Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Lady Island, Washington"
Includes ... Lady Island ... "Fowls Island" ... "White Brant Island" ... "Johnstone Island" ... "Frost Island" ... Camas Slough ...
Image, 2005, Lady Island, Washington, as seen from Washington Highway 14, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lady Island, upstream tip, Washougal, Washington. Lady Island as seen from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken May 1, 2005.

Lady Island ...
Lady Island is located near the northern shore of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 119, and is separated from the mainland Washington by the Camas Slough. Lady Island lies just upstream of Government Island and Vancouver, Washington, and downstream of Camas and Washougal. The Washougal River enters the Columbia behind the upper end of Lady Island, while across the Columbia on the Oregon shore is the mouth of the Sandy River. Today part of Lady Island is the location of a pulp mill, and Washington State Highway 14 crosses the island. The island is the property of Crown-Zellerback Corporation. Prune Hill, a cone of the Boring Lava Field, rises behind Lady Island. Good views of Lady Island can be seen from the Oregon side of the Columbia at Chinook Landing.

Lewis and Clark and Lady Island ...
Lewis and Clark passed the island in 1805. The originally called the island the "Isld. of Fowls", but on the return trip referred to the island as "White Brant Isld", or "whitebrant island", after the white lesser snow goose.

"... the head of a large Island Std. Side faced with rocks and the Side is pine & Cotton     a large Creek falls in opposit to the head of this Island Isld of Fowls as I Saw some 1000 pass over to the head of this Island on the Stard. Sd. ...     Passed the lower point of the Island at 3 1/2 miles long & 1 1/2 wide -- emence quantity of Geese, Brants, Ducks & Sea otter, Some of the large & Small kind of Swan, & Sand hill Cranes -- also luns & White gulls ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805, first draft]

Lewis and Clark's draft map called the island "Fowls I." [Moulton, vol.1, map#88] while their journey map referred to the island first as "Brant I." (which they scratched out), and then as "White Brant Isld." [map#79].

Early Lady Island ...
In October, 1792, Lieutenant William Broughton, of Captain George Vancouver's expedition, visited and named Lady Island "Johnstone Island", and stated it was 3 miles long with a "bold, rocky shore".

Lewis and Clark passed the island in 1805. The originally called the island the "Isld. of Fowls", but on the return trip referred to the island as "White Brant Isld", or "whitebrant island", after the white lesser snow goose.

In 1841, Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition called the island "Frost Island" and noted it was 2 miles long.

"... The course of the Columbia above Vancouver is to the southward and eastward. Its average width is three-quarters of a mile; this includes the islands which ave been formed by its deposits and serve to contract its channel. From Point McLaughlin to Frost Island, a distance of 10 miles, the river is nearly straight, and the channel is along the north shore. The hills which bordered the river prairies below, here approach the bank. Along the south shore lie Smith, Rower, Sandy, and Douglass Islands. The water is too shallow for even small vessels to use the passage between the islands and the south shore. Boats and barges may pass through. The channel passes from the north to the south shore, between Douglass and Frost Islands, and again seeks the north shore beyond Frost Island, between it and Bachelet Island, the river changing its course more to the eastward. Frost Island is 2 miles long; it lies near the north shore. Abreast of it the river is one-third of a mile wide. To the north of the east end of Frost Island is Evert's Bay, nearly circular, a mile in diameter. ..."

An 1857 cadastral survey (tax survey) for T1N R3E shows a "Goodwin" house on the east tip of Lady Island. The island is not named.

An 1863 cadastral survey has "Goodwin" written in pencil (?) in the middle of the island. Again, the island is not named.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records, show a William Goodwin and Catherine Goodwin being issued a land title for 403.93 acres on February 25, 1864, for parts of T1N R3E of "Lady Island", under the 1850 "Oregon-Donation Act".

An 1888 plat map of "Clarke County, Washington Territory" shows W. Goodwin and Eli Davis with a Donation Land Claim (DLC) ON "LADY'S ISLAND". Joseph Lady was not listed on the island. His DLC was shown further north in Fern Prairie.

Sheep grazed on Lady Island in 1897.

