In Kennewick on the evening of August 31st, EG and I are almost a week
ahead of the Corps of Discovery. The Corps camped at the meeting of the
Clearwater and Snake Rivers near present day Lewiston, Idaho, on October
10th. They dined on what they purchased from the Indians: dried roots, salmon
and dog. The next few days were spent working their way through some rapids
and down the Snake River to the Columbia (Kennewick area). They passed many
Indian fishing villages so never had trouble buying their now typical food.
It appears that fishing was a bit alien to the Corps. If you couldn't shoot
it, it wasn't real food! What was scarce was firewood, and the Corps spent
lots of time scouting for wood to cook the salmon and dog meat stews. The
Corps met with many different Indians along the way. Palouse, Wallawalla,
Yakima, Wanapam all proved friendly and helpful to a point.
Lewis and Clark left the area on October 12, 1805, and headed down the
Columbia with 40 dogs in their canoes! Around where the current McNary Dam is
today, Clark was walking the bluffs while Lewis and the rest struggled
through one more set of rapids (all are gone today because of the dam
management - how often has that phrase been used!). He spotted a Umatilla
Village and went to greet them but couldn't find anyone. When he entered one
of the huts he found many inside cowering in fear of the white men. They only
quieted their fears when Sacagawea appeared. War parties don't have women
Although the river has changed dramatically since Lewis and Clark passed
through, much of the landscape is close enough so that one can get an
appreciation of what the Corps faced. If you don't like dry and yellow, it's
not a pretty sight.
EG and I made our way out of Kennewick by following I-82 south as far as
the turnoff to Highway 14 (just north of the Columbia and near the McNary
Dam). I elected to follow the smaller road on the Washington side of the
Columbia instead of crossing over and following I-84. Both are scenic but
"the road less traveled" remained the theme of the trip. Unlike some of the
Missouri River roads, 14 gives good views of the Columbia. The big river
poses in stark contrast to the dry landscape.
I stopped next at a lookout above the John Day Dam. The Corp camped here
on October 21st and even had to buy firewood. They had so little they managed
to cook but not to keep warm on the cold night. They also noticed that some
of the Indians were wearing cloth coats and even sailor's hats. They knew
they were within trade range of the ocean.
On a viewpoint above the John
Day Dam looking east.
You can get a feeling for the stark
The next stop looks a bit odd and familiar. The photo first. Then an
EG's speed causes time
This memorial to the area's WWI dead was built in 1918 by Samuel Hill (he
of railroad "fame") as a Stonehenge replica. It was good for its time but
this was many years before research started uncovering Stonehenge's secrets,
and there are inaccuracies regarding alignment.
Just a short drive further is the Maryhill Museum of Art. This was Samuel
Hill's home dedicated by Queen Marie of Romania in 1926. Supposedly it was
built for her but she didn't want to have anything to do with it (or was it
the countryside?) and went home. She did donate some items that are on
display. I wasn't there for the artwork or the Indian artifacts (which are
worth several hours), but for the view around back. The Museum is situated on
a bluff above the Columbia River and a marker points out many of the sights;
including, where the Great Falls used to be and the mouth of the Deschutes
River. The Falls disappeared in 1957 when the Dalles Dam was completed. They
were there in force for the Corps and they had no choice but to portage.
Compared with the Great Falls in Montana, this was an easy portage, however.
The Maryhill Museum from the
From behind the museum facing
west towards the mouth of the Deschutes.
Unfortunately, the weather further
towards the west (the direction I'm heading)
is cloudy or Mt. Hood would be
Between the Falls and the current Dalles the Corps ran two rapids, the
Short Narrows and the Long Narrows. The Indians (probably the Wishram in this
area) said they couldn't do it, so they did. There might have been a bit of
bravado here. "Aw, shucks. It t'weren't nothin'" Then they spent the next
three days (October 25-28) at The Dalles drying out their gear and fixing
I crossed over the river to the Oregon side at The Dalles and just west
of there spent time at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County
Historical Museum. There wasn't too much about Lewis and Clark, but the
Museum was well laid out and showed an interesting history of the area. The
interesting geography is also explained. Worth a stop, if you get the time.
EG and I went back over the river to pick up 14 and continue the way
west. The sky looked dark ahead and the scenery changed in what seemed like
only a matter of a few miles. It went from yellow and treeless to green and
lush. The marine climate was exerting its influence. EG seemed to enjoy
running in the cooler weather, and I sure enjoyed driving in it better.
Lewis and Clark certainly noted the difference. They also were now in
different Indian country: the home of the Chinook. Not only were they much
better bargainers, but, according to the journals, they had an annoying habit
of petty theft. Both traits took their toll on the rapidly depleting store of
trade goods and the nerves of the Corps.
October 30th the Corps reached the Cascades, a series of rapids at the
present day Cascade Locks. Over the next couple of days they ran some and
portaged around others. At the other end they noticed the river seemed to
widen and no white water was in sight. More important, they noticed tidal
changes in the water lever. Another clue to their nearness to the ocean. They
thought the hard part was over and the rest would be easy. They were wrong.
The Corps passed through the Portland area on November 4, 1805, and
breakfasted at a large Skilloot village. (That's an interesting name
considering the theft problems, and true to prior experiences, more items
disappeared!) EG and I arrived in Portland mid-afternoon on Friday, September
1st and checked into a hotel near Portland International Raceway (north end
of the city near the Columbia River). The drive had been a good one along
most of the river until about Camus. Then it became much like any other busy
road, and the river crossing at Vancouver gave me only a brief glimpse of a
Washington/Oregon border crossing sign. No "Welcome" here.
Dorothea, my better half, was taking the train down from Seattle to meet
me and spend some time at the All British Field Meet and with mutual,
Portland friends, so I fought my way into the city center to the train
station (getting lost which I do at least once every time I'm in Portland).
She shared adventures with me and EG in South Africa and was looking forward
to being reunited with the Wolseley (and me, I think!).
To steal from a cliché Academy Awards
"I'd like to thank all the little people." Dorothea was one of the
little people who helped make my trip possible. (She's five-one.)
By the time we blundered our way back to the hotel, it looked like it was
going to rain, but I wasn't feeling sorry for all the British Cars that had
shown up on trailers! Already there were five or six Minis in the parking
lot. I was looking forward to seeing many more the next day at the Meet.
EG from the hotel window looking
a little lost in the rain,
but also looking forward to meeting up
with a number of brothers
and sisters to talk about all the
EG's odometer now read 7,648. Another 246 miles had been added making it
5,766 miles since leaving Miami and we weren't home, yet.