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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Chinook, Chinook Point, and Scarboro Hill, Washington"
Includes ... Chinook ... Chinook Point ... Scarboro Hill ... Scarborough Hill ... Chinook County State Park ... "Village Point" ... "Point Open-Slope" ... "Point Komikomi" ... "Chenoke Point" ... Nose-to-Ilse" ... National Register of Historic Places ...
Image, 2005, Chinook Point, from downstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Chinook Point, Washington. View from Chinook County Park, downstream of Chinook Point. Saddle Mountain is along the horizon, right. Image taken April 19, 2005.


Chinook Point ...
Chinook Point lies on the Washington shore of the Columbia River approximately at River Mile (RM) 8, just downstream of Point Ellice and McGowan, Washington, the location of Lewis and Clark's Station Camp. Downstream of Chinook Point begins Baker Bay. The Chinook River is lcoated 4 "shore miles" downstream from Chinook Point and enters into Baker Bay. Above Chinook Point rises Scarboro Hill. While Lewis and Clark's "base camp" was at Station Camp, the men rounded Chinook Point and Scarboro Hill on their way to and from the Pacific Ocean. Patrick Gass makes a reference to the point in a memoranda in his journal.

"... To Point Open-slope, below encampment ..." [Gass, in memoranum]

Chinook Point and the Chinook River were named after the Chinook Indians who lived along the lower Columbia River. In 1896 the U.S. Army began construction of Fort Columbia on Chinook Point, one of the main defensive positions to defend the mouth of the Columbia River.

According to Robert Hitchman in "Place Names of Washington" (1985):

"A north shore point of Columbia River, now included in Ft. Columbia State Park, 2 miles south of Chinook, southwest Pacific County. Many names have been used, including the Indian name "Nose-to-Ilse". In 1792, Broughton mapped it as "Village Point", then, in 1811, David Douglas named it "Point Komkomle" for a famous Chenoke chief, and, in 1839, Belcher named it "Chenoke Point". The present name honors the local Chenoke Indian nation."
[NOTE: Botanist David Douglas did not arrive until 1824. The year 1811 refers to the Astorians, and possibly British explorer David Thompson.]

Image, 2004, Chinook Point, from upstream, click to enlarge
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Chinook Point, Washington. As seen from Station Camp, upstream of Chinook Point. Cape Disappointment is in the distance. Image taken April 9, 2004.


Chinook, Washington ...
According to Robert Hitchman in "Place Names of Washington" (1985):

"Village on the north bank of Columbia River, 5 miles southeast of Ilwaco, southwest Pacific County. When Pacific County was established on February 4, 1851, this important fishing center was the county seat, and was then called "Chinookville". The name, chosen by the earliest settlers, is a distortion of the sinuk or "Chenoke", the original name of an Indian tribe, which lived near the mouth of the Columbia River."

According to Larry J. Weathers in The Sou'wester (1989, Pacific County Historical Society and Museum):

"CHINOOK:   A resort and fishing community located on Baker Bay / Columbia River between the Chinook River and Fort Columbia. Named for the Chinook India who once occupied the north shore of the Lower Columbia River. In the 1850s the area was known as White's Point because Neil White, a squatter, had a cabin there. H. S. Gile, pioneer land surveyor, purchased several land claims in 1864, and later, under the name Gile Investment Company, sold lots to new settlers. In the 1880s and 90s Chinook was famed throughout the U.S. for its catch of salmon. A post office was established at Chinook on March 17, 1892."

Image, 2012, Chinook, Washington, click to enlarge
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Chinook General Store, Chinook, Washington. Image taken January 27, 2012.
Image, 2012, Chinook, Washington, click to enlarge
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Weather vane, Chinook, Washington. Image taken March 8, 2012.


