Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Oregon City, Oregon"
Includes ... Oregon City ... Willamette Falls ... Willamette Falls Locks ... West Linn ... Missoula Floods ... Barlow Road ... End of the Oregon Trail ... National Register of Historic Places ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2006, Willamette Falls and Mount Hood, click to enlarge
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Willamette Falls, Oregon City, Oregon, with Mount Hood. Image taken February 19, 2006.


Oregon City ...
Oregon City is located along the Willamette River between River Miles (RM) 25 and 27. Oregon City stretches between the mouth of the Clackamas River and the Willamette Falls, a spot where the Willamette River spills about 40 feet over horseshoe-shaped basalt ridge. Lewis and Clark made many references to the "falls of the Multnomah" and the Indian tribe which lived there. The falls were a major salmon fishing location and and important part of the development of the community of Oregon City, as they furnished power for a lumber mill (1842), a flour mill (1844), a woolen mill (1864), and the first paper mill in the Pacific Northwest (1867).

Lewis and Clark and the Oregon City area ...
While Lewis and Clark never saw Oregon City or Willamette Falls, they were aware of the area's existence from information provided by visiting natives who arrived at camp.

"... about this time several canoes of the natives arrived at our camp and among others one from below which had on board eight men of the Shah-ha-la nation these men informed us that 2 young men whom they pointed out were Cash-hooks and resided at the falls of a large river which discharges itself into the Columbia on it's South side some miles below us. ..." [Clark. April 2, 1806]

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Early History ...
Oregon City was incorporated in 1845, making it the oldest American city west of the Rocky Mountains.

In 1829 Dr. Dr. John McLaughlin took up a land claim on property next to the Willamette Falls. This was the same Dr. John McLaughlin who was Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver. In 1842 Dr. McLoughlin platted a townsite and named the new community "Oregon City". In 1846, after he left Fort Vancouver, Dr. McLoughlin settled in Oregon City.

The falls were a major salmon fishing location and and important part of the development of the community of Oregon City. They furnished power for a lumber mill (1842), a flour mill (1844), a woolen mill (1864), and the first paper mill in the Pacific Northwest (1867).

In 1847 the Oregon City Post Office was established.

In 1873, the Willamette Falls Locks were opened when the steamer Maria Wilkins became the first vessel to navigate up the west end of the falls.

In 1889 the first long-distance commercial electric power transmission in the United States went from Willamette Falls to the City of Portland.

Oregon City was considered the "End of the Oregon Trail", whether pioneers came by rafting down the Columbia or came overland via the Barlow Road.


Image, 2016, Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Truck decal, Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken July 13, 2016.


"End of the Oregon Trail" ...
Oregon City, located approximately 15 miles south of Portland, Oregon, is considered the "End of the Oregon Trail", whether the pioneers arrived by rafting down the Columbia or whether they came overland via the Barlow Road. Today Oregon City is the home of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, a museum which provides information and "living displays" about the Barlow Road and the Oregon Trail.
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Image, 2011, End of the Oregon Trail, Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Sign, "End of the Oregon Trail", Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken October 22, 2011.
Image, 2011, End of the Oregon Trail, Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Structure, "End of the Oregon Trail", Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken October 22, 2011.
Image, 2011, End of the Oregon Trail, Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Structure, "End of the Oregon Trail", Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken October 22, 2011.


Oregon City, etc.

  • Blue Heron Paper Company ...
  • Bridges over the Willamette ...
  • Canemah Historic District ...
  • Clackamas River ...
  • Dr. John McLoughlin ...
  • McLoughlin Historic District ...
  • Missoula Floods ...
  • Municipal Elevator ...
  • Murals ...
  • Willamette Falls ...
  • Willamette Falls Locks ...
  • Willamette River ...


Blue Heron Paper Company ...
The Blue Heron Paper Company closed in February 2011, ending a 182-year history of industry at Willamette Falls. In 1829 fur trader John McLoughlin (known as the Father of Oregon), built a sawmill. A succession of lumber, flour, grist, woolen, and paper mills followed. The Willamette Falls Electric Company also operated at the Falls. In the year 2000 the Blue Heron Paper Company was created. After 11 years, due to a sagging economy, the paper mill closed.

