Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Anticlines and Synclines"
Includes ... Columbia River Basalt Group ... CRBG ... Anticlines ... Synclines ... Yakima Fold Belt ...
Image, 2006, Hood River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River looking upstream towards Hood River, Oregon. View from the Cook-Underwood Road, Washington. Image taken May 10, 2006.
The Hood River - White Salmon River Syncline (valley) runs left-to-right through the middle of this image, with the Bingen Anticline (ridge) rising behind it. The Bingen Gap is where the Columbia River carved its channel through the Bingen Anticline. The Rowena basalts can be seen in the distance through the Bingen Gap. In this image the White Salmon River is at the middle left edge of the image.

Anticlines and Synclines ...
Concurrent with the Columbia River Basalt (CRBG) eruptions was the folding and faulting of the basalt in the western part of the Columbia Basin, creating a system of anticlines (ridges) and synclines (valleys). This "ridge and valley" topography can easily be seen while driving along the Columbia River.

Columbia River Mile (RM) 170 ... The Hood River - White Salmon River Syncline ...
Almost directly across from the mouth of Washington State's White Salmon River is Oregon's Hood River. These two rivers run down the axis of the Hood River-White Salmon River Syncline which trends northeast. To the east rises the Bingen Anticline.

Hood River to The Dalles ...
"... At the eastern edge of this valley [Hood River Valley] we find that the basalt promptly rises again and it is the successive waves or folds into which it is thrown that give rise to the two prominent divides between Hood River and The Dalles. We shall designate the first the Bingen anticline inasmuch as Bingen on the Washington side is very near the axis of this uplift. The succeeding trough or syncline in which the town of Mosier is located is appropriately termed the Mosier syncline. Beyond Mosier is the Ortley anticline, before passing down into The Dalles trough. ..."

Source:    Oregon Bureau of Mines and Geology, 1916, "The Mineral Resources of Oregon".

RM 171 ... Bingen Anticline ...
The Bingen Anticline is a highpoint in the anticline/syncline geological fold system in this area, and is bordered on the west by the Hood River - White Salmon River Syncline and on the east by the Mosier Syncline. The Bingen Gap is where the Columbia River carved a channel through the Bingen Anticline.

RM 175 ... Mosier Syncline ...
The Mosier Syncline is the lowpoint between the Bingen Anticline (RM 171) to the west, and the Ortley Anticline to the east. The syncline trends northeast and crosses the Columbia River from Mosier, Oregon to Lyle, Washington.

Syncline Winery ...
The Syncline Winery, located northwest of Lyle, Washington, was named for the Mosier Syncline, whose N70E-trending axis runs south of the property.

Image, 2012, Syncline Winery, Lyle, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Syncline Winery sign, Lyle, Washington. Image taken June 15, 2012.

RM 183 ... Ortley Anticline and Ortley/Rowena Gap ...
The Ortley Anticline is the highpoint to the east of the Mosier Syncline, and comprises the Columbia Hills on the Washington side and the Rowena basalts on the Oregon side. This anticline is also refered to as the "Columbia Hills Uplift" and it is the western end of a series of anticlines and synclines known as the Yakima Fold Belt. The Columbia River carved its channel through the Ortley Anticline at a spot today known as the "Ortley Gap", more commonly known as the "Rowena Gap".

Ortley ...
"Ortley, Wasco County:   Ortley was named for the Ortley apple, a variety planted there in considerable numbers. About 1911, it was planned to develop Ortley as a model orchard or fruit-growing community, and the growers were to live in town and operate their orchards from there. The place is on the heights above Rowena and its about seven miles southeast of Mosier. The post office was established about 1911, with L.D. Firebaugh first postmaster. It was discontinued November 30, 1922, and many of the apple trees have beentaken out."

Source:    Lewis A. McArthur and Lewis L. McArthur, 2003, "Oregon Geographic Names", Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland.

Yakima Fold Belt ...
The Yakima Fold Belt is a section of lava flows of the Columbia River Basalt Group extending along the northern banks of the Columbia River east of the Cascade Range. The Yakima Fold Belt consists of a series of generally east-west-trending anticlinal ridges (high points) and synclinal valleys (low points) between those ridges, which were produced under a north-south regional compression. These folds extend from the southern Columbia Plateau into and through the Cascade Range. The anticline/syncline folding started during middle to late Miocene time (17 to 5.5 million years ago) and is continuing today.

The Columbia Hills, also known as the "Ortley Anticline", is in the western part of the Yakima Fold Belt, and is often referred to as the "Columbia Hills Uplift". Upstream (east) of the Columbia Hills are other named ridges such as Alder Ridge, Canoe Ridge, and Paterson Ridge, all of which are anticlines within the Columbia Hills Uplift.

