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The Volcanoes of
Lewis and Clark
October 11, 1805
On the Snake River - Clearwater Confluence to Almota Creek
 
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The Volcanoes of Lewis and Clark

Map of the Journey
Volcanoes, Basalt Plateaus, Major Rivers, etc.

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October 1805 to June 1806

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The Corps of Discovery
The Journey of Lewis and Clark

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PREVIOUS

October 10
Reaching the Snake, Clearwater Confluence with the Snake River
October 11

On the Snake River,
Clearwater Confluence to Almota Creek

Snake River, Washington State Geology, Alpowa Creek, Chief Timothy State Park, Lower Granite Dam and Lower Granite Lake, Almota Creek and Almota (Washington)
CONTINUE

October 12
On the Snake River, Almota Creek to Texas Rapids
 

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
On the Snake - Clearwater Confluence to Almota Creek
 

Lewis and Clark's camp of October 10, 1805, was on the north bank, at the confluence of the Snake River with the Clearwater River, the site of today's Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkston, Washington. On October 11, 1805, the men begin their trip down the Snake River.

Friday, October 11, 1805
This morning the wind was from the east, and the weather cloudy. We set out early, [The beginning of their journey down the Snake River] and at the distance of a mile and a half reached a point of rocks in a bend of the river towards the left, near to which was an old Indian house, and a meadow on the opposite bank.


Along the Journey - October 11, 1805
Snake River Steamer, ca.1900

Snake River:
The Snake River originates in Yellowstone National Park at 9,500 feet and winds through southern Idaho before turning north to form the boundary between Idaho and Oregon. It finally joins the Columbia River near Pasco, Washington, at 340 feet in elevation, 1,036 miles from its source. How did it get its name? To identify themselves, Indians living along the river in southern Idaho used a hand sign that resembled the movement of a snake. Although it didn't mean "Snake", that name was given to this group of people, now known as Shoshone. The river flowing through the Snake Indian lands was given the tribal name. Lewis and Clark traveled through this area on their journey to find an inland waterway to the Pacific. Many miles upriver from Hells Gate State Park, the Snake River winds through Hells Canyon, one of the deepest gorges in North America. This wild and spectacular area is best visited by boat; there are no roads leading through the canyon. Old homesteads, long-forgotten prospector cabins, and Native American petroglyphs offer a fascinating human story in the midst of the spectacular scenery. -- U.S. National Park Service, Wild and Scenic Rivers Website, 2002, and Idaho State Parks and Recreation Website, 2002


Map, 1814, Lewis and Clark on the Snake River, click to enlarge Map, 1853, Washington and Oregon and the Columbia River, click to enlarge Map, 1855, Clearwater and Snake from Canoe Camp to the Columbia, click to enlarge Map, 1881, Snake, Clearwater, Grande Ronde, Salmon, click to enlarge Map, 1893, Snake, Clearwater, Potlatch Rivers, click to enlarge Image, Snake River, Washington, click to enlarge Image, ca.1900, Steamer on the Snake River, near Asotin, Washington, click to enlarge
  1. 1814 Map, Lewis and Clark (section of original). (Click to enlarge.) Shows the Snake River ("Lewis's River"). From the "Nicholas Biddle/Paul Allen" 1814 publication. Original Map: "A Map of Lewis and Clark's Track, Across the Western Portion of North America, From the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean". From: History of the expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clark : to the sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains and down the river Columbia to the Pacific Ocean : performed during the years 1804-5-6 : by order of the government of the United States / prepared for the press by Paul Allen. Philadelphia : Bradford and Insskeep, 1814. Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University #upbover maps37. -- Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library Website, 2004.
  2. 1853 Map, Washington and Oregon and the Columbia River, from the Clearwater River to the Snake River and down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean (section of original). (Click to enlarge). Includes: Clearwater River (Kooskooski), Lapwai Creek (Lapwai R.), Snake River (Saptin or Lewis R.), Columbia River (Columbia R.), Yakima River (Yakima R.), Walla Walla River (Wallawalla R.), Umatilla River (Umatilla R.), Willow Creek (Quesnells R.), John Day River (John day's R.), Deschutes River (Fall R.), Willamette River (Willammette R.), and Cowlitz River (Cowlitz R.). Original Map: "Map of California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and New Mexico (1853)", by Thomas Cowperthwait & Co. Washington State University Archives #WSU22. -- Washington State University Library Collections Website, 2003
  3. 1855 Map, Clearwater and Snake Rivers, including the Clearwater River (Kooskoosky R.) (section of original). (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Map of Oregon and Washington Territories: showing the proposed Northern Railroad route to the Pacific Ocean, by John Disturnell, 1855. University of Washington Archives #UW155. -- University of Washington Library Collections Website, 2002
  4. 1881 Map, Snake, Clearwater, Grande Ronde, and Salmon Rivers (section of original). (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Map of the Grande Ronde Wallowa and Imnaha Country, 1881". Map section shows the Snake River (name doesn't show), "Clear Water" River (central right, tributary to the Snake), Grande Ronde River (lower left, only "de River" shows, tributary to the Snake), Salmon River (lower right, tributary to the Snake) Lewiston, Central Ferry, Alpowai, Dayton, Pataha, and the Blue Mountains. By H. Chandler, Eng., Buffalo, 1881., Washington State University Historical Maps Collection #WSU468. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002
  5. 1893 Map, Part of the Snake River showing location of principal rapids (section of original). Includes part of the Clearwater River and Potlatch River and others. (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Part of the Snake River from its mouth to the Grande Ronde, showing location of principal rapids". U.S. Engineers Office, 1893. Washington State University Historical Maps Collection #WSU586. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002
  6. An arid region along the Snake River, Washington. (Click to enlarge). Photograph Date: between 1891 and 1936. Photographer: unknown. American Environmental Photographs Collection #AEP-WAS141, Department of Special Collections, University of Chicago Library. -- U.S. Library of Congress, American Memories Website, 2002
  7. ca.1900, Steamer on the Snake River, near Asotin, Washington. (Click to enlarge). Steam rises from atop the 'Lewiston' steamboat as it passes Asotin, Washington, approximately 8 miles downstream of the confluence of the Clearwater River and the Snake River. Photographer: Wilkin Photo Service, Lewiston, Idaho. Photograph date: ca. 1900. Washington State University Libraries Archives, #11108 -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002


