Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Rock Creek, Washington ... (Skamania County)"
Includes ... Rock Creek ... Upper Rock Creek Falls ... Lower Rock Creek Falls ... Rock Cove ... Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center ... Stevenson ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2010, Rock Creek, Skamania County, looking upstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rock Creek, Skamania County, Washington, looking upstream. View from walking bridge across Rock Creek, looking upstream towards Rock Cove Drive. Image taken November 2, 2010.


Rock Creek ...
The Rock Creek watershed drains 43 square miles, with headwaters near Lookout Mountain, Washington, at an elevation of over 4,000 feet. The mouth of Rock Creek empties into Rock Cove and the Columbia River just west of Stevenson, Washington, at Columbia River Mile (RM) 150.

Lewis and Clark and Rock Creek ...
Lewis and Clark pass by Skamania County's Rock Creek and Rock Cove on October 30, 1805. The creek is depicted but nameless on their route map (Moulton, vol.1, map#78).

"... passed maney large rocks in the river and a large creek on the Stard. Side in the mouth of which is an Island,   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,   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. ..." [Clark, October 30, 1805]

Rock Creek Walking Bridge ...
A small pedestrian bridge crosses Rock Creek at the Skamania County Fairgrounds. Presumably (having never been to the Skamania County Fair) it is for parking for the Fair.

Image, 2010, Rock Creek, Skamania County, looking downstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Walking bridge, Rock Creek, Skamania County, Washington. Image taken November 2, 2010.


Early Rock Creek ...
The 1860 cadastral survey (tax survey) has the creek labeled "Rock Creek".

Views ...

Image, 2010, Rock Creek, Skamania County, looking downstream, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rock Creek, Skamania County, Washington, looking downstream. View from walking bridge across Rock Creek, looking downstream towards Highway 14. Image taken November 2, 2010.
Image, 2010, Rock Creek, Skamania County, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Railroad bridge over Rock Creek, Skamania County, Washington. View from moving car on Washington State Highway 14. Image taken November 2, 2010.
Image, 2014, Rock Creek, Skamania County, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rock Creek, Skamania County, Washington, looking upstream. View from walking bridge across Rock Creek, looking upstream. Image taken July 31, 2014.
Image, 2014, Rock Creek, Skamania County, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rock Creek, Skamania County, Washington, looking downstream. View from walking bridge across Rock Creek, looking downstream towards Highway 14. Image taken July 31, 2014.


Rock Creek, etc.

  • Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center ...
  • Nelson Creek ...
  • Rock Cove ...
  • Rock Creek Falls ...


Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center ...
The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, located at the western end of Rock Cove, is the nonprofit museum of the Skamania County Historical Society, and is dedicated to preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the cultural and natural history of the Columbia River Gorge. The center is located on Rock Creek Drive, in Stevenson, Washington.
[More]

Image, 2004, Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson, Washington. Image taken November 4, 2004.
Image, 2005, Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Stevenson, Washington. SP&S Engine 802 and SP&S Caboose 701 can be seen outside of the museum building. View from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken June 19, 2005.


Nelson Creek ...
On October 30, 1805, Lewis and Clark spotted "... a large creek on the Stard. Side in the mouth of which is an Island, ...". Today historians say this was Rock Creek. However early on it was thought to be nearby Nelson Creek.

According to the "Sunday Oregonian", August 13, 1905:

"... Two and one half miles below Wind river the Lewis and Clark party came to a creek on the right, with an island in its mouth. This is now called Nelson creek, but the shifting sands have covered the rocky island spoken of at its mouth, closed up one of the channels, and is unrecognisable from the account given by the exploring party. ..."


