Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Cliff Point and Hungry Harbor, Washington"
Includes ... Cliff Point ... Hungry Harbor ... Megler Point ... Campsite of November 10-11, 1805 ...
Image, 2004, Megler Point and Hungry Harbor, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hungry Harbor and Megler Point, as seen from Cliff Point. Image taken April 9, 2004.

Cliff Point ...
Cliff Point is located at Columbia River Mile (RM) ____, and is at the upstream end of Hungry Harbor. Upstream is the small Washington community of Knappton and Grays Point.

Hungry Harbor ...
Hungry Harbor is a small cove located at Columbia River Mile (RM) _____, upstream of Megler Point and downstream of Cliff Point. Hungry Harbor was the location of Lewis and Clark's camp of November 10th and 11th, 1805. On the downstream side of Hungry Harbor and Megler Point is Megler Cove, the location of Lewis and Clark's "Dismal Nitch" camp of November 12th and 13th, 1805. Further downstream is Point Ellice, McGowan, Washington, and "Station Camp", where Lewis and Clark spent 10 days. On the upstream side of Hungry Harbor and Cliff Point is located the "ghost town" of Knappton. Further upstream is Grays Point and Grays Bay.

Campsite of November 10-11, 1805 ...
On the morning of November 10, 1805, Lewis and Clark left their camp at Portuguese Point (which they called "Cape Swell") and continued downstream 10 miles until high winds and waves turned them around. Backtracking for 2 miles, the men pulled into what is today known as "Hungry Harbor", at the mouth "of a small run". There they unloaded and waited for calmer waters. When the weather calmed a bit, the men set off once more and made it one mile downstream before high waves once again forced them to shore.

"... as our Situation became Seriously dangerous, we took the advantage of a low tide & moved our Camp around a point a Short distance to a Small wet bottom at the mouth of a Small Creek, which we had not observed when we first Came to this Cove, from its being very thick and obscured by drift trees & thick bushes ..." [Clark, November 12, 1805, first draft]

For the next 2 nights (November 10 and 11) the men camped on the logs along the shoreline, occasionally being floated with high tide, and continually being pelted by rain and pounding waves. The slope behind them was becoming saturated and sliding down on them. Finally on November 12, the men took advantage of low tide and moved 1/2 mile around Megler Point to "a small brook" now called "Megler Cove". Lewis and Clark would come to call this campsite "Dismal Nitch".

Early Hungry Harbor ...
Edmund S. Meany wrote in "Origin of Washington Geographic Names" (1923, University of Washington Press):

"Hungry Harbor ... a bay on the north bank of the Columbia River, east of Megler, in Pacific County. Fishermen claim that seven men drifted into the bay and starved to death. It is an ideal shelter for small boats and fishermen frequently anchor there to eat their meals, which may be another origin of the name."

Robert Hitchman wrote in "Place Names of Washington" (1985, Washington State Historical Society):

"Hungry Harbor (T9N R10W, Sec.13) ... Harbor on the Columbia River, 1/2 mile northeast of Megler, southwest Pacific County. The name derives from a legend, stating that 7 men drifted into this harbor in a disabled boat and starved to death. An alternative version of the name source is based on the habit of fishermen who found the harbor ideal for anchoring at mealtime."

In the early 1850s Scottish-born John West settled on the lower Columbia River where he built and ran a sawmill. About 1857 West began salting salmon in barrels and in 1869 he built the first cannery on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. In 1881 West moved his cannery to Hungry Harbor.

Penny Postcard, Hungry Harbor
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Hungry Harbor.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back, "Hungry Harbor". Columbia View Cards, Ocean Park, Wa. Color by John F. McNamara. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Caption on back: "Old fish-net drying docks near Knappton, Washington, at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River."

Views ...

Image, 2007, Cliff Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Cliff Point, from the west. Image taken October 13, 2007.
Image, 2004, Hungry Harbor with Megler Point in the distance, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hungry Harbor with Megler Point in the distance, as seen from Cliff Point. Image taken April 9, 2004.

"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards". The "Penny Postcard" became a popular way to send greetings to friends and family. The Penny Postcard today has become a snapshot of history.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 10, 1805 ...
S. 45 W. 10 Miles to a Point Distress [Point Ellice] on the Std. side passed a Deep nitch and Six iner points on the Stard Side. the Shore bold and rockey. mountains high on the Stard and thickly Covered with timber principally of the pine kind. wind rose Swills high we encamped at 9 miles in a Small nitch 6 days [two days near Hungry Harbor and 3 days at Megler Cove]. rained &c. a deep bay on the Lard Sid opposit. The Countrey high to the river above the bay on the opposit Side."

Gass, November 10, 1805 ...
We had a rainy morning, but the wind was not so high as it had been yesterday; and we set out from Cape Swell [Portuguese Point], coasted along 8 miles, passed some high cliffs of sandy rocks, and then came to a point [Megler Point]; where we found the swells so high, the wind having risen, that we could not proceed; so we had to return back about a mile to get a safe harbour [Hungry Harbor]. Here we dined on some pounded salmon, that we had procured from the Indians; and unloaded our canoes. After we had been here about 2 hours, it became more calm, and we loaded the canoes again, but could not get round the point [Megler Point], the swells were still so high; we therefore put too at a branch of fresh water [near Hungry Harbor], under high cliffs of rocks and unloaded again. Here we scarcely had room to lie between the rocks and water; but we made shift to do it among some drift wood that had been beat up by the tide. It rained hard all night, and was very disagreeable. While on our way down today, we saw some porpoises, sea otter [Harbor Seals or Sea Lions] and a great many sea gulls. The water is become very salt.

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

  • Hay, K.G., 2004, "The Lewis and Clark Columbia River Water Trail", Timber Press, Portland;
  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019;
  • Hitchman, R., 1985, "Place Names of Washington, Washington Historical Society;
  • Meany, E.S., 1923, "Origin of Washington Geographic Names", University of Washington Press, Seattle;
  • U.S. National Park Service website, 2004, Fort Clatsop National Monument;

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