Lewis and Clark have not only begun their journey down the Snake River, but have also begun their journey in land which, in 1889, would become Washington State.


Along the Journey - October 11, 1805
Washington State Geology:
Washington State's geology is highly diverse. Rocks of Precambrian age, as well as units from every geologic period, Cambrian to Quaternary, are represented. The state has been subject to continental collisions, metamorphism, intrusion of igneous rocks, volcanism, mountain-building episodes, erosion, glaciation, and massive flooding events. -- Norman and Roloff, 2004, Washington DNR Open-File Report 2004-7


Here the hills came down towards the water, and formed by the rocks, which have fallen from their sides, a rapid over which we dragged the canoes. We passed, a mile and a half further, two Indian lodges in a bend towards the right, and at six miles from our camp of last evening reached the mouth of a brook on the left [Alpowa Creek, today the location of Chief Timothy State Park]. Just above this stream we stopped for breakfast. ......


Along the Journey - October 11, 1805
Chief Timothy Memorial Bridge, ca.1924

Alpowa Creek:
Alpowa Creek, located in southeastern Washington, begins in the Blue Mountains at an elevation of approximately 4,000 feet above sea level and joins the Snake River at Lower Granite Lake about seven miles west of Clarkston, Washington. Alpowa Creek merges with the Snake in the vicinity of the former Alpowa City, later renamed Silcott. The townsite was inundated by Lower Granite Reservoir in 1975. Today this area is the location of Chief Timothy State Park and Alpowai Interpretive Center, located on an island created by the dam's backwater. The entire drainage area of the Alpowa Creek watershed is approximately 130 square miles of mostly very arid landscape with several seasonal canyons which enter the mainstem Alpowa Creek. On October 11, 1805, Lewis and Clark's course and distance log notes, "Passed a large camp of Alpowa Cr. Indians." The creek was not named on the route map or journal entries, either westbound or eastbound. -- Washington State Historical Society Website, 2002, and Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority Website, 2003


