Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Ashes Lake and Little Ashes Lake, Washington"
Includes ... Ashes Lake ... Big Ashes Lake ... Little Ashes Lake ... "Upper Landing" ... Fort Gilliam ... Fort Lugenbeel ... Campsite of October 30-31, 1805 ... Campsite of April 12, 1806 ...
Image, 2005, Ashes Lake, looking south towards the Columbia River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Ashes Lake, Washington. View from Ashes Lake Road, looking south towards the Columbia River. Image taken February 26, 2005.

Fort Gilliam, an 1848 supply depot, and Fort Lugenbeel, an 1856 military blockhouse, were located on the right bank of a "Deep bend on the Stard. Side" (Clark, October 30, 1805), the location of today's Ashes Lake. This area was known as the "Upper Landing".

Ashes Lake and Little Ashes Lake ...
Ashes Lake and nearby Little Ashes Lake are located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 148. Upstream is Rock Cove, Rock Creek, and the Washington community of Stevenson. Downstream is North Bonneville, Fort Cascades, and the Bonneville Dam. Across the Columbia is Cascade Locks, Oregon.

The U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (2014) has "Ashes Lake" and "Little Ashes Lake" as the official names for the two Skamania County lakes. Common names often used are "Big Ash Lake" and "Little Ash Lake".

Ashes Lake and the Bonneville Landslide ...
"Ashes Lake ... is a remnant of the pre-landslide [Bonneville Landslide] main channel of the Columbia River." [Washington Department of Natural Resources, 2004]

Lewis and Clark and Ashes Lake ...
Lewis and Clark camped on an island (now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir) downstream of "a village of 8 large houses on a Deep bend on the Stard. Side", near what is today's Ashes Lake, both on their way downstream in October 1805 and on their return trip in April 1806.

Campsite of October 30-31, 1805 ...
Lewis and Clark's campsite of October 30 and October 31, 1805, was on an island off the Washington side of the Columbia, across from Cascade Locks, Oregon and upstream from the Bridge of the Gods. They spent two nights at this spot as they portaged across the trecherous "Lower Falls of the Columbia". This island is now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir, the waters behind the Bonneville Dam.

"... [From today's Wind River] passed maney large rocks in the river and a large creek on the Stard. Side [Rock Creek]   in the mouth of which is an Island, passed on the right of 3 Islands (on) near the Stard. Side, and landed on an Island close under the Stard. Side at the head of the great Shute [Cascade Rapids],   and a little below a village of 8 large houses on a Deep bend on the Stard. Side, and opposit 2 Small Islands imediately in the head of the Shute, ...   a wet disagreeable evening, the only wood we could get to burn on this little Island on which we have encamped is the newly discovered Ash, which makes a tolerable fire. we made fifteen miles to daye. ..."
[Clark, October 30, 1805]

"... towards evening we heared a great roaring a Short distance a head which we expect is another falls. we passed the mouth of a River which came in on the Stard. Side about 40 yards wide we passed a large Indian village on the Stard. Side a Short distance above the big Shoote. we Camped close above the Shoote. ..." [Ordway, October 30, 1805]

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was near the Little White Salmon River, and their campsite of November 1, 1805, was at Fort Rains.

Campsite of April 12, 1806 ...
On the return, Lewis and Clark camped in the same location as they did on October 30.

"... I had all the baggage taken across the portage & we formed a Camp at the place we had encamped on our way down. ..." [Clark, April 12, 1806]

"... We encamped, all excessively fatigued, at the upper end of the portage ..." [Gass, April 12, 1806]

Their previous campsite was near Fort Rains, and their campsite of April 13, 1806, was at the base of Dog Mountain, near the right bank of Dog Creek.

Image, 2004, Table Mountain from Bonneville Dam, North Bonneville, Washington click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Table Mountain and the Bonneville Landslide, Washington, as seen from Cascade Locks, Oregon. View towards the location of Lewis and Clark's campsites of October 30 and 31, 1805 and April 12, 1806, near Ashes Lake, Washington, at the upper end of the Bonneville Landslide. View from Thunder Island, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken November 4, 2004.

Ashes and Little Ashes Lake, etc.

  • Fishing the Lakes ...
  • Fort Gilliam and Fort Lugenbeel ...

Fishing the Lakes ...
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (2014):

"Ashes Lake, also known as Big Ash Lake, is a 54 acre lake approximately 25' deep. It is a backwater impoundment of the Columbia River. This lake is connected to the Columbia River by a series of culverts. While this lake is not stocked by WDFW, there are numerous species of fish. Access is difficult with minimal shore access and car top boat/raft/float tube opportunities only."

"Little Ash has been stocked with trout since the early 1950s. Currently it is stocked with cutthroat and rainbow trout. The lake is located about two miles west of Stevenson, along the north side of Highway SR-14. Open year-round, this lake is stocked with several thousand catchable-size rainbow trout, plus excess broodstock rainbows. Daily limit is five trout, with no more than two over 20 inches. A few bass are also present to add to this fisheries option during the warmer months. Limited shoreline access, car top/raft/float tubes only. The lake has issues with excessive vegetation and algae which can make fishing difficult at times. "

Fort Gilliam and Fort Lugenbeel ...
Fort Gilliam, an 1848 supply depot, and Fort Lugenbeel, an 1856 military blockhouse at the upper end of the Cascade Rapids, were located on the right bank of a "Deep bend" of the Columbia River, an area which today is known as Ashes Lake.

This area was known as the "Upper Cascades" or "Upper Landing" and Fort Lubenbeel was known as the "Upper Blockhouse".


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 30, 1805 ...

Clark, October 31, 1805 ...

Clark, April 12, 1806 ...

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

Sources:    see Cascade Rapids;    Plus:
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website, 2014;
  • Wegmann, K.W. (compiler), 2004, "Geologic Field Trip to the Aldercrest-Banyon Landslide and Mount St. Helens, Washington, Part I - Stevenson to Castle Rock", Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources, June 2004, Washington State Department of Natural Resources;

    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.
March 2014