Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Hood River, Oregon ... (the river)"
Includes ... Hood River ... "Labiche River" ... "Dog River" ... City of Hood River ... Wells Island ... Hood River Valley ... Hood River-White Salmon River Syncline ... Mount Hood ... Mount Adams from Hood River ... Sailboarding ... Kiteboarding ...
Image, 2003, Hood River, Oregon, looking towards Columbia River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hood River, Oregon. Mouth of Hood River, Oregon, looking towards its confluence with the Columbia River. Washington State is in the background. Image taken October 25, 2003.


Hood River ...
Hood River originates on the flanks of Mount Hood and flows north, merging with the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 169.5, twenty-two miles upstream of the Bonneville Dam. Hood River, the City of Hood River, and Hood River County were all named after Mount Hood, which is visible from the Columbia River. Mount Hood was named after the British admiral Lord Samuel Hood in 1792 by Lieutenant Broughton of the Captain George Vancouver Expedition. Broughton sailed up the Columbia River, reaching Point Vancouver, a spot today today near Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

"... The same remarkable mountain that had been seen from Belle Vue point again presented itself, bearing at this station S.67E.; and though the party were now nearer to it by seven leagues, yet its lofty summit was scarcely more distinct across the intervening land, which was more than moderately elevated. Mr. Broughton honored it with Lord Hood's name; its appearance was magnificent; and it was clothed in snow from its summit, as low down as the high land, by which it was intercepted, rendered it visible. ..." [Vancouver/Broughton, October 30, 1792]

Upstream from Hood River is the small town of Mosier, Rowena Gap, and Mayer State Park. Twenty miles upstream is The Dalles, Oregon. Downstream from Hood River is the Columbia Gorge Hotel, Ruthton Point, and Mitchell Point. The White Salmon River and the community of Bingen are across the Columbia River on the Washington side.


Image, 2003, Hood River, Oregon, at mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mouth of the Hood River, Oregon. Mouth of Hood River, Oregon. Washington State is in the background. Image taken October 25, 2003.
Image, 2004, Mount Hood and the City of Hood River, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mount Hood and the City of Hood River. Mount Hood over the City of Hood River, as seen from the levee near the Hood River Bridge. Image taken March 20, 2004.


Hood River ... the city ...
The first permanent settlers in Hood River area filed a Donation Land Claim in 1854. By 1880 seventeen families lived in the region. The Hood River Post Office was established in September 1858. In 1881 the City of Hood River was platted, and in 1908 Hood River County was created. The City of Hood River has been the county seat since the county's creation.
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Image, 2006, Hood River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Hood River, Oregon, from the Cook-Underwood Road, Washington. Image taken May 10, 2006.


Hood River Valley ...
According to the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website (2004), the Hood River watershed covers 339 square miles, with three major folks combining to form the mainstem Hood River. The West Fork Hood River enters the mainstem Hood River at River Mile (RM) 12, and the Middle and East Fork Hood Rivers converge near RM 15, giving the Hood River watershed an estimated 695 miles of streams. The Hood River Valley landscape was shaped by glaciation and flooding, and is characterized by steep, narrow valleys and terraces of clay, silt, sand, gravel and boulders. The valley extends for 20 miles with an average width of 5 miles. The east wall of the valley is a fault escarpment with a vertical displacement of more than 2,000 feet. The Hood River Canyon is incised 200 to 300 feet below the valley surface. The upper part of the valley lies between the northeast shoulder of Mount Hood (11,240 feet) and Middle Mountain (2,642 feet), with streams not as deeply incised with a greater tendency for channel meander. Rock formations along the Hood River system are primarily basalts of the Columbia River Basalt Group, and abundant glacial till and outwash can be found in the valley and is exposed in roadcuts and along the Canyon walls.
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Hood River Valley and the Missoula Floods ...
During the Missoula Floods, 12 to 15 thousand years ago, the Hood River Valley was inundated by backwater from the floods. In 2004, Norman et.al., quoting from Newcomb (1969) and O'Connor and Waitt (1994), writes that Newcome found "fine-grained lacustrine deposits" as high as 800 feet, and O'Connor and Waitt reported that the highest ice-rafted erratics in the Hood River Valley were found between 840 and 880 feet. Peak high was estimated at approximately 925 feet.
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Hood River - White Salmon River Syncline ...
Almost directly across from the mouth of the Hood River is Washington State's White Salmon River. These rivers run down the axis of the Hood River-White Salmon River Syncline which trends northeast. The Bingen Anticline begins rising to the east.
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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.


