Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Home Regions Campsites Penny Postcards My Corps of Discovery Image Index Links About This Site Birds etc.
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Sandy River Delta, Oregon"
Includes ... Sandy River Delta ... Sandy River ... Sandy River Delta Dam ... Hunters Campsite of April 1, 1806 ... Hunters Campsite of April 2 and 3 1806 ... Hunters Campsite of April 4, 1806 ... Maya Lin Confluence Project ...
Image, 2009, Sandy River Delta, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River Delta, Oregon. View across the upper eastern mouth of the Sandy River. Image taken May 25, 2009.


Sandy River Delta ...
Throughout history the Sandy River has had two mouths, the upper one entering the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) _____, and the lower one entering at RM 120.5. In 1931 a dike/dam was built to block the main upper (easternmost) channel, allowing all flow to enter the Columbia at the lower mouth. That is today's Sandy River. The upper channel became a sluggish slough. The arms of the Sandy surround and are included in a wooded wetland with ponds, sloughs, bottomlands, woodlands, and prairies, known as the Sandy River Delta.

In 2001 the Bonneville Power Administration wrote:

"... The Sandy River Delta is a former pasture infested with reed canary grass, blackberry and thistle. The limited over story is native riparian species such as cottonwood and ash. The shrub and herbaceous layers are almost entirely non-native, invasive species. Native species have a difficult time naturally regenerating in the thick, competing reed canary grass, Himalayan blackberry and thistle. A system of drainage ditches installed by past owners drains water from historic wetlands. The original channel of the Sandy River was diked in the 1930’s, and the river diverted into the “Little Sandy River”. The original Sandy River channel has subsequently filled in and largely become a slough. ..." [Bonneville Power Administration Website, 2006, "Sandy River Delta Habitat Restoration Project, 2001 Annual Report"]

In 1991 the U.S. Forest Service aquired approximately 1,400 acres of the Sandy River delta and began restoration. Grazing was terminated, wetlands and ponds dredged, non-native vegetation removed and native vegetation was established. Future restoration plans may include removal of the 70-plus-year-old dike/dam.


Image, 2009, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River from the Sandy River Delta, Oregon. View of the lower western mouth of the Sandy River. Image taken June 28, 2009.

Image, 2009, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Upper eastern mouth of the Sandy River, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2009.
Image, 2009, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Upper eastern mouth of the Sandy River, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2009.


Sandy River Delta Dike/Dam ...
From: Portland Hikers Field Guide website (2009):

"... The Sandy River Delta was formed by mudflows originating on Mount Hood and flowing down the Sandy River to the Columbia. The most recent of these mudflows was about the year 1800. By 1900, the delta had been reworked by floods on the Columbia, as well as a constant stream of sediment coming down the Sandy River as the river cleared its channel. The larger part of the river flowed under the railroad and highway bridges and about a half mile north. At that point, it veered east and entered the Columbia River almost two miles east of where it does today. A secondary, smaller channel existed where today's current channel exists.

In 1904, a large flood partially blocked the secondary channel and it began to run dry during the fish runs. In an effort to help fish runs, a dam was built in 1931 that completely blocked the main eastern channel. In this way the river was forced in its entirety into the former secondary channel. The original dam was a 750 foot wide, five foot high barrier constructed of piling. In 1938, the dam was improved to a 10 foot high structure filled with riprap. In time, continuing erosion filled the old river channel with sediment. Today the dam is nearly buried in sediment and only the top is visible, used as a road by power line maintainers and a trail by the rest of us.

More modern looks at the fish runs question the value of the dam. There is talk of removing the dam and allowing the river to return to its original channel. ..."

Today the dam is nearly buried in accumulated sediment and it looks like a road paved with over-sized cobbles.


Image, 2009, Sandy River Delta, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Crossing the Sandy River Delta dike/dam. Image taken June 28, 2009.
Image, 2009, Sandy River Delta, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River Delta dike/dam. Image taken June 28, 2009.
Image, 2009, Sandy River Delta, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Surface, Sandy River Delta dike/dam. Image taken June 28, 2009.


Hunter Campsites ...

While the Lewis and Clark "main camp" was located across the Columbia River at Cottonwood Beach, many of the hunters spent nights camped on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, in the area of the Sandy River and the Sandy River Delta.

April 1, 1806 ...
Above the entrance of the Sandy River

A group of hunters spent the night of April 1, 1806, on the Oregon side of the Columbia "above the enterance of Q. Sand River", today known as the Sandy River.

