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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Wishram in Klickitat County, Washington — The American West (Northwest)
 

Great Falls of the Columbia

"Indians assisted us over the portage"

 
 
Great Falls of the Columbia Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 14, 2015
1. Great Falls of the Columbia Marker
Inscription.  The Lewis and Clark Expedition reached Celilo Falls, its first major obstacle on the Columbia River, on October 22,1805. William Clark named this imposing stretch of the river “Great Falls of the Columbia.” For millenia, tribes gathered here to fish for salmon, trade, and socialize. With the help of local tribes, Lewis and Clark scouted a suitable route to portage around the falls.

The portage required two days of hard work. The first day, the explorers ferried their baggage two-thirds of a mile over rocky ground on this side of the river. The second day, they dragged their canoes for about 450 yards on the opposite side before lowering them on strong elkskin ropes made for this purpose.

Fishing at Celilo Falls
Celilo Falls was the heart of the traditional fishing grounds — an ancient and historic fishing place for the Yakamas, Umatillas, Nez Perce, Warm Springs, and others — represented by scores of dipnetters, especially during the fall Chinook runs.
Adapted from: Celilo Falls: Remembering Thunder by Frederick K. Cramer

October 22, 1805
we
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landed and walked down accompanied by an old man to view the falls, and the best rout for to make a portage… the waters is divided into Several narrow chanels which pass through a hard black rock forming Islands of rocks…
"
~William Clark~

October 23, 1805
we were obliged to let the Canoes down by Strong ropes of Elk Skin which we had for the purpose, one Canoe in passing this place got loose by the Cords breaking, and was cought by the Indians below.
~William Clark~

Strong Ropes
The craft of rope making dates back to ancient time. Local tribes made ropes from plants such as dogbane. Expedition members made ropes from braided strips of elk skin. Today, ropes are often made of synthetic materials such as nylon.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ExplorationNative AmericansWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Lewis & Clark Expedition series list. A significant historical date for this entry is October 22, 1805.
 
Location. 45° 39.769′ N, 120° 57.394′ W. Marker is near Wishram, Washington, in Klickitat County. Marker is on Lewis and Clark Highway (State Highway 14) 0.8 miles west of Wishram Road, on the left when traveling west. Marker is located in a large pull-out on the south side of the highway, overlooking
Marker detail: William Clark’s Map of the “Great Falls of the Columbia” image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis
2. Marker detail: William Clark’s Map of the “Great Falls of the Columbia”
the small town of Wishram and the Columbia River. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wishram WA 98673, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wyam (here, next to this marker); Celilo Falls (a few steps from this marker); View of Mount Jefferson (a few steps from this marker); Class P-2 Engine No. 2507 (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Lewis and Clark Expedition (approx. 0.9 miles away in Oregon); Greatest Indian Fishery of the Northwest (approx. 0.9 miles away in Oregon); Ancient Indian Fishing Grounds (approx. 0.9 miles away in Oregon); Celilo Falls Fishing Grounds (approx. 0.9 miles away in Oregon). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wishram.
 
More about this marker. Marker is a large composite plaque, mounted horizontally on a waist-high wooden post.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Celilo Falls
 
Also see . . .  Celilo Falls History. The name "Celilo Falls" was adopted some time after Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery reached the area, first in October 1805 and again the following April. They referred to the cataract as simply "the Great Falls," and as they continued their journey downstream they mapped the river's course. Lewis and Clark also took the first rough census of the population along this portion of the Columbia.
Marker detail: Fishing sites at Celilo Falls in 1930 image. Click for full size.
Adapted from map in A Time of Gathering,” Robin K. Wright
3. Marker detail: Fishing sites at Celilo Falls in 1930
They estimated that in 1805 and 1806, between 7,400 and 10,400 Indians were living permanently or seasonally encamped between the Cascade Rapids (near today's Bonneville Dam) and The Dalles. (Submitted on January 22, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Great Falls of the Columbia Marker (<i>wide view; Wishram [right]; Columbia River in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 14, 2015
4. Great Falls of the Columbia Marker (wide view; Wishram [right]; Columbia River in background)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 24, 2019. It was originally submitted on January 21, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 365 times since then and 55 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on January 21, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4. submitted on January 22, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 13, 2024