Image, 2015, Blue Heron Paper Co., Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Blue Heron Paper Company, Oregon City, Oregon. View from moving car while heading east on Highway 99E. Image taken January 8, 2015.
Image, 2015, Blue Heron Paper Co., Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Blue Heron Paper Company, Oregon City, Oregon. View from moving car while heading east on Highway 99E. Image taken January 8, 2015.


Bridges Over the Willamette ...
Oregon City's first bridge crossing the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn was a suspension bridge, the first suspension bridge built west of the Mississippi (see "The Golden Age of Postcards" below). This bridge was erected in 1888 and opened for traffic in 1889. In 1922 it was replaced by a concrete "Arch Bridge". This new bridge, designed by engineer Conde McCullough, is in place today. It is 745 foot long, 28 foot wide, and rises 49 feet above the river, and is the southernmost of the Willamette River Bridges in the Portland area.

"... The Willamette River Bridge at Oregon City is a 745-foot structure consisting of a 360-foot steel through arch and eleven concrete deck girder approach spans. The steel arch span is protected from corrosion by encasement in sprayed-on concrete (Gunite), which gives it the appearance of a concrete structure. The detailing--obelisk-shaped pylons, ornate bridge railing, arched fascia curtain walls, fluted Art-Deco main piers, cantilevered sidewalks, ornate balustrade railings and the use of bush-hammered inset panels--identify this structure as a Conde B. McCullough and contributes to the significance of the structure. ..." [Oregon State Department of Transportation website, 2006]

The new Oregon City bridge opened in 1922 with a dedication called "Wedding of Two Cities", a celebration which included a bridge queen, parade, and even a wedding held at the center span. The "Willamette River (Oregon City) Bridge (No.357), also known as the "Oregon City Bridge", was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 (Architecture/Engineering, #05000639).

The six-lane Abernethy Bridge opened in 1970 and carries Interstate 205 traffic across the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn. The bridge was named for George Abernethy, the first governor of Oregon under the provisional Oregon government. Abernethy was elected in 1845 and re-elected in 1847. His administration technically ended in 1848 when Oregon received territorial status and President Polk appointed General Joseph Lane as the first official territorial governor.

Willamette River
George Abernethy Memorial Bridge

Bridging a transportation gap ...

In 1968, the Oregon Department of Transportation began constructing the Interstate 205 freeway bridge over the Willamette River. The bridge is a steel plate and box girder bridge spanning 2,727 feet. it opened on May 3, 1970 at a cost of $15.9 million and was originally designed to traverse the location of a famous Elm tree planted near the end of the Oregon Trail by the wife of George Abernethy. The bridge was moved after realizing the tree's significance.

In 1845, Oregon City became the seat of the Provisional Government and George Abernethy was appointed governor. The 1979 Oregon Legislature designated the bridge as the "George Abernethy Memorial Bridge" in fitting tribute to Oregon's first pioneer Governor George Abernethy."


Source:    "Willamette River, George Abernethy Memorial Bridge" information sign, Clackamette Park, Oregon City, Oregon, visited July 2016.


Image, 2006, Oregon City Bridge across the Willamette River, click to enlarge
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Oregon City Bridge across the Willamette River, with the Abernethy Bridge in the background, Oregon City, Oregon. The arched bridge connects Oregon City with West Linn, Oregon. The Abernethy Bridge carries Interstate 205 traffic over the Willamette River. View from the Oregon City side of the Willamette River. Image taken February 19, 2006.
Image, 2006, Oregon City Bridge across the Willamette River, click to enlarge
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Oregon City Bridge across the Willamette River, Oregon. The Bridge connects Oregon City with West Linn, Oregon. View from West Linn. Image taken February 19, 2006.
Image, 2015, Geo. Abernethy Bridge across Willamette River, click to enlarge
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George Abernethy Bridge across the Willamette River, Oregon. The Bridge connects Oregon City with West Linn, Oregon. View from Oregon City. Image taken January 8, 2015.
Image, 2016,  Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Information sign, George Abernethy Memorial Bridge, Willamette River, Oregon City, Oregon. Sign located at Clackamette Park. Image taken July 13, 2016.


