Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Rainier, Oregon"
Includes ... Rainier, Oregon ... Mount Rainier ... Rainier City Park ... "Rainier - The River Town" Mural ... National Register of Historic Places ...
Image, 2008, Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Welcome banner, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken August 31, 2008.


Rainier ...
Rainier, Oregon, is located on the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 68, and lies across from Longview and Kelso, Washington. Also across the Columbia from Rainier is the mouth of the Cowlitz River and Cottonwood Island. On the Oregon side of the Columbia, three miles upstream, is Prescott Beach, the location of Lewis and Clark's camp of November 5, 1805. Further upstream are the oregon communities of Goble, Deer Island, Columbia City, and St. Helens. Downstream on the Oregon side are Walker and Lord Islands, Green Point, and the town of Mayger. The Lewis and Clark Bridge which connects Rainier to Longview lies two miles downstream or Rainier city center.

Image, 2006, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Rainier, Oregon. View from Rainier City Park. Image taken October 31, 2006.


Lewis and Clark and Rainier, Oregon ...
Lewis and Clark were in the Rainier, Oregon and Longview/Kelso, Washington area on November 6, 1805, on their way to the Pacific Ocean. Captain Clark noted Cottonwood Island (the "long Island") off the Washington shore, and Walker and Lord Islands and Green Point off the Oregon shore.

"... opposit <this long Island is 2 others one Small and about the middle of the river> the other larger and nearly opposit its lower point, and opposit a high clift of Black rocks on the Lard. Side ..." [Clark, November 6, 1805]

Lewis and Clark again visited the area on their way upstream on March 27, 1806.


Early Rainier ...
Lewis and Clark were in the Rainier, Oregon, area on November 6, 1805, on their way to the Pacific Ocean, and then again on their way back home on March 27, 1806 (see above).

Rainier, Oregon, was founded by Charles E. Fox who settled there in 1851 and platted the townsite in 1855. He called the town "Eminence", a name which was to change in 1852 to "Rainier", after Mount Rainier, which is visible from the higher hills. The town of Rainier was incorporated in 1881.

In 1863 the town of Rainier was given its first Government Post Office. The U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database (2007) lists "Eminence Post Office" as a previous name for the Rainier Post Office.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office (GLO) Records database (2007) shows title being granted to Charles E. Fox on June 13, 1881, for 293.32 acres for parts of T7N R2W Sections 16, 17, 20, and 21, under the 1850 "Oregon-Donation Act".

From the 1909 NOAA "Coast Pilot":

"... Between Astoria and Portland there are numerous landings and settlements, dependent either on the fisheries or acting in some cases as shipping points for the country immediately behind them; these are ports of call for the regular river steamers. Deep-draft vessels do not as a rule stop between Astoria and Portland, except for lumber cargoes at Rainier, Goble, Westport, Knappton, and some small mills. ..."

Early Images ...

Penny Postcard, Rainier, Oregon
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Penny Postcard: Main Street looking east, Rainier, Oregon.
Penny Postcard, Real Photo, Divided Back, "Main Street, Rainier, Ore.". Published by R.P. Langenbaher. Made in Germany. Postmarked September 1909. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Rainier, Oregon
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Penny Postcard: Main Street looking west, Rainier, Oregon.
Penny Postcard, Real Photo, Divided Back, "Main Street looking West, Rainier, Ore.". Postmarked January 1911. Published by C. Kropf Co., Milwaukee. Card #1538. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Rainier, Oregon
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Penny Postcard: Mill, Rainier, Oregon.
Penny Postcard, Divided Back (1907-1915), "One of the Big Mills, Rainier, Ore.". Postmarked March 1916. Card #1535. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


Rainier in 1940 ...
From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"... RAINIER, 47.5 m. (23 alt., 1,353 pop.), named for Mount Rainier, which is often visible to the northeast, was an important stop in the days of river commerce. The town was founded by Charles E. Fox in 1851. First called Eminence, its name was later changed to Fox's Landing and finally to Rainier. In 1854 F. M. Warren erected a large steam sawmill and began producing lumber for the homes and other buildings of the settlers. Rainier was incorporated in 1885. At Rainier is a toll bridge connecting with Longview, Washington (car and driver, 80c; maximum, $1).

From the winding curves of RAINIER HILL (671 alt.) there is a fine view of Longview, Washington, and the narrow roadway of the bridge spanning the river, hundreds of feet below. The summit is reached at 50.6 m. ..."


Mount Rainier from Rainier, Oregon ...

Image, 2004, Mount Rainier from Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mount Rainier from Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 11, 2004.


Rainier, etc.

  • 1888 House ...
  • "A" Street ...
  • Fox Creek ...
  • Hotel Rainier ...
  • Lewis and Clark Bridge ...
  • Murals ...
  • "Norris Docks" ...
  • Oregon Highway 30 ...
  • Rainier Riverfront Park ...
  • Rainier to Longview Ferry ...
  • Sea Lions ...
  • September 11th Memorial ...
  • Waterfront Scenes ...
  • Yeon and Pelton ("the Incline") ...