"The Dalles City took down a flock of sheep belonging to Mr. Ketchum this morning. They will be pastured in Lady's Island oppostie the town of La Camas." ["The Dalles Daily Chronicle", July 20, 1897, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2018]

An undated plat map from presumably between 1915 and 1925 shows "Pittock & Leadbeter Co." located on the north shore of "Lady Island".

The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Lady Island" the official name in 1914. Other spellings in use at the time were "Ladys Island" or "Lady's Island".

Early Maps ...

1856, Cadastral Survey detail, Lady Island and Washougal, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
1856 cadastral survey (tax survey) map show parts of Lady Island and Washougal. Cadastral Map for T1N R3E, 1856. Original map courtesy U.S. Bureau of Land Managament, 2016.
Topo map detail, 1918, Troutdale, Oregon, click to enlarge
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1918 Topographic map detail, Troudale, Oregon. Map shows the Columbia River south to Troutdale, Oregon, and includes Lady Island, Fairview and Blue Lakes, Sundial Lake, Company Lake, the Sandy River and the Little Sandy River, and Gary Island. U.S. Geological Survey 1:62,000 "Troutdale Quadrangle".

Who is the "Lady" in Lady Island ??? ...
Robert Hitchman wrote in "Place Names of Washington" (1985, Washington State Historical Society):

"Lady Island ... Island in Columbia River near its north bank, directly south of Camas, southeast Clark County. In 1792, Lieut. W.R. Broughton of the Vancouver Expedition named it Johnstone Island; and, in 1805, it was called White Brant Island by Lewis and Clark. The present name is for Joseph Lady, who came here in 1853 from Missouri, at one time he had a land claim on the island. Now it is the property of Crown-Zellerbach Corp."

HOWEVER, there are two problems with Lady Island being named after Joseph Lady.

First ... cadastral surveys (tax surveys) and Donation Land Claims show Joseph Lady's land claim being miles north of Lady Island in Township 2 (Fern Prairie), while Lady Island is miles south in Township 1.

  • The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's 1863 cadastral survey (tax survey) for T2N R3E shows "J. Lady" having a claim for 320.10 acres of parts of Sections 22, 23, 26, and 27, with the majority of the property being in Section 23.

  • The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database shows the Heirs of Joseph Lady and Nancy Lady being issued a land title for 320.1 acres on September 27, 1865, for T2N R3E, Sections 22, 23, 26, and 27, under the 1850 "Oregon-Donation Act". This plots out to an area in Fern Prairie, four miles north of Lady's Island, between Green Mountain on the north to Lacamas Lake on the south.

Second ... Lady Island was called "Lady's Island" in an 1851 report, two years before the Lady family arrived in the area.

  • The Joseph Lady family arrived in the area (Fern Prairie) in 1853. According to the obituary of Joseph Lady's daughter, Jane Jamison:

    "The body of Mrs. Jane Jamison, an Oregon pioneer, who died Sunday at Vancouver, will be buried in the city cemetery of Vancouver, Wash., tomorrow. Mrs. Jamison was born in St. Joseph, Mo., May 4, 1837. She came to Oregon in 1853 with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lady. They first lived at Fern Prairie, where she was married to James Jamison January 7, 1855. ..." ["Morning Oregonian", May 13, 1919, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2018]

  • Lady Island was mentioned in an 1851 report requesting a road be established from Vancouver to the Cascades, with a short road leading down to "Goodwin's Ferry on the head of Lady's island." Joseph Lady arrived in the area in 1853, two years later.

    Early History Interesting.

    "The road from Vancouver to Camas and eastward is one of the oldest in that section of the state, as attested by the official minutes of meetings of the county commissioners, recently dug out of the files at the Clarke county courthouse by County Engineer Schwartz and published in the Vancouver Columbian. On page 1, book 1 of the road records, under date of July 7, 1851, is found first mention of the road ...

    "July 7, 1851. It is ordered that a road be viewed from Columbia City (the city of Vancouver was so known at that time to distinguish it from Fort Vancouver) to the Cascades, whereupon S.D. Dixon, John Brown and Milton Hamilton were appointed viewers thereof. Signed -- William Simmons, William Goodman, commissioners."

    "The report being received by the court, the viewers report it being most of the way impossible at present to construct a road to the Cascades; thereupon the court ordered to open and locate the said road as it was viewed from Columbia City (Vancouver) as far as Joseph Gibbons, at or near Cape Horn mountain."