Canemah Historic District ...
The Canemah Historic District is an old section of Oregon City lying below the bluff and is roughly bounded by the Willamette River on the north, 5th Avenue on the south, Marshall Street on the east and Paquet Street on the west. The Canemah Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 (Event/Architecture/Engineering, #78002279) and the homes within the District represent Bungalow/Craftsman, Gothic Revival, and Classical Revival styles. According to the 1978 National Register Nomination form, more than 33% of 89 single-family homes inventoried in Canemah were built before 1900. Many belonged to riverboat Captains. The Captain George Jerome built his home in 1854, Captain John Cochran in 1856, and Captain Sebastian Miller built his home around 1862 (altho another line in the National Register Nomination says 1870).

"Canemah was once a Clow-e-walla Indian village, and its name is derived from the Indian work "Kanim", or "canoe place", as the area was known. Because of the spring water and plentiful salmon, Calapooya bands encamped above the Falls in order to fish during spring and summer. They continued the practice even after the white settlers arrived.

Absalom Fonts Hedges founded Canemah and helped organize the steamboat manufacturing industry on the upper Willamette. Hedges bought the land from Asa Lovejoy (co-founder of Portland) and filed his claim in November, 1845. He tried to develop the property with the aid of several partners, including James Nesmith, but he did not succeed until he went into partnership with his brother-in-law, William Barlow. The pair had the town surveyed in 1849, platted in 1850, and they named it Falls City. However, the Indian name "Canemah" prevailed. Michael Herr of Philadelphia and Sam Barlow purchased a majority of the lots in Canemah, thus providing Hedges sufficient capital to begin riverboat construction in Canemah in 1851.

Ever increasing traffic on the Willamette necessitated improved portage facilities around the Falls. In 1850, Peter Hatch blasted out a portage road along the river between Oregon City, below the Falls, and Canemah.

The demand for steam travel on the Willamette River was clearly evident by 1850 ... Hedges decided to take advantage of the harbor-like river frontage of his community, and he established a steamboat-building operation at Canemah. Construction of his first steamboat, the Canemah, was completed in 1851. Between 1851 and 1878, 28 riverboats were constructed at Canemah ...

Between 1850 ad 1878 Canemah enjoyed its heyday ...

The thriving business carried on at the Canemah dockside came to an abrupt halt in early December of 1861. Unusually cold and heavy rains during November were followed by rains warm enough to melt the snowpack in the higher country. In the ensuing flood, Canemah's warehoues and docks were washed away. The flood, however, enlarged the basin, and money was soon re-invested in Canemah.

In 1862, Asa Lovejoy, D.P. Thompson and William and John Dement financed the construction of a railroad on the protage road between Oregon City and Canemah. ...

As early as 1850, there had been talk of establishing a system of locks and canals at the Falls in order to accelerate the passage of freight and eliminate the need for portage facilities altogether. Finally, in 1870, the Oregon State Legislature appropriated funds to the Willamette Transportation and Locks Company for construction of boat locks on the opposite side of the river from Canemah. The opening of the locks in 1873 made the direct transportation of goods possible from the upper to the lower Williamette River, and thence down the Columbia River to Pacific shipping lanes. ...

By the 1890s, Canemah and other once-thriving towns along the WIllamette River had changed from busy shipping centers to quieter residential communities. ..."

"McLoughlin Boulevard (State Highway 99E) was built in the 1920s, and a section of it runs the length of Canemah. Connecting Canemah with Oregon City proper, it replaced earlier roads built along the foot of the bluffs, the first of which was blasted out in the 1850s. ..."

"In 1928, Canemah residents petitioned the City of Oregon City for annexation, and, following a voter approval, Canemah ceased to exist as a separate governing entity. ..."


Source:    U.S. National Register of Historic Places, 1978, Canemah Historic District Nomination Form, #78002279.



Clackamas River ...
The Clackamas River enters the Willamette River at Willamette River Mile (RM) 25, at the north edge of Oregon City and two miles downstream from Willamette Falls.
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Dr. John McLoughlin ...
"Father of Oregon" and founder of Oregon City.
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Image, 2015,  Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Bronze bust of Dr. John McLoughlin, overlooking the Willamette River and the Blue Heron Paper Company, Oregon City, Oregon. View from moving car while heading east on Highway 99E. Image taken January 8, 2015.
Image, 2006, Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Dr. John McLoughlin bronze bust, Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2006.
Image, 2016,  Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Dr. John McLoughlin House, Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken July 13, 2016.


