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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Ice House Lake, Washington"
Includes ... Ice House Lake ... Icehouse Lake ... Bridge of the Gods ... Pacific Crest Trail ...
Image, 2015, Ice House Lake, Skamania County, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Ice House Lake, Skamania County, as seen from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken April 9, 2015.


Ice House Lake ...
Ice House Lake is a small lake located just downstream of the north end of the Bridge of the Gods and upstream of the southern end of the Washington segment of the Pacific Crest Trail. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks the lake for fishing.

"Ice House" or "Icehouse" ...
Although the lake name is seen in print both as "Ice House" and "Icehouse", the U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database (2015) lists the official name as "Ice House Lake".

"Ice Lake" ...
The September 26, 1915 "Sunday Oregonian" in an article about the North Bank Highway, calls the lake "Ice Lake".

"Picnic and Camping Grounds Ample:    A few miles east of Castle Rock [Beacon Rock] the road skirts a chain of more than a score of lakelets ranging in size from a mere pond to a body of boating water a mile in extent, a number of which are connected by navigable channels, making practicable a trip of several miles amid the finest imaginable scenery. It is proposed to organize a company to exploit these lakes by the erection of Summer cottages along their shores and the placing of power boats at disposal of visitors. These waters abound in fish and the forest in game, making it the sportsman's paradise." ["Sunday Oregonian", September 26, 1915, Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2017].

Image, 1915, Ice Lake, Sunday Oregonian, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
HISTORIC NEWSPAPER PHOTO, "North Columbia Highway, Along Ice Lake". "Sunday Oregonian", September 26, 1915, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2017.


Railroad Icehouse ...
"After landing on the island at the head of the rapids Captain lewis went with five men to the village, which was situated just below where the town of Stevenson is now located, and secured of them berries, nuts and fish. Captain Clark went down the rapids to locate the best route for a portage. He followed an Indian path for about one mile, and came to a village on an elevated situation, the houses of which had been large, but built in a different form from any that he had yet seen. The greater part of their houses had been taken down and placed in a pond to destroy the vermin that infested them. The spot where the village was situated is now occupied by an icehouse, built by the O. R. & N. Co. in the early '60s, and can be plainly seen from the river, while the pond spoken of is now called Icehouse lake."


Source:    Frank J. Smith, 1905, "With Lewis and Clark, From Celilo to the Sea": IN: Oregon Sunday Journal, August 13, 1905, Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, July 2015.

Lewis and Clark and Ice House Lake ...
Ice House Lake is believed to be the location of an abandoned village noted by Lewis and Clark on October 30, 1805, and their "old village" noted on April 12, 1806. Their route maps (Moulton, Vol.1, Map#78 and Map#79) show "old village of verry large houses".

October 30, 1805:

"at 1 mile I saw a Town of Houses laterly abandoned on an elevated Situation opsd. a 2d Shute ..." [Clark, October 30, 1805, first draft]

"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 on an ellevated Situation of this village contained verry large houses built in a different form from any I had Seen, and laterly abandoned, and the most of the boads put into a pond of water near the village, as I conceived to drown the flees, which was emencely noumerous about the houses ..." [Clark, October 30, 1805]

Moulton comments, October 30, 1805:

"... This is the area below the Cascades in Skamania County, Washington. Clark's texts and maps of the terrain and of Indian settlements in this region cannot be matched with precision to twentieth-century archaeological work. This site appears on figures as "old village" and "a village of large wood houses" and is shown on Atlas maps 78 and 79 as "an old village of very large houses." It is the "old village . . . on an ellevated Situation" in the codex entry. Investigators have called it wa?a'la and Wahlala ("their lake"). "

April 12, 1806:

"we passed the remains of an old Village about half way the portage, this Cheif informed me that this old Village had been the residence of his Tribe dureing the last Salmon Season. this village I mentiond in decending this river, but did not know the Tribes that had inhabited it that time." [Clark, April 12, 1806]

Moulton comments, April 12, 1806:

"... the "old village of verry large houses" on Atlas maps 78 and 79, in Skamania County, Washington, in the vicinity of the Bridge of the Gods, noted by Clark on October 30, 1805. The village corresponds to the Ice House Lake archaeological site. Archaeological testing indicates that occupation at this locality began about 500 years ago and continued at least until 1855, being abandoned after an Indian uprising in 1856. The village was called Wahlala ("their lake"). With the decline in the native population and subsequent amalgamation into fewer groups, the identity of this and other Chinookan bands (Wy-ach-hich, Clahclellah) was gradually lost, with the survivors becoming known simply as the Cascades Indians."

Ice House Lake Archaeological Site ...
45-SA-11 ... Moulton's comment for October 30, 1905, says Captain Clark's texts and maps of the area below the Cascade Rapids ("old village" and "a village of large wood houses") "cannot be matched with precision to twentieth-century archaeological work.". Moulton's comment for April 12, 1806, however says "The village ("old village of verry large houses") corresponds to the Ice House Lake archaeological site. Archaeological testing indicates that occupation at this locality began about 500 years ago and continued at least until 1855, being abandoned after an Indian uprising in 1856.".

Historic Archaeology:

"When people think of archaeology, they usually relate the term to ancient peoples and sites. However, more recent peoples also have left traces of their lives. Telling the story of the Euroamerican influence in Washington State is the focus of historic archaeology.