    "A petition was presented by Silas D. Maxon, with 20 petitioners, praying for a road commencing at Columbia City and leading towards the Cascades, terminating at the head of the bottom land known as Ough's, and also for a road intersecting said road at some convenient point leading to the landing at Goodwin's ferry on the head of Lady's Island."

    Source:    "Sunday Oregonian", January 23, 1921, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, Univeristy of Oregon Libraries, 2016.

Views ...

Image, 2004, Prune Hill, Washington, from Chinook Landing, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Base of Prune Hill and Lady Island, from Chinook Landing, Oregon. Prune Hill is one of the cones of the Boring Lava Field. Lady Island is the low trees in the middleground. Image taken October 11, 2004.
Image, 2004, Lady Island, Washington, from Chinook Landing, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lady Island and parts of Camas, Washington, as seen from Chinook Landing, Oregon. View from Chinook Landing Marine Park, just off of Marine Drive. Camas, Washington, is towards the right. Image taken October 11, 2004.

Lady Island, etc.

  • Camas Slough ...
  • Flood of 1894 ...
  • Lady Island in 1908 ...
  • Lady Island in 1915 ...
  • View from Airliner ...

Camas Slough ...
Camas Slough separates Lady Island from Camas, Washington.

Image, 2006, Camas Slough, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Camas Slough, Washington. The Camas Slough separates Lady Island (right) from Camas, Washington (left). View from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken July 2, 2006.

Flood of 1894 ...

"The little town of La Camas, on the Washington side, above Vancovuer, is having its full share of high water trouble. Work has been suspended at the paper mill, the flat north of town is many feet under water, and the boundary of the flood is now on a line of McMaster's store, which the water just reaches. From the steps in front of Cowan's store, opposite the mill, crizens now put in their spare hours fishing, and make good hauls of trout and other fish. The first floor of the residence of Supt. West, of the paper mill, is under five feet of water, and the family has been obliged to seek safer and more comfortable quarters. Another loss to Mr. and Mrs. West was the destruction of their handsome garden of flowers, the pride of all La Camas. The steamer Ione now makes its landings immediately in front of the La Camas hotel.

Lady's island, in front of the town, is completely submerged, and steamers cross and recross the water over the island. The buildings on the island have all been securely anchored, and residents have deserted their homes for safer quarters."

Source:    "The Daily Astorian", June 12, 1894, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, Unviversity of Oregon Libraries, 2016.


Lady Island in 1908 ...
Mr. and Mrs. Eli Davis Celebrate Golden Wedding Anniversary.

"Mr. and Mrs. Eli Davis celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary recently at the home of their daughter, on the Columbia River near Camas. They were among the pioneers of Oregon and Washington, coming from Illinois in 1880. They resided a short time in Portland, and then purchased Lady's Island, in the Columbia River, residing there ten years. After disposing of their home, they purchased a dwelling in Vancouver, Wash., where they lived 15 years. For the last three years they have lived in their cottage home."

Source:    "Sunday Oregonian", September 20, 1908, courtesy University of Oregon Historical Newspaper archives, 2015.

Lady Island in 1915 ...
Portland Flotilla to Go Up Columbia for Labor Day Outing.

"Final arrangements for the Labor Day cruise of the Portland Motorboat Club will be completed at a meeting of the club members Tuesday evening. Lady Island, 12 miles above Vancouver, Wash., on the Columbia River, will be the destination of the local motorboat enthusiasts September 4, 5, and 6.

The boats will leave the club moorings Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning with the entire flotilla, returning to Portland Monday night. Lady Island is considered one of the best camping grounds near Porland."

Source:    "Morning Oregonian", August 28, 1915, courtesy University of Oregon Historical Newspaper archives, 2015.

View from Airliner ...

