Open main menu

The Columbia River: Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce/Part 2/Chapter 6

< The Columbia River: Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce


The Lower River and the Ocean Tides

Remarkable Change in Climate and Topography—Farms and Villages—First View of Mt. Hood on West Side—Vancouver and its Historic Interest—The North Bank Railroad—View at the Mouth of the Willamette—Sauvie's or Wapatoo Island—Beauty of the Willamette and its Tributaries—Simpson's Poem—Approach to Portland—Site of Portland—Transportation Facilities—Portland's Commerce—Homes and Public Buildings—Art in Portland—The Historical Society Museum—The Oregonian and its Editor—Once more on the River—The Fishing and Lumbering Villages—Scenery of the Lower River—Astoria and the Outlook to the Ocean—Industries of Astoria—The Fisheries—The Fleet of Fishing Boats on the Bar—The Ocean Beaches and the Tourist Travel—Through the Outer Headlands to the Pacific.

HAVING returned from our side trip to the mountain peaks of Hood and Adams and having resumed our station on the bank of the River just below Rooster Rock, we see that we are now in a new world. We are at sea-level. Dense forests clothe the shores, except for the places where the axe of the settler or the saws of the lumberman have made inroads. Moss drapes the rocks. Ferns and vines take possession wherever the trees have been removed. Even in summer a feeling of humidity usually pervades the air. A certain softness and roundness seems to characterise both the vegetable and animal world. The smell of the sea is in the atmosphere, even though the sea is yet distant. No longer

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 533.png

Band of Elk on W. P. Reser's Ranch, Walla Walla, Wash.
Photo. by W. D. Chapman.

do our eyes wander over boundless expanses of rolling prairie, crowned to the highest knolls with wheat-fields, as on the other side of the mountains. The mountains fall away, and low bottoms, sometimes oozy with the inflowing river or the creeks from the forests, stretch away in the lazy, hazy distance. The River no longer flows tumultuously and with that militant energy which is so characteristic of the long stretches from Kettle Falls to The Dalles. It has a calm and stately majesty, the repose of accomplished warfare and victory. It has hewn its way down to the level of the ocean and no longer needs to fret and storm. It has conquered a peace.

Below Rooster Rock, the shores are flats with low hills in the background, and the River expands to a width of from one to two miles. If we still imagine ourselves in a small boat, we find the most delightful of sensations in gliding past the grassy islands and shores thick with fir or cottonwood. Or if we choose to take our way to one of the elegant steamers, Spencer or Bailey Gatzert, we shall still partake of the same life and feel the same sense of repose and contentment which belong by natural right to this portion of the River.

Soon after leaving Rooster Rock, we begin to pass frequent pleasant farms on either bank. On the Washington side we see two pretty villages, Washougal and La Camas. The first has the historical distinction of being at or nearly at the highest spot reached by the English explorer Broughton in 1792, and named by him Point Vancouver. La Camas is the location of the most extensive paper mills in the North-west.

If, while we are in this section of the River and our eyes are bent eagerly forward to catch the ever-changing shore and river lines, we happen to glance backward, our gaze is fastened as with a magnet, and for a moment utterance fails. For what do we see? Glistening white, ethereal, Mt. Hood rises before us, a vision which, of the many mountain visions that we have seen, seems the most beautiful. Mt. Hood indeed is the background of many a noble scene upon the River, but there is none quite equal in amplitude, in variety, to this,—River, forest, shore, foreground of timbered hills, Cascade Gorge, distant white and purple chain of Cascade Mountains, and the volcanic cone overtopping and overawing all. This view of Mt. Hood from the vicinity of La Camas has perhaps been oftener the subject of painting than any other.

A few miles below La Camas we reach the most historic and perhaps the most beautiful spot upon the Columbia, Vancouver. As the capital for twenty years of the Hudson's Bay Company's Fur Empire, associated with the name of Dr. John McLoughlin, the centre of almost every event of importance in the early history, connected with both American and British occupation, and later as the location of the United States military post and preserving the names of Grant, Sheridan, McClellan, Hooker, and others of our famous generals, Vancouver has indeed a rich historic setting. But aside from such associations with the past, every tourist must note the location of Vancouver as one of rare beauty. In fact, the spot is almost ideal for a great city. The splendid River, a mile and a half in width, offers limitless facilities for shipping, while, beginning at the water's edge, a

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 537.png

Oregon City in 1845.
From an Old Print.

