Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Miller Island, Washington"
Includes ... Miller Island ...
Image, 2004, Miller Island, downstream tip, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Miller Island, Washington, as seen from downstream on Washington State Highway 14. Image taken April 24, 2004.

Miller Island ...
Miller Island is located in Washington State, directly across the the Deschutes River, Oregon. Haystack Butte and the Columbia Hills rise above Miller Island on the Washington side of the Columbia. Maryhill Museum is located slightly upstream, and presents good views of the upsteam end of Miller Island. Miller Island stretches between Columbia River Mile (RM) 203 and 205.

Lewis and Clark and Miller Island ...
Lewis and Clark first passed Miller Island on October 22, 1805, while journeying down the Columbia River towards the Pacific Ocean.

"... at 9 mls. passed a bad rapid at the head of a large Island of high, uneaven [rocks], jutting over the water, a Small Island in a Stard. Bend opposit the upper point, on which I counted 20 parcels of dryed and pounded fish; on the main Stard Shore opposit to this Island five Lodges of Indians are Situated Several Indians in Canoes killing fish with gigs, <and nets> &c. opposit the center of this Island of rocks which is about 4 miles long we discovered the enterence of a large river on the Lard. Side which appeared to Come from the S. E. ..." [Clark, October 22, 1805]

On their return, on April 21, 1806, the men camp on the Washington side of the Columbia just across from Miller Island's western tip. They then pass by the island while traveling overland on April 22, 1806, however they make no mention of any island in their journals. Patrick Gass, traveling by canoe, passed Miller Island on April 21, 1806, and mentions a "large rock island". Gass also refers to the Deschutes River as the "Sho-sho-ne river".

"... The party that went by land had to leave the river, and take out to the hill a part of the way. I crossed with my canoe to the south side, where there is the best water, and passed a large rock island, opposite to which the Sho-sho-ne river flows in from the south. ..." [Gass, April 21, 1806]

Early Miller Island ...
Miller Island lies in T2N R15E, and includes parts of Sections 13, 14, 15, 22, and 23.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, Thomas J. Miller was granted title to 160.75 acres of T2N R15E, Section 14, on February 20, 1895 (1873 Timber Culture), 164.50 acres of T2N R15E, Section 15 on August 18, 1897 (1820 Sale-Cash Entry), and 81 acre of Section 13 on (1820 Sale-Cash Entry). Thomas J. Miller was also granted title to 174.09 acres of T2N R15E, Section 22 on November 24, 1899 (1862 Homestead EntryOriginal).

The GLO database also shows Joseph J. Miller being granted title to 132.15 acres of T2N R15E, Section 23, on August 25, 1903 (1862 Homestead EntryOriginal).

The 1913 Klickitat County plat map for T2N R15E (courtesy "rootsweb.com") shows Thomas J. Miller, Sr., and Joseph J. Miller, having Donation Land Claims (DLC) on Miller Island.

Lake Celilo ...
In 1957 parts of Miller Island were submerged beneath the rising waters of Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam.

Miller Island Today ...
Today Miller Island is located within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and is a favorite paddling destination. The island is only accessible by boat. According to the U.S. Forest Service website (2016), in 2010 Miller Island was closed to overnight camping, open fires, and metal detecting.

"Miller Island is closed to overnight camping, open fires, and metal detecting. A closure order has been placed on these activities and is enforceable by fines. " [U.S. Forest Service website, 2016]

View from airliner ...

Image, 2012, Miller Island to the John Day Dam, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Columbia River from Miller Island (far left) to the John Day Dam (right), including the Deschutes River drainage and the wind turbines on the hills below Goldendale, Washington, as seen from airliner heading towards PDX. Mid afternoon, clouds, gray, and drizzle. Image taken April 24, 2012.

Views ...

Penny Postcard, Maryhill Museum, Miller Island, Washington
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Maryhill Museum and Miller Island, Washington.
Penny Postcard, Real Photo, Divided Back, "Maryhill Museum of Fine Arts On the Columbia River, Maryhill, Washington". Card #40. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2004, Miller Island from road to the Deschutes, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Miller Island, Washington, from road to the mouth of the Deschutes River, Oregon. Image taken March 20, 2004.
Image, 2005, Miller Island, as seen from Maryhill Museum, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Upstream end of Miller Island as seen from Maryhill Museum, Washington. Image taken May 24, 2005.

Miller Island, etc.

  • Geology ...
  • Miller ...
  • Petroglyphs and Pictographs ...

Geology ...
(to come)

Miller ...
Miller, Oregon, is a railway station located at Columbia River Mile (RM) 205. It was first known as "Deschutesville" and then "Fultonville" before being known as "Miller". In 1922 it became the location for the Miller Post Office.

