Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Spearfish Lake, Washington, and "Big Eddy", Washington and Oregon
Includes ... Spearfish Lake ... Spearfish Lake Park ... "Big Eddy" ... Campsite of April 18, 1806 ... Clark's Campsite of April 16 and 17, 1805 ...
Image, 2011, Spearfish Lake, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Spearfish Lake, Washington. Image taken September 28, 2011.


Spearfish Lake ...
Spearfish Lake is located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 192.5, one mile above The Dalles Dam and two miles downstream of Horsethief Butte. Across the Columbia is the The Dalles, Oregon. Intermittant Threemile Creek drains into the upper end of Spearfish Lake, and Little Spearfish Lake separates Spearfish Lake from Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam. Spearfish Lake is located in the area once known as the "Big Eddy".

Spearfish Park ...
Spearfish Park is on the lower end of Spearfish Lake and is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Image, 2011, Spearfish Lake, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Spearfish Park, Washington. Image taken September 28, 2011.


"Spearfish" ...
"Spearfish" was the name of a railroad station on the North Bank Railroad.

Map detail, 1950, Dallesport to Maryhill, Klickitat County, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Klickitat County map detail, 1950, showing the area from Lyle to Wishram. Metsker Maps. Original map courtesy "HistoricMapWorks.com" website, 2016.

North Bank Railroad and Highway stations/communities shown are Lyle, Skadat, Rock Island, Dallesport (Northdalles), Spearfish, Avery, and Wishram.


Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife ...
"Spearfish is a natural lake that was in existence before the construction of The Dalles Dam.The creation of The Dalles pool raised the water level in the lake.The Corp of Engineers operates the park.

Spearfish Lake, (22 acres) has been planted with rainbow since the 1950s. This lake is located just north of the Dalles Dam. The fishing season runs from the last Saturday in April through the end of February. This popular lake should provide good fishing on opening day for catchable-size rainbow trout, with some additional plants of larger rainbow trout broodstock and triploids. Shore access around the entire lake is excellent, with a boat ramp and adjacent park.

The lake is lake is planted annually in late December-early January with several thousand catchable rainbow plus over a hundred broodstock rainbow to eleven pounds. From April through June the lake is planted several times with catchable rainbow and triploids. There is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sponsored kid's fishing event in June."

Klickitat County
Lake Acreage: 17.0
Elevation: 192 feet
Eastside Washington


Source:    Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website, 2015.


"Big Eddy" ...
"Big Eddy" was the name given to the western end (downstream end) of the Fivemile Rapids and falls in the Columbia River at The Dalles. It was the spot where eastbound travelers began their portage around the rapids and falls and westbound travelers rested. The name came into use after 1860, in the days of gold discoveries in eastern Oregon. Early maps such as the 1888 "Map of Columbia River from The Dalles to Celilo, Oregon, 1880", published by the U.S. Government Printing Office (1889) show the name "Big Eddy" on the basin on the Washington side of the Columbia. Later maps also show the Oregon town of "Big Eddy", located on the Oregon side across from the Basin. At this location a post office existed between 1911 and 1936, and the Union Pacific Railroad had a rail station. After construction of The Dalles Dam, the Big Eddy basin area developed into today's Spearfish Lake.

Image, 2011, BPA, Big Eddy, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Big Eddy Maintenance Headquarters, BPA sign, The Dalles, Oregon. Image taken June 4, 2011
Map detail, 1946, Celilo Canal and Locks, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Before the building of the Dam ... NOAA Chart #6157 detail, The Dalles-Celilo Canal and Locks. Original map courtesy NOAA's Historical Map & Chart Collection, 2016.
Map detail, 1966, The Dalles Dam and Lake Celilo, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
After the building of the Dam ... NOAA Chart #6157 detail, The Dalles Dam and Lake Celilo. Original map courtesy NOAA's Historical Map & Chart Collection, 2016.


