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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Carson and Carson Hot Springs, Washington"
Includes ... Carson ... Carson Creek ... Carson Hot Springs ... St. Martin's Hotel ...
Image, 2013, Carson, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Carson, Washington, as seen from front window of car. Image taken February 15, 2013.


Carson ...
The small community of Carson, Washington, is located on the east bank of Carson Creek and the west bank of the Wind River, a little over one mile upslope from the Columbia River, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 154. The Carson area was settled in the late 1870s and early 1880s with sawmills being built using the waters of Carson Creek. Lewis and Clark passed by this area on October 30, 1805, calling the Wind River the "New Timbered river", after all the ash trees on its banks.

Carson Creek ...
Carson Creek lies on the west side of the community of Carson and enters the Columbia at River Mile (RM) 153.5. Downstream is Souther Creek, Nelson Creek, and the community of Stevenson.

Carson Hot Springs ...
In 1876 Isadore St. Martin discovered a hot spring bubbling up among the rocks east of town and filed a homestead claim on the property. He developed the St. Martin Hotel and bathhouse, using the waters of the hot spring. St. Martin's hotel is still in operation, today part of the Carson Mineral Hot Springs Golf and Spa Resort.
[More]

Image, 2013, Carson, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hotel St. Martin, Carson Hot Springs Resort, Carson, Washington. Hotel St. Martin was built in 1901. The bathhouse is the building on the right. Image taken February 15, 2013.
Image, 2013, Carson, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
St. Martin's Hot Springs Hotel, Carson, Washington. Image taken February 15, 2013.


Early Carson ...

On October 29, 1805, Lewis and Clark passed by the Carson area and called today's Wind River the "New Timbered river" after the abundant Oregon Ash trees.

"... Some rain, we landed above the mouth of a Small river on the Stard. Side and Dined ...   we call this little river [fr Ash] New Timbered river from a Speces of Ash [that wood] which grows on its banks of a verry large and different from any we had before Seen, and a timber resembling the beech in bark [& groth] but different in its leaf which is Smaller and the tree smaller. ..." [Clark, October 30, 1805]

The Carson area was settled in the late 1870s and early 1880s with sawmills being built using the waters of Carson Creek.

According to Robert Hitchman in "Place Names of Washington" (1985, Washington State Historical Society):

"... Settlement on Carson Creek, 1 mile north of Columbia River, south central Skamania County. It was named for Carson Creek, which is said to be a corruption of "Katsner, the name of a pioneer. ..."

However, Henry Metzger, who settled in the Carson area in 1883, wrote in his article "History of Settlement of the Wind River Valley" ("Skamania County Pioneer", April 21, 1939, online at "rootsweb.com"):

"... Prior to 1893, the nearest store and postoffice was at Cascade Locks, Oregon. To get there and back by rowboat was to say the least, very inconvenient. In that year, A.G. Tucker, an old bachelor, started a store in a miserable, tumble-down shack which was built by the sawmill company. The citizens of Carson applied for a postoffice and were granted a twice-a-week mail service. Mr. Tucker, an ardent admirer of Kit Carson, suggested the name "Carson" for the postoffice and the name was adopted without objection. ...   Before [there was] a postoffice ... Carson was known as "Sprague Landing". ..."

Metzger also wrote:

"... the development of the valley was rather slow until about 1900, or soon thereafter, at which time hotels were built at both the St. Martin's and Shipherd's Hot Springs, 16 miles up the valley. ...

... by about 1910 the town of Carson boasted of 5 hotels, including St. Martins and Shipherds, 1 restaurant, 4 stores, 2 large livery barns, 1 blacksmith, 1 barber, 2 butchershops, 1 bakery, 1 weekly newspaper (for a short time only), 1 billiard hall and dance hall, a brass band, 2 schoolhouses, 1 church and when the railroad was built -- 7 saloons. Four of these saloons were in town, 1 was at Shipherd's Springs, 1 at St. Martin Springs and one near the steamboat landing. The building of the Northbank railroad in 1907 brought a land boom to the valley and uncleared stump and brush land sold for as much as $100 per acre on the lower flat. ..."


Street scenes ...

