Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Chinook River, Washington"
Includes ... Chinook River ... "Wap-pa-loo-che River" ...
Image, 2004, Chinook River, looking upstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Chinook River, looking upstream. Image taken April 9, 2004.

Chinook River ...
The Chinook River is a small salmon bearing stream in Southwest Washington that flows into Baker Bay at approximately River Mile (RM) 6, three miles (as the crow flies) upstream of Ilwaco, Washington, and four miles (along the shoreline) from Chinook Point. Just downstream from the Chinook River is the Wallacut River. The Chinook Indians controlled trade on the Columbia from their village on the north shore; during the winter they migrated to Willapa Bay, protected from southwesterly storms. The name "Chinook" came from the Chehalis Indian name for the Chinook summer village, "cinuk." A hybrid version of the Chinook language came to be known as the Chinook jargon, the language of maritime and river traders.

Chinook River Drainage ...
According to the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website (2004), the Chinook River drains a small watershed of approximately 13.60 square miles. Conifer forests dominate land cover in the upper watershed while grassland dominates the lower river. Elevations range from 0 to just under 1,400 feet above sea level but the vast majority of land area lies between 0 and 200 feet above sea level.

"Wap-pa-loo-che River" ...
Edmund S. Meany wrote in his "Origin of Washington Geographic Names" (1923, University of Washington):

"A small stream flowing into Baker Bay has been mapped a number of times as Chinook River, while others use Wappalooche as its name. James G. Swan says: "which would carry us down the Wappalooche, or Chinook River, to its mouth." (Northwest Coast, 1857, page 98.)"

From the 1858 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot":

"... Baker's Bay lies between Cape Disappointment and Chinook Point. It runs 2 1/2 miles to the northward of the cape, and receives the waters of the small streams which head toward Shoalwater bay, and connect with it by a small portage. The western and largest stream is the Wal-la-khut; the eastern, half-way between the cape and Chinook Point, is the Wap-pa-loo-che. ..."

From the 1862 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot":

"... Baker's Bay -- This is the deep recession of the shore to the northward of Sand Island between the extremity of Cape Disappointment and Chinook Point. The western shore of this bay is the east side of the Cape for nearly three miles in a general northerly direction; thence the shore sweeps to the eastward and southeastward for six miles to Chinook Point. The latter stretch of shore is low, bordered by extensive marshes, and receives the waters of the Wallacut and the Chinook Rivers. The Wallacut River (Wal-la-khut) enters at the northernmost bend of the bay shore; it is a small stream coming through marshes from the direction of Shoalwater Bay, which it very nearly reaches. The Chinook River (Wap-pa-loo-chee) enters two miles farther to the eastward; it has more character of a slough, three or four miles long. ..."

Views ...

Image, 2004, Chinook River, looking downstream towards mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Chinook River, looking downstream towards mouth. Image taken April 9, 2004.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 18, 1805 ...

Ordway, November 18, 1805 ...
Cloudy. Capt. Clark myself and 10 more of the party Set out [from their camp at Station Camp] in order to go down and see the passiffic ocean [Pacific Ocean]. we proceeded on round Hailys bay [Bakers Bay] crossed two Rivers [Chinook River and Wallacut River] in Sd. bay [Bakers Bay] . ...     we proceeded on round high clifts of rocks where we had much trouble to pass.- towards evening we arived at the Cape disapointment [Cape Disappointment] on the Sea Shore. went over a bald hill [McKenzie Head] where we had a handsom view of the ocean. we went on a Short distance on the coast and Camped for the night.

Clark, November 19, 1805 ...

Journey to the PacificReturn 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

  • Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website, 2004;
  • Meany, E.S., 1923, "Origin of Washington Geographic Names", University of Washington;
  • NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2004;
  • Washington State Historical Society website, 2004, "Lasting Legacy";

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