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The Volcanoes of
Lewis and Clark
October 23, 1805
"Great Falls of the Columbia" - The Portage Continues
 
Home
The Volcanoes of Lewis and Clark

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

The Volcanoes
Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Mount Rainier, and Mount St. Helens

CALENDAR of the Journey
October 1805 to June 1806

Along the Journey
Pacific Northwest Maps - Columbia River, Volcanoes, Flood Basalts, Missoula Floods, Geology, etc.

The Corps of Discovery
The Journey of Lewis and Clark

About the Reference Materials
The Journals, Biddle/Allen, DeVoto, Gass, Moulton, Topo Maps, and others

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Links to USGS Websites highlighting the Lewis and Clark Journey

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Publications Referenced and Websites Visited


PREVIOUS

October 22
"Great Falls of the Columbia"
Maryhill to Celilo
October 23

"Great Falls of the Columbia"
The Portage Continues

"Great Falls of the Columbia", Celilo Falls and Wishram (Washington)
CONTINUE

October 24
The Dalles, "Short Narrows"
 

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
"Great Falls of the Columbia" - The Portage Continues
 

Lewis and Clark's camp of October 22 and 23, 1805, was on the Washington side of the Columbia River, downstream of Wishram, Washington, and across from Oregon's Celilo Park. The men are portaging across the "Great Falls of the Columbia" (Celilo Falls), an area now under the waters of Lake Celilo.

Wednesday, October 23, 1805
Having ascertained from the Indians, and by actual examination [Celilo Falls, "Great Falls of the Columbia"], the best mode of bringing down the canoes, it was found necessary, as the river was divided into several narrow channels, by rocks and islands, to follow the route adopted by the Indians themselves. This operation captain Clarke began this morning, and after crossing to the other side of the river, hauled the canoes over a point of land, so as to avoid a perpendicular fall of twenty feet. At the distance of four hundred and fifty-seven yards we reached the water, and embarked at a place where a long rocky island [???] compresses the channel of the river within the space of a hundred and fifty yards, so as to form nearly a semicircle. On leaving this rocky island [???] the channel is somewhat wider, but a second and much larger island [???] of hard black rock, still divides it from the main stream, while on the left shore it is closely bordered by perpendicular rocks. Having descended in this way for a mile, we reached a pitch of the river, which being divided by two large rocks, descends with great rapidity down a fall eight feet in height: as the boats could not be navigated down this steep descent, we were obliged to land and let them down as slowly as possible by strong ropes of elk skin, which we had prepared for the purpose. They all passed in safety except one, which being loosed by the breaking of the ropes, was driven down, but was recovered by the Indians below.
"... a fine morning, I with the greater part of the men Crossed in the Canoes to opposit Side above the falls and hauled them across the portage of 457 yards which is on the Lard. Side and certainly the best side to pass the canoes I then decended through a narrow chanel of about 150 yards wide forming a kind of half circle in it course of a mile to a pitch of 8 feet in which the chanel is divided by 2 large rocks at this place we were obliged to let the Canoes down by Strong ropes I accomplished this necessary business and landed Safe with all the Canoes at our Camp below the falls by 3 oClock P.M. ... The Altitude of this day 66o 27' 30" gave for Latd. 45o 42' 57 3/10 N. ..." [Clark, October 23, 1805]
"... The whole height of the falls is 37 feet 8 inches, in a distance of 1200 yards. ..." [Gass, October 23, 1805]


Along the Journey - October 23, 1805
Celilo Falls, ca.1940

Celilo Falls ("Great Falls of the Columbia"):
Celilo Falls was known as the "Great Falls of the Columbia". The Columbia River cut into basalt rock to create a constriction of the river with a twenty-foot falls followed by a mile of narrow, channeled rapids with a drop of eight feet in river elevation. The Lewis and Clark expedition arrived at the "Great Falls of the Columbia" in late October, 1805, and were forced to portage around to continue on downriver. In the spring of 1806 they had to pass through the falls again on their journey home. The Celilo Falls were drowned in 1957 with the construction of The Dalles Dam. -- Washington State University Library Collections Website, 2002, Washington State Historical Society Website, 2002


