Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Railroad Bridge, Vancouver to Hayden Island to Oregon"
Includes ... SP&S Railroad Bridge ... Vancouver ... Hayden Island ... North Bank Railway ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2007, Railroad Bridge crossing the Columbia at Vancouver, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Bridge crossing the Columbia River connecting Vancouver, Washington, with Portland, Oregon. View from Vancouver Station, Washington. Hayden Island, Oregon, is in the background. Image taken April 1, 2007.


Vancouver-Hayden Island Railroad Bridge ...
In 1906 the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway (SP&S) began construction of the railroad bridge (the "North Bank Bridge") connecting Vancouver, Washington with Hayden Island, Oregon, bringing to an end the rail-car ferry which went between Kalama, Washington and Goble, Oregon (see more below). Throughout history this bridge carried the SP&S trains as well as the Northern Pacific, the Great Northern, and the Union Pacific, on their routes between Seattle and Portland. This bridge is now part of the Burlington Northern Sante Fe system and seves Union Pacific and Amtrak as well. Heading south, the tracks from the Vancouver Depot cross Hayden Island and the North Portland Harbor and continue on to Portland's Union Station. The bridge is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 105.5.

Early Bridge ...
According to the Clark County Washington Historical Register website (2005):

"... One of the major bridges on the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway is a double-tracked swing bridge which spans the Columbia River between Vancouver and Hayden Island. The nearest rail crossing over the Columbia River was over the Oregon Trunk Railway at Celilo, 105 miles to the east. The Vancouver-Hayden Island Bridge replaced the Northern Pacific ferry that had transferred entire trains across the Columbia River between Goble, Washington and Kalama Washington since 1883. This bridge provided a crucial connection between Oregon and Washington facilitating the movement of all north-south bound rail traffic through Portland.

Completed in 1908, the Columbia River Bridge is the oldest pin connected swing bridge remaining within the state of Washington. Ships can pass through the 2,808 foot structure through the opening of the swing span which rotates by means of electric power and an auxiliary gasoline engine. Its 492 foot swing span was extremely long for its day which is reflected in the fact that the bridge was acknowledged in Henry Grattan Tyrrell’s History of Bridge Engineering.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. ..."

Note: In November 2005, this web author was unable to locate the railroad bridge on the National Register of Historic Places website. The Interstate 5 Bridge however was listed in on the site, added in 1982, Structure #82004205.


Views ...

Image, 2005, Hayden Island, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hayden Island, Oregon, as seen from Vancouver Landing, Washington. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Bridge crossing the Columbia River connecting Vancouver, Washington, with Portland, Oregon. Image taken July 3, 2005.
Image, 2005, Railroad Bridge crossing the Columbia at Vancouver, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Open for traffic, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Bridge crossing the Columbia River connecting Vancouver, Washington, with Portland, Oregon. Span for river traffic is open. View from Vancouver Landing, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken July 3, 2005.
Image, 2005, Railroad Bridge crossing the Columbia at Vancouver, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Bridge crossing the Columbia River connecting Vancouver, Washington, with Portland, Oregon. Span for river traffic is open. View from Vancouver Station, Washington. Image taken July 3, 2005.
Image, 2005, Railroad Bridge crossing the Columbia at Vancouver, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Bridge crossing the Columbia River connecting Vancouver, Washington, with Portland, Oregon. View from Vancouver Station, Washington. Image taken July 3, 2005.
Image, 2005, Amtrak arriving at Vancouver Station, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Amtrak arriving at Vancouver Station. Train on the left is a Burlington Northern Santa Fe heading south. Image taken July 3, 2005.


Vancouver Railroad Bridge, etc.

  • Portland and Puget Sound Railroad ...
  • SP4449 Excursion, 2011 ...
  • Vancouver Station (Depot) ...


Portland and Puget Sound Railroad ...
The 1888 NOAA Chart #6145, "Columbia River, Sheet No.6, Fales Landing to Portland", shows a railroad bridge between Vancouver and Hayden Island, which is labeled "Portland & Puget Sound R.R.".

An 1888 Plat map however shows no railroad bridge, and with a ferry from Vancouver (from the foot of "B Street") heading to the Oregon shore (passing around the upper end of Hayden Island) labeled "Steam Ferry".

This bridge was destroyed during the flood of 1894.

"... The flood badly wrecked the Portland and Vancouver railroad trestle and it would have to be completely rebuilt. The last trip over the trestle by the electric cars was made on May 31st, and the ferry came up and tied to the trees in one local's yard. ..." ["Columbian.com" website, 2005]


SP4449 Excursion, 2011 ...
[More]

Image, 2011, SP4449 Steam Engine, Vancouver railroad bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
SP 4449 Steam Engine crossing the Columbia River, from Hayden Island, Oregon, to Vancouver, Washington. View from Vancouver Landing. Image taken July 2, 2011.
Image, 2011, SP4449 Steam Engine, Vancouver railroad bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Closeup, SP 4449 Steam Engine crossing the Columbia River, from Hayden Island, Oregon, to Vancouver, Washington. View from Vancouver Landing. Image taken July 2, 2011.
Image, 2011, SP4449 Steam Engine, Vancouver railroad bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
SP 4449 Steam Engine approaching Vancouver. Image taken July 2, 2011.


The Vancouver end of the railroad bridge swings to allow river traffic to pass.

View (and foreground pilings) from Vancouver Landing.


Vancouver Station (Depot) ...
[More]

Image, 2007, Vancouver Station, Vancouver, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Vancouver Station, Vancouver, Washington. Image taken April 1, 2007.


"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 Postcards have become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Vancouver to Portland Railroad Bridge, ca.1911
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Vancouver, Washington, to Portland, Oregon Railway Bridge, ca.1911.
Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1911, "North Bank Railway Bridge, (two miles long), crossing the Columbia River from Vancouver, W'n. to Portland, Ore.". Published by Portland Post Card Co., Portland, Oregon. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Vancouver to Portland Railroad Bridge, ca.1920
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Vancouver, Washington, to Portland, Oregon Railway Bridge, ca.1920.
Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway, Columbia River Bridge.". Published by Pacific Novelty Co., San Francisco, California. Card #O-144. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


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





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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:    Clark County Washington Historic Register website, 2005;    "Columbian.com" website, 2005, "History";    National Register of Historical Places website, 2005;    NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2005;   

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