"1888 House" ...
The "1888 House" (officially the "George F. Moeck House") was built in 1888 and is located at the northern end of the community of Rainier. It can be seen from Highway 30, going through town. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 14, 1978 (Historic Person, #78002283).


George Moeck House:

"This house is known by most people as the 1888 House, and it even has the words "1888 House" on it, and an "1888 House" sign in front of it, but officially it is the Moeck House. It was built in 1888, naturally, as the home of George F. Moeck. Moeck once owned most of West Rainier, the area known as Kentucky Flats. Moeck was a founding member of the Rainier Masonic Lodge and was postmaster of the Rainier post office from 1892-1897. The Moeck House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 14, 1978."


Source:    Robert D. West's "~Westr" website, "myweb.msoe.edu".


Image, 2011, 1888 House, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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"1888 House", Rainier, Oregon. View from moving car on Highway 30, headed north. Image taken September 4, 2011.
Image, 2009, 1888 House, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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"1888 House", Rainier, Oregon. View from moving car on Highway 30, headed north. Image taken August 30, 2009.


"A" Street ...
The original name for "A" Street was "Water Street". Between 1923 and 1924 all streets were renamed to their current naming convention as lettered and numbered streets.

Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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"A" Street, looking east, Rainier, Oregon. "Hotel Rainier" is on the left" Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2015, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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"A" Street, looking east, Rainier, Oregon. "Hotel Rainier" is on the left" Image taken April 19, 2015.


Fox Creek ...
The 1862 cadastral survey (tax survey) map for T7N R2W shows the Charles E. Fox Donation Land Claim along the Columbia River in the lower half of Section 16.

Image, 2013, Fox Creek, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Fox Creek looking downstream, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken, January 11, 2013.


Hotel Rainier ...
"1924 - June 28, Fire destroyed most of the business district on the north side of 'A' Street. The old Hotel Rainier was destroyed and later rebuilt in the same location, and it still remains there today."


Source:    City of Rainier website, 2016, "Historical Timeline".

Image, 2012, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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1953, "Hotel Rainier" mural, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken January 11, 2012.
Image, 2012, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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2012, "Hotel Rainier", Rainier, Oregon. Image taken January 11, 2012.
Image, 2012, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Balcony, "Hotel Rainier", Rainier, Oregon. Image taken January 11, 2012.


Lewis and Clark Bridge ...
"1929 - April 15, first pilings were driven for the Lewis & Clark Bridge. Originally simply called the Longview Bridge and designed by Joseph B. Strauss (also designer of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge). The bridge was originally a private venture, many years later to be purchased and improved by Washington.

1930 - March 29, Lewis and Clark Bridge opened, improving the ease of access between Rainier, Oregon and Longview, Washington. Previously this travel was done by ferry.

1940 - Lewis and Clark Bridge toll was 80 for car and driver; maximum $1. In the present day, this bridge no longer has a toll."


Source:    City of Rainier website, 2016, "Historical Timeline".

[More]


Image, 2004, Mount St. Helens and the Lewis and Clark Bridge, click to enlarge
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Lewis and Clark Bridge, with Mount St. Helens, Washington. Lewis and Clark Bridge, as seen from Oregon Highway-30, downstream of Rainier, Oregon. The bridge spans the Columbia River from Longview, Washington, to Rainier, Oregon. Mount St. Helens, Washington, is in the background. Image taken February 11, 2004.
Image, 2004, Lewis and Clark Bridge from Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Lewis and Clark Bridge from Rainier, Oregon. Looking downstream at the Lewis and Clark Bridge, from city park, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 21, 2004.


Murals ...
"Rainier - The River Town" Mural, created by Rainier Students, was located in Rainier, Oregon, one block downhill from Oregon Highway 30 and Rainier City Hall building. By 2009 this mural had been painted over and a new mural of the historic Hotel Rainier was in its place.
[More]

Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mural and street corner, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2012, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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"Hotel Rainier" mural, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken January 11, 2012.


"Norris Docks" ...
Personal correspondence with Hank Bartholomew (2007), resident of Rainier since 1997, reveals this old building was once the "Norris Docks" and used as a fish processing and warehouse structure.

Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Old fish processing and warehousing building, Rainier, Oregon. Along Rainier's eastern waterfront. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Old fish processing and warehousing building, Rainier, Oregon. Along Rainier's eastern waterfront. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Old fish processing and warehousing building, Rainier, Oregon. Along Rainier's eastern waterfront. Image taken February 17, 2007.


Oregon Highway 30 ...
(to come)

Image, 2014, Highway 30, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Old structure on Highway 30, east of Rainier, Oregon. Image taken December 31, 2014.
Image, 2011, Street scene, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Highway 30 driving west, Rainier, Oregon. View from moving car on Highway 30, headed west. Image taken September 4, 2011.
Image, 2011, Street scene, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Highway 30 driving east, Rainier, Oregon. View from moving car on Highway 30, headed east. Image taken September 2, 2011.


Rainier City Hall ...
"1925 - Rainier's City Hall was built; including the Rainier Police Department and the Rainier City Library."


Source:    City of Rainier website, 2016, "Historical Timeline".

