Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Ilwaco Railroad, Megler, Washington"
Includes ... Ilwaco Railroad ... Megler ... "Cook's Station" ... "Megler Station" ...
Image, 2004, Megler Cove, Megler Rest Area, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pilings, Megler Cove from Megler Rest Area, Washington. Image taken April 9, 2004.


Ilwaco Railroad, Astoria Ferry, and Megler Cove ...
The Megler area once was the terminus of the Ilwaco Railroad and a ferry landing, complete with a waterfront restaurant. All that remains today are wood pilings in the Columbia, best seen in Megler Cove, on the downstream end of the Megler Rest Area.

Ilwaco Railroad and Megler Ferry ...
"In 1888, the Ilwaco Railroad and Navigation Company (IR&N) laid the first five miles of narrow-gauge track from Ilwaco toward Long Beach and Nahcotta. In 1906 the IR&N was purchased by the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company, and the OR&N bought the deep-water site at Megler, which they named "Cook's Station". In 1907 construction of a railroad between Cook's Station and Ilwaco was underway, and in October of 1907 construction began at Cook's Station on a wharf that measured 900 feet long and 120 feet wide. By the time this train and ferry freight dock began operating in 1908, the name of the site was changed again to Megler Station.

Once the train began regular operation, the steamer Nahcotta was set up as a passenger ferry service between Astoria and Megler. The Ilwaco Railroad bought several steam locomotives, and by the time the last one was delivered they had abandoned their dock in Ilwaco. Railroad hands built a small spur at Megler to receive the locomotive from the steamer. For the first few months of operation, a temporary tank stored oil near the Megler dock. By 1909, a large, permanent steel tank was erected on a trestle-like structure at the site. A depot, a train shed, and a turntable were also built at the Megler terminal.

In 1921, increased automobile traffic in the region induced Fritz Elfving to establish a car ferry, the Tourist I, between Astoria and the Megler dock. Gradually, as the number of automobiles increased, the need for the railroad declined. The Ilwaco Railroad discontinued service in September of 1930, and in 1931 the Washington State Highway Department acquired title to most of the railroad right-of-way.

In 1946 the Oregon Highway Department purchased the ferry service and operated it until the Astoria - Megler bridge was completed. In 1956, Washington State Route 12B was constructed east of Megler. The route was later redesignated SR401. Construction of the Astoria - Megler Bridge began in 1962. The bridge was finished in 1966 and the last ferry run occurred in July of that year.

In 1968 and 1969 the Washington Department of Highways demolished the ferry landing and constructed the Megler Rest Area in its place. The Megler Rest Area was renamed the Dismal Nitch Rest Area in 2005. ..."

Source:  U.S. National Park Service, Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks website (2006)



"MEGLER: Abandoned Ilwaco railroad terminus and ferry dock on the Columbia River between Point Ellice and Cliff Point, 1907-1966. Named for Joseph G. Megler. Megler was born in Germany, educated in New York City, fought in the Civil War, operated a hotel in Astoria, entered the salmon cannery business at Chenookville in 1871, formed the J.G. Megler Company and founded Brookfield (Wahkiakum County) in 1873, and was a state legislator from Pacific/Wahkiakum counties for 22 years. Respect for Megler led the Ilwaco railroad to name their Columbia River terminus for him in 1908. The site was initially a fishing station built by Astorian Marshall Kenney in 1880. Megler used the site for a fish receiving station in 1883. The Ilwaco railroad bought the deep water site for their terminus around 1906 and initially called it "Cook's Station". When the first train arrived at the train terminus and ferry dock in 1908 the name had been changed to Megler Station. Automobile traffic finally forced the Ilwaco railroad to discontinue train service on September 9, 1930. Ferries operated by Fritz Elfving and later the Oregon Department of Highways continued to serve the Megler to Astoria run until July 29, 1966, when the last regular ferry operation ceased with the opening of the Astoria Bridge."

Source:   Larry J. Weathers, Place Names of Pacific County, Sou'wester, Centennial Edition, 1989



"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards". The "Penny Postcard" became a popular way to send greetings to friends and family. The Penny Postcard today has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, 1940s-1950s, Megler Ferry Landing, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Megler Ferry Landing, Megler, Washington. Penny Postcard, ca.1940s-1950s, "Megler, Wash. Ferry Landing.". Photographed by Boyer. Caption for this image found on the National Park Service Website reads: "The ferry landing at Megler, ca.1927-1856." In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, ca.1910, Megler Cove, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Fisherman's Bay (Megler Cove) on the Columbia, ca.1910. Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Fisherman's Bay on the Columbia River". PNC Series. Made in Germany, Card #3818. Caption for this image found on the National Park Service Website reads: "Photograph of Megler Cove taken from Point Ellice ca.1907-1927. Note the fish receiving station and the cutting and filling associated with construction of the railroad. The Megler railroad terminal is to the right of the photo in the background. The view is to the northeast." In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 10, 1805 ...
S. 45 W. 10 Miles to a Point Distress [Point Ellice] on the Std. side passed a Deep nitch and Six iner points on the Stard Side. the Shore bold and rockey. mountains high on the Stard and thickly Covered with timber principally of the pine kind. wind rose Swills high we encamped at 9 miles in a Small nitch 6 days [two days near Hungry Harbor and 3 days at Megler Cove]. rained &c. a deep bay on the Lard Sid opposit. The Countrey high to the river above the bay on the opposit Side."



Gass, November 10, 1805 ...
We had a rainy morning, but the wind was not so high as it had been yesterday; and we set out from Cape Swell [Portuguese Point], coasted along 8 miles, passed some high cliffs of sandy rocks, and then came to a point [Megler Point]; where we found the swells so high, the wind having risen, that we could not proceed; so we had to return back about a mile to get a safe harbour [Hungry Harbor]. Here we dined on some pounded salmon, that we had procured from the Indians; and unloaded our canoes. After we had been here about 2 hours, it became more calm, and we loaded the canoes again, but could not get round the point [Megler Point], the swells were still so high; we therefore put too at a branch of fresh water [near Hungry Harbor], under high cliffs of rocks and unloaded again. Here we scarcely had room to lie between the rocks and water; but we made shift to do it among some drift wood that had been beat up by the tide. It rained hard all night, and was very disagreeable. While on our way down today, we saw some porpoises, sea otter [Harbor Seals or Sea Lions] and a great many sea gulls. The water is become very salt.





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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 Megler);   

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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Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
February 2013