Scarboro Hill ...
Scarboro Hill (also seen as "Scarborough Hill") is the hill which rises above Chinook Point and is the home to Fort Columbia. Scarboro Hill was named after James A. Scarborough who settled at Chinook Point in 1843, filed a Donation Land Claim, and lived on the property until his death in 1855. James Scarborough's property extended about a mile along the north bank of the Columbia, and included all of Chinook Point and most of Scarborough Hill.

According to Robert Hitchman in "Place Names of Washington" (1985):

"Hill northeast of Fort Columbia, near Chinook, southwest Pacific County. It was once the home of Chief Comcomly of the Chinook nation, and was named for Capt. James Scarborough, a sea captain in the employ of Hudson's Bay Company, who owned a land claim here in 1848. In 1813, the hill was named "Chinook Hill" by Alexander Henry and so charted by Wilkes in 1841. On some older maps the feature is called "Scarboro Head"."

According to "HistoryLink.org" website of Washington State History (2007):

"... Ann Scarborough died in 1852 and Captain Scarborough died two and a half years later, on February 4, 1855. On April 23, 1856, James Birnie, guardian of Scarborough’s two young sons, sold the Scarborough Donation Land Claim to Rocque Ducheney for $1,250. On March 7, 1864, Captain George Henry Elliot bought the property on behalf of the United States from Ducheney’s heirs for $2,000. An additional $1,000 was paid to Ducheney’s widow and her new husband for a quit-claim deed renouncing all interest in the property. The Secretary of War approved the transaction and the deed was recorded on March 13, 1867. In 1898, the property became the U.S. Army's Fort Columbia. At the end of World War II, Fort Columbia was declared surplus and in 1950 was transferred to the custody of the state of Washington. Since then it has been a state park. Twelve historic wood-frame buildings still stand on the premises. ..."

The U.S. Board of Geographic Names lists "Scarboro Hill" as the official spelling.


Image, 2012, Scarboro, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Scarboro Hill, Washington. View from the west. Image taken March 8, 2012.


Early Chinook Point and Scarboro Hill ...
American Captain Robert Gray anchored his brig at Chinook Point in 1792. Gray then went on to explore the lower 20 miles of the Columbia River.

Also in 1792 Lieutenant Broughton entered the Columbia and explored it for the British. Broughton called the point "Village Point" for a large Indian village situated near the projection into the river.

"... The next day, being the 22d of October, the wind blew strong from the eastward, and there was little probability from the appearance of the weather of soon being able, with any degree of safety, to remove the vessel further up the inlet. That intention being laid aside, Mr. Broughton proceeded with the cutter and launch to examine the shores of its southern side. He first landed at the deserted village, on the northern shore, and on the eastern side of Village point; which he found a good leading mark for clearing the shoals that lie between it and cape Disappointment, carrying regular soundings of four fathoms. From this point he passed over to point Adams, the starboard of S.E. point of entrance into this inlet; ..." [Vancouver, October 22, 1792]

In 1805 the Lewis and Clark expedition camped upstream of Chinook Point on their journey to the Pacific Ocean. They used "Point open Slope" to describe the promontory below their main camp (Station Camp). The open slope had to be crossed, first by Lewis and later by Clark, when they explored the mouth of the river and Cape Disappointment.

"... To Point Open-slope, below encampment ..." [Gass, in memoranum]

Another early name for Chinook Point was "Point Komkomle" to honor the Chinook chief, Chief Comcomly, whose village was located there.

According to the early "Coast Pilots", the Indian name for the point was "Nose-to-Ilse".

In 1839 Sir Edward Belcher of the British Navy, named the point for the Indian traders on the Columbia, "Chenoke Point".

In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition, called the hilly area the "Chinook Hills". His "Map of the Oregon Territory" shows "Chenook Pt.".

It 1853 the U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot" used "Chinook Point" and "Chinook hill".

"... Baker's Bay terminates to the eastward at Chinook Point, which is 5 miles to the eastward of Cape Disappointment. ..."

