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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Willamette River, Oregon"
Includes ... Willamette River ... "Multnomah River" ... "River Munnings" ... Willamette River Valley ... Missoula Floods ... Willamette River Lighthouse ... Willamette River Light ... Port of Portland's Terminal 4 ... Cathedral Park ... St. Johns Bridge ... Sternwheeler "Portland" ... Oregon Maritime Museum ... Clackamas River ... Oregon City ... Willamette Falls ... Canby Ferry ...
Image, 2011, Willamette River and the St. Johns Bridge, click to enlarge
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Willamette River and the St. Johns Bridge. View from Cathedral Park. Image taken November 28, 2011.

On April 2, 1806, Captain Clark left camp near Washougal, Washington, and explored 6 miles up the Willamette River, camping the night just downstream of the St. Johns Bridge.


Willamette River ...
The Willamette River is a tributary to the Columbia River, and enters the Columbia at River Mile (RM) 101. It provides the Columbia with approximately 15 percent of its annual discharge. The mouth of the Willamette lies just downstream of Hayden Island, Oregon, and provides the southern shore of Sauvie Island. On the southern bank of the Willamette at its mouth is Kelley Point, Oregon, and directly across the Columbia is Blurock Landing, and a few miles upstream is Vancouver, Washington. In 1805, Lewis and Clark were unaware of this river on their journey to the Pacific, although they suspected its existance. On their draft map [Moulton, v.1, map#88] they have the river drawn in with the label "Supposed River". On their return journey in 1806, Captain William Clark journeys up the Willamette as far as today's Cathedral Park and the St. Johns Bridge. Lewis and Clark called the Willamette the "Multnomah River".

Image, 2003, Mouth of the Willamette River, from Kelley Point Park, click to enlarge
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Mouth of the Willamette River (entering from left behind pilings), as seen from Kelley Point Park. Image taken September 13, 2003.
Image, 2011, Boat ramp, Cathedral Park, Willamette River, click to enlarge
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Boat ramp, Willamette River at Cathedral Park, St. Johns, Oregon. Image taken November 28, 2011.


Willamette River Basin ...
The Willamette River Basin is the largest watershed in the state of Oregon, covering more than 11,500 square miles (12 percent of the state of Oregon), and lies between the Coast Range to the west and the Cascade Range to the east. The basin is about 180 miles long and 100 miles wide. Thirteen major tributaries join the Willamette River (one being the Clackamas River) as it stretches nearly 300 miles from its headwaters at Waldo Lake in the Cascade Mountains (southeast of Eugene) to the confluence with the Columbia River at Kelley Point. Along the way it passes through forest, farmland, small towns, and large cities. The Willamette is the 13th largest river in the conterminous United States in terms of streamflow. The mainstem Willamette begins at the confluence of the Middle Fork Willamette River and the Coast Fork Willamette River, is 187 miles long, and has a drop of nearly 430 feet. Seventeen miles flows through Oregon's major city, Portland.

Willamette River Valley ...
The northern two-thirds of the Willamette Valley is underlain by the Columbia River Basalt Group which flooded over southern Washington and northern Oregon around 15 million years ago.
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Willamette River Valley and the Missoula Floods ...
Between 80,000 years ago and 10,000 years ago ice sheets covered much of North America, including Northern Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Towards the end of this glaciation a large ice dam blocked the Clark Fork River in the Idaho Panhandle, creating "Glacial Lake Missoula". This lake was a massive lake 2,000 feet deep filling the valleys of western Montana, stretching eastward more than 200 miles and, at its maximum height and extent, contained more than 500 cubic miles of water. Periodically the ice dam would fail, resulting in a large catastrophic flood of ice- and dirt-filled water which rushed across northern Idaho and eastern and central Washington, down the Columbia River, through the Columbia River Gorge, and finally poured into the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River.

The restriction at Kalama, Washington, and Prescott, Oregon, created a backwater lake, known as "Lake Allison". This lake filled the Willamette River Valley as far as Eugene, Oregon, over 100 miles away, with a measured height of 400 feet at Oregon City and an estimated height of 380 feet at Eugene. The area covered was approximately 3,000 square miles. The flood waters dumped thick layers of Palouse Silt, making the Willamette Valley one of the most fertile agricultural lands in the country.

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Image, 2013, Glacial Erratic, McMinnville, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Glacial Erratic, Willamette River Valley near McMinnville, Oregon. Image taken January 11, 2013


Willamette River from the Washington side ...

Image, 2003, Mouth of the Willamette River, from Blurock Landing, click to enlarge
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Mouth of the Willamette River, Oregon, as seen from Blurock Landing, Washington. Image taken July 2, 2003.


Captain Clark's Journey up the Willamette ...
On April 2, 1806, Captain Clark and seven men left the main camp near Washougal, Washington, and explored 6 miles up the Willamette River.