McLoughlin Historic District ...
Oregon City's Mcloughlin Historic District, also known as the McLoughlin Conservation District, is an old section of Oregon City dotted with historic homes, parks, and a walk along the McLoughlin Promenade overlooking Willamette Falls. According to the Oregon City website:

"The McLoughlin District is referred to as the "second level," refleting its topography and relationship to the original town of Oregon City, which lies just below at the base of a steep basalt cliff. In the 1850s few people built homes on the second level but as the downtown area became more crowded, and after completion of the Oregon & California railroad in late 1869, more residents moved up the hill, to what is now called the McLoughlin neighborhood."

"There are approximately 153 blocks in the McLoughlin Conservation District of which 121 are from the original plat of Oregon City."

Image, 2016,  Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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McLoughlin Historic District, Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken July 13, 2016.


Missoula Floods ...
Between 80,000 years ago and 10,000 years ago ice sheets covered much of North America, including Northern Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Towards the end of this glaciation a large ice dam blocked the Clark Fork River in the Idaho Panhandle, creating "Glacial Lake Missoula". This lake was a massive lake 2,000 feet deep filling the valleys of western Montana, stretching eastward more than 200 miles and, at its maximum height and extent, contained more than 500 cubic miles of water. Periodically the ice dam would fail, resulting in a large catastrophic flood of ice- and dirt-filled water which rushed across northern Idaho and eastern and central Washington, down the Columbia River, through the Columbia River Gorge, and finally poured into the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River.

The restriction at Kalama, Washington, and Prescott, Oregon, created a backwater lake, known as "Lake Allison". This lake filled the Willamette River Valley as far as Eugene, Oregon, over 100 miles away, with a measured height of 400 feet at Oregon City and an estimated height of 380 feet at Eugene. The area covered was approximately 3,000 square miles. The flood waters dumped thick layers of Palouse Silt, making the Willamette Valley one of the most fertile agricultural lands in the country.

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Municipal Elevator ...
Oregon City is home to the only municipal elevator in the United States. The elevator lifts people 100 feet to the mid-level of the city. The "Oregon City Municipal Elevator" was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 (Transportation/Architecture, #14000181).

"... There are only three other municipal elevators in the world. Basalt terraces divide the city into three levels. In 1915 the town built a water-powered elevator to connect the two lower parts of town in a ride that took 3 minutes. Early residents recall that if the water pressure suddenly dropped it meant somebody was riding the elevator. The Oregon City Elevator was converted to electricity in the 1920s which reduced the ride to 30 seconds. The new elevator was built in 1955. ..." ["Oregoncity.com" website, 2006]

"In January, 1954, the firm of Stevens and Thompson submitted a new design proposal that could be built within the bond amount. The new design produced a low bid of $116,000 and a contract was awarded to James and Yost, Inc. The new elevator was dedicated on May 5, 1955, and the City Commission accepted it on July 13, 1955. At that time, 2,000 elevator passes were printed. Even though the elevator ride has always been free, the distribution of these passes as a keepsake has continued as a City tradition. The existing elevator took over 751 tons of concrete and steel to construct, is 130 feet high, and passengers can zip to the top in 15 seconds. Additionally, passengers now walk through a 35-foot long tunnel under the tracks rather than over the tracks.

The Oregon City Municipal Elevator continues to operate as one of only four municipal elevators in the world and "Elevator Street" remains the only "vertical street" in North America."


Source:    Oregon City website, 2016, "Public Works".



Penny Postcard, Elevator, Oregon City, Oregon, ca.1930s
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Penny Postcard: Elevator, Oregon City, Oregon, ca.1930s. Penny Postcard, ca.1930s, "Oregon City Elevator.". Photo by Christian. Card #O-115. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Image, 2006, West Linn, Oregon City, and Mount Hood, click to enlarge
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West Linn (foreground), Willamette River (not quite visible, center), and Oregon City (below and on top of basalt ridge). View from the West Linn side of the Willamette River. Oregon City's Municipal Elevator can be seen on the left. Mount Hood is visible on the horizon. Image taken February 19, 2006.
Image, 2015, Oregon City Municipal Elevator, Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Oregon City Municipal Elevator, Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken January 8, 2015.
Image, 2006, Oregon City Municipal Elevator, Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Upper section, Oregon City Municipal Elevator, Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2006.