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 537 Fort Vancouver.png

Fort Vancouver in 1845

gradually rising slope of land extends in a superb swell several miles to the north. Every feature of scenery that could delight the eye—Mt. Hood with the Cascades to the east, the Willamette Valley to the south, the Portland and Scappoose hills to the west, the River blending all—seems to have been lavished on Vancouver. It has been a surprise to many that the great city had not grown here rather than at Portland, which, though on an equally fine location, is on the tributary and much smaller Willamette. The chief reasons of this were the nearer proximity of Portland to the rich farming country of the Tualatin and the presence in the Columbia a mile below Vancouver of a sand-bar which embarrassed shipping. This is now removed.

At Vancouver the newly-built "North Bank" Railroad (Spokane, Portland, and Seattle) has constructed across the Columbia a bridge a mile and three quarters in length, said to be the largest and costhest of its kind in the world. This same railroad has also bridged the Willamette a few miles west of Vancouver, thus effecting an entrance to Portland. This railroad is one of the most interesting and remarkable undertakings of the age. It is said that its cost from Spokane to Portland exceeded forty million dollars. Vancouver expects much from this road, even anticipating that much of the shipping hitherto centring in Portland will be diverted to the larger river. However that may prove, it is plain that Vancouver has the promise as well as the memory of great things.

Six miles west of Vancouver is one of those imposing scenes in which our River so abounds. This is the junction of the Willamette with the Columbia. This spot was noted by Broughton in 1792 as one of exceptional beauty, and to it he attached the name Belle Vue Point. It is indeed a combination of both historical and scenic interest. The Willamette steals shyly and coquettishly through green islands to fall into the strong arms of the stately Columbia. The western arm of the Willamette, commonly called the "Slough," joins the Columbia eighteen miles below at the picturesque little town of St. Helens. Between the Columbia and the Slough lies Sauvie's Island, named from a Hudson's Bay man, and famous throughout Hudson's Bay times as well as Indian times. The island was the seat of power of the Multnomah tribe. The scene of the book known as the Bridge of the Gods by Frederick Balch is mainly upon this island, and in that book will be found some glowing descriptions of this beauty spot. To the Indians it was known as Wapatoo Island. In the ponds grew the plant called the wapatoo, an onion-like root, very nutritious and palatable, and, with salmon, constituting the chief food of the natives. Not only so, but the Multnomah Indians used the wapatoo as a commercial stock, carrying on regular trade with both the coast and the up-river tribes.

According to the early explorers there were great annual fairs on Wapatoo Island, when Indians from ocean beach, from valley, from mountains, and from River, both up and down, would gather to exchange products, to gamble, race horses and boats, and have a general period of hilarity and good fellowship.

The gathering of the wapatoos developed upon the patient "klootchmen" (women) of the tribe. They would go out in canoes to the shallow water

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 541.png

Lone Rock, Columbia River, about Fifty Miles East of Portland.
Photo. by E. H. Moorehouse, Portland.

where the roots grew and then, stripping naked, would hang over the side of the boat and dislodge the wapatoos with their toes from the soft mud. Soon the surface would be covered with the floating roots. The squaws would gather these into the canoes. Then they would move to another place for another load. Sometimes they would spend almost the whole day in the water. The wapatoo still grows in the ponds and lagoons of the island. These ponds formerly abounded in ducks and geese and cranes and swans. Even yet there is fine hunting. During the damp soft days of the Oregon winter, the Nimrods of Portland betake themselves thither in great numbers.

From the steamer, as we enter the mouth of the Willamette, or from the greater elevation of the lighthouse, one may command one of the lordliest views that even this land of lordly views affords. Five snow-peaks, Hood, Rainier-Tacoma, St. Helens, Adams, and Jefferson, rise snow white from the purple forests of the Cascade Range. Up the Columbia the great gorge through which we have passed stands open to view, while down-river the sinuous and hazy lines of low-lying shore betoken the nearer proximity of the ocean. Up the Willamette, enchanting islands, with low watery shores, occupy the foreground, while a short distance back from the western bank, a chain of picturesque hills, heavily timbered, encloses the vista. On the east side a low bench with bluffy promontories, crowned with the beautiful smooth-barked madrona tree, rises from the green meadows.