"... The Current of the Multnomar is as jentle as that of the Columbia glides Smoothly with an eavin surface, and appears to be Sufficiently deep for the largest Ship. I attempted fathom it with a Cord of 5 fathom which was the only Cord I had, could not find bottom ? of the distance across. I proceeded up this river 10 miles from it's enterance into the Columbia to a large house on the N E. Side and Encamped near the house, the flees being So noumerous in the house that we could not Sleep in it. ..." [Clark, April 2, 1806]

They spent the night downstream of today's Cathedral Park and St. Johns Bridge, near the Port of Portland's Terminal 4. The next day they explored another two miles upstream before turning around and heading back to camp.
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Image, 2005, St. Johns Bridge, Cathedral Park and the Willamette River, click to enlarge
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Cathedral Park and St. Johns Bridge, on the Willamette River. Image taken November 20, 2005.


Five Volcanoes ...
On April 2, 1806, as Captain Clark began his journey up the Willamette River, he wrote:

"... from the enterance of this river, I can plainly See Mt. Jefferson which is high and Covered with snow S.E. Mt. Hood East, Mt St. Helians a high humped Mountain to the East of Mt St. Helians. I also Saw the Mt. Raneer Nearly North ..." [Clark, April 2, 1806]

The "high humped Mountain to the East of Mt St. Helians" is Mount Adams. Today, the five Cascade Range volcanoes can be seen throughout this stretch of the river, including Kelley Point Park (south side of the mouth of the Willamette River), Sauvie Island (north side of the mouth of the Willamette), and Blurock Landing (Washington side of the Columbia, directly across from the mouth of the Willamette).
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Image, 2003, Mount Hood, Oregon, from Kelley Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mount Hood, Oregon, from Kelley Point, Oregon, at the mouth of the Willamette River. Image taken September 13, 2003.


"... Mt. Hood East ..."
[Clark, November 2, 1806]


Early Willamette River ...
In 1792, Lieutenant Broughton on his exploration of the Columbia River called the Willamette River the "River Munnings".

"... they passed ... a small river leading to the southwestward; and half a mile further on the same shore came to a larger one that took a more southerly course. The entrance of the latter, about a quarter of a mile in width, are two small woody islets; the ajacent country extending from its banks presented a most beautiful appearance. This river Mr. Broughton distinguished by the name of River Munnings. Its southern point of entrance, situated in latitude 45o 39', longitude 237o 21', commanded a most delightful prospect of the surrounding region, and obtained the name of Belle Vue Point ..." [Broughton/Vancouver, October 29, 1792]

In 1806 Lewis and Clark called the Willamette the "Multnomah River", a name which was to appear on many early maps.

"... The Current of the Multnomar is as jentle as that of the Columbia glides Smoothly with an eavin surface, and appears to be Sufficiently deep for the largest Ship. I attempted fathom it with a Cord of 5 fathom which was the only Cord I had, could not find bottom ? of the distance across. I proceeded up this river 10 miles from it's enterance into the Columbia to a large house on the N E. Side and Encamped near the house, the flees being So noumerous in the house that we could not Sleep in it. ..." [Clark, April 2, 1806]

The meaning of the word "Willamette" is not known, but according to Oregon Geographic Names (McArthur and McArthur, 2003) one historian stated the name means "spill water" and was applied to the river above Willamette Falls.

A version of the name "Willamette", an Indian name, evolved as early as 1811, when explorer David Thompson used "Wilarmet" for the river. Explorer Ross Cox used "Wallamet" and "Wallamut" and Alexander Ross used "Wallamitte". Various other spellings were also used in the early years.

The 1825 map of the Hudson's Bay Company called "Columbia River, Surveyed 1825" (printed 1826), called today's Multnomah Channel "Willamitte Riv.". "Chenow's Village" is shown located on it's western bank where the the Multnomah Channel merges with the Columbia. Today this area is a part of the community of St. Helens. The upper mouth of the river (today called the Willamette River) is depicted as two small channels with presumably an island between them. The eastern/southern point of the furthest east channel is labeled "Belle Vue Pt.".

In 1838 the "Map of the United States Territory of Oregon West of the Rocky Mountains, Exhibiting the various Trading Depots or Forts occupied by the British Hudson Bay Company, connected with the Western and northwestern Fur Trade. Compiled in the Bureau of Topographical Engineers, from the latest authorities, under the direction of Col. J.J. Abert, by Wash: Hood." had the river labeled "Multnomah or Willamet R." with the upper Willamette River labeled "Walla Matte R.".

In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition uses the name "Willamette". He notes the islands at the mouth of the Willamette River.