Horse Heaven Hills, Yakima Valley Syncline, and the Rattlesnake Hills Anticline ...
Furthest east in the Yakima Fold Belt lies another anticline, the Horse Heaven Hills. To the north of the Horse Heaven Hills anticline is the Yakima Valley syncline, and to the north of that is the Rattlesnake Hills anticline.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 18, 1805 ...
This morning Cool and fare wind from the S. E. ...     Took our leave of the Chiefs and all those about us [from their camp, the location of today's Sacajawea State Park] and proceeded on down the great Columbia river     passed a large Island at 8 miles about 3 miles in length, a Island on the Stard. Side the upper point of which is opposit the center of the last mentioned Island and reaches 3 miles below the 1st. Island and opposit to this near the middle of the river nine Lodges are Situated on the upper point at a rapid which is between the lower point of the 1st Island and upper point of this; great numbers of Indians appeared to be on this Island, and emence quantites of fish Scaffold     we landed a few minits to view a rapid which Commenced at the lower point, passd this rapid which was verry bad between 2 Small Islands two Still Smaller near the Lard. Side, at this rapid on the Stard. Side is 2 Lodges of Indians Drying fish, at 2 miles lower and 14 below the point passed an Island Close under the Stard. Side on which was 2 Lodges of Indians drying fish on Scaffolds as above

[Today this reach has been inundated by the waters of Lake Wallula, the reservoir behind the McNary Dam. The Burbank Slough - part of the McNary National Wildlife Refuge - dominates the eastern bank of the Columbia and two islands which remain offshore of Wallula are Crescent Island and Badger Island.]    

at 16 miles from the point [junction of the Snake River with the Columbia, location of today's Sacajawea State Park] the river passes into the range of high Countrey at which place the rocks project into the river from the high clifts [Wallula Gap] which is on <both> the Lard. Side about 2/3 of the way across those of the Stard Side about the Same distance, the Countrey rises here about 200 feet above The water and is bordered wth black rugid rocks [Columbia River Basalt],     at the Commencement of this high Countrey [Wallula Gap] on Lard Side a Small riverlet falls in [Walla Walla River] which appears to passed under the high County in its whole cose     Saw a mountain bearing S. W. conocal form Covered with Snow [Mount Hood, Oregon].    passed 4 Islands, at the upper point of the <first> 3rd is a rapid, on this Island is two Lodges of Indians, drying fish, on the fourth Island Close under the Stard. Side is nine large Lodges of Indians Drying fish on Scaffolds as above [Yellepit area]; at this place we were called to land, as it was near night and no appearance of wood [Lewis and Clark are in the Port Kelley area, where today the islands offshore are under the waters of Lake Wallula.],     we proceeded on about 2 miles lower to Some willows, at which place we observed a drift log     formed a Camp on the Lard Side [Spring Gulch] under a high hill nearly opposit to five Lodges of Indians; Soon after we landed, our old Chiefs informed us that the large camp above "was the Camp of the 1st Chief of all the tribes in this quarter [Chief Yellepit], and that he had called to us to land and Stay all night with him, that he had plenty of wood for us &" This would have been agreeable to us if it had have been understood perticelarly as we were compelled to Use drid willows for fuel for the purpose of cooking, we requested the old Chiefs to walk up on the Side we had landed and call to the Chief to come down and Stay with us all night which they did;     ... we made 21 miles to day.

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*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, 2004.

  • DeKay, L., and Hurd, T., 2011, Columbia River Gorge Chapter Ice Age Floods Institute, 2011 Field Trip;
  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, "Oregon Geographic Names", Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • Norman, D.K, Busacca, A.J., and Teissere, R., 2004, Geology of the Yakima Valley Wine Country -- A Geologic Field Trip Guide from Stevenson to Zillah, Washington, Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources Field Trip Guide 1, June 2004;
  • Norman, D.K., and Roloff, J.M., 2004, A Self-Guided Tour of the Geology of the Columbia River Gorge -- Portland Airport to Skamania Lodge, Stevenson, Washington: Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources, Open-File Report 2004-7, March 2004;
  • 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;
  • Oregon Bureau of Mines and Geology, 1916, "The Mineral Resources of Oregon";
  • Swanson, D.A., and Wright, T.L., 1981, Guide to Geologic Field Trip Between Lewiston, Idaho, and Kimberly, Oregon, Emphasizing the Columbia River Basalt Group: IN: Johnston, D.A., and Donnelly-Nolan, J., (eds.), 1981, Guides to Some Volcanic Terranes in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Northern California: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 838, 189p.;
  • U.S. Geological Survey, Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) website, 2006;

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.
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September 2015