The historic period has two major divisions -- protohistoric and historic. The protohistoric period is that time between the prehistoric and historic when native cultures and sites are affected by Euroamerican influences but before they enter the stream of written history.

Many prehistoric sites have a protohistoric or historic overlay. This is because many site continued to be occupied after Euroamerican contact. Ozette on the Pacific coast, Old Man House near Suquamish on Puget Sound, and 45SA11 on the Columbia River near Skamania just down-stream from the Bonneville Dam are examples of sites with prehistoric, protohistoric and historic components. ...

Fur Trade:

The initial Euroamerican occupations in the state were fur trade establishments. Known as "forts", these were not military but commercial establishments. Initially, some did not even have protective fortifications.

The fur trade has been the main focus of historic archaeologists in the state. This is reflected in the list of Pacific Fur Company and Hudson's Bay Company forts that have been excavated. These include Fort Spokane near Spokane, two different Fort Okanogans where the Okanogan River meets the Columbia, Fort Nez Perce at the junction of the Snake and Columbia Rivers, Fort Colville near Kettle Falls on the Columbia River, Fort Vancouver and Kanaka Village in present-day Vancouver, two Fort Nisquallys and Nisqually Village near the present-day town of DuPont, and Bellevue Farm on San Juan Island.

The fur trade in the Pacific Northwest was controlled by corporate giants, especially the Hudson's Bay Company. ... Pioneer families sometimes operated as independent traders. An example of freelance traders comes from the remains of a historic store or trading post at 45SA11 in Skamania County along the Columbia River, which was occupied during the 1850s and probably burned in 1856."


Source:    Stilson, M.L. (Archaeologist, Dept. of Natural Resources), Meatte, D. (State Parks Archaeologist, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission), and Whitlam, R.G.(State Archaeologist, Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation), 2003, "A Field Guide to Washington State Archaeology".


Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife ...
"Icehouse Lake is a popular trout lake that is stocked with cutthroat and rainbow trout.This lake has an over abundance of aquatic vegetation. Located along the north side of Highway SR-14, by the end of Bridge of the Gods.

Open year-round, this small lake receives heavy angling pressure due to its easy access, but provides excellent fishing from late fall through early summer. Excess broodstock rainbows augment the stocking of several thousand catchable-size rainbow and cutthroat trout. Daily limit is five trout, with no more than two over 20 inches. Bluegill and largemouth bass are also present for additional angling excitement.

Car top boats/rafts or float tubes only. There is no boat ramp at this lake. Shoreline is limited to one side of the lake. The dirt road along the lake is primitive and care should be used when driving it."

Skamania County
Lake Acreage: 1.6
Elevation: 159 feet
Eastside Washington


Source:    Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website, 2015.



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 12, 1806 ...
rained the greater part of the last night and this morning untile 10 A. M. [their camp is at the lower end of the Portage, near Fort Rains]     we employed all hands in attempting to take up the lost Canoe. in attempting to pass by a rock against which the Current run with emence force, the bow unfortunately took the Current at too great a distance from the rock, She turned broad Side to the Stream, and the exertions of every man was not Sufficient to hold her. the men were Compelled to let go the rope and both the Canoe and rope went with the Stream. the loss of this Canoe will I fear Compell us to purchase another at an extravigent price. after brakfast all hands who were employed in Carrying the baggage over the portage 1 miles which they performed by 4 P. M. ...     The rain Continued at intervales all day. in the evening after everry thing was taken from the lower Camp I Set out myself accompanied by the Cheif of the Clah-clal lars to the head of the portage. as we passed the remains of an old Village about half way the portage [vicinity of Ice House Lake], this Cheif informed me that this old Village had been the residence of his Tribe dureing the last Salmon Season. this village I mentiond in decending this river, but did not know the Tribes that had inhabited it that time. Capt. Lewis took a vocabulary of the languge of those people whilst I had all the baggage taken across the portage & we formed a Camp at the place we had encamped on our way down [on an island near Ashes Lake, today under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir].



at my arival at the head of the portage [Cascade Rapids] found about 20 of the natives of the Wy ach hich tribe who reside above the rapids, with Capt Lewis. ...     as the evening was rainey and ourselves and party wet we Concluded to delay untill the morning and dry our selves. The Indians left us about 6 P M and returned to their Village on the opposit Side. mountains are high on each Side and Covered with Snow for about ? of the way down. the growth is principally fir and White Cedar. the bottoms and low Situations is Covered with a variety Such as Cotton, large leafed ash, Sweet willow a Species of beech, alder, white thorn, cherry of a Small Speces, Servis berry bushes, Huckleberries bushes, a Speces of Lorel &c. &c. I saw a turkey buzzard which is the 3rd which I have Seen west of the rocky mountains. the 1st was on the 7 inst. above quick Sand river [Sandy River]. for the three last days this inclusive we have made 7 miles only.





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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:    Stilson, M.L. (Archaeologist, Dept. of Natural Resources), Meatte, D. (State Parks Archaeologist, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission), and Whitlam, R.G. (State Archaeologist, Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation), 2003, "A Field Guide to Washington State Archaeology".    U.S. Geological Survey's Geogrpahic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 2015;    Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website, 2015;   

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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July 2015