Hood River Sandbar ...
On Lewis and Clark's route map [Moulton, vol.1, map#78] there is a sandbar shown beginning at Hood River and stretching downstream, hugging the Oregon shore. Captain Clark wrote the sandbar was 4 miles long.

"... a large Sand bar from the Lard. Side for 4 miles ..." [Clark, October 29, 1805, first draft]

"... one mile below pass the mouth of a large rapid Stream on the Stard. Side, opposit to a large Sand bar ... about 4 miles lower and below the Sand bar is a butifull cascade falling over a rock of about 100 feet, ..." [Clark, October 29, 1805]

On the return trip in April, Clark notes that the Hood River brings down "sand" like the Sandy River downstream does.

"... the bead is rock except at the enterence of Labiech's river which heads in Mt. Hood and like the quick Sand River brings down from thence Vast bodies of Sand ..." [Clark, April 14, 1806]

Sailboarding and Kiteboarding ...

Image, 2005, Hood River, Oregon, at mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Kiteboarding, sandbars at mouth of the Hood River, Oregon. Image taken August 27, 2005.
Image, 2005, Hood River, Oregon, at mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sailboarding and kiteboarding, sandbars at mouth of the Hood River, Oregon. Image taken August 27, 2005.
Image, 2005, Hood River, Oregon, at mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Kiteboarding, sandbars at mouth of the Hood River, Oregon. Image taken August 27, 2005.


Early Hood River ...
Lewis and Clark passed the mouth of the Hood River on October 29, 1805, and named it "Labeasche River" or "Labiech's river", after one of their members, Private Francois Labiche.

"... the mouth of a Small river 40 yards wide on the Lard. Side ...     from the mouth of this little river which we shall Call Labeasche River, the falls mountain is South and the top is covered with Snow ..." [Clark, October 29, 1805]

The Corps again pass by Hood River on April 14, 1806, on their return up the Columbia.

"... the river from the rapids to the Commencement of the narrows is from 1/2 to 3/4 of a Mile in width, and possesses but little Current.     the bead is rock except at the enterence of Labiech's river which heads in Mt. Hood and like the quick Sand River brings down from thence Vast bodies of Sand ..." [Clark, April 14, 1806]

Another early name for Hood River was "Dog River". The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made "Hood River" official in 1980.


"Dog River" ...
An early name for Hood River was "Dog River", named after a party of early settlers camping on the river ate dog meat in preference to starving. William Henry Gray in his writings about the history of Oregon (published in 1870) used "Dog River" in a narrative dated 1836.

"... At the Dalles our party made another portage, paying our Indians as at Celilo Falls. ... We proceeded down the river for a few miles and met the Hudson's Bay Company's express canoe ... stopped and exchanged greetings for a few minutes and passed on to camp just above Dog River. Next morning made an early start to reach La Cascade to make the portage there before night. We had proceeded but about one hour, with a gentle breeze from the east, sails all set, and in fine spirits, admiring the sublimely grand scenery, when, looking down the river, the ladies inquired what made the water look so white. In a moment our boatmen took in sail, and laid to their oars with all their might to reach land and get to shelter, which we did, but not till we had received considerable wetting, and experienced the first shock of a severe wind-storm, such as can be gotten up on the shortest possible notice in the midst of the Cascade Mountains. Our camp was just below White Salmon River. ..." [Gray, 1870, writing about 1836]

The name of the river was changed to Hood River, after Mount Hood, the source of the drainage, through the efforts of Mrs. Nathaniel Coe, a well-known pioneer who lived in the valley. The name "Dog River" today is associated with a small stream that flows into the East Fork Hood River, southeast of Parkdale.


Image, 2005, Hood River, Oregon, at mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandbars, south of the Hood River, Oregon. Image taken August 27, 2005.
Image, 2015, Hood River, Oregon, at mouth, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandbars, mouth of the Hood River, Oregon. Image taken February 12, 2015.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 29, 1805, first draft ...
a Cloudy morning wind Still from th West not hard, we Set out at day light [from their camp on Rocky Island at Crates Point] proceeded on about 5 miles and Came too at a Lodge of a Chief which we made at the upper village at th falls about his house there is Six others ...    

