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The Volcanoes of
Lewis and Clark
October 31, 1805
"Lower Falls of the Columbia" - Cascade Locks - Preparing to Portage
 
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PREVIOUS

October 30
Dog Mountain to Cascade Locks
October 31

"Lower Falls of the Columbia",
Cascade Locks - Preparing to Portage

Bonneville Landslide, "Lower Falls of the Columbia" and the Cascade Locks, Bridge of the Gods, Rapids below Bridge of the Gods
CONTINUE

November 1
Columbia River Gorge, Cascade Locks to Bonneville - The Portage
 

On October 7, 1805, Lewis and Clark and the "Corps of Discovery" began their journey down the Clearwater River and into the volcanics of the Pacific Northwest. The Corps travelled from the Clearwater to the Snake and down the "Great Columbia", finally reaching the Pacific Ocean on November 15, 1805. Along the journey they encountered the lava flows of the Columbia Plateau, river channels carved by the great "Missoula Floods", and the awesome beauty of five Cascade Range volcanoes.

Map, Lewis and Clark in the Pacific Northwest, click for brief
                         summary
[Click map for brief summary about the area]


 
To the Pacific - October 1805
"Lower Falls of the Columbia" - Cascade Locks - Preparing to Portage
 

The Lewis and Clark camp of October 30 and 31, 1805 was on an island on the Washington side of the Columbia River, just north of today's Cascades Locks and Bridge of the Gods. The island is now under the waters of Bonneville Dam. The men portaged across this "Lower Falls of the Columbia" on November 1, 1805.

Thursday, October 31, 1805
"... The morning was cloudy. We unloaded our canoes and took them past the rapids, some part of the way by water, and some over rocks 8 or 10 feet high. It was the most fatiguing business we have been engaged in for a long time, and we got but two over all day, the distance about a mile, and the fall of the water about 25 feet in that distance. ..." [Gass, October 31, 1805]
He [Captain Clark] resumed his search in the morning, through the rain. [looking at portage around the Bonneville Landslide] At the extremity of the basin, in which is situated the island where we are encamped [today the island is underwater], several rocks and rocky islands are interspersed through the bed of the river. The rocks on each side have fallen down from the mountains [Bonneville Landslide]; that on the left being high [Oregon], and on the right the hill itself, which is lower [Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak], slipping into the river; so that the current is here compressed within a space of one hundred and fifty yards.


Along the Journey - October 31, 1805
Table Mountain, 2003

The Bonneville Landslide:
The Bonneville Landslide (also known as the Table Mountain Landslide or the Bridge of the Gods Landslide) slid down from the north wall of the Columbia River Gorge sometime between 1400 and 1465 A.D., blocking the Columbia River to a depth of 150-200 feet. Breaching of almost the entire thickness of the landslide dam caused a flood of about 7.7 million cubic feet per second, about six times larger then the largest meteorological flood of the last 150 years. Deposits from the flood form a distinctive marker bed all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The last remnant of the dam was bouldery Cascade Rapids, the namesake of the Cascade Range, now drowned in the pool behind Bonneville Dam. The Bonneville Landslide is part of the Cascade Landslide Complex, an impressive example of mass wasting created by multiple events. The source area includes portions of Table Mountain and the Red Bluffs in Washington. The Cascade Landslide Complex covers 12 to 14 square miles, with individual slide deposits of about 2 to 5 square miles.The Bonneville landslide (a lobe of the complex) has an area of about 5.5 square miles. Debris from the source area reached as far as 3 miles to the southeast and buried the pre-slide Columbia River channel, which was about 1.5 miles north of its present location. The landslide substantially diverted the river channel toward the Oregon shoreline. The second powerhouse of Bonneville Dam abuts against the landslide. If you look north of the dam, you can see the cliffs that were exposed after the mountain gave way. -- O'Connor and Costa, 2004, and Norman and Roloff, 2004