Lewis and Clark and Spearfish Lake ...
On April 16, 1806, while Captain Lewis remained at the Rock Fort campsite, Captain Clark and nine men crossed the Columbia River and proceeded to a village approximately two miles upstream of today's Spearfish Lake. They were hoping to trade with the Indians for horses. Captain Clark spent two nights camping near this village. Two days later, on April 18, 1806, Captain Lewis and Captain Clark rejoined and camped near today's Spearfish Lake.

Captain Clark's campsite of April 16 and 17, 1806 ...
(to come)

Campsite of April 18, 1806 ...
Lewis and Clark's camp of April 18, 1806, was at the head of a basin below the "Long Narrows" (Fivemile Rapids), now the location of Spearfish Lake. Early on this area was known as the "Big Eddy", before being inundated with the waters of Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam.

"... we loaded our vessels and set out after an early breakfast this morning.     we gave the indians a passage to the N. shore on which they reside and pursued our rout to the foot of the first rapid at the distance of 4 ms.     here we found it necessary to unload the perogues and canoes and make a portage of 70 paces over a rock; we then drew our vessels up by a cord and the assistance of seting poles.     from hence we proceeded to the bason below the long narrows 5 ms. further and landed on the Lard. side ...     the long narrows are much more formidable than they were when we decended them last fall     there would be no possibility of passind either up or down them to any vessel. --- after unloading the canoes and arranging the camp I walked up to the Skillute Village and jouined Capt.     he had procured four horses only for which a high price had been given ...     we determined to make the portage to the head of the long narrows with our baggage and five small canoes.     the 2 perogues we could take no further and therefore cut them up for fuel.     in the evening Capt. C. and myself returned to the camp at the bason ..." [Lewis, April 18, 1806]

"... at 3 P.M Sergt. Ordway & three men arived from Cap Lewis ...     Sgt. O. informed me that Cap L. had arived with all the Canoes into the bason 2 miles below ...     at 5 P.M. Capt. Lewis Came up.     he informed me that he had the river to the bason with much difecuelty and danger, haveing made one portage. ...     I deturmined to proceed with Capt L. down to Camp at the bason. ...     at the bason we Cut up tow of our Canoes for fire wood ..." [Clark, April 18, 1806]

Lewis and Clark's campsite of April 16 and 17 was on the Oregon side of the Columbia River at Rock Fort, while their campsite of April 19 and 20, 1806, was near Horsethief Butte.


Image, 2011, Spearfish Lake, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Spearfish Lake, Washington. Image taken September 28, 2011.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 25, 1805 ...
a cool morning [their camp was near Horsethief Butte] Capt Lewis and my Self walked down to See the place the Indians pointed out as the worst place in passing through the gut, which we found difficuelt of passing without great danger, but as the portage was impractiable with our large Canoes, we Concluded to Make a portage of our most valuable articles and run the canoes thro accordingly on our return divided the party Some to take over the Canoes, and others to take our Stores across a portage of a mile to a place on the Chanel below this bad whorl & Suck, with Some others I had fixed on the Chanel with roapes to throw out to any who Should unfortunately meet with difficuelty in passing through; great number of Indians viewing us from the high rocks under which we had to pass, the 3 first Canoes passed thro very well, the 4th nearly filled with water, the last passed through by takeing in a little water, <we> thus Safely below what I conceved to be the worst part of this Chanel, felt my Self extreamly gratified and pleased. we loaded the Canoes & Set out, and had not proceeded, more than two mile before the unfortunate Canoe which filled crossing the bad place above, run against a rock and was in great danger of being lost, This Chanel is through a hard rough black rock, from 50100 yards wide. Swelling and boiling in a most tremendious maner Several places on which the Indians inform me they take the Salmon as fast as they wish; we passed through a deep bason to the stard Side ["Big Eddy", today Spearfish Lake] of 1 mile below which the River narrows and divided by a rock The Curent we found quit jentle, ...    we landed ...     we proceeded on down the water fine, rocks in every derection for a fiew miles when the river widens and becoms a butifull jentle Stream of about half a mile wide, Great numbers of the Sea Orter [Harbor Seals] about those narrows and both below and above. we Came too, under a high point of rocks on the Lard. Side below a creek [Mill Creek] of 20 yards wide and much water, as it was necessary to make Some Selestial observations we formed our Camp on the top of a high point of rocks [Rock Fort], which forms a kind of <artif> fortification in the Point between the river & Creek [Mill Creek], with a boat guard, this Situation we Concieve well Calculated for defence, and Conveniant to hunt under the foots of the mountain to the West & S. W. where timber of different kinds grows, and appears to be handsom Coverts for the Deer, in oke woods, ...   