If we could, from so fair an entrance, ascend the Willamette to its source in the Cascade Mountains two hundred miles away, and if we could turn into the Tualatin, the Yamhill, the Clackamas, the Molalla, the La Creole, the Santiam, the Calapooia, affluents worthy of union with the Willamette, and if we could tarry among the vales and meadows and oak-crowned hills and distant Coast and Cascade ranges of mountains, all across that superb valley, fifty miles wide by a hundred and fifty long, as beautiful as Greece or Italy,—we would then all agree that the Willamette deserves a volume by itself and that it is almost a crime to introduce it so briefly here. Every old Oregonian, in thinking of the Willamette, at once associates it with the apostrophe to it by S. L. Simpson, the gifted and unfortunate poet of Oregon, whose genius deserved a wider recognition than it ever received. The first stanza of his poem is this:

From the Cascades' frozen gorges,
Leaping like a child at play,
Winding, widening through the valley,
Bright Willamette glides away.
Onward ever, lovely River,
Softly calling to the sea,
Time that scars us, maims and mars us,
Leaves no track or trench on thee.

And now that we have fairly entered the Willamette, it becomes speedily evident that we are in the near vicinity of a large and prosperous city. Steamboats, an occasional steamship, sailing ships, sometimes huge four-masted steel ships towed by coughing tugs, long booms of logs in tow of some spluttering stern-wheeler, scows of every description, gasoline launches, rowboats,—a motley fleet, they seem to be making they way with all possible haste upon the stream.

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 545.png

Willamette Falls, Oregon City, Ore.
Photo. by E. H. Moorehouse.

We are indeed approaching Portland, the metropolis of the Columbia, the "Rose City," in many respects the most interesting and attractive of Western cities. The approach to Portland is one hard to match for stately beauty. The city occupies both sides of the Willamette, the main business part on the west side, but the larger residence part on the east. The first settler on the original site of Portland was a man named Overton. Lownsdale, Chapman, and Lovejoy bought him out. Then Captain John H. Couch in 1845 located a donation land claim on what is now the northern part of the west side city. At that time the site was somewhat cut up with gulches and clothed in the densest of dense forests, with perfect jungles of every species of undergrowth. But duller eyes than those of the gallant mariners, Couch, Flanders, Ainsworth, Pettygrove, and Lovejoy, could have seen beneath the tangled thickets the making of a city, though it may well be questioned whether even they, in their wildest flights of fancy, ever pictured the scene of to-day, where the city of these sixty yearsbuilding now sits, a queen upon her circling throne of hills. The location of Portland is almost ideal. The hills to the west rise to a height of about eight hundred feet, but many fine homes are located there, and car lines cross the hills in many directions. Above the fogs and smoke these high-line homes have every possible charm. On the east side of the Willamette the land is a level bench with limitless room for expansion. There are a few picturesque elevations on the east side, as Mt. Tabor and Mt. Scott, and these have been used for homes with the taste which characterises the entire city.

Portland is the centre of every species of transportation facility. It has one of the most extensive and well-equipped electric railway systems in the United States. In addition to the urban lines, there are interurban lines in every direction, to Vancouver, Troutdale, Oregon City, Milwaukee, Hillsboro, and Salem, the last named the capital of the State and fifty miles distant. We find also that four transcontinental railroads have a terminus in Portland, the Southern Pacific, the Northern Pacific, the Union Pacific, and the Great Northern. Steamship lines run to Alaska, Puget Sound, San Francisco and other California ports, to all the coastwise ports of Oregon, to the Hawaiian Islands and the Orient, and to Mexico and South America. Sailing ships convey the products of the North-west to all the ports of the world.

As a result of these facilities for commerce we find such figures as the following: During the year 1907 there entered and cleared at Portland twelve hundred and twenty ocean-going vessels, registering more than 1,700,000 tons, net, and with a carrying capacity of 3,500,000 tons. In the cargoes of this total, were 175,000,000 feet of lumber and 18,000,000 bushels of wheat, flour included. Portland has in fact reached the front rank as a wheat and flour shipping port, being in the class with Galveston and New York, some of the time having led both of them. In December, 1907, Portland's record of wheat shipments, exclusive of flour, was 3,000,000 bushels. The Bureau of Statistics of the Department of Commerce and Labor gave the value of all breadstuffs shipped from Portland for the eleven months ending November 30, 1907,

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 549.png

Among the Big Spruce Trees, near Astoria, Oregon.
Photo. by Woodfield, Astoria.

at $10,536,234. During the same period the shipments of the same commodities from San Francisco totalled $4,143,592, while from the three Puget Sound ports of Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett, the aggregate was $13,989,178. During November, 1908, there were shipped 903,000 bushels of wheat, 180,145 barrels of flour, 209,246 bushels of barley, and 9,752,552 feet of lumber. During the year 1908 the value of wheat and flour reached a total of $18,340,405, while the lumber exports aggregated 162,089,998 feet.

