Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"White Salmon River, Washington"
Includes ... White Salmon River ... "Nikepun" ... "Canoe Creek" ... "Cathlatates River" ... Hood River-White Salmon River Syncline ... Condit Dam ... Northwestern Lake ... Trout Lake ... Mount Adams ...
Image, 2004, Mount Adams and the mouth of the White Salmon, click to enlarge
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White Salmon River with Mount Adams. Mouth of the White Salmon River (bridge), Washington, as seen from Hood River, Oregon. Mount Adams is in the background. Image taken March 20, 2004.

"... pass the mouth of a large rapid Stream on the Stard. Side ... in this creek the Indians above take their fish, here we Saw Several canoes, which induced us to call this Canoe Creek it is 28 yards wide ..." [Clark, October 19, 1805]



White Salmon River ...
The White Salmon River originates in south central Washington along the south slope of Mount Adams, and then flows south for 45 miles before entering the Columbia River (Bonneville Reservoir) at River Mile (RM) 167.5, at Underwood, Washington. Upstream are the Washington communities of White Salmon (on the hill) and Bingen (at the base of the hill). Twelve miles upstream is the Klickitat River and five miles downstream is Drano Lake and the Little White Salmon River, where Lewis and Clark camped on October 29, 1805. Directly across from the White Salmon River is Hood River, Oregon.

White Salmon (the name) ...
The White Salmon River was named after the abundance of spawning salmon returning to the creek, whose flesh turned color from red to pinkish white.

White Salmon (the town) ...
The Washington community of White Salmon lies on the north side of the Columbia River at Columbia River Mile (RM) 170, on the ridge above the community of Bingen. White Salmon's early history is tied closely with Bingen's. Across the river is the Oregon community of Hood River. Three miles downstream is the mouth of the White Salmon River, after which the community was named.
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Image, 2011, White Salmon from Hood River, click to enlarge
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White Salmon, Washington, on the ridge, as seen from Hood River, Oregon. View from moving car. Image taken August 22, 2011.


White Salmon River Drainage ...
According to the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website (2004), the White Salmon River drains approximately 386 square miles. Principal tributaries include Trout Lake, Buck, Mill, Dry, Gilmer, and Rattlesnake Creeks. The basin is oriented north to south with elevations ranging from 80 feet to 7,500 feet. Topography varies within the watershed from rugged mountains to rolling hills to river valleys. Consolidated sediments are overlain with basaltic lava flows; subsequent erosion, mud flows, and glaciation have resulted in precipitous cliffs, deeply incised canyons, and relatively flat valley floors. The mainstem of the White Salmon River drops 7,420 feet in the 45 miles for an average gradient of 3.2%. The geology of the White Salmon Watershed is dominated by past volcanic activity. Subbasin soils are the result of volcanism and glaciation. Soils in the valley are deep and coarse with moderate fertility.

Early White Salmon River ...
According to Place Names of Washington (Hitchman, 1985), the original Indian name was "Nikepun".

Lewis and Clark passed by the White Salmon River on October 29, 1805. They called the river "Canoe Creek".

"... S. 70 W. 6 miles to a high Clift of rocks Std bend     passed a large creek at 1 mile on the Stard. Side in which the Indians catch fish, a large Sand bar from the Lard. Side for 4 miles, at which place a small stream of water falls over a rock of 100 feet on the Lard Side ..." [Clark, October 29, 1805, first draft]

The "large creek at 1 mile on the Stard. Side in which the Indians catch fish" is today's White Salmon River, which Lewis and Clark named "Canoe Creek". The "large Sand bar from the Lard. Side" is the sand bars from Hood River.

"... pass the mouth of a large rapid Stream on the Stard. Side, opposit to a large Sand bar, in this creek the Indians above take their fish, here we Saw Several canoes, which induced us to call this Canoe Creek it is 28 yards wide [Clark, October 29, 1805]

In 1841, Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition, had the the White Salmon River labeled "Cathlatates R." on the inset to his "Map of the Oregon Territory". Upstream of "Cathlatates R." on the Washington side of the Columbia the massive cliffs of the Bingen Gap are labeled "Perpendicular Rocks".

The 1855 Railroad Survey Map conducted by Isaac Stevens shows the upper portion of the White Salmon River labeled "Nik-e-pun", which then merges with the "Klikatat R.". George McClellan crossed the "Nik-e-pun" on August 12, 1853.