Murals ...
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Image, 2016, Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mural, Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken July 13, 2016.
Image, 2016, Oregon City, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mural, Joseph Meek, Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken July 13, 2016.


Willamette Falls ...
Willamette Falls is located at Willamette River Mile (RM) 27, at the south end of the Oregon community of Oregon City. The Falls spill about 40 feet over horseshoe-shaped basalt ridge. Lewis and Clark make many references to the "falls of the Multnomah" and the Indian tribe which lived there. The falls were a major salmon fishing location. Later the falls furnished the power for a lumber mill (1842), a flour mill (1844), a woolen mill (1864), and the first paper mill in the Pacific Northwest (1867). The first long-distance commercial electric power transmission in the United States went from Willamette Falls to the City of Portland in 1889. In 1873, the Willamette Falls Locks were opened when the steamer Maria Wilkins became the first vessel to navigate up the west end of the falls.
[More]

Image, 2006, Willamette Falls, click to enlarge
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Willamette Falls, Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2006.
Image, 2006, Willamette Falls, click to enlarge
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Willamette Falls, Oregon City, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2006.


Willamette Falls Locks ...
The locks at Willamette Falls were built in the early 1870s and have been in continuous use since January 1, 1873. The locks hold the distinction of being the first multi-lift navigation locks built in the United States. Total length of the locks is 3,565 feet and the usable width is 37 feet, with total lift being a little over 50 feet. The locks can handle a vessel up to 175 feet long. The lock chambers are made from locally-quarried stones ranging in size from 5 feet to 15 feet high. The lock walls have remained watertight for more than 130 years. The original lockmaster's office has been converted into a museum, and displays photographs of the historic locks. In 1974 the Willamette Falls Locks were placed on the National Register of Historic Places (Structure #74001680) for transportation.
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Image, 2006, Willamette Falls Locks, click to enlarge
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Willamette Falls Locks, West Linn, Oregon, looking downstream. Image taken February 19, 2006.
Image, 2004, Sign, Oregon History, Willamette Falls Locks, click to enlarge
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Willamette Falls Locks, "Oregon History" sign. Image taken February 15, 2004.


Willamette River ...
Oregon City is located on the Willamette River at approximately River Mile (RM) 26. The Willamette River is a tributary to the Columbia River, and enters the Columbia at RM 101. It provides the Columbia with approximately 15 percent of its annual discharge.
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Image, 2006, Willamette River upstream from Willamette Falls, click to enlarge
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Willamette River looking upstream from Willamette Falls, Oregon. Image taken February 19, 2006.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