Perhaps the most gratifying feature of the shipping trade to Portland people has been the increase in the size of ships entering the River. In 1872 the average wheat cargo exported was 33,615 bushels, while now it is four times as much. The record cargo was that of the British bark Andorinha, in the fall of 1908, 189,282 bushels. The channel from Portland to the Columbia Bar and that across the Bar have so much improved that no lightering was necessary during the year 1908, and ships of twenty-five and twenty-six feet draft have gone from Portland to the ocean without difficulty. In connection with this fact we are told that in June, 1907, the International Sailing-ship Owners' Union abolished the differential of thirty cents per ton which had stood for some years against Portland. These conditions, together with the completion of the North Bank Railroad, by which a greatly added traffic from the Inland Empire will be turned to Portland, seem to indicate that Portland is on the direct road to a greater commercial leadership than she has yet known. The lumber industry centring in Portland is as remarkable as that of grain. Oregon's available forests, according to Government estimates, reach a total of three hundred billion feet, board measure. It is estimated that during the years 1906-8 the lumber cut in Oregon reached about two billion feet each year, of which about one fifth was sawed in Portland. It is asserted, in fact, that Portland is the largest lumber producing city in the world. Lumbermen believe that it is only a question of a few years when Portland will cut a billion feet of lumber a year. While grain and lumber are the great articles of export from Portland, there are vast totals of fruit, hay, live-stock, dairy and poultry products, fish, and manufactured articles of many kinds.

But to the thoughtful traveller it is of more interest to see the use made of wealth than the wealth itself. Portland now contains about two hundred thousand people, said to have more per capita wealth than any other city, with two exceptions, in the United States. What are these people doing with their accumulations? For answer the traveller visits the schools, the public buildings, the churches, the stores, the places of amusement, the homes, and he finds every evidence of taste, good judgment, refinement, and artistic skill. The Portland Hotel, the Oregonian building, the Marquam Grand Theatre, the Marquam building, the Chamber of Commerce building, the Corbett block, the Wells-Fargo building, the First Congregational, Presbyterian, Catholic, and Baptist churches and Jewish Synagogue, the Union Depot, the City Hall, the City Library,—these and many other structures challenge the admiration of travellers from even the best-built cities of the East. During the year 1907, building permits were issued to an

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 553.png

Portland in 1908. Mt. St. Helens, Sixty-five Miles Distant.

amount exceeding nine million dollars, of which nearly half was expended for dwelling houses. Portland is indeed a city of homes, and workingmen own their own houses to an unusual degree.

As the visitor traverses Portland's streets, he sees amply demonstrated the propriety of the cognomen, the "Rose City." Almost every yard boasts its roses, and on almost every porch the scarlet rambler or some other climber casts its rich colouring. Soil and climate are said to produce an ideal combination for the finest grades of roses, as well as of many other species of flowers. The Portland Fair of 1905 was the means of beautifying a section of the city near Macley Park. While most of the structures were of a temporary nature, the unique and interesting Forestry building has been left, and this is a rare attraction to the Eastern visitor. The two tasteful and significant groups of statuary, The Coming of the White Men and Sacajawea, still grace the spot where they were dedicated. Portland contains many other attractive works of art at available points. Among these is the Skidmore Fountain, on one of the most crowded thoroughfares of the city, a real gem of art.

No visitor to Portland should fail to visit the City Hall and the valuable and interesting historical collection of the Oregon Historical Society. Mr. George H. Himes, the Secretary of the Society, has devoted years to the gathering of this museum of pioneer relics. Some of them are priceless. Here is the first printing press in Oregon, used for some years by Rev. H. M. Spalding at the Nez Percé Mission. Here is Mrs. Whitman's writing desk. Here is Captain Robert Gray's sea-chest. The ages of discovery, of the fur-traders, of the missionaries, of the pioneers, are all lived over again in the inspection of these relics.