This litle Creek [Mill Creek] heads in the range of mountains which run S S W & N W for a long distance on which is Scattering pine white Oake &c. The Pinical of the round toped mountain which we Saw a Short distance below the forks of this river is S. 43 W. of us and abt 37 miles, it is at this time toped with Snow we called this the falls mountain or Timm mountain [Mount Hood].     The face of the Countrey, on both Side of the river above and about the falls, is Steep ruged and rockey open and contain but a Small preportion of erbage, no timber a fiew bushes excepted, The nativs at the upper falls raft their timber down Towarnehooks River [Deschutes River] & those at the narrows take theirs up the river to the lower part of the narrows from this Creek, and Carry it over land 3 miles to their houses &c. at the mouth of this creek ...






Clark, April 16, 1806 ...
about 8 oClock this morning I passed the river with the two interpreters, and nine men in order to trade with the nativs for their horses, for which purpose I took with me a good part of our Stock of merchindize. Capt L. Sent out the hunters and Set Several men at work makeing pack Saddles. twelve horses will be Sufficient to trans port our baggage and Some pounded fish with our dried Elk. which we intend takeing with us as a reserved Store for the Plains & rocky mountains. I formed a Camp on the N. Side [Dallesport] and Sent Drewyer & Goodrich to the Skillute Village, and Shabono & Frazer down to the Wishram Villages with derections to inform the nativs that I had Crossed the river for the purpose of purchaseing horses, and if they had horses to Sell us to bring them to my Camp. Great numbers of Indians came from both Villages and delayed the greater part of the day without tradeing a Single horse. Drewyer returned with the principal Chief of the Skillutes who was lame and Could not walk. after his arival Some horses were offered for Sale, but they asked nearly half the merchindize I had with me for one horse. this price I could not think of giveing. the Chief informed me if I would go to his town with him, his people would Sell me horses. I therefore Concluded to accompany him to his Village 7 miles distant [at the foot of the "Long Narrows" above Spearfish Lake.] we Set out and arrived at the Village at Sunset. after Some Serimony I entered the house of the Chief. I then informed them that I would trade with them for their horses in the morning for which I would give for each horse the articles which I had offered yestered. ...    this village is moved about 300 yards below the Spot it Stood last fall at the time we passed down. ...     they were all above grown and built in the Same form of those below already discribed. This is the Great Mart of all this Country. ten different tribes who reside on Taptate [Yakima River] and Catteract River [Klickitat River] visit those people for the purpose of purchaseing their fish, and the Indians on the Columbia and Lewis's river quite to the Chopunnish Nation Visit them for the purpose of tradeing horses buffalow robes for beeds, and Such articles as they have not. ...    I smoked with all the principal men of this nation in the house of their great Cheif and lay my Self down on a Mat to Sleep but was prevented by the mice and vermin with which this house abounded and which was very troublesom to me.