"... The scenery before reaching the lower mouth of the Willamette, is diversified with high and low land, which, together with three lofty snowy peaks, afford many fine views. The country begins to open here, and is much better adapted to agriculture than that lower down. ..." [Wilkes, May 1841]

"... the upper mouth of the Willamette, which flows into the Columbia, between Billy Bruce and Johnson's Islands. From this point, the river takes a bend to the southeast ..." [Wilkes, Chapter XVII]

An 1854 cadastral survey (tax survey) for T2N R1W showed two islands at the mouth of the Willamette River. The island on the north side of the mouth of the Willamette would eventually merge with Sauvie Island and would become today's Belle Vue Point. The island on the south side of the mouth of the Willamette when merged with mainland Oregon would become Kelley Point. The map also shows a small island off of the Kelley Point island which also would become part of Kelley Point, and a second small island in the slough separating the Kelley Point island from mainland Oregon, which would become part of mainland Oregon.

An 1888 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Chart "Columbia River Sheet No.6, Fales Landing to Portland" has the same four islands, with sand bars in the sloughs separating the islands from land. The mouth of the Willamette River runs between the islands. "Coon I." was the island off of Sauvie Island, "Pearcy's Island" was the island which was to become Kelley Point and "Pearcy's Slough" separated the island from mainland Oregon. "Ramsey's I." was the small island in the slough and "Nigger Tom I." was the small island off of Pearcy's Island which would later become part of Kelley Point.


Willamette River in 1858 ...
From the 1858 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's "Coast Pilot":

"From the Cowlitz the next course of the Columbia is SE. 2/3 S. for 27 miles to the mouth of the Willamette river (A corruption of the Indian name. This stream is the Multnomah of Lewis and Clark.), about 16 miles above the Cowlitz. The Warrior branch or slough of the river makes in from the west side and runs around Multnomah island, coming into the Willamette two miles above its mouth. The Willamette continues the same general course of the Columbia for 16 miles to the falls, where is situated the town of "Oregon City," destined to become a place of importance, on account of the extensive water power; the river there falling perpendicularly 38 or 40 feet. Six miles lower down on the Willamette is the rapidly improving town of Portland, situated at the head of ship navigation, with a population of nearly 5,000. The valley of the Willamette is well settled, contains several thriving towns, and is remarkably productive. The course of the river is southward, gradually approaching the coast within 25 miles, in the latitude of Cape Perpetua. In latitude 44o it runs eastward to the base of the Cascade range, which rises between the snow peaks of Mount Jefferson and Mount McLaughlin."

The "Warrior branch or slough of the river" is the Multnomah Channel and "Multnomah island" is today's Sauvie Island.



Along the Willamette River

  • Willamette River Mile (RM) 0 ... Willamette River Lighthouse ...
  • RM 5 ... Port of Portland's Terminal 4 and Linnton, Oregon ...
  • RM 6 ... Cathedral Park and St. Johns' Bridge ...
  • RM 12.5 ... Sternwheeler "Portland" and the Oregon Maritime Museum ...
  • RM 25 ... Clackamas River ...
  • RM 25 to 27 ... Oregon City and the two Bridges ...
  • RM 27 ... Willamette Falls ...
  • RM 34.5 ... Canby Ferry ...


RM 0 ... Willamette River Lighthouse ...
In 1895 a lighthouse was constructed near today's Kelley Point where the Willamette River met the Columbia. In 1935 the lighthouse was electrified and no longer needed keepers to light the lantern or ring the fog bell. It was sold and moved during the 1940s and burned during the 1950s.
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Print, Columbia River - Willamette River Lighthouse, Oregon, 1909
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Columbia River - Willamette River Lighthouse, ca.1910.
Image scanned from notecard purchased in 2006. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


RM 5 ... Port of Portland's Terminal 4 and Linnton, Oregon ...
On April 2, 1806, Captain Clark and seven men left their main camp at Cottonwood Beach (Washougal, Washington), entered the Willamette River behind today's Hayden Island, and explored 6 miles of the Willamette, passing the eastern end of the Multnomah Channel as they went. The men spent the night near today's Port of Portland's Terminal 4, and across from Linnton, Oregon.

Image, 2006, Linnton, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Linnton, Oregon. Image taken March 19, 2006.


RM 6 ... Cathedral Park and St. Johns Bridge ...
On April 2 and April 3, 1806, Captain Clark explored the Willamette River, reaching the location of today's St. Johns Bridge and Cathedral Park, before turning around and heading back to the main camp.
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Image, 2005, St. Johns Bridge, click to enlarge
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St. Johns Bridge. Cathedral Park lies underneath the St. Johns Bridge. On April 3, 1806, Captain Clark explored the Willamette River upstream as far as the St. Johns Bridge. Image taken November 20, 2005.
Image, 2011, Cathedral Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Double-crested Cormorant, Willamette River at Cathedral Park, St. Johns, Oregon. Image taken November 28, 2011.