Probably most people who have followed the course of public thought and action in the West, if asked what agency and what man would first come into their minds at the mention of the name of Portland, would answer at once,—"The Oregonian and its editor, Harvey Scott." This great journal and its great editor, associated together most of the time for over forty years, have indeed constituted one of the most potent forces in framing the thoughts and the institutions of the Columbia River people. It is frequently said that Harvey Scott and Henry Watterson are the only great American editors yet remaining of the old type, the type of a personal intellectual force and a public teacher. The present type of editor is rather an advertising manager than a political and social leader, a business man rather than a generator of ideas.

There are many additional features of interest in and around Portland. Whether viewed artistically, commercially, financially, socially, or historically, this fair metropolis of the Columbia River Empire is in a class by herself. Only by personal acquaintance can the student of the West satisfy himself as to Portland.

But once more we must address ourselves to the River. One may go to Astoria by rail down the southern bank, or he may, if he prefer, as we certainly do, go by water. He can go by almost every species of boat known to man, from an ocean steamship to one of the lateen-sailed fishing boats which abound on the lower River.

When we have retraced our course to the mouth

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 557.png

Portland Harbour Oregon.
Photo. by E. H. Moorehouse, Portland.

of the Willamette and have again committed ourselves to the oceanward flow of the Columbia, we find a continuance of the same low, oozy, and verdant banks, the same timbered hills on either side in the middle distance, and the same dominant snow-peaks and unbroken Cascade Range in the farthest background. We pass many little towns, whose leading occupations are manifestly lumbering and fishing. We try to live over again the sensations which we think must have been felt by Lewis and Clark or Broughton, as they, first of civilised men, lifted the veil from this solitude.

In this section of the River there are no stupendous pinnacles as in the Gorge of the Cascades. Yet the scenery is infinitely varied, and although less bold, it is, in its way, equally attractive with the loftier scene. One unique spot attracts the eye, and almost recalls the beauty of Rooster Rock. This is Mt. Coffin, on the Washington side, near the mouth of the Cowlitz River. This was one of the "Memaloose" or sepulture places of the Indians. There in early times their dead, in great numbers, were deposited upon platforms after the usual Indian fashion.

After passing the ingress of the Cowlitz, we find the River widening to yet grander proportions. Islands become numerous. Among these islands not a few desperate affrays and even tragedies have occurred among warring fishermen, union against non-union. Lurking among these islands, too, are numerous unlicensed vendors of spirits. In the uncertainty as to which of the States may have jurisdiction at places, these illicit traffickers move from island to island and cove to cove and one overhanging forest to another, evading officers of both States and of Federal Government alike. Sometime a novelist will be inspired with the poetry and humour and tragedy and pathos of this fisher life on the lower River, with its mingling of the life of law-breaker and desperado, and this section of our River will blossom into literature and find a place with the moonshiners of the South and the cowboys of the Rockies. All the material is ready. The River waits only for its Owen Wister or Hamlin Garland or Jack London to introduce it to the world of readers.

But the River moves and we must move with it. Many signs indicate to us that we are approaching the ocean. If we are moving in a small boat, we may pause to camp under some one of the thick-topped spruce trees whose stiff spicules pierce our unwary hands like pins. If we should spend a night we would find the water heaving and falling two, four, or five feet, with the ocean tides. Broader and broader grows the River. Numerous salmon canneries and seining stations appear. Passing a fishing village on the north bank called Brookfield, we notice a very curious rock, Pillar Rock, in the River a quarter of a mile from shore. It rises forty feet directly out of the water. We are told by one versed in Indian lore that this is the transformed body of a chief who tried to imitate the god Speelyei by wading across the River. For his presumption he was turned into a rock.

Soon after passing Pillar Rock we see the curious spectacle of a house on piles apparently right in the middle of the River. More curious still, we see horses seemingly engaged in drawing a load through the very water itself. The mystery is soon solved.

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 561.png

Fish River Road, in Upper Columbia Region, B. C.
Photo. by Trueman, Victoria.

The house is built on a sand-bar. It is a seining station. The horses are pulling a seine from its moorings at the point of the sand-bar to the point where its load may be discharged. Lumber, salmon, and water,—this is the world in which we now live and move and have our being.

