Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Wishram, Washington"
Includes ... Wishram ... Celilo Falls ... Wish-kam ... Fallbridge ... Speedis ... Spearfish ... Campsite of October 22-23, 1805 ... Clark's Campsite of April 19 and 20, 1806 ... Campsite of April 21, 1806 ... Great Northern 2507 (GN 2507) ...
Image, 2005, Wishram, Washington, and Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wishram, Washington, in the spring, with Mount Hood, Oregon, in the distance. Looking down on Wishram from Washington State Highway 14. Mount Hood shows through Fairbanks Water Gap and the Oregon Trunk Line bridge is in the middleground. Fulton Ridge is the long ridge on the left. Image taken May 24, 2005.


Wishram ...
Wishram, Washington, located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 201, is a centuries-old Native American settlement located just upstream of the former site of Celilo Falls, once known as the "Great Falls of the Columbia". This location was a major trade center where the Wishram Indians dealt with Indians from the east and from the Lower Columbia. Today the waters of Lake Celilo (the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam) have obliterated the falls and Wishram is a railroad town. On the Oregon side lies the community of Celilo with the Oregon Trunk Line bridge crossing the Columbia and connecting Wishram with Celilo. Above Wishram rise the Columbia Hills while behind Celilo rises Fulton Ridge. Horsethief Butte and The Dalles, Oregon are downstream. Nearby is the small community of Avery while upstream is Miller Island and the Deschutes River.

Lewis and Clark and Wishram ...
Lewis and Clark camped near the Wishram area both on their journey down the Columbia in 1805 and again on their journey up the Columbia in 1806 (see campsites below). In October 1805 Captain Clark noted the large Indian village and on the route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#78] it was labeled "26 Mat Lodges of Indians of the E-nee-sher Nations ...".

Views of Wishram ...

Image, 2005, Wishram, Washington, and Mount Hood, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wishram, Washington, with Mount Hood, Oregon, in the distance. Looking downstream at the area which once was Celilo Falls. View from Washington State Highway 14. Celilo Park, Oregon, is on the left shoreline. Wishram, Washington, is green area on the right. Notch in the Oregon ridge is Fairbanks Gap, location of a Missoula Flood spillover. Image taken May 24, 2005.
Image, 2005, Wishram, Washington, and railroad bridge, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wishram, Washington. Looking downstream at Wishram, Washington. The railroad bridge connecting the area which once was Celilo Falls with Wishram Washington. Lewis and Clark's camp of October 22 and 23 was just on the downstream side of the bridge, on the right. View from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken May 24, 2005.


Campsite of October 22-23, 1805 ...
Lewis and Clark's route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#78] shows their camp of October 22 and 23, 1805, to be on the right bank of the Columbia River, just downstream of a large village labeled "26 Mat Lodges of Indians of the E-nee-sher Nations ..." and "Portage of 1200 yds". Using this map with a modern-day map, the location appears to be at the railroad bridge located just downstream of Celilo, Oregon and Wishram, Washington.

"... Took our Baggage & formed a Camp below the rapids in a cove on the Stard Side ..." [Clark, October 22, 1805, first draft]

"... droped down to the head of the rapids and took every article except the Canoes across the portag where I had formed a camp on ellegable Situation for the protection of our Stores from Thieft ..." [Clark, October 22, 1805]

" ... we got all except the canoes below the falls and camped close under a high range of clifts of rocks, where the body of the River beat against it and formed a verry large eddy ..." [Ordway, October 22, 1805]

"... We got all our baggage safe below these falls, in the Evening and encamped on the North side of the River, close to a high range of Clifts of rocks, where the Main body of the Water ran against them & formed a very large Eddy ... The perpendicular hight of the Clifts were we are encamped, is about 250 feet high. We came about 35 Miles this day our course being as usual West ..." [Whitehouse, October 22, 1805]

"... landed Safe with all the Canoes at our Camp below the falls by 3 oClock P.M. ..." [Clark, October 23, 1805]

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was located near the location of today's John Day Dam. Their campsite of October 24, 1805, was near Horsethief Butte, Washington.