RM 12.5 ... Sternwheeler "Portland" and the Oregon Maritime Museum ...
The last steamboat race on the Columbia River was between the "Henderson" and the "Portland". The two steamboats raced between Portland, Oregon, and Rooster Rock as part of the promotion for the 1952 motion picture Bend of the River, staring James Stewart. The "Henderson" won the race but blew a gasket doing it. In the film the steamer "River Queen" is played by the "Henderson". The sternwheeler "Portland" is now docked on the Willamette River at the Portland, Oregon waterfront (Willamette River Mile 12.5), and is home to the "Oregon Maritime Museum".

"The Portland is the last steam-powered, sternwheel tugboat to be built in the United States. The Port of Portland took delivery on August 29, 1947 and she immediately went into service. The Portland assisted ships to dock, turn and pass through the narrow bridge spans on the Willamette River. Her massive rudders and backing power were essential for moving loaded ocean-going ships.

When you visit the steamer Portland today, you see the result of more than a million dollars worth of volunteer labor over 15 years to restore the steamer Portland. The deckhouse is rebuilt, and new systems are installed. The boat comes alive again when the sternwheel rotates and the sound of the whistle fills the valley!

The Portland is the last operating sternwheel steam towboat in the United States.

The Past:

1946 | The Port of Portland realized the need to replace the wooden hulled, sternwheeled tug Portland that had served the area from 1919. A diesel-powered screw tug was initially proposed, but the Columbia River Pilots Association wanted another sternwheeled tug. They depended on the power and unusual ship handling ability only sternwheeled tugs could deliver at the time. The pilots prevailed.

1947 | On February 3, the keel was laid at Northwest Marine Iron Works and the new Portland took shape.

1981 | After almost 30 years of service in and around the Portland harbor, the stately

Portland yielded the harbor to diesel-powered youngsters. The Port of Portland faced economic realities, and decided to retire the labor-intensive steam tugboat in 1981.

The Port Commission was reluctant to send her to the ship breakers and tried in vain to sell her to commercial interests. She sat some years at Terminal One, quietly rusting. Her wheelhouse and 'Texas' house were removed and rested on the dock. Her wooden superstructure rotted away down to the steel housing of her machinery space. The powerful sternwheel dried and cracked where exposed and the underwater surface grew long tendrils of marine plants.

1991 | The sad remains of the once-proud Portland were deeded to the Oregon Maritime Museum. With funds from Meyer Memorial Trust, Murdock Charitable Trust and the Port of Portland, a group of dedicated volunteers began restoration of the last steam powered sternwheel tug. The work is never-ending, and the results are well worth the effort. Today, the steamer Portland gleams inside and out."

Source:   Oregon Maritime Museum website, 2011.


Image, 2009, Sternwheeler Portland, click to enlarge
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Sternwheeler "Portland", now the home to the Oregon Maritime Museum. Willamette River, Portland, Oregon. Image taken February 14, 2009.
Image, 2009, Sternwheeler Portland, click to enlarge
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Sternwheeler "Portland", now the home to the Oregon Maritime Museum. Willamette River, Portland, Oregon. Image taken February 14, 2009.
Image, 2009, Sternwheeler Portland, click to enlarge
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Sternwheeler "Portland", now the home to the Oregon Maritime Museum. Willamette River, Portland, Oregon. Image taken February 14, 2009.


RM 25 ... Clackamas River ...
The Clackamas River is an 83-mile-long tributary to the Willamette River and enters the Willamette at RM 25, at the north edge of Oregon City, two miles downstream from Willamette Falls.
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RM 25 to 27 ... Oregon City and the two Bridges ...
Oregon City is located along the Willamette River between River Miles (RM) 25 to 27.

Oregon City's first bridge crossing the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn was a suspension bridge, the first suspension bridge built west of the Mississippi (see "The Golden Age of Postcards" below). This bridge was erected in 1888 and opened for traffic in 1889. In 1922 it was replaced by a concrete "Arch Bridge". This new bridge, designed by engineer Conde McCullough, is in place today and is located at RM 26. It is 745 foot long, 28 foot wide, and rises 49 feet above the river, and is the southernmost of the Willamette River Bridges in the Portland area.

"... The Willamette River Bridge at Oregon City is a 745-foot structure consisting of a 360-foot steel through arch and eleven concrete deck girder approach spans. The steel arch span is protected from corrosion by encasement in sprayed-on concrete (Gunite), which gives it the appearance of a concrete structure. The detailing--obelisk-shaped pylons, ornate bridge railing, arched fascia curtain walls, fluted Art-Deco main piers, cantilevered sidewalks, ornate balustrade railings and the use of bush-hammered inset panels--identify this structure as a Conde B. McCullough and contributes to the significance of the structure. ..." [Oregon State Department of Transportation website, 2006]

The new Oregon City bridge opened in 1922 with a dedication called "Wedding of Two Cities", a celebration which included a bridge queen, parade, and even a wedding held at the center span.