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

Penny Postcard, Oregon City, Oregon, with Willamette Falls, ca.1908
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Penny Postcard: Oregon City, Oregon, with Willamette Falls, ca.1908. Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1908, "Woolen Mill, Electric Pulp and Paper Mill, Flour Mill and Filter Plant on the Willametter River, Oregon.". Published by M. Rieder, Los Angeles, California, for Howell & Jones, Oregon City, Oregon. Made in Germany. Card #2753. Card is postmarked January 2, 1908. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Oregon City, Oregon, with suspension bridge, ca.1910
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Penny Postcard: Oregon City, Oregon, with suspension bridge, ca.1910. Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Business Section of Oregon City, looking South, showing Suspension Bridge across the Willamette River.". Published by Portland Post Card Co. (???). Card #A1167. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Oregon City, Oregon, with suspension bridge, ca.1910
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Penny Postcard: Suspension Bridge, Oregon City, Oregon, ca.1910. Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Suspension Bridge, Oregon City, Ore.". Huntley Bros. Co., Oregon City, Oregon. "Hand Painted". In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Elevator, Oregon City, Oregon, ca.1930s
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Penny Postcard: Elevator, Oregon City, Oregon, ca.1930s. Penny Postcard, ca.1930s, "Oregon City Elevator.". Photo by Christian. Card #O-115. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Willamette Falls, Oregon City, Oregon, ca.1910
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Penny Postcard: Willamette Falls, Oregon City, Oregon, ca.1910. Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Willamette Falls, Oregon.". Published by The Portland Post Card Co., Portland, Oregon. Made in Germany. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Willamette Falls, Oregon City, Oregon, ca.1910
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Penny Postcard: Fishing, Willamette Falls, Oregon City, Oregon, ca.1910. Penny Postcard, ca.1910, "Fishing at Oregon City, Ore.". Card #7997. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, April 2, 1806 ...
This morning we came to a resolution to remain at our present encampment [Cottonwood Beach, Washougal, Washington] or Some where in this neighbourhood untill we had obtained as much dried meat as would be necessary for our voyage as far as the Chopunnish. ...     about this time Several Canoes of the nativs arived at our Camp [Cottonwood Beach] among others two from below with Eight men of the Shah-ha-la Nation those men informed us that they reside on the opposit Side of the Columbia near Some pine trees which they pointed to in the bottom South of the Dimond Island [Government Island], they Singled out two young men whome they informed us lited at the Falls of a large river [Willamette Falls] which discharges itself into the Columbia on it's South Side Some Miles below us. we readily provailed on them to give us a Sketch of this river [Willamette River] which they drew on a Mat with a coal, it appeared that this river which they Call Mult-no'-mah discharged itself behind the Island we call the image Canoe island [Hayden Island], and as we had left this Island to the South both in decending & assending the river we had never Seen it. they informed us that it was a large river and runs a Considerable distance to the South between the Mountains. I deturmined to take a Small party and return to this river and examine its Size and Collect as much information of the nativs on it or near its enterance into the Columbia of its extent, the Country which it waters and the nativs who inhabit its banks &c. I took with me Six Men. Thompson J. Potts, Peter Crusat, P. Wiser, T. P. Howard, Jos. Whitehouse & my man York in a large Canoe, with an Indian whome I hired for a Sun glass to accompany me as a pilot. at half past 11 A. M. I Set out ...     at 8 miles passed a village on the South side [Chinook Landing and Blue Lake area] at this place my Pilot informed me he resided and that the name of his tribe is Ne-cha-co-lee, this village is back or to the South of Dimond island [Government Island], and as we passed on the North Side of the island both decending & assending did not See or know of this Village. I proceeded on without landing at this village. at 3 P. M. I landed at a large double house of the Ne-er-cho-ki-oo tribe of the Shah-ha-la Nation. at this place we had Seen 24 aditional Straw Huts as we passed down last fall [November 4, 1805, in the vicinity of the Portland International Airport] and whome as I have before mentioned reside at the Great rapids of the Columbia [Celilo Falls].     on the bank at different places I observed Small Canoes which the women make use of to gather Wappato & roots in the Slashes. those Canoes are from 10 to 14 feet long and from 18 to 23 inches wide in the widest part tapering from the center to both ends in this form and about 9 inches deep and So light that a woman may with one hand haul them with ease, and they are Sufficient to Carry a woman on Some loading. I think 100 of those canoes were piled up and Scattered in different directions about in the Woods in the vecinity of this house, the pilot informed me that those Canoes were the property of the inhabitents of the Grand rapids who used them ocasionally to gather roots. ...

I left them [village near today's Portland International Airport] and proceeded on on the South Side [North Portland Harbor] of Image Canoe Island [Hayden Island] which I found to be two Islands hid from the opposit Side by one near the Center of the river. the lower point of the upper and the upper point of the lower cannot be Seen from the North Side of the Columbia on which we had passed both decending and ascending and had not observed the apperture between those islands. at the distance of 13 Miles below the last village [location of Portland International Airport] and at the place I had Supposed was the lower point of the image Canoe island [Hayden Island], I entered this river which the nativs had informed us of, Called Mult no mah River [Willamette River] so called by the nativs from a Nation who reside on Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] a little below the enterance of this river. Multnomah [Willamette River] discharges itself in the Columbia on the S. E. and may be justly Said to be ¼ the Size of that noble river. Multnomah had fallen 18 inches from it's greatest annual height. three Small Islands are situated in it's mouth [Belle Vue Point and Kelley Point, on opposite sides of the mouth of the Willamette, use to be islands] which hides the river from view from the Columbia.     from the enterance of this river [Willamette River] , I can plainly See Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon] which is high and Covered with snow S. E. Mt. Hood East [Mount Hood, Oregon], Mt St. Helians [Mount St. Helens, Washington] a high humped Mountain to the East of Mt St. Helians [Mount Adams, Washington, is east of Mount St. Helens]. I also Saw the Mt. Raneer [Mount Rainier, Washington] Nearly North. Soon after I arived at this river an old man passed down of the Clark a'mos Nation who are noumerous and reside on a branch of this river which receives it's waters from Mt. Jefferson [Mount Jefferson, Oregon] which is emensely high and discharges itself into this river one day and a half up, this distance I State at 40 Miles. This nation inhabits 11 Villages their Dress and language is very Similar to the Quath-lah-poh-tle and other tribes on Wappato Island [Sauvie Island].



