Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Archer Mountain, Washington"
Includes ... Archer Mountain ...
Image, 2005, Columbia River looking upstream from Dalton Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Archer Mountain, Washington, as seen from Dalton Point, Oregon. Hamilton Mountain is snow covered. Image taken December 10, 2005.

Archer Mountain ...
Archer Mountain is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River, approximately two miles inland at Columbia River Mile (RM) 146. Immediately to the southeast is Franz Lake while upstream are Duncan Creek and Indian Mary Creek. Upstream is the small community of Skamania and four miles upstream is Beacon Rock. Four miles downstream is the small community of Prindle. Directly across the Columbia River on the Oregon side is the Oneonta area and Horsetail Falls. Downstream on the Oregon side is Dalton Point, a nice place with good views of Archer Mountain.

Finch R. Archer ...
The summit of Archer Mountain is located in T2N R6E, Section 32. According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office Records (GLO) database, Finch R. Archer was granted title to 178.00 acres of T1N R6E, parts of Sections 5 and 6, and T2N R6E, part of Section 31, on January 10, 1901 (1862 Homestead Entry Original). Finch Archer's homestead was located southwest of Archer Mountain.

Finch Robert Archer:
Died in Seattle, buried in Hillcrest Burial Park, Kent, Washington

"Finch was born in England and came to the U.S. in 1882. He resided in Oregon in 1891, and was a government inspector in Chehalis in 1900, and then worked in the Assessor's office in Grays Harbor County. In 1905 Finch Archer was appointed as the Special Allotting Agent for the Quinault Indian Reservation, his job ending in 1913 when Woodrow Wilson became President. He performed many allotment surveys under the jurisdiction of the Office of Indian Affairs to create tracts for Indians to receive a patent.

There are no notes or plats of the surveys of Finch, but maps of the allotments created exist at the BIA archives. Since the sections had already been surveyed, he was just subdividing the sections into aliquot parts. When Democrat Woodrow Wilson took office, his partisan appointee for BIA charged Archer with abuse of his office by using employees for his own personal projects, and he was fired. Later he was proposed by Republican Senator Pointdexter, and appointed by President Harding, to be Warden at McNeil Island Penitentiary from 1922-1934. During that tenure, Finch achieved notariety for his acceptance and handling of members of the Al Capone crime family at McNeil Island. He had obtained a patent in 1901 to a homestead of 178 acres west of Beacon Rock, just beneath Archer Mountain, Archer Falls and next to Archer Creek."

Source:    Jerry Olson, 2012, GLO Surveyor Personal Notes, July 9, 2012, "Olson Engineering Inc." website, 2015;

Archer Mountain in 1901 ...
"Archer Mountain, a few miles below Beacon Rock and the Bridge of the Gods will be the next point of interest to be visited by the exploring party which recently climbed to the top of Beacon Rock. An excursion will leave Portland tomorrow evening on the steamer Regulator, which is furnished free by her owners, and will begin the ascent of Archer Mountain on Monday. The party will be augmented by a geologist and photographer. From this time on throughout the season explorations of all the important places will be made."

Source:    The Dalles Daily Chronicle, August 31, 1901, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016.

Archer Mountain in 1941 ...
From "Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State", 1941, by the Washington State Historical Society, Federal Works Agency, Works Projects Administration (WPA):

"... West of Skamania the highway skirts the great frowning cliffs of ARCHER MOUNTAIN. Of the many legends and folk tales that have grown up around these conspicuous cliffs, the leading ones deal with the "hermit of Archer Mountain," who lived on top of a 2,000-foot cliff in a house built of materials salvaged from a wrecked river boat. ..."

Views ...

Image, 2017, Archer Mountain, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Archer Mountain, Washington, as seen from Washington State Route 14. Image taken September 23, 2017.

Archer Mountain, etc.

  • Columbia River Basalt Group ...
  • First Ascent ...

Columbia River Basalt Group ...
"Flood basalts of the Miocene Columbia River Basalt Gorup (CRBG) are among the most volumninous and far-traveled lava flows on earth. About 10% of the basalt flows that erupted on the Columbia Plateau between 17 and 12 Ma were voluminous enough to pass through the Cascade arc via a wide ancestral Columbia River valley, and some of them eventually reached the Pacific Ocean. Some of the larger flows invaded the marine strata, forming mega-invasive flows on the continental shelf and slope. ...

The basic geologic framework of the Columbia River Gorge has been known for over a century. In the western gorge, the package of Columbia River Basalt Group (CRBG) flood-basalt flows unconformably overlies volcanogenic rocks of ancestral Cascade volcanic arc. Vigorous and widespread volcanism characterized the arc from its inception 40 Ma until ca. 18 Ma, when activity greatly declines. The arc must have been relatively quiescent during emplacement of the most voluminous CRBG flows, because interflow volcanic sediments are sparse. The larger flows passed through a 50-km-wide ancestral Columbia River valley on their way to the ocean. Owing to late Cenozoic uplift of the Cascade Range and resultant incision by the Columbia River, CRBG flows are now spectacularly exposed in the cliffs and waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge. The modern gorge roughly follows the northern margin of the broad Miocene valley. Grande Ronde flows clearly abut the northern paleovalley wall formed by early Miocene volcaniclastic rocks of the 19 Ma Eagle Creek Formation. ...