N. 55 W. 4 miles
to a Lard. point, pasd a run on Lard Side West 8 miles to Rock Island near the middle of River passed 7 Houses of Indians about 50 men at 1 mile on the Stard Side. Brakfast Those people fish at the last narrows, & have but little pounded fish, Som dried and buries

Those people are friendly gave us to eate fish Beries, nuts bread of roots & Drid beries and we Call this the friendly Village [Dougs Beach] ...    

at 4 miles further we landed to Smoke a pipe with the people of a village of 11 houses [Lyle, Washington area] we found those people also friendly Their Village is Situated imediately below the mouth of a River [Klickitat River] of 60 yards water which falls in on the Stard. Side and heads in the mountains to the N. & N, E, the Indians inform us that this river is long <but> and full of falls no Salmon pass up it. They also inform that 10 nations lives on this river by hunting and on buries &c. The Countrey begin to be thinly timbered with Pine & low white oake verry rocky and hilley- We purchased at this vilg 4 dogs- at the end of this Course is 3 rocks, in the river and a rock point from the Lard. the middle rock is large and has a number of graves on it we call it the Sepulchar Island [Memaloose Island].     The last River we call Caterack River [Klickitat River] from the number of falls which the Indians inform is on it The Indians are afraid to hunt or be on th Lard Side of this Columbia river for fear of the Snake Ind. who reside on a fork of this river which falls in above the falls a good Situaion for winter quarters if game can be had is just below Sepulchar rock [Memaloose Island] on the Lard Side, high & pine and oake timber the rocks ruged above, good hunting Countrey back, as it appears from the river Indian village opsd. of 2 Lodgs     river 1/2 mile wide at rocks

S. 60 W. 5 miles
to a point of rocks Island in a Lard bend, passed 2 rocks in the river-     passed 2 Houses at 1 mile on the Stard Side and 2 at 4 miles on the Stard. Side     Countrey on the Lard. Side has more timber than common and looks well for huntg.     high and ruged.-

S. 80 W. 6 miles
to 4 Houses in a point of a timbered bottom on the Lard. Side at a large creek or River 40 yr. [Hood River]     passed a bottom on the Stard Side the distance in which there is 14 Indian houses-     The falls mountain covered with Snow is South [Mount Hood]

S. 70 W. 6 miles
to a high Clift of rocks Std bend [Bingen area] passed a large creek at 1 mile on the Stard. Side [White Salmon River] in which the Indians catch fish, a large Sand bar from the Lard. Side for 4 miles [below Hood River], at which place a small stream of water falls over a rock of 100 feet on the Lard Side [Wah Gwin Gwin Falls, the location of today's Columbia Gorge Hotel]     passed 4 Indian Houses at 5 miles in a bottom on the Lard Side ...

S. 56 W. 6 miles
to a point of timbr. bottom on the Lard. Side, passd. a Stard. point at 2 miles Here the mountains are high on each Side, the high points of those to the Lard. has Snow

Came too at 3 miles on this Course at 3 Houses of flatheads and Encamped on the Stard. Side [near Drano Lake and the Little White Salmon River], a Pond lies back of those people in which we Saw great numbers of the Small Swan ...



Clark, October 29, 1805 ...
A cloudy morning wind from the West but not hard, we Set out at day light [from their camp on Rocky Island at Crates Point], and proceeded on about five miles Came too on the Stard. Side at a village of 7 houses built in the Same form and materials of those above, here we found the Chief we had Seen at the long narrows [The Dalles] ...     they are hospitable and good humered Speak the Same language of the inhabitants of the last village, we call this the friendly village [vicinity of Dougs Beach]. ...     after brackfast we proceeded on, the mountains are high on each Side [high basalt cliffs of the Rowena Gap, with Rowena Crest on the south and the Chamberlain Lake area on the north], containing Scattering pine white oake & under groth, hill Sides Steep and rockey; at 4 miles lower we observed a Small river falling in with great rapidity on the Stard. Side [Klickitat River] below which is a village of 11 houses [today the town of Lyle is on the upstream side of the Klickitat], here we landed to Smoke a pipe with the nativs and examine the mouth of the river, which I found to be 60 yards wide rapid and deep, The inhabitants of the village are friendly and Chearfull; those people inform us also those at the last village that this little river is long and full of falls, no Salmon pass up it, it runs from N. N. E. that ten nations live on this river and its waters, on buries, and what game that Can kill with their Bow & arrows