Edmund S. Meany wrote in "Origin of Washington Geographic Names" (1923, University of Washington Press):

"White Salmon River ... a tributary of the Columbia River in the southeastern part of Klickitat County. The stream has many small tributaries, one of which flows from a glacier on Mount Adams, known as White Salmon Glacier. Lewis and Clark, in 1805, called the stream "Canoe Creek", on account of the number of Indians in canoes fishing in the stream. ... On account of these fish the river was called White Salmon and in 1872, or thereabouts, a postoffice was established near Bingen and called after the river, White Salmon. About 1886, that office was moved to the present town of White Salmon."

Robert Hitchman wrote in "Place Names of Washington" (1985, Washington State Historical Society):

"White Salmon River ... The stream of the creek rises on the west slope of Mt. Adams, northeast Skamania County, flows south to Columbia River at Underwood, a total distance of about 40 miles, northwest Klickitat County. The name was given for the salmon entering the stream to spawn, whose flesh changed color from red to pinkish white. The original Indian name was Nikepun. In 1805, Lewis and Clark called the river Canoe Creek, for the numerous Indians fishing the stream from canoes."

Early Maps ...

Image, 1855, Steven's map, RR surveys, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Map detail, 1855, McClellan's 1854 route along the Lower Klickitat Trail. Original map from Isaac Steven's "Reports of Explorations and Surveys ...", 1855, Map No.3, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, courtesy Washington State University Digital Colletions, 2018.

Mount Adams, the "Nik-e-pun" (White Salmon River), and the "Wawukchie R." (Klickitat River). "Hoothootse" is the Trout Lake area and "Tahk Plain" is today's "Camas Prairie".


Hood River - White Salmon River Syncline ...
Almost directly across from the mouth of the White Salmon River is Oregon's Hood River. These two rivers run down the axis of the Hood River-White Salmon River Syncline which trends northeast. To the east rises the Bingen Anticline.
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Mount Adams and the White Salmon River ...
Mount Adams rises as a backdrop to the White Salmon River. The White Salmon River originates on the southern slopes of Mount Adams.
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Views ...

Image, 2005, White Salmon River, click to enlarge
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White Salmon River, looking upstream from near mouth, Washington. Image taken February 26, 2005.


Along the White Salmon River

  • RM 0.0 ... White Salmon River at Mouth ...
  • RM 0.0 ... White Salmon Treaty FIshing Access Site ...
  • RM 3.5 ... Conduit Dam ...
  • RM 3.5 ... Northwestern Lake ...
  • RM 5 - 12.5 ... Wild and Scenic River ...
  • RM 7.5 ... Husum and Husum Falls ...
  • RM 12 ... B Z Corner ...
  • RM 26 ... Trout Lake, Trout Lake Creek, and Trout Lake Valley ...
  • RM 31 - 44.3 ... Wild and Scenic River ...


RM 0.0 ... White Salmon River at Mouth ...

Image, 2017, Washington Highway 14 heading west, at White Salmon River, click to enlarge
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Washington State Highway 14 at the White Salmon River, with the BNSF railroad bridge on the left. Image taken December 6, 2017.
Image, 2017, White Salmon River looking upstream from Washington Highway 14, click to enlarge
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White Salmon River looking upstream as seen from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken December 6, 2017.
Image, 2011, White Salmon River, click to enlarge
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White Salmon River from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken August 22, 2011.
Image, 2011, White Salmon River, click to enlarge
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White Salmon River at it's confluence with the Columbia River, Washington. Left bank looking towards right bank. Washington State Highway 14 is on the left. Image taken August 22, 2011.
Image, 2011, White Salmon River, click to enlarge
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White Salmon River near it's confluence with the Columbia River, Washington. Image taken August 22, 2011.


RM 0.0 ... White Salmon Treaty Fishing Access Site, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission ...
All four Columbia River treaty tribes enjoy fishing rights along the Columbia from the Bonneville to McNary dams. This 147-mile stretch of the river is called Zone 6. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) operates and maintains 31 fishing sites (2015, Note: the website map only shows 30 sites) in Zone 6. These sites were set aside by Congress to provide fishing locations to Indian fishers whose traditional fishing grounds were inundated behind dams.

