Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Whitcomb and Whitcomb Island, Washington"
Includes ... Whitcomb ... Whitcomb Island ... Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge ... North Bank Road ...
Image, 2005, Whitcomb Island, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Whitcomb Island, Washington, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge: View of the shoreline of the slough separating Whitcomb Island from the Washington shore. Image taken May 24, 2005.


Whitcomb and Whitcomb Island ...
Whitcomb is located at the base of Canoe Ridge on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 265.

Whitcomb Island is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River and stretches from River Mile (RM) 255 to RM 270. Canoe Ridge rises above the island on the north, and the Blalock Islands are upstream. Boardman, Oregon lies directly across the Columbia. Whitcomb Island is part of the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge. The island is approximately 5 miles long by 2 miles wide and can be reached by from Washington State Highway 14.

Current topographic maps show Whitcomb located off of Washington State Highway 14 at the base of Canoe Ridge, but only about 1/4 mile from the Columbia. The crossing to get to Whitcomb Island is approximately two miles upstream.


Image, 2004, Canoe Ridge, Washington, from Tower Road, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Canoe Ridge, Washington, and Whitcomb Island: Canoe Ridge, Washington, as seen from Tower Road, Oregon. Whitcomb Island is barely discernable along the shoreline (green at base of Canoe Ridge). Image taken September 24, 2004.


Early Whitcomb and Whitcomb Island ...
From the Tacoma Public Library's "Washington Place Names" database (2019):

"Whitcomb is a community north of the Columbia River on the south side of Canoe Ridge in southwest Benton County. An earlier name, Luzon, was changed to the present one at the suggestion of two landowners, James A. Moore and George Henry Whitcomb, in honor of the latter. The Luzon Land Company platted a forty acre town site in February, 1909 in association with the Worcester Fruit Lands Company which sold out in 1913. A post office was established in 1910 and was closed in 1934. With the construction of the John Day Dam and the fliling of its reservoir, Lake Umatilla, there is now a Whitcomb Island south of the community."

"Use of the word, Luzon, became popular in America about the time the United States acquired the Philippines from Spain during the Spanish American War. Luzon is the island upon which Manila is located. In 1907 a railroad siding was established on the North side of the Columbia River by syndicate of attorneys and bankers from Goldendale in Klickitat County. The plan called for the construction of a town site and five hundred acres of Luzon Garden Tracts. A well was drilled. A post office was opened in 1909 and the name of the place was change to Whitcomb in 1910."

Robert Hitchman wrote in "Place Names of Washington" (1985):

"Whitcomb (T5N R24E, Sec.35) ... Settlement, 1 1/4 miles north of Columbia River, on the side side of Canoe Ridge, extreme southwest Benton County. The original name, Luzon, was changed to the present name at the suggestion of 2 landowners, James A Moore and G. Henry Whitcomb, in honor of the latter."

Views ...

Image, 2005, Whitcomb Island, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Whitcomb Island, Washington, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge: View is looking upstream along the slough which separates Whitcomb Island (right) from the Washington shore (left). Image taken May 24, 2005.
Image, 2005, Whitcomb Island, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Whitcomb Island, Washington, Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge: View is looking downstream along the slough which separates Whitcomb Island (left) from the Washington shore (right). Whitcomb Island is part of the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Image taken May 24, 2005.


Whitcomb, etc.

  • North Bank Road ...
  • "North Bank Town is Sold" ...
  • Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge ...


North Bank Road ...
The Great Northern Railway and Northern Pacific Railroad, competitors in the transcontinental business, launched the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway in 1905 and built a line along the north side of the Columbia River. This line was known as "The North Bank Railroad", "The North Bank Road", "Columbia River Scenic Route", and "The Northwests Own Railway". The tracks were started in October 1905 and completed in February 1908, with a celebration being held on March 11th at Sheridan Point upstream of the Fort Rains Blockhouse location. On March 19th, regular passenger service between Vancouver and Pasco was begun. The journey took eight hours.

STATIONS ON THE NORTH BANK
Between Vancouver and Pasco There Will Be 43 Stops.

"LYLE, Wash., July 24, 1907. -- (Special.) -- Chief Surgeon Irvine, of the North Bank Road says there will be 43 stations about five miles apart on the line between Vancouver and Pasco. From west to east the stations will appear on the new map as Image, Fisher, Bourne, Seal, Cruzatt, Butler, Cascades, Stevenson, Ash, Collins, Cooks, Hood, Bingen, Villa, Lyle, Skadat, Grandalles, Spedis, Avery, Timms, Columbus, Cliffs, Towal, Harbin, Fountain, Sanda, Roosevelt, Moonax, McCredie, Carley, Luzon (Whitcomb), Sage, Patterson, Coolide, Gravel, Plymouth, Colbia, Mottinger, Tomar, Yellepit, Hoover and Finley. He also reports the track is being blasted as fast as laid."