The slight southward dip of the Columbia River Basalt Group (CRBG) section and the underlying Eagle Creek Formation gives the western gorge an asymmetric physiographic cross section. In Washington, failure of weakly lithified Eagle Creek strata that dip toward the river under the load of superincumbent basalt has produced huge landslide complexes composed largely of CRBG debris. In Oregon, where strata dip away from the river, undercutting of the Eagle Creek Formation instead creates towering cliffs. As a result, the CRBG section south of the river consists of continuous cliffs, whereas to the north the CRBG forms scattered peaks (Greenleaf Peak, Table Mountain, Hamilton Mountain, and Archer Mountain) separated by low-lying terrain underlain by the Eagle Creek Formation or landslide debris. Each of these peaks is actually the southern end of a N-S ridge of CRBG, marking sites where basalt flows backfilled south-flowing tributaries of ancestral Columbia River."

Source:    Wells, R.E., Niem, A.R., Evarts, R.C., and Hagstrum, J.T., 2010, "The Columbia River Basalt Group -- From the gorge to the sea", IN: Geologic Society of America Field Guild 15, 2009.


First Ascent ...
"Archer Mountain, a visit to which occupied the forepart of last week, is comparatively easy of access. The county road, which at this season of the year is in excellent condition, runs to its base, a distance of about four miles from the Columbia. As one is put off from the boat at Butler's Landing [Skamania Landing], about 4 o'clock in the morning ... the road takes one into the forest. ...

The mountain takes its name form F.R. Archer, whose land runs upon the mountain side. He has a picutresque a cottage as any artists could wish to see, set in a tangle of honeysuckle, wild cherries, apple and plum trees, with trellised grape vines sending out long tendrils toward every passer-by. Here blankets, luncheon and other baggage may be unloaded and safely left behind. A short and easy clumb brings one to the Indian mounds, about half way up the southern slope to the summit. This is the dumping ground of the mountain. A huge cliff, bare and bleak, towers up in a straight line several hundred feet toward the sky. Acres of loose, rolling rocks and pebbles lie at its base. Here the frowning mountain, in grim humor, throws stones at itself. But it is easy to see that the hand of man has also had a part in the wild play. The whole place looks like the ancient cemetery of some forgotten race. The mounds face toward the river. They are arranged in set rows, trenches, and winnows. Here and there, square and round hillocks of stones are thrown up without regard to the points of the compass. Altogether there are between 20 and 30 mounds, but farther on around a spur of the mountain are other groups of these mounds. The order and regularity with which they are placed, leave a profound impression upon the observer, and this is deepened when one is told that directly across the river a neighboring mountain has a similar collection of mounds, which also face toward the river. The idea that the place is a great graveyard is hardly acceptable, owing to the fact that nothing has ever been found buried under any of these hillocks; neither human bones, nor bow and arrow, nor any other relics of a bygone age.

Another theory is that this was at one time a great battle ground of the Indians, the trenches and breastworks being thrown up as a cover behind which they could shoot poinsoned arrows at their foes. Still another explanation is that the place was a hunting-ground, the mounds being used as places of concealment for shooting at the elk and bear that used to abound in that region.

After leaving the mounds it is something of a hard pull up the latter half of the mountain. Skirting the cliff one keeps well to the left, making the ascent by the middle ravine of the eastern slope. The dense brush, which was waist-high, happened to be very wet at the time the Regulator exploring party made the climb, which resulted in drenched clothing. In some places the only way one could get past a precipitous rock was to be pulled up strong leather straps. But these difficult spots may easily be avoided, by a little care in selecting the path of ascent. There is no real trail.

After the white buckberries, hazel and dog-wood, have been left behind, the golden rod makes its appearance, acre after acre of yellow bloom flooding the entire mountain top with its glory. The summit was reached by 10 o'clock. It broadens out into far-reaching meadows which end abruptly on the south, in two dangerous cliffs overhanging the Indian hunting grounds, a dizzy distance below. These two cliffs are far removed, one from another, and give the mountain a savage and threatening aspect, wholly different from the gentle curves presentled to the eye on the side toward the river. After enjoying the splendid panorama of mountain range and river gorge, streatched out before him, the climber may slake his thirst at a spring of sparkling water on the summit. Nor should he neglect on the way down to find the warm mineral spring discovered by C.J. Church. The outjutting rock that forms the apex of the mountain is pierced in very curious fashion by a circular hole that is said to be about 8 or 10 feet in diameter. It is in an inaccessible spot, but may be viewed from below."

Source:    "Morning Oregonian", September 16, 1901, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, Univeristy of Oregon Libraries, 2016.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...

Columbia River GorgeReturn to

*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

  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016;
  • Olson, J., 2012, GLO Surveyor Personal Notes, July 9, 2012, "Olson Engineering Inc." website, 2015;
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, 2015;
  • "Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State", 1941, by the Washington State Historical Society, Federal Works Agency, Works Projects Administration (WPA);
  • Wells, R.E., Niem, A.R., Evarts, R.C., and Hagstrum, J.T., 2010, "The Columbia River Basalt Group -- From the gorge to the sea", IN: Geologic Society of America Field Guild 15, 2009;

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.
October 2017