"... After making Cape Disappointment, which is easily distinguishable by the dark hummocks and tall pines, trimmed up, with the exception of their tops ... When Young's Point is open with dead trees on Point Adams, you will be to the northward of the end of the north spit, and may run down along it, until those two points are on range; then haul in for Point Ellice, or the green patch on Chinook hill, if intending to take the channel by the cape. ..."

It 1858 the U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot" used "Chinook Point" and "Scarborough hill".

"... Chinook Point, behind which rises Scarborough hill destitute of trees and covered with fern. ..."

An 1859 Cadastral Survey for T9N R10W, filed with the Surveyor General's Office, Washington Territory, simply had the point labeled "Chenook". Scarboro Hill was labeled as "Scarborough Hill".

An 1863 Cadastral Survey of that township/range shows the area below Scarborough Hill, bordering on the Columbia, as Claim No.37, filed for "J.S. Scarborough". This particular survey copy (courtesy Oregon Bureau of Land Management Website) has an 1899 notation in the margin stating "Purchased by the U.S., See from Genl. A.A. Humphreys, May 19, 1867, H3365". Just upstream of the Scarborough claim was Claim No.38, for "Pat J. McGowin". A small section adjacent to and just above the "McGowin" claim had a notation in the margin stating "Lot 9, Sec.22 set aside as a military reservation by Presidents order of May 8, 1899, See Commissioner's Letter "E" May 17, 1899". The Scarborough area is now part of Fort Columbia, and the "McGowin" (spelled "McGowan" on the 1896 Cadastral Survey) claim is the town of McGowan. McGowan is located adjacent to Lewis and Clark's Station Camp.

In 1865, according to the Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office Records (GLO), on December 22, 1865, Ann E. Scarborough, and James A. Heirs of Scarborough, were granted title to 643.201 acres of T9N R10W, Sections 15, 16, 17, and 21 (Oregon-Donation Act of 1850). (Information from the "HistoryLink.org" website of Washington State History -- see Scarborough Hill above -- differs from this BLM information).

Between 1896 and 1904, the United States Army built Fort Columbia at Chinook Point/Scarboro Hill, for its unobstructive view of the Columbia River. Fort Columbia, along with Fort Canby on Cape Disappointment and Fort Stevens on Point Adams became a triangular defense of the Columbia River mouth which was to remain active until the close of Word War II. Remnants of the gun batteries and buildings can still be found in Fort Columbia State Park.


National Register of Historic Places ...
In 1966 Chinook Point was added to the National Register of Historic Places (Site #66000747) for its discovery by Captain Robert Gray, laying the foundation for claim of the Pacific Northwest by the United States, and its subsequent stratigic military location (Fort Columbia).

Image, 2004, Chinook Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Chinook Point with Cape Disappointment in the background. Image taken April 9, 2004.
Image, 2005, Columbia River from Fort Columbia State Park, click to enlarge
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Columbia River from Fort Columbia Barracks on Chinook Point. Image taken February 19, 2005.


From the "Coast Pilots" ...
From the 1862 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot":

"... Chinook Point, on the northern side of the river, lies N. by E. 2 3/4 miles from Point Adams, and E. 1/4 N. 4 3/4 miles from Cape Disappointment. It is a long, low sand strip at the base of the high wooded hills behind it. One of the hills, called Scarborough, is readily recognized by a great part of its southern slope being destitute of trees and covered with fern; no other hill near this vicinity possesses this peculiar feature. A number of fishing and Indian huts are situated upon the Chinook beach, the people being engaged in catching and curing salmon, with which the waters abound. ... Chinook Point was the special location of the once powerful tribe of Chinook Indians, and here the celebrated one-eyed chief, Concomly, held sway. ... The point was called Village Point by Broughton, in 1792. In 1839 it was called Chenoke Point by Belcher. The Indian name is Nose-to-ilse. ..."