We next enter a broad expanse of the River, nine miles wide, on the north side of which is a deep cove. There is the historic spot in which Robert Gray on May 3, 1792, paused at his highest point to fill his water casks and to float the Stars and Stripes over Oregon, claimed for the United States of America. As we look westward, the headlands seem to part in front of us, and between them sky and water join. The greatest ocean is before us, though still twenty miles away. The River has reached the end of his fourteen-hundred-mile journey. Soon we pass, on the Oregon side, the bold promontory of Tongue Point, and Astoria, the second largest city on the navigable waters of the Columbia, is before us.

To the history of this oldest American town west of the Rocky Mountains we have already referred many times. Interesting in so many features of the past, Astoria is full of problems and suggestions, commercial and otherwise, for the present and the future. The city has grown slowly, always wondering why Portland should have so outstripped her. She certainly has such a location that it seems a crime not to utilise it for a great city. The River is here five miles wide. Upon its ample flood all the navies of the world might ride at anchor, sheltered from the sea by the long low sand-ridge of Point Adams. The site of the city, though somewhat rugged and broken, is entirely capable of reduction to a convenient grade, and is singularly noble and commanding. From the plateau three hundred feet high upon which the splendid waterworks are located, is a view of imposing grandeur;—River in front, dense forest to rear, with the blue saddle and pinnacled horn of Saddle Mountain,—Swallalochost in Indian speech, with its thunder-bird of native myth,—and the ocean to the west. We find Astoria to be a well-built city of about fifteen thousand permanent inhabitants, with perhaps five or six thousand more during the height of the fishing season. Almost every resource of industry offers itself in this favoured region about the mouth of the River. Though the country is densely timbered in its native state, the soil is such that when cleared it is of the finest for dairy and vegetable purposes. The mildness of the climate keeps the clover and grass green and the flowers in bloom the long year through.

As might be expected the chief industries as yet developed are lumbering and fishing. There are magnificent forests of fir, spruce, cedar, and hemlock, in all directions, while in and around Astoria there are six immense establishments for transforming the timber into merchantable lumber. This lumber aggregates something like a hundred and twenty million feet annually, and it goes to all the ports of the world. There is occasionally floated to the bar and thence to San Francisco, a log-boom chained in substantial fashion and containing several million feet of logs. Such a great boom is one of the most curious sights of the River-mouth. But transcending all else in importance at Astoria is the business of canning and drying

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 565.png

Multnomah Falls, 840 Feet High, on South Side of Columbia River about Sixty Miles above Portland.
Photo, by E. H. Moorehouse, Portland.

salmon. What silver is to the Cœur d'Alene, what wheat is to Walla Walla, what apples are to Hood River, that salmon are to Astoria. The people think, act, and reason in terms of salmon. And well they may. He who has not seen Chinook salmon from the Columbia River has not seen fish. Nay, he cannot even be said to have really lived in the larger sense of the term. Take a genuine Chinook salmon of fifty or sixty pounds, caught in June, fat, rich, glistening,—but words are a mockery. Nothing but the actual experience will convey the impression. The salmon output on the River has for some years run from two hundred and fifty thousand to five hundred thousand cases per year, twenty-four cans to the case. The amount dried and smoked represents something like an equal amount. This is for the River from Astoria to The Dalles. The great bulk of this, however, is put up at Astoria or in its immediate vicinity. It is estimated that from thirty million to forty million salmon are caught yearly on the Oregon side of the lower River. This represents a value of four or five million dollars, about half of this going to the fishermen and half to the cannerymen. Some ten thousand men are engaged in fishing about the mouth of the River. These men are largely Finns, Russians, Norsemen, Italians, Sicilians, and Greeks. They have various co-operative associations and are independent of the cannerymen, to whom they furnish the fish at some stipulated price, usually five cents a pound.

There are many tragedies at the mouth of the River. The best fishing is just off the Bar and the best time to draw the nets is at the turn of the tide. In a fishing boat in the chill of the early morning, the fishermen will frequently become benumbed and drowsy, and will neglect the critical moment. When the tide fairly turns on the Bar it runs out like a mill race, and woe to the boat that waits too long. It goes out to sea, reappearing perhaps, bottom-up, in the course of the day, with owners and cargo gone. Some experienced men have asserted that not less than a hundred fishermen are lost every summer. Many boats are now fitted with gasoline power, and loss of life is lessened thereby.