Image, 2012, Fairview and Blue Lakes, Government Islands, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fairview Lake (foreground) and Blue Lake (behind), with McGuire, Government, and Ackerman Islands (middle left) and Lady Island (middle right) on the Columbia. View from airliner heading towards PDX. Mid afternoon, clouds, gray, and drizzle. Image taken April 24, 2012.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 3, 1805, first draft ...
The fog So thick this morning we did not think it prudent to Set out [from their camp at Rooster Rock] untill <it Cleared away at> 10 oClock we Set out and proceeded on verry well, accompanied by our Indian friends- ...     The water rose <2> Inches last night the effects of tide. The Countrey has a handsom appearance in advance no mountains extensive bottoms- the water Shallow for a great distance from Shore-. The fog continued thick untill 12 oClock, we Coasted, and halted at the mouth of a large river on the Lard Side [Sandy River], This river throws out emence quanty of <quick> Sand and is verry Shallow, th narrowest part 200 yards wide bold Current, much resembling the river Plat, Several Islands about 1 mile up and has a Sandbar of 3 miles in extend imedately in its mouth, discharging it waters by 2 mouths, and Crowding its Corse Sands So as to throw the Columbia waters on its Nothern banks, & confdg it to ms. in width Passed a Small Prarie on the Stard. Side above [location of Washougal, Washington, Cottonwood Beach, and William Clark Park], a large Creek [Washougal River] opposit qk Sand River [Sandy River] on the Stard. Side, extensive bottoms and low hilley Countrey on each Side (good wintering Place) a high peaked mountain Suppose to be Mt. Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] is on the Lard Side S. 85 E. 40 miles distant from the mouth of quick Sand river [Sandy River]. ...

West 3 miles to the upper mouth of quick Sand <mountain> river [Sandy River], Country low on each Side rising to a hilley Countrey passed a large Creek opposit Std. Side [Washougal River] & 2 Sand bars

S. 70 W. 7 miles to the upper point of a large Island [Government Island] Covered with [blank]     passed the Lower mouth of Sandy river [Sandy River] at 3 miles opposit the head of a large Island Std. Side faced with rocks and the <edge> Side is pine & Cotton a large Creek falls in [Washougal River] oppost to the head of this Island Isld of Fowls [Lady Island] as I Saw Som 1000 pass over to the head of this Island on the Stard Sd. passed Some ruged rocks in the middle of the river opposit the Island- river wide The Countrey below quick Sand river [Sandy River] on the Lard Side is low Piney Countrey [eastern end of the Columbia Slough, located on the floodplain of the Willamette River and the Columbia]. Passed the lower point of the Island [Lady Island] at 3 miles long & 1 wide- emence quantity of Geese, Brants, Ducks & Sea otter, Some of the large & Small kind of Swan, & Sand hill Cranes-also luns & White gulls

S. 87 W. 3 miles on the North Side of the Island [Government Island] and Encamped ...     we Camped on the Island, and Sent out hunters on it and Capt. Lewis walked out, after Dark Capt. Lewis with 3 men went into a large Pond on this Island & killed a Swan & Several ducks. ...

Clark, November 3, 1805 ...

Gass, November 3, 1805 ...
The morning was foggy: one of the men went out and killed a fine buck. At 9 we proceeded on, but could not see the country we were passing, on account of the fog, which was very thick till noon when it disappeared, and we had a beautiful day. We at that time came to the mouth of a river on the south side [Sandy River], a quarter of a mile broad, but not more than 6 or 8 inches deep, running over a bar of quicksand. At this place we dined on venison and goose; and from which we can see the high point of a mountain covered with snow, in about a southeast direction from us [Mount Hood, Oregon]. Our Commanding Officers are of opinion that it is Mount Hood, discovered by a Lieutenant of Vancoover, who was up this river 75 miles. The river that falls in here [Sandy River] has two mouths, through which it drives out a considerable quantity of sand into the Columbia. Opposite the lower mouth there is a handsome island [Lady Island]. At 2 o'clock we proceeded on, and passed another island [part of the Government Island complex]. The country on both sides appears level and closely timbered: on the river the timber is cotton wood, maple and some ash; and back from it mostly spruce pine. We made 13 miles and encamped on a large island [Government Island], in which is a large pond full of swans, geese and ducks. On our way and here we killed some of each kind. At night, Captain Lewis had a small canoe carried over to the pond in order to hunt by moon light; but the party did not happen to have good luck, having killed only a swan and three ducks.

Clark, March 31, 1806 ...

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;
  • "Rootsweb.com" website, 2007, Clark County;
  • University of Oregon Historical Newspaper archives, 2015;
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management website, 2007;
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office (GLO) Records database, 2006;
  • U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 2006;
  • Washington State Historical Society website, "Lasting Legacy", 2004;

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.
November 2016