From the 1869 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot":

"... Chinook Point, on the northern side of the river, lies north by east two and three-quarters miles from Point Adams, and east quarter north four and three-quarters miles from Cape Disappointment. It is a long, low sand strip at the base of the high wooded hills behind it. One of the hills, called Scarborough, is readily recognized by a great part of its southern slope being destitute of trees and covered with fern; no other hill near this vicinity possesses this peculiar feature.

A number of fishing and Indian huts are situated upon the Chinook beach, the people being engaged in catching and curing salmon, with which the waters abound. The mode of catching them is by means of nets; those of Indian construction being made of twine spun from the fibres of the spruce roots, and sometimes from a peculiar grass obtained from northern coast Indians. The mode of curing is very rude and inefficient, and thousands of barrels that have been shipped have proved worthless. There is no reason why this should not become a large and profitable branch of buisness. The fish are the largest on the coast, often exceeding eighty pounds in weight. ...

Chinook Point was the special location of the once poweful tribe of Chinook Indians, and here the celbrated one-eyed chief, Concomly, held sway. The tribe has dwindled to less than a hundred persons ... The point was called Village Point by Broughton, in 1792. In 1839 it was called Chenoke Point by Belcher. The Indian name is Nose-to-ilse. ..."

From the 1889 U.S. Coast Survey "Coast Pilot":

"... Chinook Point -- This is the western part of the long, rounding point which lies on the north side of the river broad off the north shore of Point Adams. The south side of this point is two miles long east and west, and Chinook Point proper is the southernmost part of the low shore one and five-eights miles west of Point Ellice. Less than a quarter of a mile behind it the flat wooded margin changes to a wooded hill which rises rapidly towards the north. In front of the point is a long, low sand strip with a broad, low-water sand beach. The three-fathom line lies four hundred yards outside the low-water mark. East of Chinook Point and nearer Point Ellice there was an assemblage of fishing huts. West of Chinook Point, six-tenths of a mile, the beach is broken by the rocky spur from Scarborough Hill projecting beyond the high-water sand beach. This spur is grass and fern covered and reaches three hundred and twenty feet elevation in one-third of a mile to the north. There is now quite a settlement at Chinook Point and a large cannery between it and Point Ellice. Chinook Point was the favorite location of the once powerful tribe of Chinook Indians, and here the celebrated one-eyed chief Concomly held sway. In 1851 the tribe had dwindled to less than a hundred persons ... The point was called Village Point by Broughton in 1792. In 1839 it was called Chenoke Point by Belcher. It was named Chinook Point by the Coast Survey in 1850. The Indian name is now Nose-to-ilse. ..."

"... Scarborough Hill -- This is a well-known landmark and leading-in range on the north side of the river behind Chinook Point. The highest part lies three and a half miles north by east (N. by E.) from Fort Stevens on Point Adams, and five and three-quarters miles east three-quarters north (E. 3/4 N.) from Cape Disappointment Light. It is a long, gradually rising hill-side stretching from a narrow point and ridge at the river's edge to the summit of the ridge. It is covered with grass, fern, and sallal bushes, and presents an unusually bright-green appearance because on either side and behind it the hills are covered with the dense forests of dark-green fir. It is the only grass-faced hill on the north side of the river inside Cape Disappointment visible from seaward. ... The hill was called Chinook Hill by the United States Exploring Expedition in 1841, but was always known to the Hudson Bay Company's people as Scarborough Hill, and this name has been retained by navigators. The rocky point where the hill reaches the river border has been named Scarborough Point. ..."


Chinook Point, etc.

  • Destination: The Pacific ...
  • Fort Columbia ...
  • McGowan Cannery ...
  • Views from Chinook Point ...