The six-lane Abernethy Bridge opened in 1970 and carries Interstate 205 traffic across the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn. The bridge was named for George Abernethy, the first governor of Oregon under the provisional Oregon government. Abernethy was elected in 1845 and re-elected in 1847. His administration technically ended in 1848 when Oregon received territorial status and President Polk appointed General Joseph Lane as the first official territorial governor. The Abernethy Bridge is located at RM 25.5.


Image, 2006, Oregon City Bridge across the Willamette River, click to enlarge
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Oregon City Bridge across the Willamette River, with the Abernethy Bridge in the background, Oregon City, Oregon. The arched bridge connects Oregon City with West Linn, Oregon. The Abernethy Bridge carries Interstate 205 traffic over the Willamette River. View from the Oregon City side of the Willamette River. Image taken February 19, 2006.
Image, 2006, Oregon City Bridge across the Willamette River, click to enlarge
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Oregon City Bridge across the Willamette River, Oregon. The Bridge connects Oregon City with West Linn, Oregon. View from West Linn. Image taken February 19, 2006.


RM 27 ... Willamette Falls ...
The Willamette Falls are located at Willamette River Mile (RM) 26, at Oregon City, Oregon, where the Willamette River spills about 40 feet over horseshoe-shaped basalt ridge. Lewis and Clark make many references to the "falls of the Multnomah" and the Indian tribe which lived there.
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Image, 2006, Willamette Falls and Mount Hood, click to enlarge
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Willamette Falls and Mount Hood. Willamette Falls and Oregon City, with Mount Hood in the distance, as seen from the Willamette Falls overlook off of Interstate 205. Image taken February 19, 2006.
Image, 2006, Willamette River upstream as seen from the Oregon City Bridge, click to enlarge
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Willamette River looking upstream from the Oregon City Bridge, Oregon. Willamette Falls can be seen on the left and the downstream end of the Willamette Locks can be seen on the right. Image taken February 19, 2006.


RM 34.5 ... Canby Ferry ...
The Canby Ferry, located at Willamette River Mile (RM) 34.5, came into existence in 1914, and today is one of the last three ferries operating on the Willamette River. The current ferry can hold six cars and costs $2.00 to cross (2011).

Image, 2011, Canby Ferry, Willamette River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Canby Ferry, Willamette River, Oregon. View looking south. Image taken October 22, 2011.
Image, 2011, Canby Ferry, Willamette River, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Canby Ferry, Willamette River, Oregon. View looking south. Image taken October 22, 2011.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 4, 1805 ...
A cloudy cool morning wind from the West we Set out at 1/2 past 8 oClock [from their camp on the north side of Government Island, approximately across from Fisher's Landing], one man Shannon Set out early to walk on the Island [Government Island] to kill Something, he joined us at the lower point with a Buck. This island is 6 miles long and near 3 miles wide thinly timbered     (Tide rose last night 18 inches perpndicular at Camp) near the lower point of this diamond Island [Government Island] is The head of a large Island Seperated from a Small one by a narrow chanel [Lewis and Clark show two large islands on their maps, both in today's Government Island area], and both Situated nearest the Lard Side, those Islands [even today the Government Island reach is a complex of many islands] as also the bottoms are thickly Covered with Pine &c. river wide, Country low on both Sides; [since 1983 the Interstate 205 bridge crosses Government Island connecting Oregon to Washington]     on the Main Lard Shore a Short distance below the last Island we landed at a village of 25 Houses: [near Portland International Airport]; ...     This village contains about 200 men of the Skil-loot nation ...

at 7 miles below this village passed the upper point of a large Island [Hayden Island] nearest the Lard Side, a Small Prarie [Jolie Prairie, today the location of Fort Vancouver and Pearson Airpark. Lewis and Clark camp on this prairie on their return] in which there is a pond [one of the many ponds which use to dot this area] opposit on the Stard. here I landed and walked on Shore, about 3 miles a fine open Prarie for about 1 mile, back of which the countrey rises gradually and wood land comencies Such as white oake, pine of different kinds, wild crabs with the taste and flavour of the common crab and Several Species of undergroth of which I am not acquainted, a few Cottonwood trees & the Ash of this countrey grow Scattered on the river bank, ...     joined Capt. Lewis at a place he had landed with the party for Diner. ...

dureing the time we were at dinner those fellows Stold my pipe Tomahawk which They were Smoking with [Tomahawk pipe, thus giving rise to the name Tomahawk Island] ...    we proceeded on

[The men have passed through the area which, 20 years later, Dr. John McLoughlin would choose for a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, later to become Fort Vancouver and eventually the city of Vancouver, Washington.]