Map, 1814, Great Falls of the Columbia, click to enlarge Map, 1887, The Dalles vicinity, click to enlarge Map, 1888, Celilo Falls and Vicinity, click to enlarge Map, 1983, Celilo Falls, click to enlarge Map, 1983, Celilo Falls, Wishram, click to enlarge Image, ca.1879-1909, Celilo Falls, click to enlarge Image, 1900, Celilo Falls, click to enlarge Image, ca.1913, Upper Celilo Falls, click to enlarge Image, ca.1937, Celilo Falls, click to enlarge Image, Celilo Falls, click to enlarge Penny Postcard, ca.1940, Basalt of Celilo Falls, click to enlarge Image, 1946, Celilo Falls area, click to enlarge Image, 2003, Celilo Park, Wishram, and Mount Hood
  1. 1814 Map, Great Falls of the Columbia. (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. 1887 Map (section of original), Columbia River at The Dalles. (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. 1888 Map (section of original), Columbia River at Celilo Falls. (Click to enlarge). Original Map: Map of Columbia River from The Dalles to Celilo, Oregon, 1880. Scale 1:30,000. Relief shown by contours. Shows a section of the Columbia River, including fall and rapids, water gauges, and "basaltic" region. Original map is reduced from sheet 1 and 2, survey of 1879-1880, Published G.P.O. 1889. University of Washington Archives #UW66. -- University of Washington Library Archives Website, 2004
  4. 1983 Map, Celilo Falls. (Click to enlarge). Office of Coast Surveys, Historical Maps and Charts, Lake Celilo, 1983, Chart#18533, 1:20,000. -- NOAA Office of Coast Survey Website, 2004
  5. 1983 Map, Celilo Falls and Wishram. (Click to enlarge). Office of Coast Surveys, Historical Maps and Charts, Lake Celilo, 1983, Chart#18533, 1:20,000. -- NOAA Office of Coast Survey Website, 2004
  6. ca.1879-1909, A scene in the region served by the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company between 1879-1909. (Click to enlarge). Oregon State Archives Photograph, Salem Public Library Collection. Photograph Date: 1879-1909. -- Oregon State Archives Website, 2002
  7. 1900, Celilo Falls. (Click to enlarge). Celilo Falls on the Columbia, by Benjamin Gifford, 1900. Oregon Historical Society #OrHi89622. -- Oregon Historical Society Archives Website, 2002
  8. ca.1913, Upper Celilo Falls. (Click to enlarge). Photo by Albert Henry Barnes, ca.1913. University of Washington A.H. Barnes Collection #BAR010. -- University of Washington Library Archives, 2003
  9. ca.1937, Fishing at Celilo Falls. (Click to enlarge). The men stand on platforms and fish for the salmon with nets on long poles. Overhead are the cables used to transport people in a small cable car to an island in the river. The Celilo Falls are in the background. Photographer: Ralph Gifford. Photograph Date: ca. 1937. Oregon State Archives, Salem Public Library Collection # OHDG211. -- Oregon State Archives Website, 2002
  10. Native Americans fishing off platforms at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River, Oregon. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Historic Library #700-07. -- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, 2002
  11. ca.1940, Penny Postcard, Basalt at Celilo Falls. (Click to enlarge). "Cecilo (sic) Falls from Columbia River Highway, Oregon". #858, Wesley Andrews Co., Portland, Oregon. -- L.Topinka private collection, 2003, used with permission
  12. 1946, Horse seining for salmon on the Columbia River near Celilo Falls. (Click to enlarge). The horses are used to pull the heavy nets. Oregon State Archives Oregon State Highways Division Photograph #OHD2716. Photographer: Rosin. Photograph Date: September 10, 1946. -- Oregon State Archives Website, 2003
  13. 2003, Looking downstream on the Columbia River at the Celilo Falls area. (Click to enlarge). Celilo Park, Oregon is on the left and Wishram, Washington is on the right. Mount Hood, Oregon, is in the distance. Image from Washington State Highway 14. Copyright © 2003 Lyn Topinka, private archives, used with permission.



With this rapid ends the first pitch of the great falls [Celilo Falls], which is not great in point of height, and remarkable only for the singular manner in which the rocks have divided its channel. From the marks every where perceivable at the falls, it is obvious that in high floods, which must be in the spring, the water below the falls rises nearly to a level with that above them. Of this rise, which is occasioned by some obstructions which we do not as yet know, the salmon must avail themselves to pass up the river in such multitudes, that that fish is almost the only one caught in great abundance above the falls; but below that place, we observe the salmon trout, and the heads of a species of trout smaller than the salmon trout, which is in great quantities, and which they are now burying to be used as their winter food. ......

Mount Hood, Oregon is visible along this stretch of the Columbia River.


Along the Journey - October 23, 1805
Columbia River, Celilo Park and Wishram, 2003

Celilo Falls area and Wishram today:
Today the Celilo Falls area has been inundated with the waters of Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam. Across from Wishram, Washington, is now Celilo Park, Oregon.


Map, 1814, Great Falls of the Columbia, click to enlarge Map, 1983, Celilo Falls, click to enlarge Map, 1983, Celilo Falls, Wishram, click to enlarge Image, 2003, Celilo Park, Wishram, and Mount Hood
  1. 1814 Map, Great Falls of the Columbia. (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. 1983 Map, Celilo Falls. (Click to enlarge). Office of Coast Surveys, Historical Maps and Charts, Lake Celilo, 1983, Chart#18533, 1:20,000. -- NOAA Office of Coast Survey Website, 2004
  3. 1983 Map, Celilo Falls and Wishram. (Click to enlarge). Office of Coast Surveys, Historical Maps and Charts, Lake Celilo, 1983, Chart#18533, 1:20,000. -- NOAA Office of Coast Survey Website, 2004
  4. 2003, Looking downstream on the Columbia River at the Celilo Falls area. (Click to enlarge). Celilo Park, Oregon is on the left and Wishram, Washington is on the right. Mount Hood, Oregon, is in the distance. Image from Washington State Highway 14. Copyright © 2003 Lyn Topinka, private archives, used with permission.


About three o'clock we reached the lower camp, but our joy at having accomplished this object was somewhat diminished, by the perscution of a new acquaintance. On reaching the upper point of the portage, we found that the Indians had been encamped there not long since, and had left behind them multitudes of fleas. These sagacious animals were so pleased to exchange the straw and fish skins, in which they had been living, for some better residence, that we were soon covered with them, and during the portage the men were obliged to strip to the skin, in order to brush them from their bodies. They were not, however, so easily dislodged from our clothes, and accompanied us in great numbers to our camp. ......


Along the Journey - October 23, 1805
The Camp - October 22 and 23, 1805:
Downstream of Wishram, Washington, across from Oregon's Celilo Park.



 
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June/July 2004, Lyn Topinka
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