Map, 1814, Lower Falls of the Columbia, click to enlarge Map, 1887, Cascade Locks vicinity, click to enlarge Map, 1911 USGS topo map of Table Mountain vicinity, click to enlarge Map, 1985, Bonneville to Cascade Locks, Oregon, click to enlarge Image, Aerial view, Bonneville Dam, looking east, annotated, click to enlarge Image, ca.1915, Columbia River at Bonneville, click to enlarge Image, ca.1940, Table Mountain, Washington, click to enlarge Image, 2003, Table Mountain, Greenleaf Basin, and Greanleaf Peak, Washington
  1. 1814 Map, Lower Falls of the Columbia, by Lewis and Clark. (Click to enlarge). This map is found in Travels to the source of the Missouri River and across the American continent to the Pacific Ocean : performed by order of the government of the United States, in the years 1804, 1805, and 1806, by Captains Lewis and Clarke. Published from the official report, 1814.
  2. 1887 Map (section of original), Columbia River and the Cascade Locks vicinity. (Click to enlarge). Original Map: The Columbia River from Celilo to the mouth showing locations of the salmon fisheries, 1887. Scale ca. 1:375,000, Relief shown by hachures. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Office, G.P.O. 1888. University of Washington Archives #UW128. -- University of Washington Library Archives Website, 2002
  3. 1911 Map (section of original), from Mount Hood and Vicinity 1:125,000 topographic quadrangle. (Click to enlarge). Original map surveyed in 1907 and 1909-1911, contour interval of 100 feet. -- University of Washington Library Collections Website, 2002
  4. 1985 Map (section of original), Bonneville to Cascade Locks, Oregon. (Click to enlarge). Office of Coast Surveys, Historical Maps and Charts, Columbia River, Bonneville to The Dalles, 1985, Chart#18531, 1:40,000. -- NOAA Office of Coast Survey Website, 2004
  5. Aerial view, Columbia River, Bonneville Dam, and the Bonneville Landslide, annotated. (Click to enlarge). Washington State is on the left with a good view of the Bonneville Landslide jutting into the Columbia River. Oregon is on the right. Bradford Island is crossed by the Bonneville Dam. Hamilton Island is in the foreground. Annotation includes Columbia River, Bonneville Dam, I-84, Bonneville Landslide, Hamilton Island, and Bradford Island. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2003
  6. ca.1915, Columbia River at Bonneville, approximately 1915. (Click to enlarge). Oregon State Archives, Oregon Water Resources Department #OWR0102. Photograph Date: ca.1915. -- Oregon State Archives Website, 2002
  7. ca.1940, Photograph shows the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, looking northerly from the Oregon side, approximately 1940. Table Mountain (left) and Greenleaf Peak (right), on the Washington side, are visible in the distance. (Click to enlarge). Oregon State Archives, Oregon State Highway Division #OHD1329. Photograph Date: ca.1940. -- Oregon State Archives Website, 2002
  8. 2003, Table Mountain, Greenleaf Basin, and Greenleaf Peak, Washington, as seen from across the Columbia River at Cascade Locks, Oregon. (Click to enlarge). Copyright © 2003 Lyn Topinka, private archives, used with permission.


Cascade Locks looking downstream, 2003

"Lower Falls of the Columbia" and Cascade Locks:
Lewis and Clark called the area around today's Cascades Locks "the Lower Falls of the Columbia" -- the Celilo Falls area was known as the "Great Falls of the Columbia". Throughout time, the area became known as the "Cascades", and in 1825, John Work of the Hudson's Bay Company was the first to record the place name, "Cascades," to describe these falls in the Columbia. Four and a half miles long, the Cascades of the Columbia were separated into two sections. The first made a bend around a rocky point on the Oregon shore, then went into a 2,000-foot-long pitch in the river and a 21-foot drop. This was called the Upper Cascade. The rest of the contracted waterway, the Lower Cascade, was a long three-and-a-half-mile pitch in the river. The total fall of the river from the head of Upper Cascade to the bottom of Lower Cascade was 45 feet at high water and 36 feet at low water. Lewis and Clark first portaged around the "Lower Falls of the Columbia" in 1805, on their journey to the Pacific. Forty years later the pioneers traveling the water route on the Oregon Trail made the same portage. In 1850 a road was built on the north side of the Columbia to portage around the rapids, and a small settlement developed to help travelers around the rapids, first by foot and then by mule-drawn rail cars. In 1864, the first steam engine in the Northwest carried passengers and freight past the rapids. In 1896 a 3,000-foot-long navigational canal with locks was completed and the modern-day town of Cascade Locks developed. The Cascades and the early locks were flooded by backwater from Bonneville Dam in 1937. -- "www.cascadelocks.net" Website, 2004, and Washington State Historical Society Website, 2004, "Lasting Legacy".