Image, 2005, Oregon Trunk Line Railroad Bridge, Washington side, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Oregon Trunk Line Railroad Bridge, Washington side, approximate location of Lewis and Clark's campsite. The Oregon Trunk Bridge connects the area which once was Celilo Falls with Wishram Washington. Lewis and Clark's camp of October 22 and 23 was on the downstream side of the bridge, in the foreground in this image. View from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken May 24, 2005.


Clark's Campsite of April 19 and 20, 1806 ...
While Captain Lewis and the men spent April 19 and 20, 1806, near Horsethief Butte, Captain Clark went on ahead to the "Enesher village" to try and barter for horses. He spent the nights of April 19 and 20 in the Indian settlement.

"... we agreed that I should proceed on to the Enesher villages at the great falls of the Columbia and if possible purchase as maney horses as would transport the baggage from that place, and rid us of the trouble and dificuelty of takeing our Canoes further. I set out with Serjt Pryor, Geo Shannon Peter Crusat & Labiech at half past 5 P. M. for the Enesher Village at which place I arrived at 8 P. M. ..." [Clark, April 19, 1806]

Campsite of April 21, 1806 ...
Lewis and Clark and the majority of the men spent the night of April 21, 1806, on the Washington side of the Columbia River two miles upstream of Wishram at the base of Haystack Butte.
[More]

Image, 2013, Haystack Butte from Celilo Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Haystack Butte with Wishram in the foreground, as seen from Celilo Park, Oregon. Lewis and Clark's campsite of April 21 was approximately 2 miles upstream of Wishram, at the base of Haystack Butte. Image taken February 8, 2013.


Meaning of Wishram ...
According to The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, July 19, 1926 (courtesy "Rootsweb.com"), "Wishram" is a mis-spelling of the Indian name of "Wish-kam", and means "stationary people who never move", and "Wish-ram was a typographical error in Washington Irving's Astoria". Wish-kam then became the town of "Speedis", the name of the leading Indian family of that district, before becoming "Spearfish" by the Great Northern Railroad officials.

According to Charles Wilkes of the 1841 U.S. Exploring Expedition, the name was "Wisham" (with no "R") and was the name of an old Indian chief.

"... There are a number of villages in this neighbourhood, and among them Wisham, mentioned in Irving's Astoria. This is situated on the left bank of the river, and its proper name is Niculuita; Wisham being the name of the old chief, long since dead. There are now in this village about forty good lodges, built of split boards, with a roof of cedar bark, as before described. The Indians that live here seem much superior to those of the other villages ..." [Wilkes, July 3, 1841]

Another explanation of the meaning of Wishram comes from T.C. Elliott, who wrote in 1915 (published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, April 1915):

"... The name of WISHRAM is probably a corruption of the name of a bank of E-NEE-SHUR Indians who were so named by Lewis and Clark, though at first thought it savors more of Hebrew or Assyrian literature ..."

And yet another meaning of Wishram comes from Robert Hitchman in Place Names of Washington (1985). Hitchman says the name "Wishram" is a Chinook dialect word, meaning "louse" or "flea". Hitchman also states that other Indian dialect names for the town were "Niculuita" and "Tlaqluit". he does not say when the name "Wishram" came into use or where the meaning of "fleas" came from. Captain Clark wrote about the fleas often - not just at Wishram - which plagued them on their journey down the Columbia.

"... landed Safe with all the Canoes at our Camp below the falls by 3 oClock P.M. nearly covered with flees which were So thick amongst the Straw and fish Skins at the upper part of the portage at which place the nativs had been Camped not long Since; that every man of the party was obliged to Strip naked dureing the time of takeing over the canoes, that they might have an oppertunity of brushing the flees of their legs and bodies ..." [Clark, October 23, 1805]