Map, 1881, Snake, Clearwater, Grande Ronde, Salmon, click to enlarge Map, 1893, Snake, Clearwater, Potlatch Rivers, click to enlarge Map, 1996, Recreation sites along Lower Granite Lake including the Chief Timothy area, click to enlarge Image, ca.1920s, Indian Timothy Memorial Bridge, click to enlarge
  1. 1881 Map, Snake, Clearwater, Grande Ronde, and Salmon Rivers (section of original). (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Map of the Grande Ronde Wallowa and Imnaha Country, 1881". Map section shows the Snake River (name doesn't show), "Clear Water" River (central right, tributary to the Snake), Grande Ronde River (lower left, only "de River" shows, tributary to the Snake), Salmon River (lower right, tributary to the Snake) Lewiston, Central Ferry, Alpowai, Dayton, Pataha, and the Blue Mountains. By H. Chandler, Eng., Buffalo, 1881., Washington State University Historical Maps Collection #WSU468. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002
  2. 1893 Map, part of the Snake River showing location of principal rapids (section of original). Includes part of the Clearwater River and Potlatch River and others. (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Part of the Snake River from its mouth to the Grande Ronde, showing location of principal rapids". U.S. Engineers Office, 1893. Washington State University Historical Maps Collection #WSU586. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002
  3. 1996, Recreation sites along Lower Granite Lake, including the Chief Timothy area. (Click to enlarge). Lower Granite Lake is the reservoir behind the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2004, Walla Walla District
  4. ca.1924, Indian Timothy Memorial Bridge over Alpowa Creek. (Click to enlarge). U.S. Route 12 spanning Alpowa Creek, Silcott vicinity, Asotin County. Built in 1923, this bridge was dedicated to Ta-Moot-Tsoo (Chief Timothy), a Nez Perce Indian (1800-1891) who was friendly with early settlers and was credited with saving the lives of Colonel Edward J. Steptoe's troops in 1858 after their defeat in the Battle of Tohotonimme, near Rosalia. Image from the 1922-1924 Biennial Report. -- Washington State Department of Transportation Website, 2003


Chief Timothy State Park:
Chief Timothy State Park is a 282-acre camping park with 11,500 feet of freshwater shoreline, located on an island in the Snake River, eight miles west of Clarkston, Washington. The park offers water, scenery and excellent camping facilities in a primarily desert environment. The park is on the route of the historic Lewis and Clark trail, proximate to Silcott townsite. The park is named for the chief of the Alpowai encampment of the Nez Perce Indian Tribe. Chief Alpowai was a valued friend of early white settlers in the region. -- Washington State Parks and Recreation Website, 2002


Geology of Chief Timothy State Park:
During the Miocene age there were great lava flows that created basaltic columns. The following ice age carved the land, blocking rivers and creating the huge Lake Missoula. As the ice age drew to a close, the ice dams holding back Lake Missoula broke, unleashing a catastrophic flood that shaped the landscape. Chief Timothy is on an island made of glacial tills that were back-washed by the flood when it hit the Wallala gap causing the water to rush backward to the east carrying rocks and debris. -- Washington State Parks and Recreation Website, 2002



On leaving this encampment [Alpowa Creek] we passed two more rapids, and some swift water, and at the distance of four and a half miles reached one which was much more difficult to pass. Three miles beyond this rapid, are three huts of Indians on the right, where we stopped and obtained in exchange for a few trifles some pashequa roots, five dogs and a small quantity of dried fish. We made our dinner of part of each of these articles, and then proceeded on without any obstruction, till after making twelve and a half miles we came to a stony island on the right side of the river, opposite to which is a rapid, and a second at its lower point.

The Lower Granite Lock and Dam is now located along this section of the Snake River, at River Mile 107.5. Lower Granite Lake is the reservoir extending nearly 40 miles behind the dam.


Along the Journey - October 11, 1805
Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River

Lower Granite Dam and Lower Granite Lake:
The Lower Granite Lock and Dam was the last of four lower Snake River dams constructed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. It was completed in 1975, and is located at the head of Lake Bryan, the reservoir behind Little Goose Dam. Lower Granite Dam is approximately 3,200 feet long with an effective height of 100 feet. The dam is a concrete gravity type, with an earthfill right abutment embankment. It includes a navigation lock and a 512-foot-long eight-bay spillway with eight radial gates. There is one fish ladder for passing migratory fish. Lower Granite Dam has a visitor center and features fish viewing rooms that allow visitors an up close look at the many species of fish in the Lower Snake River. Lower Granite Lake, the reservoir behind Lower Granite Dam, extends up the Snake River about 39.3 miles to Lewiston, Idaho, the upper terminus of the authorized Lower Snake River slack-water navigation project. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2002


Map, 1996, Recreation sites along Lake Bryan including the Lower Granite Dam area, click to enlarge Map, 1996, Recreation sites along Lower Granite Lake including the Chief Timothy area, click to enlarge Aerial view, 1995, Lower Granite Dam, click to enlarge Aerial view, Lower Granite Dam, click to enlarge
  1. 1996, Recreation sites along Lake Bryan, including Lower Granite Dam (lower right). (Click to enlarge). Lake Bryan is the reservoir behind the Little Goose Dam on the Snake River. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2004, Walla Walla District
  2. 1996, Recreation sites along Lower Granite Lake, including Lower Granite Dam (upper left). (Click to enlarge). Lower Granite Lake is the reservoir behind the Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2004, Walla Walla District
  3. 1995, Aerial view, Lower Granite Lock and Dam on the lower Snake River. (Click to enlarge). Completed in 1975, Lower Granite was the last of four lower Snake River dams constructed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Photographer: Doug Thiele. Photograph Date: January 1995. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Photo Archives #3996-34. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2002
  4. Aerial view, Lower Granite Lock and Dam on the lower Snake River. (Click to enlarge). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Photo Archives #4414-41. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2002



