Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Welch Island, Oregon"
Includes ... Welch Island ...
Image, 2005, Welch Island and Price Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Welch Island, Oregon. View from the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge, on Steamboat Slough Road, just upstream of Price Island. Image taken July 28, 2005.

Welch Island ...
Welch Island is a large marshy island on the downstream side of Tenasillahe Island, and separated from Tenasillahe Island by Red Slough. Welch Island is the upstreammost island of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge. On the Washington shore, parallel to Welch Island is Price Island. The mouth of the Skamokawa Creek is also across from Welch Island. Fitzpatrick Island borders the downstream tip of Welch Island, and on the Oregon side of Welch Island the rest of the islands of the wildlife refuge curve around Aldrich Point.

Early Welch Island ...
In 1792 Lieutenant William Broughton, of the George Vancouver expedition, passed by Welch Island on October 25, 1792.

In 1805 and 1806, Lewis and Clark called Tenasillahe Island and a nearby smaller island (today's Welch Island) the "Marshy Islands", a descriptive name rather than a naming of the islands.

In 1841 Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition shows Welch Island as part of Tenasillahe Island and called the entire area "Katalamet I.".

Before 1915 the island was referred to as "Welches Island" or "Welch Island".

"[July 1890] ... Miller's Sands used to be the scene of many a bloody battle in years gone by when rival seiners fought for possession. This year the approach of the time of the seining harvest makes trouble at Welch Island. Messrs. Getchell and Lundberg, and Jno. Fitzpatrick both asserting claim to that valuable strip. In such cases possession goes a good way toward retaining the usufract." ["The Daily Morning Astorian", July 23, 1890, coutesy Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019]

In 1915 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names made official "Welch Island".

Views ...

Image, 2005, Welch Island and Cargo Ship, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Welch Island in background with Cargo Ship "New Diamond" on the Columbia. View from the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge, on Steamboat Slough Road, as seen from just upstream of Price Island. Image taken July 28, 2005.
Image, 2005, Welch Island and Price Island, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Welch Island, Oregon (left) and tip of Price Island, Washington (right). View from the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge, on Steamboat Slough Road, just upstream of Price Island. Image taken July 28, 2005.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 7, 1805 ...
A cloudy foggey morning Some rain. we Set out [from their camp at Cape Horn, Wahkiakum County, Washington] early proceeded under the Stard Shore under a high rugid hills with Steep assent the Shore boalt and rockey, the fog So thick we could not See across the river [typical for this area in the winter], two Canos of Indians met and returned with us to their village which is Situated on the Stard Side behind a cluster of Marshey Islands [Puget Island and the Hunting Islands] , on a narrow chanl. of the river [Cathlamet Channel] through which we passed to the Village of 4 Houses, [Cathlamet, Washington area] ....

Those people call themselves War-ci--cum ...

after delaying at this village one hour [Cathlamet, Washington area] and a half we Set out piloted by an Indian dressed in a Salors dress, to the main Chanel of the river, the tide being in we Should have found much dificuelty in passing into the main Chanel from behind those islands [Puget Island and the Hunting Islands],     without a pilot, a large marshey Island [Tenasillahe Island] near the middle of the river near which Several Canoes Came allong Side with Skins, roots fish &c. to Sell, and had a temporey residence on this Island, here we See great numbers of water fowls about those marshey Islands; here the high mountanious Countrey approaches the river on the Lard Side [near Clifton, Oregon], a high mountn. to the S W. about 20 miles [Saddle Mountain], the high mountans. Countrey Continue on the Stard Side, about 14 miles below the last village and 18 miles of this day we landed at a village of the Same nation [Skamokawa, Washington]. This village is at the foot of the high hills on the Stard Side back of 2 Small Islands [today, Price Island lies between Skamokawa and the Columbia River] it contains 7 indifferent houses built in the Same form of those above, ... opposit to this Village the high mountaneous Countrey leave the river on the Lard Side [downstream of Aldrich Point] below which the river widens into a kind of Bay [Cathlamet Bay] & is Crouded with low Islands Subject to be Covered by the tides [today this is the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Lower Columbia River Estuary] - we proceeded on about 12 miles below the Village [Skamokawa] under a high mountaneous Countrey on the Stard. Side. Shore boald and rockey and Encamped under a high hill [ridge of Jim Crow Point] on the Stard. Side opposit to a rock [Pillar Rock] Situated half a mile from the Shore, about 50 feet high and 20 feet Diamieter,     we with dificuelty found a place Clear of the tide and Sufficiently large to lie on and the only place we could get was on round Stones on which we lay our mats rain Continud. moderately all day & Two Indians accompanied us from the last village, they we detected in Stealing a knife and returned, our Small Canoe which got Seperated in the fog this morning joined us this evening from a large Island Situated nearest the Lard Side below the high hills on that Side, the river being too wide to See either the form Shape or Size of the Islands on the Lard Side [part of the Lewis and Clark National Wildlife Refuge].

Great joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian [Clark's famous "Ocian in view! O! the Joy"], this great Pacific Octean [Pacific Ocean] which we been So long anxious to See. and the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rockey Shores (as I Suppose) may be heard distictly

we made 34 miles to day as Computed

Journey to the PacificReturn to




*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

  • Historic Oregon Newspapers Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, 2019;
  • U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database, 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.
© 2019, Lyn Topinka, "ColumbiaRiverImages.com", All rights reserved.
Images are NOT to be downloaded from this website.
January 2014