Lewis, April 18, 1806 ...
Late last evening we were visited by the principal cheif of Chilluckkittaquaws and 12 of his nation [camp is at Rock Fort, The Dalles, Oregon]. they remained with us untill 9 OC. when they all departed except the Cheif and two others who slept at my feet. we loaded our vessels and set out after an early breakfast this morning. we gave the indians a passage to the N. shore on which they reside and pursued our rout to the foot of the first rapid at the distance of 4 ms. [Threemile Rapids, across from today's The Dalles, Oregon, at the location of The Dalles Dam. These rapids are under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir.]. here we found it necessary to unload the perogues and canoes and make a portage of 70 paces over a rock; we then drew our vessels up by a cord and the assistance of setingpoles. from hence we proceeded to the bason below the long narrows [the "Big Eddy", today the location of Spearfish Lake] 5 ms. further and landed on the Lard. side at after 3.  :   the Cheif when he left me this morning promised to bring some horses to barter with me at the bason. the long narrows [originally called "The Dalles" and the "Fivemile Rapids", these rapids are now under the waters of Lake Celilo, the reservoir behind The Dalles Dam.] are much more formidable than they were when we decended them last fall there would be no possibility of passind either up or down them in any vessel. after unloading the canoes and arranging the camp I walked up to the Skillute Village and jouined Capt. he had procured four horses only for which a high price had been given, at least more than double that which we had formerly given for those which we purchased from the Shoshonees and the first band of Flatheads. they have a great abundance of horses but will not dispose of them. we determined to make the portage to the head of the long narrows with our baggage and five small canoes. the 2 perogues we could take no further and therefore cut them up for fuel. in the evening Capt. C. and myself returned to the camp at the bason and left Drewyer and three others with the merchandize at the village, three parsels of which had been laid by at the request of individuals who promised to give us horses for them in the morning. I shot my airgun in the presents of the natives at the village which excited great astonishment.


Clark, April 18, 1806 ...
Early this Morning I was awoke [Captain Clark is at a camp upstream from Spearfish Lake attempting to trade with the Indians for horses, while Captain Lewis was with the main group at Rock Fort.] by an indian man of the Chopunnish Nation who informed me that he lived in the neighbourhood of our horses. this man delivered me a bag of powder and ball which he had picked up this morning at the place the goods were exposed yesterday-. I had a fire made of Some poles purchased of the nativs at a Short distance from the houses and the articles exposed as yesterday. Collected the 4 horses purchased yesterday and Sent Frazier and Shabono with them to the bason [the "Big Eddy", today the location of Spearfish Lake] where I expected they would meet Cap L-s and Commence the portage of the baggage on those horses. about 10 A. M. the Indians Came down from the Eneesher Villages ...    at 3 P. M Sergt. Ordway & three men arived from Cap Lewis they brought with them Several Elk Skins, two of my Coats and 4 robes of the party to add to the Stores I had with me for the purchase of horses. Sgt. O. informed me that Cap L. had arived with all the Canoes into the bason 2 miles below and wished Some dogs to eate. I had 3 dogs purchased and Sent down. at 5 P. M. Capt. Lewis Came up. he informed me that he had the river to the bason with much difecuelty and danger, haveing made one portage. as I had not Slept but very little for the two nights past on account of mice & virmen with which those indian houses abounded, and haveing no blanket with me, and the means of keeping a fire Sufficent to keep me worm out was too Expensive I deturmined to poceed with Capt L. down to Camp at the bason. I left the Articles of Merchendize &c. with Drewyer, Werner, Shannon & Goodrich untill the morning-. at the bason we Cut up two of our Canoes for fire wood verry much to the Sagreen [chagrin] of the nativs not with standing they would give us nothing for them. In my absence Several Inds. visited Capt. Lewis at his camp among others was the great Cheif of the Chilluckitquaw who Continued with him untill he left Rock fort Camp. Capt L. had 12 pack Saddles Completed and Strings prepared of the Elk skins for Lashing the loads he also kept out all the hunters who killed just deer enough for the party with him to Subsist on. ...




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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;    University of Washington and Washington State University Digital Archives Collections, 2004.    Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website, 2015;   

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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September 2011