met a large & a Small Canoe from below, with 12 men the large Canoe was ornimented with Images carved in wood the figures of <man &> a Bear in front & a man in Stern, Painted & fixed verry netely on the <bow & Stern> of the Canoe, rising to near the hight of a man [Lewis and Clark then named Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island"]     two Indians verry finely Dressed & with hats on was in this canoe passed the lower point of the Island [Hayden Island] which is nine miles in length haveing passed 2 Islands on the Stard Side of this large Island [the location of Vancouver Landing and since 1917 the Interstate 5 Bridge connecting Oregon to Washington State], three Small Islands at its lower point [The downstream end of Hayden Island was at one time composed of small islands. One of these, Pearcy Island, would become today's Kelley Point.]. the Indians make Signs that a village is Situated back of those Islands on the Lard. Side and I believe that a Chanel is Still on the Lrd. Side [it wasn't until Lewis and Clark's return trip they would discover the mouth of the Willamette River] as a Canoe passed in between the Small Islands, and made Signs that way, probably to traffick with Some of the nativs liveing on another Chanel, at 3 miles lower [Sauvie Island is located at this stretch, but it is not until the return that Lewis and Clark recognize it as a separate island], and 12 Leagues below quick Sand river [Sandy River] passed a village of four large houses on The Lard. Side [on Sauvie Island], near which we had a full view of Mt. Helien [Mount St. Helens, Washington] which is perhaps the highest pinical in America from their base it bears N. 25° E about 90 miles- This is the mountain I Saw from the Muscle Shell rapid [Umatilla Rapids, Captain Clark actually saw Mount Adams] on the 19th of October last Covered with Snow, it rises Something in the form of a Sugar lofe- about a mile lower passed a Single house on the Lard. Side, and one on the Stard. Side, passed a village on each Side and Camped near a house on the Stard. Side [Post Office Lake vicinity, today within the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge] we proceeded on untill one hour after dark with a view to get clear of the nativs who was constantly about us, and troublesom, finding that we could not get Shut of those people for one night, we landed and Encamped on the Stard. Side ...

This evening we Saw vines much resembling the raspberry which is verry thick in the bottoms. A range of high hills at about 5 miles on the Lard Side [Portland's West Hills'] which runs S. E. & N W. Covered with tall timber the bottoms below in this range of hills and the river is rich and leavel, Saw White geese with a part of their wings black. The river here is 1½ miles wide, and current jentle. opposite to our camp on a Small Sandy Island [one of the small sandy islands prevelent in this stretch of the Columbia. Today the Willow Bar Islands on the east side of Sauvie Island lie across from Post Office Lake.] the brant & geese make Such a noise that it will be impossible for me to Sleap. we made 29 miles to day






Clark, April 2, 1806 ...
This morning we came to a resolution to remain at our present encampment [Cottonwood Beach, Washougal, Washington] or Some where in this neighbourhood untill we had obtained as much dried meat as would be necessary for our voyage as far as the Chopunnish. ...     about this time Several Canoes of the nativs arived at our Camp [Cottonwood Beach] among others two from below with Eight men of the Shah-ha-la Nation those men informed us that they reside on the opposit Side of the Columbia near Some pine trees which they pointed to in the bottom South of the Dimond Island [Government Island], they Singled out two young men whome they informed us lited at the Falls of a large river [Willamette Falls] which discharges itself into the Columbia on it's South Side Some Miles below us. we readily provailed on them to give us a Sketch of this river [Willamette River] which they drew on a Mat with a coal, it appeared that this river which they Call Mult-no'-mah discharged itself behind the Island we call the image Canoe island [Hayden Island], and as we had left this Island to the South both in decending & assending the river we had never Seen it. they informed us that it was a large river and runs a Considerable distance to the South between the Mountains. I deturmined to take a Small party and return to this river and examine its Size and Collect as much information of the nativs on it or near its enterance into the Columbia of its extent, the Country which it waters and the nativs who inhabit its banks &c. I took with me Six Men. Thompson J. Potts, Peter Crusat, P. Wiser, T. P. Howard, Jos. Whitehouse & my man York in a large Canoe, with an Indian whome I hired for a Sun glass to accompany me as a pilot. at half past 11 A. M. I Set out ...     at 8 miles passed a village on the South side [Chinook Landing and Blue Lake area] at this place my Pilot informed me he resided and that the name of his tribe is Ne-cha-co-lee, this village is back or to the South of Dimond island [Government Island], and as we passed on the North Side of the island both decending & assending did not See or know of this Village. I proceeded on without landing at this village. at 3 P. M. I landed at a large double house of the Ne-er-cho-ki-oo tribe of the Shah-ha-la Nation. at this place we had Seen 24 aditional Straw Huts as we passed down last fall [November 4, 1805, in the vicinity of the Portland International Airport] and whome as I have before mentioned reside at the Great rapids of the Columbia [Celilo Falls].     on the bank at different places I observed Small Canoes which the women make use of to gather Wappato & roots in the Slashes. those Canoes are from 10 to 14 feet long and from 18 to 23 inches wide in the widest part tapering from the center to both ends in this form and about 9 inches deep and So light that a woman may with one hand haul them with ease, and they are Sufficient to Carry a woman on Some loading. I think 100 of those canoes were piled up and Scattered in different directions about in the Woods in the vecinity of this house, the pilot informed me that those Canoes were the property of the inhabitents of the Grand rapids who used them ocasionally to gather roots. ...