"... This morning early we dispatched Sergt. Pryor, with two men in a Small canoe up quick sand river with orders to proceed as far as he Could and return this evening. we also Sent a party of three hunters over the river to hunt a large bottom of woodland and prarie above the enterance of Q. Sand River; ... at 3 P. M. the hunters who were Sent over the river returned, having Killed 4 Elk and 2 Deer; the Elk were in good order but the deer extreemly poor. they informed us that game is very plenty in that quarter. the hunters on this Side of the river also returned but had killed nothing; they Saw a fiew Elk and Deer. there were also much Sign of the black bear Seen on the other Side of the river. we Sent a party to bring in the flesh of the Elk and Deer that were killed. they did not return this evening. ..." [Clark, April 1, 1806]

"... 9 of our men who went out last evening for meat of the 4 Elk Stayed out all night. ..." [Ordway, April 2, 1806]

"... The men who were sent in quest of the Elk and deer that were killed yesterday returned at 8 A. M. this morning. ..." [Lewis, April 2, 1806]


April 2 and 3, 1806 ...
Below the mouth of the Sandy River

On the morning of April 2, 1806, Captain Lewis wrote:

"... The men who were sent in quest of the Elk and deer that were killed yesterday returned at 8 A. M. this morning. we now enformed the party of our intention of laying in a store of meat at this place, and immediately dispatched two parteis consisting of nine men to the opposite side of the river. five of those we sent below the Quicksand river and 4 above. ..." [Lewis, April 2, 1806]

On April 3, 1806, Captain Lewis wrote:

"... Early this morning Joseph Fields came over and informed me that Reubin Feilds Drewyer and himself had killed four Elk. as the party with me were now but weak and the Indians constantly crouding about our camp, I thought it best to send a few men to dry the meat on the other side of the river; accordingly Sergt Pryor and two men returned with Jos. Fields for that purpose. the hunters were ordered to continue the chase; while the others were employed in drying the meat. I have had no account as yet from the party below the entrance of Quicksand river. ..." [Lewis, April 3, 1806]

"... the party bilow quick Sand river did not return to day ..." [Clark, April 3, 1806]

The men returned on the morning of April 4.

"... This morning early we sent Sergt. Ordway in Surch of Sergt. Gass and party below the entrance of the Quicksand river from whom we have yet had no report. in the course of a few hours both parties returned. ..." [Lewis, April 4, 1806]


April 4, 1806 ...
Below the mouth of the Sandy River

Collins, Windsor, and Gass spent the night of April 4, 1806, below the mouth of the Sandy.

"... Collins who had killed the bear, found the bed of another in which there were three young ones; and requested to be permitted to return in order to waylay the bed and kill the female bear; we permitted him to do so; Sergt. Gass and Windsor returned with him. ..." [Lewis, April 4, 1806]

"... Four men were sent on ahead this forenoon in a canoe to hunt; and I went out with two more to the den where we saw the cubs, to watch for the old bear; we stayed there until dark and then encamped about a quarter of a mile off, and went back early in the morning; but the old one was not returned: so we took the cubs and returned to camp. ..." [Gass, April 4, 1806]

"... this morning at 10 OClock Sergt. Gass returned with Collins and Windsor they had not succeeded in killing the female bear tho' they brought the three cubs with them. ..." [Lewis, April 5, 1806]



Dog Park ...

Quite a bit of the Sandy River Delta is an off-leash dog park. ... GREAT idea !!! ...

In 1805 and 1806 Lewis and Clark traveled with a dog, Captain Lewis's Newfoundland, "Seaman". On November 3, 1805, the two Captains walked the Sandy River Delta. It is not known whether Seaman went with them. If he did it would make him the first American dog to romp in today's Dog Park!!!

"... at 3 miles I arrived at the enterance of a river which appeared to Scatter over a Sand bar, the bottom of which I could See quite across and did not appear to be 4 Inches deep in any part; I attempted to wade this Stream and to my astonishment found the bottom a quick Sand, and impassible -- I called to the Canoes to put to Short. I got into the Canoe and landed below the mouth. & Capt Lewis and my Self walked up this river about 1 1/2 miles to examine this river which we found to be a verry Considerable Stream Dischargeing its waters through 2 Chanels which forms an Island of about 3 miles in length on the river and 1 1/2 miles wide, composed of Corse Sand which is thrown out of this quick Sand river ..." [Clark, November 3, 1805]

Image, 2009, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River recreation. Image taken June 28, 2009.
Image, 2009, Sandy River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sandy River recreation. Image taken June 28, 2009.


Confluence Project ... Maya Lin Bird Blind ...

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, artist Maya Lin (designer of the Viet Nam Memorial) was commissioned to design interpretive artwork for seven locations along the Columbia and Snake Rivers, collectively known as the "Confluence Project". At the Sandy River Delta there is a ramp leading to a wooden structure built of black locust, called a "Bird Blind" and was formally dedicated August 23, 2008. Engraved on the wooden slats are names of 134 plants and animals documented by Lewis and Clark.
[More]

