Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Westport and Westport Slough, Oregon"
Includes ... Westport ... Westport Slough ... Westport Ferry ...
Image, 2012, Westport Slough, Clatskanie, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Westport Slough, Oregon. Image taken September 17, 2012.


Westport ...
The small Oregon community of Westport is located on Plympton Creek where the creek meets Westport Slough, approximately one mile upstream from the Slough's merging with the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 43. Downstream is the community of Wauna and upstream is Jones Beach, the community of Clatskanie, the Clatskanie River, and the small community of Mayger.

Westport Slough ...
The Westport Slough is an historic side channel of the Columbia River which begins near the community of Westport and meanders more than ten miles eastward through the flood plain of the Clatskanie River. Once a major migrating salmon route, the Westport Slough was plugged by a levee in 1936 and later topped with a county road as part of improvements authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1936. The Act was to provide flood protection to agricultural lands. Currently an effort (as of 2005) is underway to restore the connection between Beaver Slough and Westport Slough to provide free-flowing water between the systems which would open up miles of improved spawning and rearing habitat in the Lower Columbia for Coho and Chinook Salmon. The Westport Slough merges with the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 43, at Westport, Oregon, just across from the upstream end of Puget Island. In 1925 a ferry service began, running between the Westport Slough and Puget Island.

Image, 2012, Westport Slough, Clatskanie, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Westport Slough, Oregon. Image taken September 17, 2012.


Early Westport and Westport Slough ...
Westport was named after John West, who settled in the area about 1850. "Captain West" ran a sawmill and established the first cannery in Oregon. [See Westport Cannery below.]

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database (2011) shows John West and Margaret West being granted title to 527.63 acres of T8N R5W Section 31 and T8N R6W Section 36 on July 21, 1873 (1850 Oregon-Donation Act).

The Westport Post Office was established in December 1863.

From the 1909 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot":

"... Between Astoria and Portland there are numerous landings and settlements, dependent either on the fisheries or acting in some cases as shipping points for the country immediately behind them; these are ports of call for the regular river steamers. Deep-draft vessels do not as a rule stop between Astoria and Portland, except for lumber cargoes at Rainier, Goble, Westport, Knappton, and some small mills. ..."

John West ...
Scottish-born John West settled on the lower Columbia River in the early 1850s where he built and ran a sawmill. About 1857 West began salting salmon in barrels and in 1869 he built the first cannery on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. In 1881 West moved his cannery to Hungry Harbor, Washington.

Westport in 1940 ...
From the 1940 "Journey Across Oregon":

"WESTPORT, 74.5 m. (32 alt., 450 pop.), is one of the many lumbering and fishing towns scattered along the waters of the Columbia."


Views ...

Image, 2012, Westport, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Oregon Highway 30 heading west, through Westport, Oregon. Image taken September 22, 2012.
Image, 2012, Westport, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Scenic, Westport, Oregon. Image taken September 17, 2012.
Image, 2015, Westport, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Tracks crossing Plympton Creek, Westport, Oregon. View from moving car looking northwest. Image taken May 20, 2015.
Image, 2015, Westport, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Oregon Highway 30, as seen from road from ferry, Westport, Oregon. Image taken May 20, 2015.


Westport, etc.

  • Puget Island to Westport Ferry ...
  • Westport Boat Dock ...
  • Westport Cannery ...


Puget Island to Westport Ferry ...
Wahkiakum County, Washington, has operated the Puget Island to Westport ferry since 1962. The ferry runs 365 days a year and tries to keep to a schedule of 18 runs, and is the last ferry in existence on the Lower Columbia River.
[More]

Image, 2005, Puget Island Ferry, click to enlarge
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Puget Island Ferry "Wahkiakum" in route to Westport, Oregon. View from ferry terminal, Puget Island, Washington. Image taken March 5, 2005.
Image, 2012, Puget Island Ferry, click to enlarge
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Puget Island Ferry "Wahkiakum" docking at Westport, Oregon. Image taken September 17, 2012.


Westport Boat Dock ...

Image, 2004, Westport Slough Boat Dock, Clatskanie, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Westport Slough Boat Dock, Westport, Oregon. Image taken February 21, 2004.


Westport Cannery ...
In 1869, the first cannery on the Oregon side of the Columbia River was built by John West at Westport, Oregon, Clatsop County. In 1881 West moved his cannery to Hungry Harbor, Washington.

"Captain John West, as he was called, started his numerous activities in Oregon with the establishment of a sawmill. In 1857 he was engaged in the packing of salmon for export. ... The settlement which grew up about these enterprises was named Westport and John West was appointed postmaster, serving in that capacity at least as early as April, 1864. The Westport cannery was organized late in 1868 when John West and three others entered into a limited partnership." [Cunningham, 1953, "Oregon's First Salmon Canner, 'Captain' John West"]

"Unfortunately, nothing remains to mark the site of Oregon's first cannery establishment. Westport lies on the south bank of Westport Slough, a small branch of Westport Channel which flows between Puget Island and the south bank of the Columbia. The waterfront adjoining the town, including the former site of the cannery, is occupied by the extensive properties of the lumber mill. According to town residents the original sawmill was located inland from the river on a small stream and the cannery was located at the present mill site, presumably on the banks of Westport Slough. The precise site, at least of the tin shop, is indicated as being near the location of the boiler room of the present mill, as in excavating at this location some years ago, tin scrap was found." [Cunningham, 1953, "Oregon's First Salmon Canner, 'Captain' John West"]

"After a few years of operation at Westport, a new cannery site was selected on the Washington side of the river and nearer its mouth. Exactly when and where are not certain. W.H. Barker maintains "A good many canneries were built that fall and the following spring (1876-77), among them one at North Shore by John West ..." Hittell describes it as follows: "John West is the proprietor of a cannery at Hungry harbor" ... Until 1881 Mr. West's cannery was located at Westport on the Oregon side of the Columbia. The main object in moving was to obtain the fish for packing while perfectly fresh." [Cunningham, 1953, "Oregon's First Salmon Canner, 'Captain' John West"]

Cautionary note: according to the 1917 "Report of the United States Commissioner of Fisheries for the Fiscal Year 1916" and the 1921 "Pacific Salmon Fisheries":

"John West was another pioneer. He built a cannery at Hungry Harbor, Wash., about 1869. In 1881 he moved his plant to Westport, on the Oregon side of the river. Mr. West was the inventor of a packing machine for placing the fish in the cans." [Cobb, 1921"]

[More]


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, March 25, 1806 ...


Lewis, March 25, 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:
  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2004, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon State Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2006;
  • Oregon State Archivist website, 2005;
  • Oregon State Department of Fish and Wildlife website, 2004;
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, 2011;
  • U.S. Corps of Engineers website, 2004, Portland District;
  • Wahkiakum County Public Works 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.
/Regions/Places/westport.html
September 2012