Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Home Regions Campsites Penny Postcards My Corps of Discovery Image Index Links About This Site Main Menu
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Tunnel Point and Onion Rock, Oregon"
Includes ... Tunnel Point ... Onion Rock ...
Image, 2005, Tunnel Point and Onion Rock, from Crown Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tunnel Point and Onion Rock, as seen from Crown Point, Oregon. View from Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon. Image taken March 6, 2005.

Tunnel Point ...
Tunnel Point is located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 127.5. A pulloff at the point can be reached westbound on Interstate 84. Great views of Reed Island, Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Point Vancouver, and Chanticleer Point, Crown Point, and Rooster Rock are to be had.

Onion Rock ...
(to come)

Early Tunnel Point ...
Neither Lewis and Clark's draft map nor their route map show any indication of Tunnel Point. The route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#79] indicates an island in the vicinity of Reed Island and the Steigerwald Lake area is labeled "plains". Point Vancouver, across from Tunnel Point, is depicted but not named.

In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition charts Tunnel Point as "Square Rock" on the map "Sheet No.6 of Columbia River". The map also names Rooster Rock as the "Obelisk" and Reed Island as "Vancouver Island". Point Vancouver is shown but not named.

The 1948 NOAA Chart #6156 "Vancouver to Bonneville" shows "Tunnel Point" and the rock just upstream as "Onion Rock". Rooster Rock is "Rooster Rock" and Point Vancouver is "Point Vancouver".

The "Tunnel" at Tunnel Point ...
The "tunnel" of Tunnel Point" refers to the railway tunnel located on the south side of Interstate 84 at the point. Trying to photograph it while doing 70 on the freeway is an interesting exercise.

Image, 2006, Tunnel at Tunnel Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tunnel at Tunnel Point, Oregon, west portal. View shot from car driving west on Interstate 84. Image taken September 29, 2006.
Image, 2006, Tunnel at Tunnel Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Tunnel at Tunnel Point, Oregon, west portal. View shot from over shoulder from inside car driving west on Interstate 84. Image taken September 16, 2006.

Views from Tunnel Point ...

Image, 2005, Columbia Gorge as seen from Tunnel Point, I-84, Portland, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River Gorge looking upstream, as seen from Tunnel Point. Image taken November 19, 2005.
Image, 2004, Angels Rest and Devils Rest, Oregon, from Tunnel Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Angels Rest (left) and Devils Rest (cone on top), as seen from Tunnel Point, Oregon. Angels Rest is Columbia River basalt and lies uphill from Dalton Point, Oregon. Devils Rest is a Boring Lava cone. Image taken October 10, 2004.
Image, 2004, Crown Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Crown Point as seen from Tunnel Point, Oregon. View from Tunnel Point Viewpoint, Interstate 84, Oregon. Image taken October 10, 2004.
Image, 2006, Crown Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Crown Point (left) and Chanticleer Point (right), as seen from Tunnel Point, Oregon. View from Tunnel Point Viewpoint, Interstate 84, Oregon. Image taken September 23, 2006.

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]

Columbia River GorgeReturn to




*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, 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.
© 2017, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
June 2009