According to "Oregon Geographic Names" (2003, McArthur and McArthur):

"Miller (SHERMAN) ... Miller was the railroad station and community on the south bank of the Columbia River just east of Deschutes River. It was named for C.S. Miller, an early settler who built and operated the Miller Bridge across Deschutes River. There is a Miller Island in the Columbia River, but it is in Klickitat County, Washington.

The early emigrants forded Deschutes River near its mouth where it was shallow, but, as traffic increased, other facilities were needed. Nathan Olney started the first ferry in 1853. In 1854, he sold the ferry to William Nix, who built the first bridge in 1858 or 1859. This bridge was washed out in the big flood of 1861, and the following year Nix relocated upstream two miles, where he again operated a ferry. Stephen Cottin also had a ferry site farther upstream, and Nix then built a second bridge near his location. In 1864, James Fulton and others built a bridge at the mouth of the river near Nix's original site, but this lasted only two years. Miller built his bridge in 1867, and it carried traffic until 1920, when the highway bridge on the new US-30 was opened. Prior to 1920, tolls were charged at all these crossings. This was the impetus for the construction in 1880 of the "Free Bridge" some 8 or 10 miles upstream on the Deschutes River.

The locality of Miller has had several names at various times. It was once called Deschutesville and later Fultonville in compliment to Col. James Fulton of Sherman County. Miller post office was established in 1922 by change of name and location from Moody. It was closed in 1953. Miller railroad station was established in 1917 to replace the 1881 OR&N station Des Chutes that was west of the river mouth."

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database (2019) shows Charles S. Miller being granted title to 9.40 acres of T2N R15 E, Section 23, on September 11, 1894 (1820 Sale-Cash Entry). The database also shows Mary E. Miller being granted title to 92.15 acres in the same area (T2N R15E, Section 23) on June 13, 1893 (1820 Sale-Cash Entry).

Both of the Miller Donation Land Claims (DLC) listed above were located near the mouth of the Deschutes River, whereas modern topographic maps show today's "Miller" located one mile further upstream, in Section 24.

Petroglyphs and Pictographs ...
Downstream from Miller Island is Horsethief Butte and Horsethief Lake, both now a part of the Columbia Hills State Park. This park is the location of the "Tamani Pesh-wa Trail", an ADA friendly boardwalk trail bordered by petroglyphs and pictographs removed from "Petroglyph Canyon" and Miller Island before the rising waters behind The Dalles Dam submerged them. One petroglyph and one pictogram were saved from Miller Island.

Klickitat County, 45KL62:    In 1977-1978, Richard H. McClure, Jr. compiled a database of 235 rock art sites thoughout the State of Washington.

45 KL 62:

"The Steward Site. Located in the SE 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of Section 14, and the NW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of Section 13, T2N, R15E, this site is on the south central shore of Miller's Island. Pictographs in association with seven burials are reported at the base of basalt cliffs.

The red and white pictographs were partially destroyed by removal of a portion of cliff for road fill for Interstate 80 [now Interstate 84]. It is uncertain what types of figures were destroyed. Of the remaining figures is a large and bizarre stylized anthropomorph. Other pictographs have reportedly been buried by drifting sand. A large rock fragment currently displayed with petroglyphs from site 45 KL 87 at The Dalles Dam [now on display at Columbia Hills State Park, formerly Horsethief Butte State Park] is from this site. On the rock are red pictographs representing an anthropomorph with rayed head and a quadruped. ..."

Source:    Richard H. McClure, Jr., 1978, "An Archaeological Survey of Petroglyph and Pictograph Sites in the State of Washington": The Evergreen State College, Archaeological Reports of Investigation, No.1.

Image, 2011, Pictographs, Horsethief Lake Park, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pictograph block which was removed from Miller Island site 45KL62 and is now on display at Horsethief Lake Park (Columbia Hills State Park), Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.
Image, 2011, Petroglyph, Horsethief Lake Park, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Petroglyph block which was removed from Miller Island. Now on display at Horsethief Lake Park (Columbia Hills State Park), Washington. Image taken October 15, 2011.

"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

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

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 22, 1805 ...

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

  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, "Oregon Geographic Names", Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • O'Connor, J.E., Dorsey, R.J., and Madin, I.P., 2009, "Volcanoes to Vineyards: Geologic Field Trips Through the Dynamic Landscape, Geological Society of America;
  • "rootsweb.com" website, Klickitat County, Jeffrey L. Elmer, 2016;
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office (GLO) Records database, 2016;

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