Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Willow Bar Islands and Willow Point, Sauvie Island, Oregon"
Includes ... Willow Bar ... Willow Bar Islands ... Willow Point ... "Willow Bar Point" ... "Lower Willow Bar" ...
Image, 2005, Willow Bar Islands, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Willow Bar Islands, looking across the slough. Image taken November 20, 2005.

Willow Bar Islands ...
The Willow Bar Islands are located on the east side of Sauvie Island at Columbia River Mile (RM) 95, directly across from Post Office Lake and the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. The Willow Bar islands are situated at the upstream end of Willow Point, located at RM 94. The slough separating the Islands from Sauvie Island today is a private boat moorage. The Willow Bar Islands were at one known known as "Lower Willow Bar", with the area of Frenchmans Bar and Caterpillar Island on the Washington side being known as the "Upper Willow Bar". Lieutenant Broughton in 1792 spent the night of October 28 in the Willow Bar area. In 1805 Lewis and Clark spent the night of November 4 on the Washington shore across from the Willow Bar Islands.

Willow Point ...
Willow Point is located downstream of the Willow Bar Islands, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 94. Across from Willow Point on the Washington side of the Columbia was located Fales Landing, an old landing site on the Columbia.

From Oregon Geographic Names (McArthur and McArthur, 2003):

"... Willow Point, COLUMBIA. This point is on the northeastern part of Sauvie Island. In the opinion of the writer, it is the place mentioned by Lt. William Broughton in his report to Capt. George Vancouver for the day of October 28, 1792, when he stated that 'he proceeded up what he considered the main branch of the river, until eight in the evening; when under the shelter of some willows, they took up their lodging for the night on a low sandy point.' This was just after Broughton had passed the lower end of Sauvie Island. ..."

On October 28, 1792, Lieutenant Broughton of the British Captain George Vancouver Expedition, spent the night under the willows at Sauvie Island's Willow Point.

"... proceeded up that which he considered to be the main branch of the river, until eight in the evening; when, under the shelter of some willows, they took up their lodging for the night on a low sandy point ..." [Vancouver/Broughton, October 28, 1792]

Early Willow Bar and Willow Point ...
The 1825 map of the Hudsons Bay Company shows "Willow Point".

The 1888, U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey's "Columbia River Sheet No.6, Fales Landing to Portland" (Chart No.6145) shows "Lake River", "Post Office Lake", "Halfway Pt." (Knapp Point), and "Knapp Landg." (Knapp Landing). On the Oregon side across from Post Office Lake is "Lower Willow Bar", the location of today's Willow Bar Islands, and "Willow Bar Pt.", today's Willow Point.

Early Maps ...

Image, 1888, Map detail, NOAA,  click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
1888, Map detail, Oregon's Willow Bar, Washington's Lake River, Post Office Lake, and Knapp Landing, Vancouver Lake Lowlands, Vancouver, Washington. U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey's Chart #6145, "Columbia River, Fales Landing to Portland, Sheet #6", 1888.

Includes "Lower Willow Bar", "Lake River, "Post Office Lake", "Halfway Pt." and "Knapp's Landg.".

Views ...

Image, 2005, Willow Bar Island, Sauvie Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Willow Bar Islands, Sauvie Island, Oregon. Looking down slough towards the Columbia River. Image taken November 20, 2005.
Image, 2005, Willow Bar Island, Sauvie Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Willow Bar Islands, Sauvie Island, Oregon. Looking up the slough. Image taken November 20, 2005.
Image, 2005, Willow Bar Island, Sauvie Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Willow Bar Islands, Sauvie Island, Oregon. Image taken November 20, 2005.
Image, 2005, Willow Bar Island, Sauvie Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Reflections, Willow Bar Islands, Sauvie Island, Oregon. Image taken November 20, 2005.

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 1 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

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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

  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • Washington State Historical Society website, 2008, "Columbia River 1825";

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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December 2011