Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Skipanon River, Oregon"
Includes ... Skipanon River ... Warrenton ... Lexington ... Skipanon ...
Image, 2011, Skipanon River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Skipanon River, Oregon, looking downstream. View from moving car on Oregon Highway 104. Image taken October 25, 2011.


Skipanon River and Warrenton, Oregon ...
The Skipanon River begins in the Coast Range, is approximately 6 miles long and the watershed is approximately 18,000 acres. The river runs through the community of Warrenton and enters the Columbia River approximately one mile later at River Mile (RM) 11, at the east side of the mouth of Youngs Bay. Downstream of the Skipanon River and the community of Warrenton is Tansy Point, the community of Hammond, Point Adams and Fort Stevens and Clatsop Spit.

Image, 2011, Skipanon River, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Skipanon River, Oregon, looking upstream. View from moving car on Oregon Highway 104. Image taken October 25, 2011.


Lewis and Clark and the Skipanon River ...
On November 30, 1805, Captain Lewis first commented on the Skipanon River as he explored the Youngs Bay area. The first 100-yard-wide inlet, and the one to which they returned to expore, is today's Lewis and Clark River.

"... passing an inlet of 100 yds. wide at 4 m. to a point of marshey ground, here an inlet of from 40 to 60 yds. in width comes in just opposite to the upper point of a shore which we have heretofore thought and island but which I am now convinced is the main land.    we asscended this stream about 2 m. it's course being S.15E.    we halted near a small cops of timbered land to which we walked and dined. Sent out three men to examin the country to the S. & W.    they returned after about 2 hours and informed me that the wood was so thick and obstructed by marrasses & lakes that they were unable to proceed to the ocean which could not be at any considerable distance from the apparent sound of the waves breaking on the Coast.    we now returned and asscended the inlet which we had last passed. ..." [Lewis, November 30, 1805]

Early Skipanon River ...
Lewis and Clark called this river the "Skipanarwin Creek" on their route maps. Another spelling seen in the early years was "Skeppernawin Creek". Due to the difficulties of spelling and speaking these names, local use shortened the drainage's name to "Skipanon". The U.S. Board of Geographic Names (USBGN) agreed and accepted "Skipanon Creek". In 1925 the USBGN accepted "Skipanon River".

According to Oregon Geographic Names (McArthur and McArthur, 2003), the name "Skippernawin" is Clatsop. Silas B. Smith in the Oregon Historical Quarterly (v.2, p.321) wrote the name referred to "a point at the mouth of the stream rather than to the stream itself".

In 1856 Preston's map showed "Skippenon Cr."


Skipanon River and Warrenton in 1942 ...
From the 1942 U.S. "Coast Pilot":

"... Warrenton, on the Skipanon River, has several sawmills, canneries, and fertilizer works. The Skipanon River has a project depth of 30 feet from deep water to and including the turning basin at Warrenton; thence 6 feet deep for a distance of 4,500 feet, via the cut-off channel, above the railroad bridge. In July 1942, the controlling depth was 24 1/2 feet in the channel and 16 to 19 feet in the turning basin. In 1941, the controlling depth was 6 feet from the railroad bridge at Warrenton to the head of project above the railroad bridge. ... Ocean vessels load here regularly. Warrenton has rail connections with Astoria. ..."



From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Lewis, November 30, 1805 ...
cloudy morning set out before sun rise and continued our rout up the bey [Youngs Bay] -

S. 60 E. 1 to a point. land not very high and open woods a little back from the bay

S. 80 E. 3 m. to the center of a bend passing a point at 1 m. land the <same as in last course> from the commenct. of this course

S. 35 W. 2 m across the bay to a point of marshey ground which for three miles in width borders this coast-

S. 60 W 2 m. to a point of marshey ground-

S. 50 W m. to a marshey point at arm of the bay. from this point a point of highland bore

S. 25 E. 3 miles distant-

N. 80 W. 2 to a marshey point passing the arm [Youngs River] of the bey [Youngs Bay] of a mile wide --- the country to the S. E. appears to be low for a great distance and is marshey and untimbered for three miles back, from this point, the eastern point or commencement of the bay [Youngs Bay] bore N. 15 E. 3 miles.-

N. 60 W. 3 miles passing an inlet [Lewis and Clark River] of 100 yds. wide at 4 m. to a point of marshey ground, here an inlet [Skipanon River] of from 40 to 60 yds. in width comes in just opposite to the upper point of a shore which we have heretofore thought and island but which I am now convinced is the main land [Point Adams]. we asscended this stream [Skipanon River] about 2 m. it's course being S. 15 E. we halted near a small cops of timbered land to which we walked and dined <after which>

Sent out three men to examin the country to the S. & W. they returned after about 2 hours and informed me that the wood was so thick and obstructed by marrasses & lakes that they were unable to proceed to the ocean which could not be at any considerable distance from the apparent sound of the waves breaking on the Coast. we now returned and asscended the inlet which we had last passd [Lewis and Clark River] no fresh appearance of Elk or deer in our rout so far. asscend the inlet as we intended about 1 m. found it became much smaller and that it did not keep it's direction to the high land which boar S. 10 W. but inclined West. therefore returned to the large arm of the bay which we passed this morning [Youngs River], here we expect to meet with the Clt-sop Indians, who have tantilized us with there being much game in their neighbourhood. this information in fact was the cause of my present resurch, for where there is most game is for us the most eliguble winter station.- continued our rout up the large arm of the bay [Youngs River and Youngs Bay] about 6 miles and encamped on the Stard. side on the highland. the water was quite sweet. therefore concluded that it must be supplyed from a large crick. at our camp it is 120 yds. wide, tho' it gets narrower above. <about 2 miles> it rained but little on us today tho' it was cloudy generally.- Wind from N. E.- saw a great abundance of fowls, brant, large geese, white brant sandhill Cranes, common blue crains, cormarants, haulks, ravens, crows, gulls and a great variety of ducks, the canvas back, duckinmallard, black and white diver, brown duck- &c &c-





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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:    McArthur, L.A., and McArthur, L.L., 2003, Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press, Portland, Oregon;    NOAA Office of Coast Survey website, U.S. Coast Pilot, 1942;    North Coast Watershed Association website, 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.
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October 2012