Washington Irving's Wishram ...
"... We have given this process at some length, as furnished by the first explorers, because it marks a practiced ingenuity in preparing articles of traffic for a market, seldom seen among our aboriginals. For like reason we would make especial mention of the village of Wishram, at the head of the Long Narrows, as being a solitary instance of an aboriginal trading mart, or emporium. Here the salmon caught in the neighboring rapids were "warehoused," to await customers. Hither the tribes from the mouth of the Columbia repaired with the fish of the sea-coast, the roots, berries, and especially the wappatoo, gathered in the lower parts of the river, together with goods and trinkets obtained from the ships which casually visit the coast. Hither also the tribes from the Rocky Mountains brought down horses, bear-grass, quamash, and other commodities of the interior. The merchant fishermen at the falls acted as middlemen or factors, and passed the objects of traffic, as it were, cross-handed; trading away part of the wares received from the mountain tribes to those of the rivers and plains, and vice versa: their packages of pounded salmon entered largely into the system of barter, and being carried off in opposite directions, found their way to the savage hunting camps far in the interior, and to the casual white traders who touched upon the coast. ..."

Source:   Washington Irving, 1836, "Astoria, or Anecdotes of an enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains".


Early Wishram ...
Today's town of Wishram has had many locations and many names. The original Wishram was an Indian fishing settlement. With the advent of railroads and the Oregon Trunk Line Bridge spanning the Columbia, the rail stations of "Falbridge" and "Speedis" evolved downstream of today's Wishram location.

In 1805 and 1806 as Lewis and Clark explored the banks of the Columbia River they noted a village of "26 Mat Lodges of Indians of the E-nee-sher Nations". On April 19, 1806, Captain Clark and three of his men spent the night at the "Enesher villages".

In 1841, Charles Wilkes, of the U.S. Exploring Expedition mentions the settlement of "Wisham":

" ... The country between these places is decidedly volcanic, and the banks on either side of the river are rocky and high. ... There are a number of villages in this neighbourhood, and among them Wisham, mentioned in Irving's Astoria. This is situated on the left bank of the river, and its proper name is Niculuita; Wisham begin the name of the old chief, long since dead. There are now in this village about forty good lodges, built of split boards, with a roof of cedar bark ..."

According to "historylink.org" (the encyclopedia of Washington State history), the town of Wishram began in 1904 as a railroad town supporting the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle Railroad and was home to the line's rail yard and locomotive roundhouse in from 1911 to 1981. In 1911 F.G. Bunn opened Wishram's first store, and in 1914 Bunn filed a plat of the town, calling it Fallbridge. The name was changed to Wishram in 1926. Wishram was an important rail transfer point during World War II, when trains were switched from track to track around the clock, with as many as 2,000 loaded boxcars piled up on sidings waiting to be coupled.



Wishram and Vicinity, etc.

  • Falbridge ...
  • Speedis ...
  • Great Northern #2507 ...


Falbridge ...
"Fallbridge is the latest arrival in the way of new towns in Klickitat county. It was located, named, and constructed according to plans and specifications laid down by John F. Stevens at the Washington end of the new Oregon Trunk railroad bridge across the Columbia river, now building. It is nearly opposite Celilo Falls, on the Oregon side, where Uncle Sam is digging a canal which will presently open up an immense territory to cheap water transportation, and is the junction point with the Oregon Trunk road, now under active construction to Bend, Ore.,which will without doubt be extended to California later, and is already developing a lively traffic with central Oregon. Fallbridge has a new, first-class hotel, a railroad, Y.M.C.A. building, and a new depot. A roundhouse and yards for a sub-terminal of the North Bank and Oregon Trunk will be provided as soon as the bridge is completed, or about September."
[Goldendale Sentinel, The Bickleton News, Bickleton, WA., June 23, 1911, page 8, courtesy "Rootsweb.com"]

Falbridge and Speedis - now Wishram and Spearfish ...
"Good bye Fallbridge and hello, Wishram. At dawn March 1st names significant of early history of the mid-Columbia river district were adopted for two stations on the S.P. & S. Railroad. A memorial will be erected near the present station of Fallbridge now Wishram in memory of discoverers and pioneers of Columbia river territory. Under the name changes Fallbridge has become Wishram and the station west of Fallbridge formerly called Speedis has been changed to Spearfish. Fallbridge, or Wishram, will be one of the historical spots to be visited by the special train of students and notables coming west for the dedication of the Gray Memorial at Astoria this summer. Our post office also has taken the name of Wishram. In honor of changing the name of the citizens staged a pow-pow at the schoolhouse Wednesday evening. Several very good numbers were rendered. The returns were added to the school fund."
[Goldendale Sentinal, Goldendale, Washington, March 4, 1926, courtesy "Rootsweb.com"]

Image, 2011, Wishram, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Train station, Wishram, Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.
Image, 2011, Wishram, Washington, click to enlarge
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Fallbridge Post Office written on building, Wishram, Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.


