Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Little White Salmon River, Washington"
Includes ... Little White Salmon River ... "Little Lake Creek" ... Campsite of October 29, 1805 ... Little White Salmon Fish Hatchery ... Drano Lake ...
Image, 2013, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Little White Salmon River at Willard, Washington. View looking upstream from the Cook-Underwood Road. Image taken March 18, 2013.


Little White Salmon River ...
The Little White Salmon River is located appoximately 5 miles downstream of the White Salmon River, and can be reached off of Washington State Highway 14. The Little White Salmon River originates in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in south-central Washington and enters Drano Lake above Cook, Washington. Upstream is the small community of Hood, the Broughton Mill and the Spring Creek Fish Hatchery. Downstream of the Little White Salmon River and Cook is Dog Mountain, Grant Lake, and Wind Mountain.

Lewis and Clark and the Little White Salmon River ...
Lewis and Clark did not observe the Little White Salmon River, but they did mark its course on their route map (Moulton, vol.1, map#78). Historians believe the information of the existence of this river came from local Native Americans who lived in the area. The Corps camped the evening of October 29, 1805, near a "Pond" close to the northern shore of the Columbia, and marked the lake on their route map. This body of water is now known as Drano Lake, with the look changed by backwaters from Bonneville Dam and highway construction.

Campsite of October 29, 1805 ...
The route map (Moulton, vol.1, map#78), shows Lewis and Clark's campsite of October 29, 1805, being on the Washington side of the Columbia just upstream of the Little White Salmon River. The Little White Salmon is unnamed. The map shows the mouth leading into a small pond which is labeled "Little Lake C", leading into the rest of the stream.

"... S.56oW. 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 thigh points of those to the Lard. has Snow ... Came too at 3 miles on this Course at 3 Houses of flatheads and En-camped on the Stard. Side, a Pond lies back of those people in which we Saw great numbers of the Small Swan. ..." [Clark, October 29, 1805, first draft]

Captain Clark also wrote the name "Little Lake Creek" in his "Estimated Distances".

"... Sepulcher Rock, opposite to a Village of Hs. of Chil- luckittqs;     River Labeich opposite to 26 houses of the Smackshop Nation, Houses scattered on the N. side;     Little Lake Creek, 3 houses of the Smackshop nation     Cruzatt's River ..." [Clark, winter 1805/1806, first draft]

Lewis and Clark's previous campsite was on the Oregon side of the Columbia on Rocky Island at the base of Crates Point. Their campsite of October 30 and 31st on the Washington side of the Columbia River near Ashes Lake.


Little White Salmon River Drainage ...
According to the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website (2004), the Little White Salmon River drains approximately 135 square miles of Skamania and Klickitat counties, Washington, over a distance of approximately 19 miles. Principle tributaries to the Little White Salmon River include Lost (north and south), Beetle, Lusk, Homes, Berry, Cabbage, Moss, and Rock creeks. The geology of the Little White Salmon watershed is dominated by past volcanic activity, with soils being the result of volcanism and glaciation. he basin is oriented northwest to southeast. Elevations range from 80 feet to 5,300 feet, with topography varying from gentle slopes formed by lava flows and volcanic cones to steep rugged landforms. Based on geomorphology the watershed can be split into one area containing tertiary deposits of tuff and pyroclastic flow (Monte Cristo Range) and another containing younger quaternary basalt/andesite flows originating from the Indian Heaven Area. The Big Lava Bed flow covers 16,000 aces of the watershed. The mainstem of the Little White Salmon River drops 3,520 feet in 19 miles for an average gradient of 3.5 percent. Anadromous fish passage is blocked by a series of waterfalls located 2 miles upstream from the rivers confluence with the Bonneville Reservoir.

Image, 2015, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Common Goldeneye, Little White Salmon River, Washington. Image taken May 9, 2015.


Little White Salmon River, etc.

  • Drano Lake ...
  • Little White Salmon at Drano Lake ...
  • Little White Salmon at its mouth ...
  • Little White Salmon at the Fish Hatchery ...
  • Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery ...
  • Little White Salmon at Willard ...


Drano Lake ...
The Little White Salmon River drains into Drano Lake. Drano Lake, is backwater created by impoundment of the Columbia River, and enters the Bonneville Reservoir at Columbia River Mile (RM) 162. Slack water from Drano Lake extends some distance up the Little White Salmon River. The lake is a popular fishing spot and hosts a boat ramp. It can be reached from Washington State Highway 14.
[More]

Image, 2004, Drano Lake, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Drano Lake, Washington. View from near the mouth of the Little White Salmon River. Image taken November 4, 2004.


