Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Wauna, Oregon"
Includes ... Wauna ... Nicolai Ridge ...
Image, 2004, Columbia River looking upstream from Bradley Wayside, Oregon, with Wauna, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River looking upstream from Bradley State Wayside, Oregon. Visible are Puget Island (left) and Coffee Pot Island (middle), with Wauna, Oregon, on the right. The ridge in the background is Nicolai Ridge, a basalt ridge undercut and steepened by the Missoula Floods. Image taken November 20, 2004.


Wauna, Oregon ...
Wauna, Oregon, is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 42, just across from Coffee Pot Island and Puget Island. The Westport Slough and Westport, Oregon, are upstream. Downstream is the Bradley State Wayside (a good place to overlook Wauna), and the two once-prosperous communities of Bradwood and Clifton.

"Wauna" ...
"Wauna" is an Indian name, possibly Klickitat, which describes a mythological being which represented the Columbia River. The name was applied to the small community by Alfred W. Clark. More than 100 miles upstream near Bonneville Dam and Cascade Locks, exists a point of land called Wauna Point (between Tanner Creek and Eagle Creek). The Bridge of the Gods was also at one time known as the "Wauna Toll Bridge", completed by the Wauna Toll Bridge Company in October, 1926.

Early Wauna ...
Lewis and Clark passed through this stretch of the Columbia in 1805, however they were travelling on the north side of Puget Island along the Cathlamet Channel and they missed seeing the Wauna area. On March 25, 1806, on their journey home, Lewis and Clark travelled along the Oregon side of the Columbia, crossed over to Puget Island, and then spent the night near the Clatskanie River/Beaver Slough area.

The Wauna Post Office was established January 21, 1911, with James Pollock as the first postmaster. The office closed sometime before 1980.


Nicolai Ridge ...
Nicolai Ridge is a basalt ridge on the Oregon side of the Columbia River which was undercut by Missoula flood erosion, resulting in a steep north face towering over Wauna.
[More]

Image, 2012, Brownsmead, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Nicolai Ridge near Wauna, Oregon. View from moving car on Highway 30, Wauna exit. Image taken September 22, 2012.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, March 25, 1806 ...
Last night and this morning are cool wend hard a head and tide going out, after an early brackfast we proceeded on [from their camp near Aldrich Point] about 4 miles and came too on the south side to worm and dry our Selves a little. Soon after we had landed two Indians Came from a War kia cum village on the opposite Side with 2 dogs and a fiew Wappato to Sell neither of which we bought. Som Clatsops passed down in a Canoe loaded with fish and Wappato. as the wind was hard a head and tide against us we Concluded to delay untill the return of the tide which we expected at 1 oClock, at which hour we Set out ...     we crossed over to an Island [Puget Island] on which was a Cath lahmah fishing Camp of one Lodge; here we found <one> 3 man two woman and a couple of boys who must have for Some time for the purpose of taking Sturgeon which they do by trolling. they had 10 or 12 very fine Sturgeon which had not been long taken; ...     we remained at this place about half an hour and then Continued our rout. the winds in the evening was verry hard, it was with Some dificuelty that we Could find a Spot proper for an encampment, the Shore being a Swamp for Several miles back; at length late in the evening opposit to the place we had encamped on the 6th of Novr. last [near Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County]; we fouond the enterance of a Small Creek [one of the many mouths/sloughs/drainages of the Clatskanie River system] which offered us a Safe harbour from the Winds and Encamped. the Ground was low and moist tho' we obtained a tolerable encampment. here we found another party of Cathlahmahs about 10 in number, who had established a temporary residence for the purpose of fishing and takeing Seal ...  : :  here we found Drewyer and the 2 Fields' who had been Seperated from us Since Morning; they had passed on the North Side of the large Island [Puget Island] which was much nearest. the bottom lands are Covered with a Species of Arspine, the Growth with a broad leaf which resembles ash except the leaf. the under brush red willow, broad leafed Willow, Seven bark, Goose berry, Green bryor, and the larged leaf thorn; the latter is Now in blume, the nativs inform us that it bears a <leaf> fruit about an Inch in diamieter which is a good to eate. the red willow and 7 bark begin to put foth their leaves. The green bryor which I have before mentioned retains leaves all winter. made 15 Miles.



Lewis, March 25, 1806 ...
The morning being disagreeably cold we remained and took breakfast. at 7 A. M. we set out [from their camp near Aldrich Point] and continued our rout along the South Coast of the river against the wind and a strong current, our progress was of course but slow. at noon we halted and dined. ...     after dinner we passed the river to a large Island [Puget Island] 2 and continued our rout allong the side of the same about a mile when we arrived at a Cathlahmah fishing cam of one lodge; here we found 3 men 2 women and a couple of boys, ...     they had a good stock of fish on board, but did not seem disposed to sell them. we remained at this place [Puget Island] about half an hour and then continued our rout up the Island to it's head and passed to the south side. the wind in the evening was very hard. it was with some difficulty that we could find a spot proper for an encampment, the shore being a swamp for several miles back; at length late in the evening opposite to the place we had encamped on the 6th of November last [Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County]; we found the entrance of a small creek [one of the many mouths/sloughs of the Clatskanie River system] which afforded us a safe harbour from the wind and encamped. the ground was low and moist tho' we obtained a tolerable encampment. here we found another party of Cathlahmahs about 10 in number who had established a temperary residence for the purpose of fishing and taking seal. ...   :  here we found Drewyer and the Feildses who had been seperated from us since morning; they had passed on the North side of the large Island [Puget Island] which was much nearer. the bottom lands are covered with cottonwood, the growth with a broad leaf which resembles ash except the leaf. the underbrush red willow, broad leafed willow, sevenbark, goosburry, green bryer & the larged leafed thorn; the latter is now in bloom; the natives inform us that it bears a freut about an inch in diameter which is good to eat.-




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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: "CascadeLocks.net" website, 2004; McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland.

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