"For fisheries management purposes, the 292-mile stretch of the Columbia River that creates the border between Washington and Oregon is divided into six zones. Zones 1-5 are between the mouth of the river and Bonneville Dam, a distance of 145 miles. Oregon and Washington manage the commercial fisheries that occur in these zones. Zone 6 is an exclusive treaty Indian commercial fishing area. This exclusion is for commercial fishing only. Non-commercial sports fishers may still fish in this stretch of the river." [Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission website, 2016]

The Zone 6 sites include 19 Treaty Fishing Access sites (Bonneville, Wyeth, White Salmon, Stanley Rock, Lyle, Dallesport, Celilo, Maryhill, Rufus, Preacher's Eddy, North Shore, LePage Park, Pasture Point, Roosevelt Park, Pine Creek, Threemile Canyon, Alderdale, Crow Butte, and Faler Road), five "In-lieu" sites (Cascade Locks, Wind River, Cooks, Underwood, and Lone Pine), two "Shared-use" sites (Avery and Sundale Park, for both Tribal use and Public use), and four "Unimproved" sites with no services (Goodnoe, Rock Creek, Moonay, and Aldercreek).


Image, 2011, White Salmon River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
White Salmon River at it's confluence with the Columbia River, Washington. Left bank looking towards right bank and the White Salmon Treaty Fishing Access Site. Washington State Highway 14 is on the left. Image taken August 22, 2011.


RM 3.5 ... Condit Dam ...
The 125-foot high Condit Dam was built in 1913 to create power to support the Crown Willamette Paper Company in Camas, Washington, with an additional power line built across the Columbia River to send extra power to Portland, Oregon. The dam was named for Ben C. Condit, the engineer who was in charge of developing the system, and is located 3.5 miles upstream from the White Salmon's confluence with the Columbia River. The 92-acre Northwestern Lake is the impoundment behind the dam. Fish ladders were part of Condit's original design, but these facilities twice washed out due to floods during the early years. After the second washout, the Washington State Fisheries Department required the power company to contribute to construction of a state fish hatchery rather than rebuild the fish ladders. The dam is slated for demolition during the fall of 2011. Once gone, wild salmon and steelhead, which currently are trapped at the mouth of the White Salmon River and carted upstream, will once again have access to miles of water and spawning grounds.

Image, 2011, White Salmon River, Condit Dam Removal signs, click to enlarge
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Blocked road with signs, Condit Dam removal on the White Salmon River, Washington. Image taken August 22, 2011.


RM 3.5 ... Northwestern Lake ...
Northwestern Lake is/was the reservoir behind the Condit Dam. When full it covered 92 acres. When the Condit Dam is to be removed in October 2011, the area will once again become simply the White Salmon River. As of this webauthor's visit in August 2011, the lake level had alreay begun to be lowered.

Image, 2011, Northwestern Lake, White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
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Sign, Northwestern Lake, White Salmon River, Washington. Image taken August 22, 2011.
Image, 2011, Northwestern Lake, White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
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Northwestern Lake, looking downstream, White Salmon River, Washington. Lake has already begun being drawn down in preparation for the removal of the Condit Dam. Image taken August 22, 2011.
Image, 2011, Northwestern Lake, White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Northwestern Lake, looking upstream, White Salmon River, Washington. Lake has already begun being drawn down in preparation for the removal of the Condit Dam. Image taken August 22, 2011.
Image, 2011, Northwestern Lake, White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
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Northwestern Lake, looking upstream towards bridge, White Salmon River, Washington. Preparation for the removal of the Condit Dam. Image taken August 22, 2011.


RM 5 - 12.5 ... Wild and Scenic River ...
RM 31 - 44.3 ... Wild and Scenic River ...
In 1986 a portion of the White Salmon River within the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area became protected as Wild and Scenic. The designated reach stretched from the White River's confluence with Gilmer Creek near the town of BZ Corners, to its confluence with Buck Creek, near the Condit Dam. A second reach was established as Wild and Scenic in 2005, running from the headwaters of the White Salmon to its confluence with the boundary of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Total 27.7 miles.

Designated Reach (November 1986): From its confluence with Gilmer Creek, near the town of BZ Corner, to its confluence with Buck Creek (U.S. Forest Service website, 2015).

Designated Reach (August 2005): White Salmon River from its headwaters to the boundary of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Cascade Creek from its headwaters to its confluence with the White Salmon River. This designation is not contiguous with the 1986 designation farther downstream (U.S. Forest Service website, 2015).

As of early 2011 on the lower reach, 10 commercial outfitters were issued special use permits to use the White Salmon. They offer whitewater rafting and kayaking trips.



