Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Wallacut River, Washington"
Includes ... Wallacut River ... Clark's Campsite of November 19, 1805 ...
Image, 2005, Wallacut River looking upstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wallacut River, Washington, looking upsteam. View from Stringtown Road Bridge. Image taken April 19, 2005.

Wallacut River ...
The mouth of the Wallacut River enters Baker Bay just upstream of Ilwaco, Washington, and downstream of the Chinook River and Chinook Point. The name "Wallacut" is from the Indian "Walihut" meaning "place of stones". The north side of the river near its mouth is lined with small smooth stones. The Hudson's Bay Company used the short three-mile stream as a portage to Willapa Bay.

Clark's Campsite of November 19, 1805 ...
Captain Clark and a crew of 11 had journed to the Pacific Ocean and hiked up the long sandy beach to a point near today's Long Beach, Washington, turned around and headed back to Station Camp. They spent the night of November 19, 1805 on the upstream bank of the Wallacut River, which they mistakenly called the Chinook River.

"... I proceeded through over a land S E with Some Ponds to the bay distance about 2 miles, thence up to the mouth of Chinnook river 2 miles, crossed this little river in the Canoe we left at its mouth and Encamped on the upper Side in an open Sandy bottom ..." [Clark, November 19, 1805]

Clark and his men reached Station Camp the next day, where they made their historic vote to spend the winter on the coast at Fort Clatsop.

Early Wallacut River ...
Early names for the Wallacut River were "James River", "Wal-la-khut River", "Wallicut River", and "Wallacut River".

According to the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database (2019):

  • "James River" ... 1798, Plan of River Oregan from actual Survey by Lt. Broughton under direction of Capt. Vancouver, Oct. 1795, pub. by A. Arrowsmith.
  • "James River" ... 1840, Plan of River Oregan from actual Survey, pub. by A. Arrowsmith.
  • "Wallacut River" ... 1870, U.S. Coast Survey, Columbia River, Sheet 1.
  • "Wallacut River" ... 1881, Chart of mouth of Columbia River, Ore., surveyed under direction Maj. G.L. Gillespie, Corps of Engineers, U.S.
  • "wallacut River" ... 1885, Entrance to Columbia River, surveyed under direction Capt. Charles F. Powell, Corps of Engineers.
  • "Wallicut River" ... 1888, Chart of Columbia River from Ocean to Portland, Ore., illustrated condition of salmon fishery, season 1888-9.
  • "Wallacut River" ... 1890, Map Pacific County by Jno. Davis, Co. auditor.
  • From 1890 to 1926, the name varies between "Wallacut" and "Wallicut".

According to "Origin of Washington Geographic Names" (Meany, 1923):

"Wallacut River, flowing into the Columbia River near Ilwaco, in the southwestern part of Pacific County, derives its name from the Indian word "Aalihut" meaning "place of stones." The north shore of the little river, where it flows into Baker Bay, is banked with small, smoothly worn boulders. The present form of spelling was recorded by George Gibbs on March 1, 1854. (Pacific Railroad Reports, Volume I., page 465.)

According to "Place Names of Washington" (Hitchman, 1985):

"Wallacut River (T19N, R11W):   The stream of this very short river heads 3 miles north of Baker Bay, southwest Pacific County; flows southwest to Columbia River at Ilwaco. The name is a distortion of the Indian designation Walihut, meaning "place of stones". The north side of the river, near its mouth, is heavily banked with small, smoothly-worn boulders. Hudson's Bay Compaany employees used the course of the stream as a portage route, and called it Knights River." ... [???, in 1792, Lieutenant Broughton of the Captain George Vancouver Expedition, called the Cowlitz River "Knights River"]

From the 1858 United States Senate Report "The Superintendent of the Coast Survey showing the Progress of the Survey during the Year 1858":

"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."

The "Wap-pa-loo-che" is today's Chinook River, a name which didn't show up in the "Coast Pilots" until 1889. The 1889 version lists the Wallacut as the "Wallacut" with "Wal-la-khut" in parentheses.

"... 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. ..."

In 1937 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made official "Wallacut River".

Views ...

Image, 2005, Wallacut River, looking downstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wallacut River, Washington, looking downsteam. View from Stringtown Road Bridge. Image taken April 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Wallacut River looking upstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wallacut River, Washington, looking downsteam. View from Stringtown Road Bridge. Image taken April 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Wallacut River looking upstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wallacut River, Washington, looking upsteam. View from Stringtown Road Bridge. Image taken April 19, 2005.

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, first draft ...
began to rain a little before day and Continued raining untill 11 oClock I proceeded on thro emencely bad thickets & hills crossing 2 points to a 3rd on which we built a fire [one of these points in the location of North Head Lighthouse] and Cooked a Deer which Jos. Field Killd. from this point I can See into a Deep bend in the coast to the N. E. <N 40 E> fr 10 miles. after Brackfast I proceeded on N. 20 E. 5 miles to Comcement a lage Sand bar at a low part ponds a little off from the Coast here the high rockey hills end and a low marshey Countrey Suckceed. I proceeded up the Course N. 10 W. 4 miles & marked my name & the Day of the Month on a pine tree [vicinity of todays Long Beach] the waters which Wash this Sand beach is tinged with a deep brown Colour for Some distance out. The Course Contd. is N. 20 W. low Coast and Sand beech, ...     I then returned to the Cape [Cape Disappointment] & dined ...     passed a nitch in the rocks below into which falls a Stream, after Dinner I Set out on my return S. E. passed over a low ridge & thro a piney countrey 2 miles to the Bay [Baker Bay], thence up the Bay to the mouth of the Chen-nook River [mistake, was the Wallacut River, west of the Chinook River] Crossed in the Canoe we had left there & Encamped on the upper Side     The Hills in the point of this bay [Ilwaco, Washington] are not high, & imedeately below this River the present yellow Bluffs [Yellow Bluffs]- above the River and up for about 2 miles the land is low Slashey and Contains much drift wood, the Countrey up this Creek is low with <places or> Copse of high land or as I may Say elevated. ...

Clark, November 19, 1805 ...

Ordway, November 19, 1805 ...
cloudy a light Sprinkling of rain the later part of last night we proceeded on the coast over high rough hills Some places prarie and bald hills. one of the hunters killed a Deer. we halted and eat a part of the Deer and went on over a verry bad rough way along the coast. high towers of rocks Standing out in the edge of the ocean. we got over these rough hills the country appears low further on the coast. So we went on the Sand beach about 10 miles distant [in the vicinity of today's Long Beach] from Cape dissipointment [Cape Disappointment], then turned back, cut across the woods a new way, and Camped at Chi neck River [mistake, actually the Wallacut River, west of the Chinook River] in Hailys bay [Baker Bay].

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

  • Hitchman, R., 1985, "Place Names of Washington", Washington State Historical Society;
  • Meany, E.S., 1923, "Origin of Washington Geographic Names", University of Washington Press;
  • U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 2006, 2019;

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