Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Browns Island"
Includes ... Browns Island ... "Rabbit Island" ... "black rock" ... "Short Narrows" ... "The Dalles" ...
Image, 2005, Mount Hood and Browns Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Browns Island with Mount Hood in the distance. View from upstream on Washington State Highway 14. The location of the "Short Narrows" or "Tenmile Rapids" was on the Oregon side (left in image) of Browns Island. Image taken May 24, 2005.

Browns Island ...
Browns Island is located in the middle of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 198. Upstream on the Washington side is Avery and Wishram, and downstream on the Washington side is Horsethief Butte and the Columbia Hills State Park. On the Oregon side rises Kaser Ridge, a Columbia River Basalt flow. Browns Island itself was once a large massive basalt feature jutting into the Columbia. In 1957 it became an island by the rising waters of Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam. Lewis and Clark called this basalt feature "black rock".

Lewis and Clark and Browns Island ...
Lewis and Clark passed this "black rock", today's Browns Island, on October 24, 1805. Captain Clark climbed to the top to view the head of the trecherous rapids later known as the "Short Narrows" below.
"... here a tremendious <heigh> black rock Presented itself high and Steep appearing to choke up the river nor could I See where the water passed further than the Current was drawn with great velocity to the Lard Side of this rock at which place I heard a great roreing. I landed at the Lodges and the natives went with me to the top of this rock which makes from the Stard. Side; from the top of which I could See the dificuelties we had to pass for Several miles below; [Clark, October 24, 1805]

The location of the Short Narrows, later called "Tenmile Rapids", was on the Oregon side of Browns Island. The Short Narrows and the Long Narrows below it ("Fivemile Rapids") became known as a stretch of rapids called "The Dalles".

Early Browns Island ...
The 1861 cadastral survey map (tax map) for T2N 14E shows "Rabbit Island" in the location of today's Browns Island.

Views ...

Image, 2005, Browns Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Browns Island with Kaser Ridge behind, as seen from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken May 24, 2005.
Image, 2005, Browns Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Browns Island, as seen from upstream on Washington State Highway 14. Image taken May 24, 2005.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 24, 1805 ...

Clark, undated, winter of 1805-6 ...
"Estimated Distances in Miles Ascending the Missouri, Crossing the Rockey Mountains & decending the Kooskooskee [Clearwater River], Louises River [Snake River] and the Columbia River of the remarkable places and Latitud partially anexed. ...

[reformatted here from original entry, for information only]
  • Towahnahiooks River from the Lard Side 180 yd" [Deschutes River]
  • 4 miles to the Falls of the Columbia of 37 feet 8 ins near which is 40 Mat Lodges of the E-Nee-sher Nation [Celilo Falls]
  • 2 miles to the Short Narrows of 45 yds. wide ["Short Narrows", or Tenmile Rapids]
  • 4 miles to the E che lute Town of 21 large wood houses at the long narrows [head of the "Long Narrows", or Fivemile Rapids, Horsethief Lake area] of from 50 to 100 yds wide

Columbia PlateauReturn 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

  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management website, 2014;

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.
September 2008