I left them [village near today's Portland International Airport] and proceeded on on the South Side [North Portland Harbor] of Image Canoe Island [Hayden Island] which I found to be two Islands hid from the opposit Side by one near the Center of the river. the lower point of the upper and the upper point of the lower cannot be Seen from the North Side of the Columbia on which we had passed both decending and ascending and had not observed the apperture between those islands. at the distance of 13 Miles below the last village [location of Portland International Airport] and at the place I had Supposed was the lower point of the image Canoe island [Hayden Island], I entered this river which the nativs had informed us of, Called Mult no mah River [Willamette River] so called by the nativs from a Nation who reside on Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] a little below the enterance of this river. Multnomah [Willamette River] discharges itself in the Columbia on the S. E. and may be justly Said to be ¼ the Size of that noble river. Multnomah had fallen 18 inches from it's greatest annual height. three Small Islands are situated in it's mouth [Belle Vue Point and Kelley Point, on opposite sides of the mouth of the Willamette, use to be islands] which hides the river from view from the Columbia.     from the enterance of this river [Willamette River] , I can plainly See Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon] which is high and Covered with snow S. E. Mt. Hood East [Mount Hood, Oregon], Mt St. Helians [Mount St. Helens, Washington] a high humped Mountain to the East of Mt St. Helians [Mount Adams, Washington, is east of Mount St. Helens]. I also Saw the Mt. Raneer [Mount Rainier, Washington] Nearly North. Soon after I arived at this river an old man passed down of the Clark a'mos Nation who are noumerous and reside on a branch of this river which receives it's waters from Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon] which is emensely high and discharges itself into this river one day and a half up, this distance I State at 40 Miles. This nation inhabits 11 Villages their Dress and language is very Similar to the Quath-lah-poh-tle and other tribes on Wappato Island [Sauvie Island].



The Current of the Multnomar [Willamette River] is as jentle as that of the Columbia glides Smoothly with an eavin surface, and appears to be Sufficiently deep for the largest Ship. I attempted fathom it with a Cord of 5 fathom which was the only Cord I had, could not find bottom ? of the distance across. I proceeded up this river 10 miles from it's enterance into the Columbia to a large house on the N E. Side and Encamped near the house [downstream of Cathedral Park and the St. Johns Bridge, Portland, Oregon, near Portland's Terminal 4.], the flees being So noumerous in the house that we could not Sleep in it.



this is the house of the Cush-hooks Nation who reside at the falls of this river which the pilot informs me they make use of when they Come down to the Vally to gather Wappato. he also informs me that a number of other Smaller houses are Situated on two Bayous which make out on the S. E. Side a little below the house. this house appears to have been laterly abandoned by its inhabitants ...     The course and distance assending the Molt no mar R [Willamette River] from it's enterance into the Columbia at the lower point of the 3rd Image Canoe island.

[This area has changed during the past 200 years. Lewis and Clark called today's Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island". Their "3rd Image Canoe Island" however maybe in reference to the "three Small Islands are situated in it's mouth" (see journal entry above), two of the islands possibly were islands which are today's Belle Vue Point on Sauvie Island, and Pearcy Island which eventually became Kelley Point. Lewis and Clark's route map (Map#79 and Map#80, Moulton, Vol.1) shows a long "Image Canoe Island" with two small islands on the north side of "Image Canoe Island", and three small islands at the mouth of the "Multnomah R.". ]

S. 30° W. 2 Miles to the upper point of a Small Island [???] in the Middle of Moltnomar river [Willamette River]. thence

S. 10° W. 3 miles to a Sluce 80 yards wide [Multnomah Channel] which devides Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] from the Main Stard. Side Shore passing a Willow point on the Lard. Side [???].

S. 60° E. 3 miles to a large Indian house on the Lard Side below Some high pine land.

[Lewis and Clark's map plotted against an 1888 map of the area shows this location to be closer to 2 miles from the Multnomah Channel, just upstream from Portland's Terminal 4, and across from the community of Linnton.]

high bold Shore on the Starboard Side [Tualatin Mountains]. thence

S. 30° E 2 miles to a bend under the high lands on the Stard Side [St. Johns Bridge area located at the base of the Tualatin Mountains]

miles 10 passing a Larborad point [???].

thence the river bends to the East of S East as far as I could See [the stretch through Portland, Oregon]. at this place I think the wedth of the river may be Stated at 500 yards and Sufficiently deep for a Man of War or Ship of any burthern.