Great Northern #2507 ...
The Baldwin Locomotive No.2507, run by Great Northern, was presented to Klickitat County in 1962 by the Spokane, Portland and Seattle (SP&S) Railway Company "as a lasting memorial to the days of steam locomotives and the men who operated them." Engine 2507, built in 1923, was one of 28 "P-2 class" engines built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and purchased by Great Northern for fast passenger service. With the advent of diesel engines, the 2507 was retired in December 1957 and put in storage for many years in Minnesota. In 1966 the engine was put on display at Maryhill Museum as an SP&S engine. In 1994 a group of enthusiasts attempted to restore the engine. While it was never fully restored, the engine was once again returned to its Great Northern style, with the Great Northern Goat replacing the SP&S logo. Its color scheme was done not in its original Glacier Park green, but in the all black it wore in the 1950s. In On July 7, 2003, the Great Northern 2507 was towed to its new home in Wishram, Washington.
[More Trains, etc.]

Image, 2011, Wishram, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Great Northern #2507, Wishram, Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.
Image, 2011, Wishram, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Great Northern #2507, Wishram, Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.
Image, 2011, Wishram, Washington, click to enlarge
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Front, Great Northern #2507, Wishram, Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.
Image, 2011, Wishram, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Great Northern #2507, Wishram, Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.
Image, 2011, Wishram, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Logo, Great Northern #2507, Wishram, Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.
Image, 2011, Wishram, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wheels, Great Northern #2507, Wishram, Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 22, 1805 ...
A fine morning calm and fare we Set out [downstream of the John Day Dam] at 9 oClock passed a verry bad rapid [today the location of the "Sam Hill Memorial Bridge", U.S. Highway 97 crossing from Biggs Junction, Oregon, to Maryhill, Washington. The rapid, which was labeled "Five-Mile Rapid" in 1858, is now under the waters of the Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam.] at the head of an Island close under the Stard. Side [???], above this rapid on the Stard. Side is Six Lodges of nativs Drying fish [Maryhill vicinity], at 9 mls. passed a bad rapid [Deschutes Rapid, also under the waters of Lake Celilo] at the head of a large Island [Miller Island] of high, uneaven [rocks], jutting over the water, a Small Island in a Stard. Bend [???] opposit the upper point, on which I counted 20 parcels of dryed and pounded fish; on the main Stard Shore opposit to this Island five Lodges of Indians are Situated Several Indians in Canoes killing fish with gigs [Haystack Butte, Columbia Hills, vicinity], <and nets> &c. opposit the center of this Island of rocks [Miller Island] which is about 4 miles long we discovered the enterence of a large river on the Lard. Side [Deschutes River] which appeared to Come from the S. E. - we landed at Some distance above the mouth of this river [Deschutes River] and Capt. Lewis and my Self Set out to view this river above its mouth, as our rout was intersepted by a deep narrow Chanel which runs out of this river into the Columbia a little below the place we landed, leaveing a high dry rich Island of about 400 yards wide and 800 yards long here we Seperated, I proceeded on to the river and Struck it at the foot of a verry Considerable rapid [Deschutes Rapids], here I beheld an emence body of water Compressd in a narrow Chanel of about 200 yds in width, fomeing over rocks maney of which presented their tops above the water, when at this place Capt. Lewis joined me haveing ....     at about two miles above this River appears to be confined between two high hils below which it divided by numbers of large rocks, and Small Islands covered with a low groth of timber, and has a rapid as far as the narrows three Small Islands in the mouth of this River, <we returned> this River haveing no Indian name that we could find out, except "the River on which the Snake Indians live," we think it best to leave the nameing of it untill our return [Deschutes River].