RM 7.5 ... Husum and Husum Falls ...
The small Washington community of Husum is located on the west bank of the White Salmon River in Klickitat County, T4N R10E, Section 25, and T4N R11E, Section 30, at a spot where today's Washington Highway 141 crosses the White Salmon River at Husum Falls.

Husum Falls is located at White Salmon River Mile (RM) 7.5, at the location of the community of Husum. According to the Northwest Waterfall Survey database (2018):

"Husum Falls drops 12 feet along the White Salmon River as it flows beneath Highway 141 in the small town of Husum."

Husum Falls has also been known as "White Salmon Falls". They are found adjacent to the bridge along Highway 141. According to "The Enterprise" (September 18, 1980, courtesy Jeffrey Elmer):

"In addition to many old buildings which were moved or torn down as the years passed, the old White Salmon Falls also now has a new location. In 1936 when the new state highway bridge was put in, the falls were blasted to accommodate the present structure, and now they sit several hundred feet upstream from their original site."

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Image, 2011, White Salmon River, click to enlarge
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RM 7.0 ... White Salmon River looking downstream, as seen from the Husum Bridge. View from moving car. Image taken August 22, 2011.


RM 12 ... B Z Corner ...
The small Washington community of B Z Corner is located on the west bank of the White Salmon River in T4N R10E, Sections 25 and 26, and T4N R11E, Section 11. B Z Corner was named for William "BZ" Biesanz, a "gregarious and witty strawberry grower here in the 1920s."

B Z Corner has many spellings: "B Z Corner", "B-Z Corner", "B-Z Corners", "BZ Corner", and "B.Z. Corners". The U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database shows it as "B Z Corner".

In 2002 the "B-Z Corner Bridge", also known as "110" was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (Architecture/Engineering, #02000314). The bridge was designed/built by Harry R. Powell and West Coast Steel Work. The bridge crosses the White Salmon River at River Mile (RM) 12.

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Image, 2010, B Z Corner, Washington, click to enlarge
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B Z Corner Grocery, B Z Corner, Washington. Image taken August 11, 2010.


RM 26 ... Trout Lake, Trout Lake Creek, and Trout Lake Valley ...
The community of Trout Lake (occasionally seen spelled Troutlake) is an unincorporated city within the Trout Lake Valley, and is located approximately two miles upstream on Trout Lake Creek, a tributary of the White Salmon River. Trout Lake Creek merges with the White Salmon River at White Salmon River Mile (RM) 26. Twenty miles north of Trout Lake lies Mount Adams, noted for wildflowers and huckleberries. West of Trout Lake are located the Guler Ice Caves, which, at the turn of the century were once the source of ice for the entire Columbia Gorge before the development of artificial refrigeration.
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Image, 2011, Mount Adams from Trout Lake, Washington, click to enlarge
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Mount Adams as seen from Trout Lake, Trout Lake, Washington. Image taken August 22, 2011.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 29, 1805 ...





Clark, April 14, 1806 ...




Columbia River GorgeReturn to
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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:
  • "americanrivers.org" website, 2011;
  • "a2zgorge.info" website, 2011;
  • Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website, 2004;
  • Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission website, 2016;
  • Gallant, F.K., 2012, "A Place Called Peculiar: Stories About Unusual American Place-Names", Courier Corporation;
  • "historicmapworks.com" website, 2018;
  • Hitchman, R., 1985, "Place Names of Washington", Washington State Historical Society;
  • "Klickitat County History" website, by Jeffrey L. Elmer, 2018;
  • Meany, E.S., 1923, "Origin of Washington Geographic Names", University of Washington Press, Seattle;
  • Norman, D.K, Busacca, A.J., and Teissere, R., 2004, Geology of the Yakima Valley Wine Country -- A Geologic Field Trip Guide from Stevenson to Zillah, Washington, Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Field Trip Guide 1, June 2004;
  • "Pacificorp.com" website, 2011;
  • "rivers.gov" website, 2011;
  • U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Board of Geographic Names, Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 2018;
  • U.S. National Register of Historic Places website, 2018;
  • U.S. War Department, 1855, "Reports of explorations and surveys: to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, Volume 1", Joseph Henry and Spencer Fullerton Baird, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, A.O.P. Nicholson, Printer;
  • "waterfallsnorthwest.com" website, 2018;


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/white_salmon_river.html
January 2016