Image, 2013, Carson, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Street scene, Carson, Washington. View from front window of moving car. Image taken February 15, 2013.
Image, 2013, Carson, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Street scene, Carson, Washington. View from front window of moving car. Image taken February 15, 2013.


Conrad Lundy Jr. Bridge ...
Locally known as the "High Bridge", the Conrad Lundy Jr. Bridge crosses the Wind River north of the community of Carson. The deck truss bridge was built in 1957, was designed by the C.M. Corkum Company, and is 598.1 feet long and 25.9 feet wide. The bridge sits 260 feet above the surface of the water surface. Conrad Lundy was the County Commissioner at the time of the bridge's construction.

The "High Bridge" is the 4th bridge to span the Wind River canyon north of Carson. The first bridge was built in 1890 and lasted two years. Next came a one-lane suspension bridge built in 1913.

"... Across the flats of the valley proper, where the soil is gravelly, road building (such as was needed) was comparatively easy but the crossing of Wind River canyon, three miles north of Carson, was a difficult task. In 1890 the first bridge was built across Wind River Canyon one-half mile upstream from the present cable bridge, by donation labor. Two years later this bridge was washed away and for many months a cable crossing was the only means of getting into or out of the upper valley. About 1910 a delegation of citizens went before the County Commissioners and asked for the construction of a bridge where the cable bridge now stands [note, bridge of 1925]. After much discussion and many delays the commissioners ordered the building of the suspension bridge in 1912. The first estimate of its cost was $8,000.00, but by the time it was ready for traffic it had cost $17,000.00, and since that time steel towers and other improvements have increased this cost, but it has long since paid for itself in convenience to travel. John Isham, better known as "Hi John," drove the first team across this bridge. ..." [Skamania County Pioneer, April 14, 1939, "History of Settlement of the Wind River Valley" by Henry Metzger]

The 1913 bridge was replaced by a steel wire cable suspension bridge in 1925 which was in use until it was bypassed by the current bridge. The 1925 bridge was subsequently removed. In 2002 the Conrad Lundy Jr. Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Architecture/Engineering, #02000326).


Image, 2013, Wind River from High Bridge, Carson, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wind River from "High Bridge", Carson, Washington. View from moving car. The Conrad Lundy Jr. Bridge sits 260 feet above the Wind River. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. Image taken February 15, 2013.
Image, 2013, Wind River from High Bridge, Carson, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wind River downstream, from "High Bridge", Carson, Washington. Image taken February 15, 2013.
Image, 2013, Wind River from High Bridge, Carson, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Wind River, upstream, from "High Bridge", Carson, Washington. Note shadow of bridge structure. Image taken February 15, 2013.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 30, 1805 ...
A cool morning, a moderate rain all the last night, after eating a partial brackfast of venison we Set out [from their camp near Drano Lake and the Little White Salmon River]     passed Several places where the rocks projected into the river & have the appearance of haveing Seperated from the mountains and fallen promiscuisly into the river, Small nitches are formed in the banks below those projecting rocks which is comon in this part of the river, Saw 4 Cascades caused by Small Streams falling from the mountains on the Lard. Side,

[The possiblities in a two-mile area are - upstream to downstream - Starvation Creek and Falls, the seasonal Cabin Creek and Falls, Warren Creek and Falls, Wonder Creek and Lancaster Falls, Lindsey Creek and Falls, and Summit Creek and Falls.]

a remarkable circumstance in this part of the river is, the Stumps of pine trees [Submerged Forest]

[The Submerged Forest existed along the reach from above Dog Mountain/Viento Creek on the upstream edge and Wind Mountain/Shellrock Mountain on the downstream edge.]