Destination: The Pacific ...
The Discovery Expedition of St. Charles re-enactors have been traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail since the kick-off event in Monticello in January 2003. On November 15, 2005, the group made a stop at Chinook County Park, Chinook, Washington, as part as the "Destination: The Pacific" signature bicentennial event.
[More]

Image, 2005, Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Celebration, click to enlarge
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Discovery Expedition of St. Charles. Chinook County Park Bicentennial Celebration. The reenactors from St. Louis board their dugout canoes after visiting Chinook County Park. Chinook Point is in the background. Image taken November 15, 2005.


Fort Columbia ...
[More]

Image, 2005, Fort Columbia State Park, click to enlarge
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Barracks, Fort Columbia State Park, Washington. Image taken April 19, 2005.


McGowan Cannery ...
Patrick J. McGowan owned a large cannery along the Columbia River located at McGowan, between Point Ellice and Chinook Point.
[More Columbia River Canneries]

Image, Chinook Gypsy Salmon Label, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
LABEL: Gypsy Salmon, Chinook, Washington.
Chinook Packing Company, Distributors, 7 1/4 oz.


Views from Chinook Point ...
Baker Bay begins downstream of Chinook Point. Cape Disappointment and Sand Island can be seen from Chinook Point, as well as the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

Image, 2004, Baker Bay from Chinook Point, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Baker Bay, as seen from Chinook Point, Washington. View from outside Fort Columbia State Park. Image taken April 9, 2004.
Image, 2005, Baker Bay from Chinook Point, click to enlarge
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Baker Bay, as seen from Chinook Point, Washington. View from outside Fort Columbia State Park. Image taken February 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Baker Bay from Chinook Point, Washington, from Cape Disappointmetn, click to enlarge
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Baker Bay from Chinook Point, Washington, at high tide. Image taken April 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Cape Disappointment from Chinook Point, click to enlarge
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Cape Disappointment, as seen from Chinook Point, Washington. View from outside Fort Columbia State Park. Image taken February 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Sand Island at Baker Bay, click to enlarge
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Sand Island and Cape Disappointment. View from Chinook Point. Image taken April 19, 2005.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 18, 1805 ...
A little cloudy this morning I Set out [from their camp at Station Camp] with 10 men and my man York to the Ocian by land. i. e. Serjt. Ordway & Pryor, Jos. & Ru. Fields, Go. Shannon, W. Brattin, J. Colter, P. Wiser, W. Labieche & P. Shabono one of our interpreters & York. [according to Moulton, Clark gave the other men's names in two inconsistent lists --- those named included Clark, Ordway, Charbonneau, Pryor, the Field brothers, Shannon, Colter, Weiser, Labiche, Bratton, and York.] I Set out at Day light and proceeded on a Sandy beech

N. 80° W. 1 Mile to a point of rocks about 40 feet high [Chinook Point, now the location of Fort Columbia], from the top of which the hill Side is open and assend with a Steep assent [Scarboro Hill] to the tops of the Mountains, a Deep nitch and two Small Streams above this point, then my course was

N. W. 7 Mile to the enterance of a creek [Chinook River] at a lodge or cabin of Chinnooks passing on a wide Sand bar the bay to my left [Baker Bay] and Several Small ponds Containing great numbers of water fowls to my right; with a narrow bottom of alder & Small balsam between the Ponds and the Mountn. ...     This Creek appears to be nothing more than the conveyance of Several Small dreans from the high hills and the ponds on each Side near its mouth. here we were Set across all in one Canoe by 2 Squars to each I gav a Small hook

S. 79° W. 5 Miles to the mouth of Chin nook river, [today's Wallacut River] passed a low bluff of a small hite at 2 miles below which is the remains of huts near which place is also the remains of a whale on the Sand, the countrey low open and Slashey, with elivated lands interspersed covered with pine & thick under groth This river [Wallacut River] is 40 yards wide at low tide- here we made a fire and dined on 4 brant and 48 Pliver which was killed by Labiech on the coast as we came on. ...     after dineing we crossed the river in an old canoe which I found on the Sand near Som old houses & proceeded on-