Map, 1814, Lower Falls of the Columbia, click to enlarge Map, 1854, Columbia River, Fort Vancouver area, click to enlarge Map, 1887, Cascade Locks vicinity, click to enlarge Map, 1911 USGS topo map of Cascade Locks to Bonneville area, click to enlarge Map, 1985, Bonneville to Cascade Locks, Oregon, click to enlarge Stereo Image, 1867, near the Upper Cascaldes, click to enlarge Image, ca.1913, Columbia River at the Cascades, click to enlarge Image, ca.1913, Columbia River, Oregon banks, at Cascade Locks, click to enlarge Image, 1927, Cascade Locks, click to enlarge Image, 1929, Cascade Locks, click to enlarge Image, 1934, Cascades Rapids, click to enlarge Image, 2003, Cascade Locks looking downstream
  1. 1814 Map, Lower Falls of the Columbia, by Lewis and Clark. (Click to enlarge). This map is found in Travels to the source of the Missouri River and across the American continent to the Pacific Ocean : performed by order of the government of the United States, in the years 1804, 1805, and 1806, by Captains Lewis and Clarke. Published from the official report, 1814. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002
  2. 1853-54 Map, Columbia River, including the Fort Vancouver area (section of original). (Click to enlarge). Includes Longview, Washington (Monticello), Coweeman River (Minter R.), Kalama River (Ca-la-ma R.), Lewis River (Cath-la-pootle R.), Willamette River, Fort Vancouver, Cape Horn, and "The Cascades". Vancouver Lake is depicted but not labeled. Original Map: "Rocky Mountains to Puget Sound : from explorations and surveys / made under the direction of the Hon. Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War by Isaac I. Stevens Governor of Washington Territory, 1853-4." Inset: (Supplementary sketch) Reconnaissance of the railroad route from Wallawalla to Seattle via Yak-e-mah River & Snoqualmie Pass. By A. W. Tinkham in January 1854. Drawn by J. R. P. Mechlin. 20 x 28 cm. Topographer, John Lambert, Published in Washington D.C., 1859, 1:1,200,000, Notes: From the U.S. War Department, Explorations and Surveys for a Railroad Route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, Topographical Maps, to Illustrate the Various Reports, U.S. Library of Congress American Memories Reference "LC Railroad Maps #156". -- U.S. Library of Congress, American Memories Website, 2004
  3. 1887 Map (section of original), Columbia River and the Cascade Locks vicinity. (Click to enlarge). Original Map: The Columbia River from Celilo to the mouth showing locations of the salmon fisheries, 1887. Scale ca. 1:375,000, Relief shown by hachures. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Office, G.P.O. 1888. University of Washington Archives #UW128. -- University of Washington Library Archives Website, 2002
  4. 1911 Map (section of original), from Mount Hood and Vicinity 1:125,000 topographic quadrangle. (Click to enlarge). Original map surveyed in 1907 and 1909-1911, contour interval of 100 feet. -- University of Washington Library Collections Website, 2002
  5. 1985 Map (section of original), Bonneville to Cascade Locks, Oregon. (Click to enlarge). Office of Coast Surveys, Historical Maps and Charts, Columbia River, Bonneville to The Dalles, 1985, Chart#18531, 1:40,000. -- NOAA Office of Coast Survey Website, 2004
  6. 1867, Stereo view, near the Upper Cascades. (Click to enlarge). Caption on image: Islands in the Columbia from the Upper Cascades. Photographer: Carleton E. Watkins. Photo Date: 1867. University of Washington Sterocard Collection #STE043, Stereocard Collection No. 58. -- University of Washington Libraries Collection Website, 2003
  7. ca.1913, Columbia River at Cascade Locks. (Click to enlarge). Greenleaf Peak is visible in the distance. Photo by Albert Henry Barnes, ca.1913. University of Washington A.H. Barnes Collection #BAR020. -- University of Washington Library Archives, 2003
  8. ca.1913, Columbia River and Oregon banks, at Cascade Locks. (Click to enlarge). Photo by Albert Henry Barnes, ca.1913. University of Washington A.H. Barnes Collection #BAR038. -- University of Washington Library Archives, 2003
  9. 1927 aerial view, Cascade Locks. (Click to enlarge). A Burner from Wind River Mill entering Cascade Locks, Oregon. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Archives #700-41. Photograph Date: August 1927. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2002
  10. 1929 aerial view, Cascade Locks. (Click to enlarge). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Archives. Photograph Date: September 8, 1929. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2002
  11. 1934, Cascades Rapids. (Click to enlarge). From Bridge of the Gods showing the Cascade Rapids looking upstream. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Photograph #700-40. Photograph Date: March 29, 1934. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2002
  12. 2003, Cascade Locks looking downstream towards Bridge of the Gods. (Click to enlarge). Copyright © 2003 Lyn Topinka, private archives, used with permission.


