Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Fifteenmile Creek, Oregon"
Includes ... Fifteenmile Creek ... The Dalles ... Missoula Floods ...
Image, 2011, Fifteenmile Creek, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fifteenmile Creek, The Dalles, Oregon. View from Seufert Brothers Cannery location. Image taken October 6, 2011.


Fifteenmile Creek ...
Fifteenmile Creek begins east of Mount Hood near Lookout Mountain in Oregon's Cascade Range. It flows 54 miles before reaching the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 192. The mouth of the creek is located at The Dalles Dam at the upper end of the Bonneville Reservoir, the impoundment behind the Bonneville Dam. The remains of the old Seufert Brothers Cannery lie on the left bank at the mouth of Fifteenmile Creek.

Fivemile Creek, Eightmile Creek, and Fifteenmile Creek ...
According to "Oregon Geographic Names" (McArthur and McArthur, 2003):

"Fifteenmile Creek (WASCO):   This is the stream that flows through Dufur, and it received its name in pioneer days because the road from The Dalles crossed it about 15 miles from The Dalles. The road also crossed Fivemile Creek and Eightmile Creek before it reached Fifteenmile Creek. The Dalles-California Highway extends along all of these streams between The Dalles and Dufur. The three streams combine before they flow into the Columbia, and the name Fifteenmile Creek follows through to the Columbia, even though at its mouth it is only about four miles from The Dalles. The mouth of Fifteenmile Creek is at Seufert, and there was a substantial concrete bridge carrying the Historic Columbia River Highway over the creek at that point, known as Deufert Viaduct. All highway traffic now moves over I-84 immediately to the north, although the old viaduct was still standing in 2003. Old maps show Fifteenmile Creek as Nansene Creek, and there was once a community of that name in Wasco County, but the compiler has been unable to secure information about the word Nansene. This is probably the same stream mentioned by Capt. John Charles Fremont on November 25, 1843, as Tinanem Creek. Nansene post office was established May 17, 1880, with William C. Adams first postmaster. The office has been discontinued."

Image, 2011, Fifteenmile Creek, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fifteenmile Creek, The Dalles, Oregon, looking downstream towards The Dalles Dam. View from Seufert Brothers Cannery location. Image taken October 6, 2011.


Fifteenmile Creek and the Missoula Floods ...
The Fairbanks Water Gap was created when flood waters from the Missoula Floods "jumped banks" and flowed through the gap into Fifteenmile Creek, at a spot eight miles east of The Dalles, Oregon.
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Image, 2011, Avery Park, Washington, and Fairbanks Water Gap, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Avery Park, Washington, with Fairbanks Water Gap, Oregon. Waters from the Missoula Floods flowed through the Fairbanks Water Gap into Fifteenmile Creek, eight miles east of The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken September 28, 2011.


Fifteenmile Creek and the Barlow Road ...
From The Dalles, the Barlow Road went south, where it crossed Fifteenmile Creek at the location of today's Dufur.
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Image, 2013, Dufur, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fifteenmile Creek, looking upstream, Dufur, Oregon. View from the old highway ("Main Street") bridge in Dufur. Image taken April 3, 2013.
Image, 2013, Dufur, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fifteenmile Creek, looking downstream, Dufur, Oregon. View from the old highway ("Main Street") bridge in Dufur. Image taken April 3, 2013.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 25, 1805 ...
a cool morning [their camp was near Horsethief Butte] Capt Lewis and my Self walked down to See the place the Indians pointed out as the worst place in passing through the gut, which we found difficuelt of passing without great danger, but as the portage was impractiable with our large Canoes, we Concluded to Make a portage of our most valuable articles and run the canoes thro accordingly on our return divided the party Some to take over the Canoes, and others to take our Stores across a portage of a mile to a place on the Chanel below this bad whorl & Suck, with Some others I had fixed on the Chanel with roapes to throw out to any who Should unfortunately meet with difficuelty in passing through; great number of Indians viewing us from the high rocks under which we had to pass, the 3 first Canoes passed thro very well, the 4th nearly filled with water, the last passed through by takeing in a little water, <we> thus Safely below what I conceved to be the worst part of this Chanel, felt my Self extreamly gratified and pleased. we loaded the Canoes & Set out, and had not proceeded, more than two mile before the unfortunate Canoe which filled crossing the bad place above, run against a rock and was in great danger of being lost, This Chanel is through a hard rough black rock, from 50100 yards wide. Swelling and boiling in a most tremendious maner Several places on which the Indians inform me they take the Salmon as fast as they wish; we passed through a deep bason to the stard Side ["Big Eddy", today Spearfish Lake] of 1 mile below which the River narrows and divided by a rock The Curent we found quit jentle, ...    we landed ...     we proceeded on down the water fine, rocks in every derection for a fiew miles when the river widens and becoms a butifull jentle Stream of about half a mile wide, Great numbers of the Sea Orter [Harbor Seals] about those narrows and both below and above. we Came too, under a high point of rocks on the Lard. Side below a creek [Mill Creek] of 20 yards wide and much water, as it was necessary to make Some Selestial observations we formed our Camp on the top of a high point of rocks [Rock Fort], which forms a kind of <artif> fortification in the Point between the river & Creek [Mill Creek], with a boat guard, this Situation we Concieve well Calculated for defence, and Conveniant to hunt under the foots of the mountain to the West & S. W. where timber of different kinds grows, and appears to be handsom Coverts for the Deer, in oke woods, ...   

This litle Creek [Mill Creek] heads in the range of mountains which run S S W & N W for a long distance on which is Scattering pine white Oake &c. The Pinical of the round toped mountain which we Saw a Short distance below the forks of this river is S. 43 W. of us and abt 37 miles, it is at this time toped with Snow we called this the falls mountain or Timm mountain [Mount Hood].     The face of the Countrey, on both Side of the river above and about the falls, is Steep ruged and rockey open and contain but a Small preportion of erbage, no timber a fiew bushes excepted, The nativs at the upper falls raft their timber down Towarnehooks River [Deschutes River] & those at the narrows take theirs up the river to the lower part of the narrows from this Creek, and Carry it over land 3 miles to their houses &c. at the mouth of this creek ...





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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:    McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland, Oregon;   

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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December 2015