species of Clothing to ware at this time

The winds are from Such points that we cannot form our Camp So as to provent the Smoke which is emencely disagreeable, and painfull to the eyes— The Shore below the point at our Camp is formed of butifull pebble of various colours. I observe but fiew birds of the Small kind, great numbers of wild fowls of Various kinds, the large Buzzard with white wings, grey and bald eagle's, large red tailed Hawks, ravens & Crows in abundance, the blue Magpie, a Small brown bird which frequents logs & about the roots of trees— Snakes, Lizards, Small bugs, worms, Spiders, flyes & insects of different kinds are to be <found> Seen in abundance at this time.






Clark, November 30, 1805 ...
I walked on the point and observed rose bushes different Species of pine, a Spcies of ash, alder, a Species of wild Crab Loral and Several Species of under groth Common to this lower part of the Columbia river— The hills on this Coast rise high and are thickly covered with lofty pine maney of which are 10 & 12 feet through and more than 200 feet high. hills have a Steep assent.





Clark, December 3, 1805, first draft ...
as yet I marked my name & the day of the month and year on a large Pine tree on this Peninsella & by land "Capt William Clark <November> December 3rd 1805. By Land. U States in 1804 & 1805"


Clark, December 3, 1805 ...
a fair windey morning wind from the East the men returned with the Elk which revived the Spirits of my party verry much ...     Some rain this evening

I marked my name on a large pine tree imediately on the isthmus William Clark December 3rd 1805. By Land from the U. States in 1804 & 1805.






Clark, March 23, 1806 ...
This morning proved So raney and uncertain that we were undeturmined for Some time whether we had best Set out & risque the [river?] which appeared to be riseing or not. ...     at 1 P. M. left Fort Clatsop [Fort Clatsop, Oregon, location where the men wintered over] on our homeward bound journey. at this place we had wintered and remained from the 7th of Decr. 1805 to this day and have lived as well as we had any right to expect, and we can Say that we were never one day without 3 meals of Some kind a day either pore Elk meat or roots, not withstanding the repeeted fall of rain which has fallen almost Constantly Since we passed the long narrows on the [blank] of Novr. last indeed w[e] have had only [blank] days fair weather since that time. Soon after we had Set out from Fort Clatsop we were met by De lash el wilt & 8 men of the Chinnooks ...     proceeded on, thro' Meriwethers Bay [Youngs Bay], there was a Stiff breese from the S. W. which raised Considerable Swells around Meriwethers point [Smith Point, Astoria, Oregon] which was as much as our Canoes Could ride. above point William [Tongue Point] we came too at the Camp of Drewyer & the 2 Field's. they had killed 2 Elk which was about 1˝ miles distant. here we Encampd. for the night [near Mill Creek, just downstream of the John Day River] having made 16 miles.





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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: NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2005; NOAA's "United States Coast Pilot", 31st edition; State of Oregon "Bluebook" website, 2004; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 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 2013