Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"White Salmon and the 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, 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 ...
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.

Early White Salmon ...
The first settlers in the White Salmon area were E.S. and Mary Joslyn, who arrived in 1853 from Massachusetts. According to the "a2zgorge.info" website, their diary states that the name "White Salmon" was in common use at that time, and since the folks across the river named their community "Hood River" after the river, the folks at White Salmon did likewise.

According to Robert Hitchman in Place Names of Washington (1985):

"... When a post office was established in 1872, it was named for White Salmon River, directly west. Rivalry with Bingen, a town directly adjoining White Salmon on the southeast and on Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railway line, caused the station to be barked with both town names. Efforts to combine the towns have been made for many years, but so far have proven fruitless. In 1931, Bingen took the matter of naming the railway station to court, without satisfaction to either town. ..."

The community of White Salmon was incorporated in 1907.


Street scenes ...

Image, 2010, White Salmon street scene, click to enlarge
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Building mural, White Salmon, Washington. View from moving car. Image taken June 5, 2010.
Image, 2010, White Salmon street scene, click to enlarge
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Street scene, White Salmon, Washington. View from moving car. Image taken June 5, 2010.
Image, 2010, White Salmon street scene, click to enlarge
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Street scene, White Salmon, Washington. View from moving car. Image taken August 11, 2010.
Image, 2010, White Salmon street scene, click to enlarge
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Street scene, Inn of the White Salmon, White Salmon, Washington. View from moving car. Image taken August 11, 2010.


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. 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. Upstream are the Washington communities of White Salmon (on the hill) and Bingen, Washington (at the base of the hill). Five miles downstream is located 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 and the White Salmon River can be reached from Washington State Highway 14.

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 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.

Views of the White Salmon River ...

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.


Early White Salmon River ...
Lewis and Clark passed by the White Salmon River on October 29, 1805.

"... 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]

On the Columbia River inset to the "Map of the Oregon Territory", 1841, by Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition, the White Salmon River was labeled the "Cathlatates R.". Upstream of "Cathlatates R." are the Washington side of the Rowena Gap, which Wilkes labeled "Perpendicular Rocks".

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


Image, 2011, White Salmon River, click to enlarge
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Left bank, White Salmon River, Washington. Image taken August 22, 2011.


Wild and Scenic ...
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.

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.


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


White Salmon, etc.

  • Conduit Dam ...
  • Hood River - White Salmon River Syncline ...
  • Northwestern Lake ...
  • Trout Lake, Trout Lake Creek, and Trout Lake Valley ...
  • Mount Adams and the White Salmon River ...

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.


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.
[More]

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
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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.


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.
[More]

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.


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.
[More]

Image, 2003, 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 September 26, 2003.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 29, 1805 ...
A cloudy morning wind from the West but not hard, we Set out at day light [from their camp on Rocky Island at Crates Point], and proceeded on about five miles Came too on the Stard. Side at a village of 7 houses built in the Same form and materials of those above, here we found the Chief we had Seen at the long narrows [The Dalles] ...     they are hospitable and good humered Speak the Same language of the inhabitants of the last village, we call this the friendly village [vicinity of Dougs Beach]. ...     after brackfast we proceeded on, the mountains are high on each Side [high basalt cliffs of the Rowena Gap, with Rowena Crest on the south and the Chamberlain Lake area on the north], containing Scattering pine white oake & under groth, hill Sides Steep and rockey; at 4 miles lower we observed a Small river falling in with great rapidity on the Stard. Side [Klickitat River] below which is a village of 11 houses [today the town of Lyle is on the upstream side of the Klickitat], here we landed to Smoke a pipe with the nativs and examine the mouth of the river, which I found to be 60 yards wide rapid and deep, The inhabitants of the village are friendly and Chearfull; those people inform us also those at the last village that this little river is long and full of falls, no Salmon pass up it, it runs from N. N. E. that ten nations live on this river and its waters, on buries, and what game that Can kill with their Bow & arrows