About three and a half miles beyond the island is a small brook which empties itself into a bend on the right [Almota Creek],


Along the Journey - October 11, 1805
Almota and the Snake River, 1882

Almota Creek and Almota, Washington:
The Washington State town of Almota is located on the north side of the Snake River where Almota Creek merges into the Snake, 40 miles downstream of Clarkston and approximately 4 miles downstream of today's Lower Granite Dam. Almota was used by Nez Perce Indians as a fishing site, and "Allamotin", "Almotine", and even "Alto Motin" have been given as Nez Perce names for the area. It means "torchlight" or "moonlight fishing". Almota, soon became the trading/shipping center for all of Inland Empire, but lost some of its business in 1883 when rail lines arrived in Colfax. The Oregon, Washington and Idaho Railroad and the Snake River Valley Railroad arrived in Almota in 1907. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002


Map, 1878, Snake and Tucannon Rivers, with Central Ferry and Almota Ferry, click to enlarge Map, 1881, Snake, Clearwater, Grande Ronde, Salmon, click to enlarge Map, 1893, Snake River and vicinity, click to enlarge Map, 1910 USGS topo map of the Snake River, Almota area, click to enlarge Engraving, 1883, Aerial view, Almota, on the Snake River, click to enlarge
  1. 1878 Map, part of the Snake River showing Snake and Tucannon Rivers, with Central Ferry, Penawawa City, Almota Ferry, Pomeroy, and Pataha City. (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Map of south eastern Washington Territory compiled from official surveys and published by Eastwick, Morris & Co. ; drawn by John Hanson, 1878" Washington State University Historical Maps Collection #WSU371. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2004
  2. 1881 Map, Snake, Clearwater, Grande Ronde, and Salmon Rivers (section of original). (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Map of the Grande Ronde Wallowa and Imnaha Country, 1881". Map section shows the Snake River (name doesn't show), "Clear Water" River (central right, tributary to the Snake), Grande Ronde River (lower left, only "de River" shows, tributary to the Snake), Salmon River (lower right, tributary to the Snake) Lewiston, Central Ferry, Alpowai, Dayton, Pataha, and the Blue Mountains. By H. Chandler, Eng., Buffalo, 1881., Washington State University Historical Maps Collection #WSU468. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002
  3. 1893 Map, part of the Snake River showing location of principal rapids (section of original). Includes Central Ferry to Alpowa Creek. (Click to enlarge). Original Map: "Part of the Snake River from its mouth to the Grande Ronde, showing location of principal rapids". U.S. Engineers Office, 1893. Washington State University Historical Maps Collection #WSU586. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002
  4. 1910 Map (section of original), from Pullman 1:125,000 topographic quadrangle. (Click to enlarge). Original map surveyed in 1910, contour interval of 50 feet. -- University of Washington Library Collections Website, 2002
  5. 1882 Engraving, Almota, on the Snake River, Washington Territory. (Click to enlarge). Etching by Frank T. Gilbert (A. Burr), 1882. Washington State University Archives Collection #WSU549. -- Washington State University Library Archives Website, 2002



where we encamped at two Indian huts, which are now inhabited. [just below Lower Granite Dam] ...... The country on both sides, after mounting a steep ascent of about two hundred feet, becomes an open, level and fertile plain, which is, however, as well as the borders of the river itself, perfectly destitute of any kind of timber; and the chief growth which we observed consisted of a few low blackberries. We killed some geese and ducks. The wind in the after part of the day changed to the southwest and became high.
"... The country on both sides is high dry prairie plains without a stick of timber. There is no wood of any kind to be seen except a few small willows along the shore; so that it is with difficulty we can get enough to cook with. The hills on the river are not very high, but rocky; the rocks of a dark colour. The bed and shores of the river are very stony; and the stones of a round smooth kind ..." [Gass, October 11, 1805]


Along the Journey - October 11, 1805
The Camp - October 11, 1805:
Lewis and Clark's camp of October 11, 1805, was located on the Snake River near the mouth of Almota Creek, approximately 4 miles downstream of the Lower Granite Dam.



 
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