The Current of the Multnomar [Willamette River] is as jentle as that of the Columbia glides Smoothly with an eavin surface, and appears to be Sufficiently deep for the largest Ship. I attempted fathom it with a Cord of 5 fathom which was the only Cord I had, could not find bottom ? of the distance across. I proceeded up this river 10 miles from it's enterance into the Columbia to a large house on the N E. Side and Encamped near the house [downstream of Cathedral Park and the St. Johns Bridge, Portland, Oregon, near Portland's Terminal 4.], the flees being So noumerous in the house that we could not Sleep in it.



this is the house of the Cush-hooks Nation who reside at the falls of this river which the pilot informs me they make use of when they Come down to the Vally to gather Wappato. he also informs me that a number of other Smaller houses are Situated on two Bayous which make out on the S. E. Side a little below the house. this house appears to have been laterly abandoned by its inhabitants ...     The course and distance assending the Molt no mar R [Willamette River] from it's enterance into the Columbia at the lower point of the 3rd Image Canoe island.

[This area has changed during the past 200 years. Lewis and Clark called today's Hayden Island "Image Canoe Island". Their "3rd Image Canoe Island" however maybe in reference to the "three Small Islands are situated in it's mouth" (see journal entry above), two of the islands possibly were islands which are today's Belle Vue Point on Sauvie Island, and Pearcy Island which eventually became Kelley Point. Lewis and Clark's route map (Map#79 and Map#80, Moulton, Vol.1) shows a long "Image Canoe Island" with two small islands on the north side of "Image Canoe Island", and three small islands at the mouth of the "Multnomah R.". ]

S. 30° W. 2 Miles to the upper point of a Small Island [???] in the Middle of Moltnomar river [Willamette River]. thence

S. 10° W. 3 miles to a Sluce 80 yards wide [Multnomah Channel] which devides Wappato Island [Sauvie Island] from the Main Stard. Side Shore passing a Willow point on the Lard. Side [???].

S. 60° E. 3 miles to a large Indian house on the Lard Side below Some high pine land.

[Lewis and Clark's map plotted against an 1888 map of the area shows this location to be closer to 2 miles from the Multnomah Channel, just upstream from Portland's Terminal 4, and across from the community of Linnton.]

high bold Shore on the Starboard Side [Tualatin Mountains]. thence

S. 30° E 2 miles to a bend under the high lands on the Stard Side [St. Johns Bridge area located at the base of the Tualatin Mountains]

miles 10 passing a Larborad point [???].

thence the river bends to the East of S East as far as I could See [the stretch through Portland, Oregon]. at this place I think the wedth of the river may be Stated at 500 yards and Sufficiently deep for a Man of War or Ship of any burthern.