Source:    "Morning Oregonian", July 25, 1907, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019.

[More]



"North Bank Town is Sold" ...
NORTH BANK TOWN IS SOLD
Boston and Seattle Capitalists Pay $100,000 for Luzon Tract.

"GOLDENDALE, Wash., Sept. 14.--(Special.)-- Five prominent Goldendale men, Frank Aldrich, Edwin Ward, Nat. Ward, Louis Duncan and Nat. Ingram, with Hugh G. Phillips, of Vancouver, Wash., today sold their holdings at Luzon, on the North Bank road, to G. Henry Whitcomb, of Boston, and James A. Moore, of Seattle.

The property consists of a 540-acre townsite, a fully installed pumping and lighting plant for the entire tract, a hotel and stores. The work of Lighting and irrigating plants has been tested and their efficiency proven and will be sufficient to develop much more surrounding land belonging to Mr. Moore.

The consideration is $100,000."


Source:    "Morning Oregonian", September 15, 1909, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019.



Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge ...
The 25,347-acre Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1969 for wildlife habitat lost to flooding caused by the construction of the John Day Lock and Dam. The Refuge consists of 6 units. The Boardman Unit is accessed from the Tower Road exit off Highway 84 approximately 3 miles west of the town of Boardman, Oregon. The McCormack Unit is located 3 miles south of Highway 730 off of Paterson Ferry Road near Irrigon, Oregon. The Paterson, Ridge, and Whitcomb Island Units are all accessed from Washington State Highway 14. The Columbia River Unit is accessible by boat.
[More]


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 20, 1805 ...
A cool morning wind S. W. we concluded to delay untill after brackfast which we were obliged to make on the flesh of dog. after brackfast we gave all the Indian men Smoke, and we Set out leaveing about 200 of the nativs at our Encampment [near Irrigon, Oregon]; passd. three Indian Lodges on the Lard Side a little below our Camp [Irrigon, Oregon] which lodges <we> I did not discover last evening, passed a rapid at Seven miles one at a Short distance below we passed a verry bad rapid, a chane or rocks makeing from the Stard. Side and nearly Chokeing the river up entirely with hugh black rocks [Lewis and Clark called these rapids "Pelican Rapids"] an Island below close under the Stard. Side on which was four Lodges of Indians drying fish,- here I Saw a great number of pelicons on the wing, and black Comerants [American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants]. at one oClock we landed on the lower point of <Some> an Island at Some Indian Lodges, a large Island on the Stard Side nearly opposit and a Small one a little below on the Lard Side on those three Island I counted Seventeen Indian Lodges, ...

[Lewis and Clark are passing through the Blalock Islands area. Today most of the islands are beneath the waters of Lake Umatilla, the reservoir behind the John Day Dam. In this vicinity are today's Boardman, Whitcomb Island, Canoe Ridge, slightly downstream is Crow Butte and historic Castle Rock, along with the many lands of the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge.]

after diner we proceeded on to a bad rapid at the lower point of a Small Island on which four Lodges of Indians were Situated drying fish; here the high countrey Commences again on the Stard. Side [Alder Ridge] leaveing a vallie of 40 miles in width, from the mustle Shel rapid [Umatilla Rapids at the McNary Dam]. examined and passed this rapid close to the Island at 8 miles lower passed a large Island near the middle of the river a brook on the Stard. Side [Alder Creek] and 11 Islds. all in view of each other below, a riverlit [Willow Creek] falls in on the Lard. Side behind a Small Island a Small rapid below. The Star Side is high rugid hills [Alder Ridge], the Lard. Side a low plain and not a tree to be Seen in any Direction except a fiew Small willow bushes which are Scattered partially on the Sides of the bank

The river to day is about 1/4 of a mile in width; this evening the Countrey on the Lard. Side [area around Arlington, Oregon] rises to the hight of that on the Starboard Side [ridge above Roosevelt], and is wavering- we made 42 <days> miles to day [to Roosevelt, Washington]; the current much more uniform than yesterday or the day before. Killed 2 Speckle guls Severl. ducks of a delicious flavour.





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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:
  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019;
  • Hitchman, R., 1985, "Place Names of Washington", Washington State Historical Society;
  • Tacoma Public Library's "Washington Place Names" database, 2019;


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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© 2019, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
September 2008