Image, 2007, City Hall, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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City Hall building, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, City Hall, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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City Hall building, Rainier, Oregon. View from moving car. Image taken February 17, 2007.


Rainier Riverfront Park ...
(to come)


Rainier to Longview Ferry ...
From "The Sunday Oregonian", September 22, 1922 (Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2016):

"... cross Columbia river by ferry, Rainier to Longview: 24-hour continuous ferry service."

According to the "Columbia County Historian Home Page" website (2018):

"... during the month of August [1923] 24,199 cars crossed the river [Columbia River] by ferry, and that the total number to date for the present year was 79,746."

Aurora People Visit Washington's Magic City

"On Sunday last Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Miller and son Alvin drove to Prescott, Oregon, to visit their son ...

From Prescott Alvin and his father drove to Rainier and crossed the Columbia on the large steam ferry, "Oregon," to Longview, Washington. There were fifteen autos and ten motor cycles on the ferry at the time.

Longview was a surprise -- to see such a number of fine buildings, the beautiful Hotel Monticello and another nearly as large, the Broadway, both of which would be an honor for a city much larger than the new town of Longview.

The several new stores are very attractive, large, and beautifully constructed. Their streets are wide, and in fact this town has every appearance of becoming a good sized city in a short time."


Source:    "Aurora Observer" (Aurora, Marion County, Oregon), May 15, 1924, courtesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2018.


Map, 1928, Auto Ferry Rainier to Longview, click to enlarge
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1928 Historical Map detail, Columbia County and Cowlitz County, showing "auto ferry" route between Rainier, Oregon, and Longview, Washington. Original Metsker Map courtesy "HistoricMapWorks.com" website, 2018.


Sea Lions ...

Image, 2016, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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California Sea Lions take over the public dock in Rainier, Oregon. Image taken March 11, 2016.
Image, 2016, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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California Sea Lions take over the public dock in Rainier, Oregon. Image taken March 11, 2016.


September 11th Memorial ...

Image, 2006, September 11, 2001 Memorial at Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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September 11, 2001 Memorial at Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2004, September 11, 2001 Memorial at Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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September 11, 2001 Memorial at Rainier City Park, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken August 29, 2004.


Waterfront Scenes ...

Image, 2006, Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Columbia River shoreline, as seen from Rainier, Oregon. View from Rainier City Park, looking upstream. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2006, Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Columbia River shoreline, as seen from Rainier, Oregon. View from Rainier City Park, looking upstream. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2006, Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Columbia River shoreline, as seen from Rainier, Oregon. Fox Creek is in the foreground. View from Rainier City Park. Image taken October 31, 2006.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Rainier, Oregon, scene, with old fish buiding in the background. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mallards, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Mount St. Helens, from waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. The downstream tip of Cottonwood Island is visible on the right. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Mount St. Helens is the white snow covered "peak" in the left middleground. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Western Pacific Dredging building, Rainier, Oregon. Mount St. Helens is the white snow covered "peak" in the middleground. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Waterfront, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2007, Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Tugboats, Rainier, Oregon. Image taken February 17, 2007.
Image, 2006, Tug boat, as seen from Rainier, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Tugboat, as seen from Rainier, Oregon. View from Rainier City Park. Image taken October 31, 2006.


Yeon and Pelton ("the Incline") ...
According to the Columbia County Historian website (2020, taken from the "Rainier Review", July 20, 1905), "The Incline Railway" was built to lower train car loads of logs from the rim down to the slough below.

"One of the finest largest logging camps in the Pacific northwest is that of Yeon and Pelton, who employ over 150 men winter and summer. The mammoth logging camp is located about three miles from Rainier, in one of the finest timber belts in the United States. This firm has over 8,000 acres of timber land and has also the only incline railway on the Pacific coast. It is 3,800 feet long and has an incline of 33 percent. Four large locomotives are used in carrying the logs down the incline, and there is one man to each car. The descent is very dangerous, and a most thrilling one to witness. This big camp is a boon to the city of Rainier, and several others will soon be put in operation by the same firm. ... The incline railway was built to lower train car loads of logs from the rim down to the slough below."

In 1906 the Yeon and Pelton company turned its logging camps over to the Portland Lumber Company.


Penny Postcard, Rainier, Oregon
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Penny Postcard: Yeon and Pelton's "The Incline", Rainier, Oregon.
Penny Postcard, Real Photo, White Border, Divided Back (1915-1930), "Log Chute, on Columbia River". Published by Pacific Novelty Co., of S.F., Cal. Made in S.F. Card #O-41. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


"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. Penny Postcards today show us a snapshot of history.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 6, 1805 ...





Clark, March 27, 1806 ...




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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:
  • Columbia County Historian Home Page, 2018, 2020;
  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2018;
  • McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, "Oregon Geographic Names", Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland;
  • National Register of Historic Places website, 2011;
  • NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, 2006;
  • Oregon State Archives website, 2004, 2005;
  • Rainier City website, 2007, 2016, and personal communication with Hank Bartholomew, 2007;
  • U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office (GLO) Records database, 2007;
  • U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 2007;
  • West, R.D., 2011, Robert D. West's "~Westr" website, "myweb.msoe.edu";


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 2016