Within this narrow limit it runs for the distance of four hundred yards with great rapidity, swelling over the rocks with a fall of about twenty feet: it then widens to two hundred paces, and the current for a short distance becomes gentle; [In 1926 the Bridge of the Gods was constructed below the "falls".]


Along the Journey - October 31, 1805
Bridge of the Gods, 2003

Bridge of the Gods:
About 1100 A.D., the lava layers making up Table Mountain slid into the Gorge in a series of four landslides covering five square miles, and temporarily blocked the Columbia River. Native American legend tells of crossing the river on dry land, giving rise to the "Bridge of the Gods". Today's man-made Bridge of the Gods was completed in October 1926. The cantilever structure length is 1,131 feet long with overall bridge length of 1,858 feet. Its width is 35 feet. The bridge was raised in 1938 to accomodate the rising waters behind the Bonneville Dam, and today rises 135 feet above the Bonneville pool. In 1961 the Bridge of the Gods was purchased by the Port of Cascade Locks and has been operated and maintained by the Port since that time. The Bridge of the Gods is the third oldest bridge on the Columbia River and plays a major role in the Pacific Crest Trail by linking Oregon and Washington states. -- "www.cascadelocks.net" Website, 2004, and Swanson, et.al., 1989.


Map, 1814, Lower Falls of the Columbia, click to enlarge Map, 1929 USGS topo map of the Cascade Locks area showing Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge Map, 1985, Bonneville to Cascade Locks, Oregon, click to enlarge Image, 1926, Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge Image, 1929, Cascade Locks, click to enlarge Image, 2003, Bridge of the Gods looking across at Bonneville Landslide
  1. 1814 Map, Lower Falls of the Columbia, by Lewis and Clark. (Click to enlarge). This map is found in Travels to the source of the Missouri River and across the American continent to the Pacific Ocean : performed by order of the government of the United States, in the years 1804, 1805, and 1806, by Captains Lewis and Clarke. Published from the official report, 1814.
  2. 1929 Map (section of original), from Hood River 1:125,000 topographic quadrangle. (Click to enlarge). Original map surveyed in 1925-26, contour interval of 100 feet. This 1929 map shows a section of the 1911 map above (see Cascade Locks) with the location of the Bridge of the Gods. The Bridge of the Gods was built in 1926. -- University of Washington Library Collections Website, 2002
  3. 1985 Map (section of original), Bonneville to Cascade Locks, Oregon. (Click to enlarge). Office of Coast Surveys, Historical Maps and Charts, Columbia River, Bonneville to The Dalles, 1985, Chart#18531, 1:40,000. -- NOAA Office of Coast Survey Website, 2004
  4. 1926, Bridge of the Gods. (Click to enlarge). This bridge takes its name from an Indian myth describing a large natural rock bridge over the Columbia River along the Oregon-Washington border. Built by the Wauna Toll Bridge Company of Walla Walla, Washington, the original bridge was 1,127 feet long. When the Bonneville Dam was constructed the structure was raised and lengthened to accommodate the rising water level. The bridge is significant not only as a fine example of cantilever technology and as a major crossing of the Columbia River, but also because of its location in the Columbia River Gorge. -- Oregon Department of Transportation Website, 2002
  5. 1929 aerial view looking downstream at Cascade Locks and Bridge of the Gods. (Click to enlarge). Washington State is on the right and Oregon is on the left. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Historical Archives. Photograph Date: September 8, 1929. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2002
  6. 2003, Bridge of the Gods, looking across towards the Bonneville Landslide, Washington State. (Click to enlarge). Copyright © 2003 Lyn Topinka, private archives, used with permission.