we proceeded on pass the mouth of this river [Deschutes River] at which place it appears to discharge 1/4 as much water as runs down the Columbia. at two miles below this River passed Eight Lodges on the Lower point of the Rock Island [Miller Island] aforesaid at those Lodges we saw large logs of wood which must have been rafted down the To war-ne hi ooks River [Deschutes River], below this Island [Miller Island] on the main Stard Shore is 16 Lodges of nativs; here we landed a fiew minits to Smoke, the lower point of one Island opposit [???] which heads in the mouth of Towarnehiooks River [Deschutes River] which I did not observe untill after passing these lodges     about 1/2 a mile lower passed 6 more Lodges on the Same Side and 6 miles below the upper mouth of Towarnehiooks River [Deschutes River] the comencement of the pitch of the Great falls [Celilo Falls], opposit on the Stard. Side is 17 Lodges of the nativs [near Wishram, Washington]     we landed and walked down accompanied by an old man to view the falls [Celilo Falls], and the best rout for to make a portage ...     we made 19 miles to day






Clark, April 19, 1806 ...
We deturmined to make the portage to the head of the long narrows [Fivemile Rapids, now under the waters of Lake Celilo] with our baggage and 5 Small Canoes, the 2 large Canoes we Could take no further and therefore Cut them up for fuel [at their camp near Spearfish Lake]. we had our Small Canoes drawn up very early and employed all hands in transporting our baggage on their backs and by means of 4 pack horses, over the portage. This labour we had accomplished by 3 P. M. and established our Camp a little above the present Skillute village [near Horsethief Butte] which has been removed as before observed a fiew hundred yards lower down the river than when we passed it last fall. I left Capt L. at the bason [Spearfish Lake] and proceeded to the village early this morning with a view to recive the horses which were promised to be brought this morning for articles laid by last evining. in the Course of this day I purchased four horses at the Village, and Capt Lewis one at the bason before he left it. after the baggage was all Safely landed above the portage, all hands brought over the Canoes at 2 lodes which was accomplished by 5 P. M. as we had not a Sufficiency of horses to transport our baggage <I do> we agreed that I should proceed on to the Enesher villages at the great falls of the Columbia [Celilo Falls] and if possible purchase as maney horses as would transport the baggage from that place, and rid us of the trouble and dificuelty of takeing our Canoes further. I set out with Serjt Pryor, Geo Shannon Peter Crusat & Labiech at half past 5 P. M. for the Enesher Village [vicinity of Wishram] at which place I arrived at 8 P. M. Several Showers of rain in the after part of to day, and the S W wind very high. there was great joy with the nativs last night in consequence of the arrival of the Salmon; one of those fish was cought, this was the harbenger of good news to them. They informed us that those fish would arive in great quantities in the Course of about 5 days. this fish was dressed and being divided into Small pieces was given to each Child in the village. this Custom is founded on a Supersticious opinion that it will hasten the arrival of the Salmon. ...    The long narrows [Fivemile Rapids] are much more formadable than they were when we decended them last fall, there would be no possibility of passing either up or down them in any vessel at this time.

I entered the largest house of the Eneeshers village [near Wishram] in which I found all the enhabitents in bead. they rose and made a light of Straw, they haveing no wood to burn. many men Collected. we Smoked and I informed them that I had come to purchase a fiew horses of them. they promused to Sell me Some in the morning.





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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: Elliott, T.C., 1915, The Dalles-Celilo Portage; Its History and Influence, IN: Oregon Historical Quarterly, vol.16, April 1915; "Historylink.org" website, 2011; Hitchman, R., 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society; Klickitat County website, 2004; Mountain Men and the Fur Trade website, 2004; National Railway Historical Society website, 2004, The Pacific Northwest Chapter; Oregon Blue Book website, 2004, "Columbia Plateau"; "Rootsweb.com" Historical website, 2004; "steamlocomotive.info" 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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February 2013