Rock Cove ...
Rock Cove is located in Skamania County, Washington, and is a beautiful cove of small treed islands. Rock Creek empties into Rock Cove at its eastern edge before merging with the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 150. Washington Highway 14 crosses Rock Cove. Upstream is Stevenson, Washington and downstream is Ashes Lake. The Rock Cove area is the upper end of the former Cascade Rapids, now drowned by the backwaters of Bonneville Reservoir. The Skamania County Fairgrounds lies on Rock Cove's northeastern edge and the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center lies on its western edge.
[More]

Image, 2004, Rock Cove, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rock Cove, Stevenson, Washington. View from Rock Cove Drive. Image taken November 4, 2004.
Image, 2014, Rock Cove, Skamania County, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rock Cove, Skamania County, Washington, with Table Mountain, Greenleaf Basin, and Greenleaf Peak in the background. Image taken July 31, 2014.
Image, 2006, Rock Cove from road above, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rock Cove, Stevenson, Washington. View from road above Rock Cove. Image taken July 2, 2006.


Rock Creek Falls ...
Lower Rock Creek Falls is a narrow falls (around 10 feet wide) which drops nearly 70 feet into a gorge of Rock Creek. Lower Rock Creek Falls is a natural barrier to anadromous fish.

Upper Rock Creek Falls is a wide waterfall (over 150 feet wide) which drops 45 feet over a conglomerate ledge. It is located one mile from the mouth of where Rock Creek enters Rock Cove, and is near the Iman Cemetery.


Image, 2006, Rock Creek Falls, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Upper Rock Creek Falls, Stevenson, Washington. Low flow. Image taken July 2, 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, Rock Creek Falls, ca1930 Penny Postcard: Rock Creek Falls, Skamania County, Washington, ca.1930. Penny Postcard, ca.1930, "Upper Rock Creek Falls, Evergreen Highway Along Columbia River, Washington." Photo by Wesley Andrews. Published by Wesley Andrews Co., Portland, Oregon. Card #553. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


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, ...     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 13, 1806 ...
The loss of one of our large Canoes rendered it necessary to divide the loading and men of that Canoe between the remaining four, which was done and we loaded and Set out at 8 oClock A. M. [from their camp near Ashes Lake]     passed the village imediately above the rapids where only one house remains entire the other 8 haveing been taken down and moved to the opposit Side of the Columbia [downstream of Rock Creek and Stevenson, Washington] ...     Capt. Lewis with 2 of the Smallest Canoes of Sergt. Pryor & gibson and Crossed above the Rapids [Cascade Rapids] to the Village on the S E Side [east of Cascade Locks] with a view to purchase a Canoe of the nativs if possible. ...     I with the two large Canoes proceeded on up the N. W. Side with the intention of gitting to the Encampment of our hunters who was derected to hunt in the bottom above Crusats River [Wind River], and there wait the arrival of Capt. Lewis. I proceeded on to the bottom in which I expected to find the hunters but Could See nothing of them. the wind rose and raised the wavs to Such a hight that I could not proceed any further. we landed and I sent out Shields and Colter to hunt; Shields Shot two deer but Could get neither of them. I walkd. to Crusats river [Wind River] and up it a mile on my return to the party found that the wind had lulled and as we Could See nothing of our hunters. I deturmined to proceed on to the next bottom where I thought it probable they had halted at passed 2 P M Set out and proceeded on to the bottom 6 miles and halted at the next bottom formed a Camp and Sent out all the hunters [near Dog Mountain, between Collins Creek and Dog Creek].     I also walked out my self on the hills but saw nothing. on my return found Capt. Lewis at Camp with two canoes which he had purchased at the Y-ep-huh ...

I was convinced that the hunters must have been up River Cruzatt [Wind River]. despatched Sergt. Pryor with 2 men in a Canoe, with directions to assend Crusats River [Wind River] and if he found the hunters to assist them in with the meat. Jo: Shields returned about Sunset with two deer which he had killed, those were of the Black tail fallow Deer. <the> there appears to be no other Species of Deer in those mountains. We proceeded on 12 miles.





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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 Gorge Interpretive Center website, 2006;    Northwest Power and Conservation Council website, 2006;    U.S. Bureau of Land Managament website, 2014;    Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest 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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© 2017, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
November 2010