Whitehouse, April 2, 1806 ...
... The natives that were still with us, informed our Officers, that there was a large River [Willamette River], which emptied itself into the Columbia River, on the South side, below Sandy River [Sandy River],-     Captain Clark took me & Six more of our party, and one Indian as a guide, in Order to go down the Columbia River to take a view of that River [Willamette River], We proceeded on in a Canoe down the South side of the River, about 10 Miles.- & passed an Indian Village [Chinook Landing and Blue Lake area] of 21 houses lying on the same side of the River. This Village lay behind an Island, called Swans Island [part of today's Government Island complex. Lewis and Clark maps show two islands, one they called Diamond Island where they camped in November, and the other they called White Brant Island. Today the island nearest the locality of "Swans Island" would be McGuire Island.], & altho we had been on this Island, on our way in descending the River, none of our party had ever seen <it> this Village before. We proceeded on 9 Miles further down the River, & halted at a Village of Indians [locality of today's Portland International Airport]. ...     We proceeded on, on to the Mouth of this great River [Willamette River], which the Indians had given our Officers an account of.- The Mouth of this River came in behind an Island [Hayden Island] lying on the So. side of Columbia River; We arrived at the mouth of this river, about Sunset, & went up it, about 7 Miles, when we encamped at an old Indian lodge [near Terminal 4, south of today's Cathedral Park and the St. Johns Bridge]. The party <under Captain Clark,> resolved upon sleeping in this lodge, but on our entering it, we found the fleas in such great plenty, that we were forced to quit it. The great River is called by the natives the Mult-no-mack River [Willamette River]; it is 500 yards wide at its mouth; & continues that width, as high up, as where we ascended it to. The Indian guide that was with us, told us that it heads Near the head Waters of the California, & that there is a large Nation of Indians who reside some distance up that River <& > who live on a So. fork of this River & that Nation is called the Clark-a-mus Nation <& also another Nation> and that 30 Towns belong to them. Our guide also informed us, that there is another nation of Indians who reside a further distance up that River, by the name of the Cal-lap-no-wah nation; who he said were also very numerous; & that they reside up this River, where it is quite small.- The guide also mentioned that it is 20 days travel to the falls of this River [Willamette Falls], which falls is 40 feet <fall> perpendicular into that River & that the Tide water runs up to it,- & that the Natives have a very large Salmon fishery at that place. ...





Clark, April 3, 1806 ...
The water had fallen in the course of last night five inches. I Set out and proceeded up a Short distance [vicinity of the St. Johns Bridge] and attempted a Second time to fathom the river with my cord of 5 fathom but could find no bottom. the mist was So thick that I could See but a Short distance up this river. where I left it, it was binding to the East of S. E. being perfectly Satisfyed of the Size and magnitude of this great river which must Water that vast tract of Country betwen the Western range of mountains and those on the Sea coast and as far S. as the Waters of Callifornia about Latd. 37° North I deturmined to return. at 7 oClock A. M. Set out on my return. the men exirted themselves and we arived at the Ne er cho ki oo house [Portland International Airport] in which the nativs were So illy disposed yesterday at 11 A. M. I entered the house with a view to Smoke with those people ...     I detained but a fiew minits and returnd on board the canoe. ...     at 3 P M. we arived at the residence of our Pilot [near Chinook Landing and Blue Lake] ...     back of this house I observe the wreck of 5 houses remaining of a very large Village, the houses of which had been built in the form of those we first Saw at the long narrows of the E-lute Nation with whome those people are connected. ...     I provailed on an old man to draw me a Sketch of the Multnomar River [Willamette River] ang give me the names of the nations resideing on it which he readily done, ...   and gave me the names of 4 nations who reside on this river two of them very noumerous. The first is Clark a-mus nation reside on a Small river which takes its rise in Mount Jefferson and falls into the Moltnomar about 40 miles up [Clackamas River].   this nation is noumerous and inhabit 11 Towns.   the 2d is the Cush-hooks who reside on the N E. Side below the falls [Willamette Falls],   the 3rd is the Char-cowah who reside above the Falls on the S W. Side neether of those two are noumerous.   The fourth Nation is the Cal-lar-po-e-wah which is very noumerous & inhabit the Country on each Side of the Multnomar from its falls as far up as the knowledge of those people extend. they inform me also that a high mountain passes the Multnomar at the falls,   and above the Country is an open plain of great extent.    I purchased 5 dogs of those people for the use of their Oil in the Plains, and at 4 P M left the Village and proceeded on to Camp where I joind Capt. Lewis [at Cottonwood Beach]

The enterance of Multnomah river is 142 miles up the Columbia river from its enterance into the Pacific Ocean—.





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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:    End of the Oregon Trail website, 2004;    McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;    National Register of Historic Places website, 2005;    "Oregoncity.com" website, 2006;    Oregon State Department of Transportation website, 2006;    State of Oregon History Signs, 2004, Willamette Falls Overlook off of Interstate-205;    Tompkins, J., 2006, Oregon City, Images of America, Arcadia Publishing, San Francisco;    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2004;    U.S. Forest Service Gifford Pinchot National Forest website, 2006;   

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 2016