S. 20° W. 4 Miles to a Small rock island in a deep nitch     passed a nitch at 2 miles in which there is a dreen from Some ponds back, the land low opposite this nitch a bluff of yellow Clay and Soft Stone from the river to the Comencement of this nitch     below the Country rises to high hills of about 80 or 90 feet above the water- at 3 miles passed a nitch- this rock Island is Small and at the South of a deep bend [near Illwaco, Washington] in which the nativs inform us the Ships anchor, and from whence they receive their goods in return for their peltries and Elk Skins &c. this appears to be a very good harber for large Ships. here I found Capt Lewis name on a tree. I also engraved my name & by land the day of the month and year, as also Several of the men.

S. 46° E. 2 Miles to the inner extremity of Cape Disapointment passing a nitch [location of Fort Canby] in which there is a Small rock island, a Small Stream falls into this nitch from a pond [today O'Neil Lake lies between Fort Canby and McKenzie Head] which is imediately on the Sea Coast passing through a low isthmus. this Cape is an ellivated <Situat> Circlier point [location Cape Disappointment Lighthouse] Covered with thick timber on the iner Side and open grassey exposur next to the Sea and rises with a Steep assent to the hight of about 150 or 160 feet above the leavel of the water <from the last mentioned nitch-> this cape [Cape Disappointment] as also the Shore both on the Bay & Sea coast is a dark brown rock [basalt]. I crossed the neck of Land low and ˝ of a mile wide to the main Ocian [today Waikiki Beach is located on the ocean side of this isthmus], at the foot of a high open hill projecting into the ocian, and about one mile in Sicumfrance. I assended this hill [McKenzie Head] which is covered with high corse grass. decended to the N. of it and camped. I picked up a flounder on the beech this evening.-

from Cape Disapointment to a high point of a Mountn. which we shall call [the Nicholas Biddle version has Clarke's Point of View inserted here. "Clarke's Point of View" is today's Tillamook Head, a name received when Clark visited and climbed the formation in Janaury 1806.] beares S. 20° W. about <40> [WC?: 25] miles, point adams is verry low and is Situated within the direction between those two high points of land, the water appears verry Shole from off the mouth of the river for a great distance, and I cannot assertain the direction of the deepst Chanel, the Indians point nearest the opposit Side. the waves appear to brake with tremendious force in every direction quite across a large Sand bar lies within the mouth nearest to point Adams [Point Adams] which is nearly covered at high tide. I suped on brant this evening with a little pounded fish. Some rain in the after part of the night. men appear much Satisfied with their trip beholding with estonishment the high waves dashing against the rocks & this emence ocian.



Ordway, November 18, 1805 ...
Cloudy. Capt. Clark myself and 10 more of the party Set out [from their camp at Station Camp] in order to go down and see the passiffic ocean [Pacific Ocean]. we proceeded on round Hailys bay [Bakers Bay] crossed two Rivers [Chinook River and Wallacut River] in Sd. bay [Bakers Bay] . ...     we proceeded on round high clifts of rocks where we had much trouble to pass.- towards evening we arived at the Cape disapointment [Cape Disappointment] on the Sea Shore. went over a bald hill [McKenzie Head] where we had a handsom view of the ocean. we went on a Short distance on the coast and Camped for the night.




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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:    Bureau of Land Management website, 2007, General Land Office Records;    "HistoryLink.org" website, 2007, Washington State History;    Hitchman, R., 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington Historical Society Press;    National Register of Historic Places website, 2005;    NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2006;    Oregon Bureau of Land Management website, 2005;    Pacific County Historical Society website, 2011, "Place Names of Pacific County" by Larry J. Weathers, IN: The Sou'wester, Centennial Edition 1989, Vol.XXIV, No.1-4;    Washington State Historical Society website, 2004, "Lasting Legacy";    Washington State Parks and Recreation website, 2004;   

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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May 2012