but at the distance of a mile and a half, and opposite to the old village mentioned yesterday, it is obstructed by a very bad rapid [below Bridge of the Gods] , where the waves are unusually high, the river being confined between large rocks, many of which are at the surface of the water.


Along the Journey - October 31, 1805
Rapids below the Cascade Locks, 1912

Rapids below Bridge of the Gods:


Map, 1814, Lower Falls of the Columbia, click to enlarge Map, 1929 USGS topo map of the Cascade Locks area showing Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge Map, 1985, Bonneville to Cascade Locks, Oregon, click to enlarge Image, 1912, Rapids below Cascade Locks, click to enlarge
  1. 1814 Map, Lower Falls of the Columbia, by Lewis and Clark. (Click to enlarge). This map is found in Travels to the source of the Missouri River and across the American continent to the Pacific Ocean : performed by order of the government of the United States, in the years 1804, 1805, and 1806, by Captains Lewis and Clarke. Published from the official report, 1814.
  2. 1929 Map (section of original), from Hood River 1:125,000 topographic quadrangle. (Click to enlarge). Original map surveyed in 1925-26, contour interval of 100 feet. This 1929 map shows a section of the 1911 map above (see Cascade Locks) with the location of the Bridge of the Gods. The Bridge of the Gods was built in 1926. -- University of Washington Library Collections Website, 2002
  3. 1985 Map (section of original), Bonneville to Cascade Locks, Oregon. (Click to enlarge). Office of Coast Surveys, Historical Maps and Charts, Columbia River, Bonneville to The Dalles, 1985, Chart#18531, 1:40,000. -- NOAA Office of Coast Survey Website, 2004
  4. 1912, A steamboat on The Rapids below the Cascade Locks. (Click to enlarge). Original from: "Puget Sound and Western Washington Cities-Towns Scenery" by Robert A. Reid, Robert A. Reid Publisher, Seattle, 1912, p.192. Archival photograph by Steve Nicklas, NGS/RSD. Image from the NOAA Photo Archives Coastline Collection #line2185. -- NOAA Photo Archives Website, 2002


