Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Cottonwood Island, Washington"
Includes ... Cottonwood Island ... Carrolls Channel ...
Image, 2003, Mouth of the Cowlitz River with Cottonwood Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mouth of the Cowlitz River, Washington, with Cottonwood Island on the right. Image taken August 2, 2003.

Cottonwood Island ...
Cottonwood Island is located near the Washington side of the Columbia River and stretches between Columbia River Miles (RM) 68 and 71.5. The island helps define the mouth of the Cowlitz River. Cottonwood Island is separated from the Washington shore by Carrolls Channel and Carrolls Bluff rises alongside. Downstream are the Washington communities of Longview and Kelso and upstream is the community of Kalama. Across from Cottonwood Island, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, is the Oregon community of Rainier and the small community of Prescott.

Lewis and Clark and Cottonwood Island ...
Lewis and Clark passed Cottonwood Island on November 6, 1805, on their way to the Pacific Ocean.

"... a bold rockey Shore on the Lard Side, opsd. the upper point of a Island [Cottonwood Island] close under the Stard Side the high lands closeing the river on that Side ..." [Clark, November 6, 1805, first draft]

"... the head of a long narrow Island close under the Starboard Side, back of this Island two Creeks fall in about 6 miles apart,> ..." [Clark, November 6, 1805]

On their return, Lewis and Clark pass by Cottonwood Island on March 27, 1806.

Early Cottonwood Island ...
Lieutenant William Broughton of the Captain George Vancouver Expedition passed by Cottonwood Island on October 27, 1792. "Knights River" is today's Cowlitz River.

"... The northern shore. instead of being the steepest, now consisted of low, flat, sandy, shores, through which, ... two other streams fell into it. The westernmost was named River Poole, and the easternmost Knight's River; this last is the largest of the two; its entrance indicated its being extensive, ... After dinner the party proceeded up the reach, extending S. 18 E. passing a low sandy island at its entrance against a very strong stream; ..." [Broughton, October 27, 1792]

Lewis and Clark passed Cottonwood Island on November 6, 1805, on their way to the Pacific Ocean, and then again on March 27, 1806, on their return.

In 1841, Wilkes, of the U.S. Exploring Expedition called the island by the Indian name, Kanem, meaning "canoe".

"... Kanem Island lies 1 mile above the mouth of the Cowlitz, on the northern shore, is 1 1/2 miles long, and one-sixth of a mile wide. The channel runs on the south side. ..." [Wilkes, Chapter XVI]

Cottonwood Island was changed to the present name by the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey for the abundant growth of cottonwood trees on the island. The 1888 navigation chart, "Columbia River Sheet No.4, Grim's Island to Kalama" shows "Cottonwood I.".

Views ...

Image, 2006, Cottonwood Island and Carrolls Bluff, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cottonwood Island (left) and Carrolls Bluff (right). View heading north on Interstate 5. Image taken August 12, 2006.
Image, 2016, Cottonwood Island and Carrolls Bluff, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cottonwood Island, Washington, as seen from Prescott Beach, Oregon. Image taken September 9, 2016.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 6, 1805, first draft ...

Clark, November 6, 1805 ...

Vancouver PlainsReturn 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

  • Hitchman, R., 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society;
  • NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2005;

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 2016