are in maney places are at Some distance in the river, and gives every appearance of the rivers being damed up below from Some cause which I am not at this time acquainted with [Bonneville Landslide],     the Current of the river is also verry jentle not exceeding 1 1/2 mile pr. hour and about 3/4 of a mile in width. Some rain, we landed above the mouth of a Small river on the Stard. Side [Wind River] and Dined ...   :  here the river widens to about one mile large Sand bar in the middle, a Great [rock] both in and out of the water, large <round> Stones, or rocks are also permiscuisly Scattered about in the river, ...     this day we Saw Some fiew of the large Buzzard    Capt. Lewis Shot at one, those Buzzards are much larger than any other of ther Spece or the largest Eagle white under part of their wings &c. [California Condor] ...     The bottoms above the mouth of this little river [Wind River] <which we Call> is rich covered with grass & firn & is about 3/4 of a mile wide rich and rises gradually, below the river (which is 60 yards wide above its mouth) the Countery rises with Steep assent. we call this little river <fr Ash> New Timbered river from a Speces of Ash <that wood> which grows on its banks of a verry large and different from any we had before Seen, and a timber resembling the beech in bark <& groth> but different in its leaf which is Smaller and the tree smaller. passed maney large rocks in the river and a large creek on the Stard. Side in the mouth of which is an Island [Rock Creek near Stevenson, Washington], passed on the right of 3 Islands <on> near the Stard. Side, and landed on an Island close under the Stard. Side at the head of the great Shute [head of the Cascades Rapids], and a little below a village of 8 large houses on a Deep bend on the Stard. Side, and opposit 2 Small Islands imediately in the head of the Shute, which Islands are covered with Pine, maney large rocks also, in the head of the Shute. Ponds back of the houses, and Countrey low for a Short distance. The day proved Cloudy dark and disagreeable with Some rain all day which kept us wet. The Countary a high mountain on each Side thickly Covered with timber, Such as Spruc, Pine, Cedar, Oake Cotton &c. &c.     I took two men and walked down three miles to examine the Shute and river below proceeded along an old Indian path, passd. an old village at 1 mile [vicinity of Ice House Lake] ...     I found by examonation that we must make a portage of the greater perpotion of our Stores 2 1/2 miles, and the Canoes we Could haul over the rocks, I returned at Dark ...     a wet disagreeable evening, the only wood we could get to burn on this little Island on which we have encamped [near Ashes Lake, the island is now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir. Ashes Lake was near the head of the Cascade Rapids. Across from Ashes Lake is Cascade Locks, Oregon.] is the newly discovered Ash, which makes a tolerable fire. we made fifteen miles to daye






Clark, April 13, 1806 ...
The loss of one of our large Canoes rendered it necessary to divide the loading and men of that Canoe between the remaining four, which was done and we loaded and Set out at 8 oClock A. M. [from their camp near Ashes Lake]     passed the village imediately above the rapids where only one house remains entire the other 8 haveing been taken down and moved to the opposit Side of the Columbia [downstream of Rock Creek and Stevenson, Washington] ...     Capt. Lewis with 2 of the Smallest Canoes of Sergt. Pryor & gibson and Crossed above the Rapids [Cascade Rapids] to the Village on the S E Side [east of Cascade Locks] with a view to purchase a Canoe of the nativs if possible. ...     I with the two large Canoes proceeded on up the N. W. Side with the intention of gitting to the Encampment of our hunters who was derected to hunt in the bottom above Crusats River [Wind River], and there wait the arrival of Capt. Lewis. I proceeded on to the bottom in which I expected to find the hunters but Could See nothing of them. the wind rose and raised the wavs to Such a hight that I could not proceed any further. we landed and I sent out Shields and Colter to hunt; Shields Shot two deer but Could get neither of them. I walkd. to Crusats river [Wind River] and up it a mile on my return to the party found that the wind had lulled and as we Could See nothing of our hunters. I deturmined to proceed on to the next bottom where I thought it probable they had halted at passed 2 P M Set out and proceeded on to the bottom 6 miles and halted at the next bottom formed a Camp and Sent out all the hunters [near Dog Mountain, between Collins Creek and Dog Creek].     I also walked out my self on the hills but saw nothing. on my return found Capt. Lewis at Camp with two canoes which he had purchased at the Y-ep-huh ...

I was convinced that the hunters must have been up River Cruzatt [Wind River]. despatched Sergt. Pryor with 2 men in a Canoe, with directions to assend Crusats River [Wind River] and if he found the hunters to assist them in with the meat. Jo: Shields returned about Sunset with two deer which he had killed, those were of the Black tail fallow Deer. <the> there appears to be no other Species of Deer in those mountains. We proceeded on 12 miles.





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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

Sources:    "rootsweb.com" website, 2013;   

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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February 2013