Whitehouse, April 2, 1806 ...
... The natives that were still with us, informed our Officers, that there was a large River [Willamette River], which emptied itself into the Columbia River, on the South side, below Sandy River [Sandy River],-     Captain Clark took me & Six more of our party, and one Indian as a guide, in Order to go down the Columbia River to take a view of that River [Willamette River], We proceeded on in a Canoe down the South side of the River, about 10 Miles.- & passed an Indian Village [Chinook Landing and Blue Lake area] of 21 houses lying on the same side of the River. This Village lay behind an Island, called Swans Island [part of today's Government Island complex. Lewis and Clark maps show two islands, one they called Diamond Island where they camped in November, and the other they called White Brant Island. Today the island nearest the locality of "Swans Island" would be McGuire Island.], & altho we had been on this Island, on our way in descending the River, none of our party had ever seen <it> this Village before. We proceeded on 9 Miles further down the River, & halted at a Village of Indians [locality of today's Portland International Airport]. ...     We proceeded on, on to the Mouth of this great River [Willamette River], which the Indians had given our Officers an account of.- The Mouth of this River came in behind an Island [Hayden Island] lying on the So. side of Columbia River; We arrived at the mouth of this river, about Sunset, & went up it, about 7 Miles, when we encamped at an old Indian lodge [near Terminal 4, south of today's Cathedral Park and the St. Johns Bridge]. The party <under Captain Clark,> resolved upon sleeping in this lodge, but on our entering it, we found the fleas in such great plenty, that we were forced to quit it. The great River is called by the natives the Mult-no-mack River [Willamette River]; it is 500 yards wide at its mouth; & continues that width, as high up, as where we ascended it to. The Indian guide that was with us, told us that it heads Near the head Waters of the California, & that there is a large Nation of Indians who reside some distance up that River <& > who live on a So. fork of this River & that Nation is called the Clark-a-mus Nation <& also another Nation> and that 30 Towns belong to them. Our guide also informed us, that there is another nation of Indians who reside a further distance up that River, by the name of the Cal-lap-no-wah nation; who he said were also very numerous; & that they reside up this River, where it is quite small.- The guide also mentioned that it is 20 days travel to the falls of this River [Willamette Falls], which falls is 40 feet <fall> perpendicular into that River & that the Tide water runs up to it,- & that the Natives have a very large Salmon fishery at that place. ...





Clark, April 3, 1806 ...
The water had fallen in the course of last night five inches. I Set out and proceeded up a Short distance [vicinity of the St. Johns Bridge] and attempted a Second time to fathom the river with my cord of 5 fathom but could find no bottom. the mist was So thick that I could See but a Short distance up this river. where I left it, it was binding to the East of S. E. being perfectly Satisfyed of the Size and magnitude of this great river which must Water that vast tract of Country betwen the Western range of mountains and those on the Sea coast and as far S. as the Waters of Callifornia about Latd. 37° North I deturmined to return. at 7 oClock A. M. Set out on my return. the men exirted themselves and we arived at the Ne er cho ki oo house [Portland International Airport] in which the nativs were So illy disposed yesterday at 11 A. M. I entered the house with a view to Smoke with those people ...     I detained but a fiew minits and returnd on board the canoe. ...     at 3 P M. we arived at the residence of our Pilot [near Chinook Landing and Blue Lake] ...     back of this house I observe the wreck of 5 houses remaining of a very large Village, the houses of which had been built in the form of those we first Saw at the long narrows of the E-lute Nation with whome those people are connected. ...     I provailed on an old man to draw me a Sketch of the Multnomar River [Willamette River] ang give me the names of the nations resideing on it which he readily done, ...   and gave me the names of 4 nations who reside on this river two of them very noumerous. The first is Clark a-mus nation reside on a Small river which takes its rise in Mount Jefferson and falls into the Moltnomar about 40 miles up [Clackamas River].   this nation is noumerous and inhabit 11 Towns.   the 2d is the Cush-hooks who reside on the N E. Side below the falls [Willamette Falls],   the 3rd is the Char-cowah who reside above the Falls on the S W. Side neether of those two are noumerous.   The fourth Nation is the Cal-lar-po-e-wah which is very noumerous & inhabit the Country on each Side of the Multnomar from its falls as far up as the knowledge of those people extend. they inform me also that a high mountain passes the Multnomar at the falls,   and above the Country is an open plain of great extent.    I purchased 5 dogs of those people for the use of their Oil in the Plains, and at 4 P M left the Village and proceeded on to Camp where I joind Capt. Lewis [at Cottonwood Beach]

The enterance of Multnomah river is 142 miles up the Columbia river from its enterance into the Pacific Ocean—.





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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:    Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website, 2004; McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland; NOAA Office of Coast Surveys website, 2005; Oregon Maritime Museum website, 2011; State of Oregon History Signs, 2004, Willamette Falls Overlook off of Interstate 205; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2004; Washington State Historical Society website, 2013; Washington State University website, 2005, "Early Washington Maps: A Digital Collection";

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 2013