we purchased 4 dogs and Set out- (this village is the of the Same nation of the one we last passed) and proceeded on The Countrey on each side begin to be thicker timbered with Pine and low white Oake; verry rockey and broken [passing Mayer State Park on the Oregon side]. passed three large rocks in The river the middle rock is large long and has Several Squar vaults on it. we call this rockey Island the Sepulchar [Memaloose Island] - The last river we passed we Shall Call the Cataract River [Klickitat River] from the number of falls which the Indians say is on it- passed 2 Lodges of Indians a Short distance below the Sepulchar Island [Memaloose Island] on the Stard. Side river wide, at 4 mile passed 2 houses on the Stard. Side, Six miles lower passed 4 houses above the mouth of a Small river 40 yards wide on the Lard. Side [Hood River]    a thick timbered bottom above & back of those houses; those are the first houses which we have Seen on the South Side of the Columbia River, (and the axess to those dificuelt) for fear of the approach of their common enemies the Snake Indians, passed 14 houses on the Std. Side Scattered on the bank- from the mouth of this little river which we shall Call Labeasche River [Hood River], the falls mountain [Mount Hood] is South and the top is covered with Snow.    one mile below pass the mouth of a large rapid Stream on the Stard. Side [White Salmon River], opposit to a large Sand bar [from Hood River], in this creek the Indians above take their fish, here we Saw Several canoes, which induced us to call this Canoe Creek [White Salmon River] it is 28 yards wide, about 4 miles lower and below the Sand bar [Hood River sandbar] is a butifull cascade falling over a rock of about 100 feet [Wah Gwin Gwin Falls, location of the Columbia Gorge Hotel],

[On the route map (Moulton, vol.1, map#78) a "C___ Spring" is shown on the north side of the river, today the location of Spring Creek and Spring Creek Fish Hatchery, with no mention of it in any text. On the south side, at the location of Wah Gwin Gwin Falls, only "Cascade" is labeled and "4 Houses of Indians".]

a Short distance lower passed 4 Indian houses on the Lard. Side in a timbered bottom, a fiew miles further we came too at 3 houses on Stard. Side, back of which is a pond [today the location of Drano Lake. The Little White Salmon River empties into Drano Lake.] in which I Saw Great numbers of Small Swan, Capt. Lewis and went into the houses of those people ...     Here the mountains are high on each Side, those to the Lard. Side has Some Snow on them at this time, more timber than above and of greater variety.






Clark, April 14, 1806 ...
This morning at 7 oClock we were joined by Sgt. Pryor and they three hunters they brought with them 4 deer which drewyer had killed yesterday. we took brackfast and departed at 9 A. M. [from their camp near Dog Mountain]     the wind rose and <proceeded on> Continued to blow hard all day but not so violent as to prevent our proceeding. we kept Close allong the N. Shore all day. the river from the rapids [Cascade Rapids] to the Commencement of the narrows [The Dalles] is from to of a Mile in wedth, and possesses but little Current. the bead is rock except at the enterence of Labiech's river [Hood River] which heads in Mt. Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] and like the quick Sand River [Sandy River] brings down from thence Vast bodies of Sand     the Mountains through which the river passes nearly to Cataract River [Klickitat River] are high broken rocky, particularly Covered with fir and white Cedar, and in maney places very romantic scences. Some handsom Cascades are Seen on either Side tumbling from the Stupendious rocks of the mountains into the river. I observe near the river the long leafed Pine which increas as we assend and Superseeds the fir altogether about the Sepulchre rock [Memaloose Island]. We find the trunks of maney large pine trees Standing erect as they grew, at present in 30 feet water [Submerged Forest]; they are much doated and none of them vegitateing. at the lowest water of the river maney of those trees are in 10 feet water. the Cause I have attempted to account for as I decended.     at 1 P M. we arrived at a large village Situated in a narrow <village> bottom on the N. Side [between the White Salmon River and Bingen, Washington] a little above the enterance of Canoe Creek [White Salmon River]. their houses are reather detached, and extend for Several Miles. they are about 20 in number. those people Call themselves Wil-la-cum. ...     We halted at this village Dined ...     after dinner we proceeded on our voyage. I walked on Shore with Shabono on the N. Side through a handsom bottom [Bingen area].     met Several parties of women and boys in Serch of herbs & roots to Subsist on maney of them had parcels of the Stems of the Sun flower. I joined Capt Lewis and the party at 6 miles, at which place the river washed the bottom of high Clifts on the N. Side [Bingen Gap]. Several Canoes over take us with families moveing up. we passed 3 encampments and came too in the mouth of a Small Creek [Major Creek] on the N. Side imediately below a village and opposit the Sepulchar rock [Memaloose Island]. this village Consists of about 100 fighting men of Several tibres from the plains to the North Collected here waiting for the Salmon. ...     made [blank] miles





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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; Hitchman, R., 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society; 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;

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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August 2011