Captain Clarke proceeded along the same path he had taken before, which led him through a thick wood and along a hill side, till two and a half miles below the shoots, he struck the river at the place whence the Indians make their portage to the head of the shoot: he here sent Crusatte, the principal waterman, up the stream, to examine if it were practicable to bring the canoes down the water. In the meantime, he, with Joseph Fields, continued his route down the river, along which the rapids seem to stretch as far as he could see.
"... I proceeded down the river to view with more attention we had to pass on the river below, the two men with me Jo. Fields & Peter Crusat proceeded down to examine the rapids the Great Shute which commenced at the Island on which we encamped Continued with great rapidity and force thro a narrow chanel much compressd. and interspersed with large rocks for 1/2 a mile, at a mile lower is a verry Considerable rapid at which place the waves are remarkably high, and proceeded on in an old Indain parth 2 1/2 miles by land thro a thick wood & hill Side, to the river where the Indians make a portage, from this place I Dispatched Peter Crusat (our principal waterman) back to follow the river and examine the practibility of the Canoes passing, as the rapids appear to continue down below as far as I could See ..." [Clark, October 31, 1805]
At half a mile below the end of the portage [the portage was across the Bonneville Landslide], he came to a house, the only remnant of a town, which, from its appearance, must have been of great antiquity. The house was uninhabited, and being old and decayed, he felt no disposition to encounter the fleas, which abound in every situation of that kind, and therefore did not enter. About half a mile below this house, in a very thick part of the woods, is an ancient burial place: it consists of eight vaults ...... After examining this place captain Clarke went on, and found the river as before strewed with large rocks, against which the water ran with great rapidity. Just below the vaults the mountain, which is but low on the right side, leaves the river, and is succeeded by an open stony level, which extends down the river, while on the left the mountain is still high and rugged. At two miles distance he came to a village of four houses, which were now vacant and the doors barred up: on looking in he saw the usual quantity of utensils still remaining, from which he concluded that the inhabitants were at no great distance collecting roots or hunting, in order to lay in their supply of food for the winter: he left them and went on three miles to a difficult rocky rapid, which was the last in view. Here, on the right, are the remains of a large and ancient village, which could be plainly traced by the holes for the houses and the deposits for fish: after he had examined these rapids and the neighbouring country he returned to camp by the same route: ......
"... from a Short distance below the vaults the mountain which is but low on the Stard. Side, leave the river, and a leavel Stoney open bottom Suckceeds on the Said Std. Side for a great Distance down, the mountains high and rugid on the Lard. Side this open bottom is about 2 miles a Short distance below this village is a bad Stoney rapid and appears to be the last in view I observed at this lower rapid the remains of a large and antient Village which I could plainly trace by the Sinks in which they had formed their houses, as also those in which they had buried their fish -- from this rapid to the lower end of the portage the river is Crouded with rocks of various Sizes between which the water passes with great velociety createing in maney places large Waves, an Island [Bradford Island, see entry of November 1, 1805] which is Situated near the Lard. Side occupies about half the distance the lower point of which is at this rapid. immediately below this rapid the high water passes through a narrow Chanel through the Stard. Bottom forming an Island of 3 miles (wide) Long & one wide, I walked through this Island which I found to be verry rich land, and had every appearance of haveing been at Some distant period Cultivated. at this time it is Covered with grass intersperced with Strawberry vines [Hamilton Island, see entry of November 2, 1805] . I observed Several places on this Island where the nativs had dug for roots and from its lower point I observed 5 Indians in a Canoe below the upper point of an Island near the middle of the river Covered with tall timber, which indued me to believe that a village was at no great distanc below, I could not See any rapids below in the extent of my view which was for a long distance down the river, which from the last rapids widened and had everry appearance of being effected by the tide, -- I deturmind to return to Camp 10 miles distant, a remarkable high detached rock Stands in a bottom on the Stard. Side near the lower point of this Island on the Stard. Side about 800 feet high and 400 paces around, we call the 'Beaten rock'. [Beacon Rock, see entry of November 2, 1805] A Brook falls into the narrow Chanel which forms the Strawberry Island, which at this time has no running water, but has every appearance of dischargeing emence torrents &c. &c. ..." [Clark, October 31, 1805]
"... This Great Shute or falls is about 1/2 a mile, with the water of this great river Compressed within the Space of 150 paces in which there is great numbers of both large and Small rocks, water passing with great velocity forming & boiling in a most horriable manner, with a fall of about 20 feet, below it widens to about 200 paces and current gentle for a Short distance, a Short distance above is three Small rockey Islands, and at the head of those falls, three Small rockey Islands are Situated Crosswise the river, Several rocks above in the river & 4 large rocks in the head of the Shute; those obstructions together with the high Stones which are continually brakeing loose from the mountain on the Stard Side and roleing down into the Shute aded to those which brake loose from those Island above and lodge in the Shute, must be the Cause of the rivers daming up to Such a distance above, (and Show) where it Shows Such evidant marks of the Common current of the river being much lower than at the present day ..." [Clark, October 31, 1805]
In the meantime we had been occupied in preparations for making the portage, and in conference with the Indians, who came down from the village to visit us. ......


Along the Journey - October 31, 1805
The Camp - October 30 and 31, 1805:
The Lewis and Clark camp of October 30 and 31, 1805, was on an island on the Washington side of the Columbia River, just north of today's Bridge of the Gods. This area is today known as Cascade Locks. The island is now under the waters of Bonneville Dam.



 
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June/July 2004, Lyn Topinka
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