Little White Salmon River at Drano Lake ...

Image, 2003, Mouth of the Little White Salmon River and Drano Lake, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Looking across Drano Lake towards the mouth of the Little White Salmon River. The area of the mouth of the Little White Salmon River is behind the "island", as seen from the Drano Lake boat ramp area. Image taken October 25, 2003.


Little White Salmon at its mouth ...

Image, 2004, Mouth of the Little White Salmon River, at fish hatchery click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mouth of the Little White Salmon River, Washington, at fish hatchery. Image taken November 4, 2004.
Image, 2004, Mouth of the Little White Salmon River, at fish hatchery click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mouth of the Little White Salmon River, Washington. Image taken November 4, 2004.


Little White Salmon River at the Fish Hatchery ...

Image, 2015, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Salmon, Little White Salmon River, Washington. Image taken May 9, 2015.
Image, 2015, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Salmon, Little White Salmon River, Washington. Image taken May 9, 2015.
Image, 2015, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Salmon, Little White Salmon River, Washington. Image taken May 9, 2015.
Image, 2015, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Salmon, Little White Salmon River, Washington. Image taken May 9, 2015.


Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery ...
Prior to the construction of Bonneville Dam in 1938, a limited amount of natural production by anadromous fish occurred in the Little White Salmon River below the falls, a section of the river which has been inundated by the construction of Bonneville Dam. Historically, fall chinook, spring chinook, coho and steelhead are believed to have utilized the area. Currently only hatchery reared fish return to the river. Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery was built in 1898 and is one of the oldest on the Columbia River system. It is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is located approximately two miles above the mouth of the Little White Salmon River near Cook, Washington. The hatchery was modernized as part of the Mitchell Act Program in 1949.
[More]

Image, 2013, Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery, Washington. Image taken March 24, 2013.
Image, 2004, Falls and ladder at Little White Salmon Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Falls and ladder at Little White Salmon Fish Hatchery. Image taken November 4, 2004.
Image, 2004, Falls at Little White Salmon Fish Hatchery, click to enlarge
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Falls at Little White Salmon Fish Hatchery. Image taken November 4, 2004.


Little White Salmon River at Willard ...

Image, 2013, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Little White Salmon River at Willard, Washington. View looking upstream from the Cook-Underwood Road. Image taken March 18, 2013.
Image, 2013, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Little White Salmon River at Willard, Washington. View looking downstream from the Cook-Underwood Road. Image taken March 18, 2013.


... 2006 ...

Image, 2006, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Little White Salmon River at Willard, Washington. View looking upstream from the Cook-Underwood Road. Image taken May 10, 2006.
Image, 2006, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Falls, Little White Salmon River at Willard, Washington. Small falls in the rapids on the Little White Salmon River. View looking upstream from the Cook-Underwood Road. Image taken May 10, 2006.
Image, 2006, Little White Salmon River, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Little White Salmon River at Willard, Washington. View looking downstream from the Cook-Underwood Road. Image taken May 10, 2006.


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, "Estimated Distances", Winter 1805/1806, first draft ...
  • Cataract river [Klickitat River] a few miles below a Village of 7 houses and immediately above one of 11 Houses of the Chilluckittequaw nation
  • Sepulcher Rock [Memaloose Island], opposite to a Village of Hs. of Chil- luckittqs
  • River Labeich [Hood River] opposite to 26 houses of the Smackshop Nation, Houses scattered on the N. side
  • Little Lake Creek [Little White Slamon River], 3 houses of the Smackshop nation
  • Cruzatt's River [Wind River]




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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:    "A2ZGorge.info" website, 2004;    Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority website, 2004;    Burkhardt, D.C.Jesse, 2004, Railroads of the Columbia River Gorge, Images of the Rail, Arcadia Publishing, San Francisco;    Hitchman, R., 1985, Place Names of Washington, Washington State Historical Society;    McCoy, K., 1987, Mount Adams Country: Forgotten Corner of the Columbia River Gorge;    U.S. Bureau of Land Management website, 2006, General Land Office Records;    Washington State Historical Society website, "Lasting Legacy", 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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March 2013