we purchased 4 dogs and Set out- (this village is the of the Same nation of the one we last passed) and proceeded on The Countrey on each side begin to be thicker timbered with Pine and low white Oake; verry rockey and broken [passing Mayer State Park on the Oregon side]. passed three large rocks in The river the middle rock is large long and has Several Squar vaults on it. we call this rockey Island the Sepulchar [Memaloose Island] - The last river we passed we Shall Call the Cataract River [Klickitat River] from the number of falls which the Indians say is on it- passed 2 Lodges of Indians a Short distance below the Sepulchar Island [Memaloose Island] on the Stard. Side river wide, at 4 mile passed 2 houses on the Stard. Side, Six miles lower passed 4 houses above the mouth of a Small river 40 yards wide on the Lard. Side [Hood River]    a thick timbered bottom above & back of those houses; those are the first houses which we have Seen on the South Side of the Columbia River, (and the axess to those dificuelt) for fear of the approach of their common enemies the Snake Indians, passed 14 houses on the Std. Side Scattered on the bank- from the mouth of this little river which we shall Call Labeasche River [Hood River], the falls mountain [Mount Hood] is South and the top is covered with Snow.    one mile below pass the mouth of a large rapid Stream on the Stard. Side [White Salmon River], opposit to a large Sand bar [from Hood River], in this creek the Indians above take their fish, here we Saw Several canoes, which induced us to call this Canoe Creek [White Salmon River] it is 28 yards wide, about 4 miles lower and below the Sand bar [Hood River sandbar] is a butifull cascade falling over a rock of about 100 feet [Wah Gwin Gwin Falls, location of the Columbia Gorge Hotel],

[On the route map (Moulton, vol.1, map#78) a "C___ Spring" is shown on the north side of the river, today the location of Spring Creek and Spring Creek Fish Hatchery, with no mention of it in any text. On the south side, at the location of Wah Gwin Gwin Falls, only "Cascade" is labeled and "4 Houses of Indians".]

a Short distance lower passed 4 Indian houses on the Lard. Side in a timbered bottom, a fiew miles further we came too at 3 houses on Stard. Side, back of which is a pond [today the location of Drano Lake. The Little White Salmon River empties into Drano Lake.] in which I Saw Great numbers of Small Swan, Capt. Lewis and went into the houses of those people ...     Here the mountains are high on each Side, those to the Lard. Side has Some Snow on them at this time, more timber than above and of greater variety.






Clark, April 14, 1806 ...
This morning at 7 oClock we were joined by Sgt. Pryor and they three hunters they brought with them 4 deer which drewyer had killed yesterday. we took brackfast and departed at 9 A. M. [from their camp near Dog Mountain]     the wind rose and <proceeded on> Continued to blow hard all day but not so violent as to prevent our proceeding. we kept Close allong the N. Shore all day. the river from the rapids [Cascade Rapids] to the Commencement of the narrows [The Dalles] is from to of a Mile in wedth, and possesses but little Current. the bead is rock except at the enterence of Labiech's river [Hood River] which heads in Mt. Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] and like the quick Sand River [Sandy River] brings down from thence Vast bodies of Sand     the Mountains through which the river passes nearly to Cataract River [Klickitat River] are high broken rocky, particularly Covered with fir and white Cedar, and in maney places very romantic scences. Some handsom Cascades are Seen on either Side tumbling from the Stupendious rocks of the mountains into the river. I observe near the river the long leafed Pine which increas as we assend and Superseeds the fir altogether about the Sepulchre rock [Memaloose Island]. We find the trunks of maney large pine trees Standing erect as they grew, at present in 30 feet water [Submerged Forest]; they are much doated and none of them vegitateing. at the lowest water of the river maney of those trees are in 10 feet water. the Cause I have attempted to account for as I decended.     at 1 P M. we arrived at a large village Situated in a narrow <village> bottom on the N. Side [between the White Salmon River and Bingen, Washington] a little above the enterance of Canoe Creek [White Salmon River]. their houses are reather detached, and extend for Several Miles. they are about 20 in number. those people Call themselves Wil-la-cum. ...     We halted at this village Dined ...     after dinner we proceeded on our voyage. I walked on Shore with Shabono on the N. Side through a handsom bottom [Bingen area].     met Several parties of women and boys in Serch of herbs & roots to Subsist on maney of them had parcels of the Stems of the Sun flower. I joined Capt Lewis and the party at 6 miles, at which place the river washed the bottom of high Clifts on the N. Side [Bingen Gap]. Several Canoes over take us with families moveing up. we passed 3 encampments and came too in the mouth of a Small Creek [Major Creek] on the N. Side imediately below a village and opposit the Sepulchar rock [Memaloose Island]. this village Consists of about 100 fighting men of Several tibres from the plains to the North Collected here waiting for the Salmon. ...     made [blank] 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:    See Hood River, Oregon (the city), plus Allen, J.E., and Burns, M., 1986, Cataclysms on the Columbia, Timber Press, Portland;    Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website, 2004;    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;    Scott, W.E., Gardner, C.A., Sherrod, D.R., Tilling, R.I., Lanphere, M.A., and Conry, R.M., 1997, Geologic History of Mount Hood Volcano, Oregon - A Field-Trip Guidebook, USGS Open-File Report 97-263;   

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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April 2016