Image, 2009, Maya Lin Bird Blind, Sandy River Delta, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Maya Lin Bird Blind, Confluence Project, Sandy River Delta, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2009.
Image, 2009, Maya Lin Bird Blind, Sandy River Delta, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Maya Lin Bird Blind, Confluence Project, Sandy River Delta, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2009.
Image, 2009, Maya Lin Bird Blind, Sandy River Delta, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Clark's Nutcracker, Maya Lin Bird Blind, Confluence Project, Sandy River Delta, Oregon. Image taken September 19, 2009.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 3, 1805 ...
The Fog So thick [typical of the Pacific Northwest in the fall and spring] this morning that we could not See a man 50 Steps off, this fog detained us untill 10 oClock at which time we Set out [from their camp at Rooster Rock], ...    I walked on the Sand beech Lard. Side, opposit the canoes as they passed allong. The under groth rushes, vines &c. in the bottoms too thick to pass through, at 3 miles I arrived at the enterance of a river [Sandy River] which appeared to Scatter over a Sand bar, the bottom of which I could See quite across and did not appear to be 4 Inches deep in any part; I attempted to wade this Stream and to my astonishment found the bottom a quick Sand, and impassable- I called to the Canoes to put to Shore, I got into the Canoe and landed below the mouth, & Capt Lewis and my Self walked up this river about 1˝ miles to examine this river which we found to be a verry Considerable Stream Dischargeing its waters through 2 Chanels which forms an Island [Sandy River Delta, which has had various names throughout history] of about 3 miles in length on the river and 1˝ miles wide, composed of Corse Sand which is thrown out of this quick Sand river Compressing the waters of the Columbia and throwing the whole Current of its waters against its Northern banks, within a Chanel of ˝ a mile wide, Several Small Islands 1 mile up this river, This Stream has much the appearance of the River Platt: roleing its quick Sands into the bottoms with great velocity after which it is divided into 2 Chanels by a large Sand bar before mentioned, the narrowest part of this River is 120 yards-on the Opposit Side of the Columbia a <large Creek> falls in [Washougal River]     above this Creek on the Same Side is a Small prarie [location of Washougal, Washington, Cottonwood Beach, now the home of Captain William Clark Park, and the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge]. extensive low country on each Side thickly timbered [low area upstream of Cottonwood Beach and Captain William Clark Park is the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge].

The Quick Sand river [Sandy River] appears to pass through the low countrey at the foot of those high range of mountains in a Southerly direction,- The large Creeks which fall into the Columbia on the Stard. Side [Washougal River] rise in the Same range of mountains to the N. N. E. and pass through Some ridgey land- A Mountain which we Suppose to be Mt. Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon] is S. 85° E about 47 miles distant from the mouth of quick sand river [Sandy River]     This mtn. is Covered with Snow and in the range of mountains which we have passed through and is of a Conical form but rugid- after takeing dinner at the mouth of this river [Sandy River]  we proceeded on passed the head of a Island [Lady Island] near the lard Side [???] back of which on the Same Side and near the head a large Creek falls in [Washougal River, today the town of Camas, Washington, lies between Lady Island and the Washougal River], and nearly opposit & 3 miles below the upper mouth of quick Sand river is the lower mouth, [for?] This Island [Lady Island] is 3 1/2 miles long, has rocks at the upper point, Some timber on the borders of this Island in the middle open and ponney. Some rugid rocks in the middle of the Stream opposit this Island.   <proceeded in> to Center of a large Island in the middle of the river which we call Dimond Isld. [Government Island] from its appearance, here we met 15 Indn men in 2 canoes from below, they informed us they Saw 3 vestles below &c. &c. we landed on the North Side of this Dimond Island and Encamped [on the north side of Government Island, perhaps opposite Fishers Landing],     Capt. L walked out with his gun on the Island, Sent out hunters & fowlers- below quick Sand River [Sandy River] the Countrey is low rich and thickly timbered on each Side of the river  [on the Oregon side this area is the eastern end of the Columbia Slough, located on the floodplain of the Willamette River with the Columbia River],   the Islands open & Some ponds river wide and emence numbers of fowls flying in every direction Such as Swan, geese, Brants, Cranes, Stalks, white guls, comerants & plevers &c. also great numbers of Sea Otter in the river [Harbor Seals] -     a Canoe arrived from the village below the last rapid ...     Capt Lewis borrowed a Small Canoe of those Indians & 4 men took her across to a Small lake in the Isld. [Government Island] ...    ...  :  note the mountain we Saw from near the forks proves to be Mount Hood [Mount Hood, Oregon]





Vancouver PlainsReturn to
Menu
 



SNAKE RIVER CONFLUENCE | COLUMBIA PLATEAU
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE | VANCOUVER PLAINS | JOURNEY TO THE PACIFIC
CASCADE RANGE VOLCANOES | CAMPSITES


HOME | REGIONS | PENNY POSTCARDS | MY CORPS OF DISCOVERY
IMAGE INDEX | LINKS | ABOUT THIS SITE


COLUMBIA RIVER IMAGES - HOME
NORTHWEST JOURNEY - HOME
NORTHWEST BIRDING
RIDGEFIELD NWR - BIRDS
COMPLETE BIRD LIST - PHOTOS
THE BARLOW ROAD
WILDFLOWERS and WEED BLOSSOMS



*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: Portland Hikers Field Guide website, "portlandhikersfieldguide.org", 2009.

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.
ColumbiaRiverImages.com/Regions/Places/sandy_river_delta.html
© 2014, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
June 2009