To the visitor at the River's mouth the fairest sight of all in connection with the fishing industry is the incoming fleet of boats in the early morning, or the outgoing fleet of evening. On a June night it scarcely grows really dark at all, and as the faint glow of the north turns at two or three o'clock into the morning flush, the lateen sails can be seen like a flock of gulls on the rim of the ocean. When the full radiance of the dawn, with its bars of carmine and saffron, has "turned to yellow gold the salt-green streams," the fleet is within the outer headlands. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of them, a regular cloud of them, converge from all parts of the offing to the wharves of lower Astoria.

With all its benefits the fishing industry brings almost infinite trouble. The two States of Oregon and Washington never agree on laws governing the periods of lawful fishing. Sometimes Federal authorities bear a part in the imbroglio. Gill-net men, seiners, fish-trap men, union men, non-union men, local, State, and Federal officials, all combine in one great general mix-up. In the midst of the confusion the countless salmon pursue their course up the River and its

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 569.png

Chinook Salmon, Weight 80 Pounds.
Photo. by Woodfield, Astoria.

tributaries in summer, back to the ocean again in autumn. The Federal Government maintains fish hatcheries on a number of streams, and from them young salmon to the number of millions are turned out each year to replenish the diminishing supply.

A great and constantly growing tide of tourists from all parts of the Willamette Valley and the upper Columbia region go to Astoria during the summer. The fine steamers, T. J. Potter, Hassalo, Charles D. Spencer, and others of less size, convey these thousands of tourists to Astoria, while the railroad from Portland brings yet other thousands. From Astoria, the North Beach is reached by steamer to Ilwaco, and thence by rail to all points of the fishhook of land which extends from the northern headland of the River to the mouth of Willapa Harbour. During the season this beach is almost a continuous city from Cape Hancock to Leadbetter Point, twenty miles distant. Clatsop Beach on the south side of the River is reached by rail from Astoria. Every charm that an ocean resort can possess has been lavished on these two beaches on either side of the River. The bathing, boating, climbing, fishing, hunting, clamming, crabbing,—they are all there. To the population of that part of the River country east of the Cascades, the transition from the dust and heat of the summer to the cool and rest and freshness of the beach, with its breath from six thousand miles of unbroken sea, is almost like a change of scenes in a play. Both these beaches, especially Clatsop Beach, are the location of a rich store of Indian legend and romance. "Cheatcos" and "Skookums" haunt the forests, and the spirits of Tallapus and Nekahni and Quootshoi have been enthroned on every peak and cape.

All rivers must reach the sea, and all journeys must end. And so both our River and our journey find their end in the ocean. From Astoria we can see the outer headlands and the ocean space between. As we survey this merging of the Great River with the greater deep, our eyes turn in fancy to that clear, bright lake, fourteen hundred miles away in the snowy peaks of British Columbia, from which the River flows. And in imagination we view again the vistas of lagoons and islands, cliffs and glaciers, lakes and cañons, plains and forests, through which the Columbia takes its course, while once more the changing scenes of the historical drama associated with that splendid waterway are enacted before our eyes.

But now all these scenes and vistas must be left behind, and we must pass between the capes. The long sandspit of Point Adams lies on the south, and the bold rock-promontory of Cape Hancock on the north, seven miles apart, each crowned with a lighthouse. Between them we secure a view of the great jetty in course of construction by the Federal Government. This is one of the most important improvements in connection with the River. When this work, together with the canal and locks at Celilo, is completed, the River may be regarded as really navigable on a large scale. The work on the jetty was inaugurated soon after the jetty-building by Captain Eads at the mouth of the Mississippi River had drawn the favourable attention of people and Government to

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 573.png

Lake Adela, near Head of Columbia River, B. C.
Photo by C. F. Yates

this method of deepening river mouths. The jetty consists of a double line of piling, filled with rock and mattresses of woven willows. This constitutes a solid core against which the current of the River on one side piles the silt, while on the other the ocean waves pound the sand into a permanent barrier-reef. The philosophy of it is so to narrow the entrance that the accelerated current of the River will scour out the channel to an increased depth. Piles have been set in place by an ingenious system of pneumatic pipes by which compressed air bores a hole in the sand. Into this hole the pile is dropped, and the sea-waves in a moment fill in and tamp the sand around it. Thus the ocean is made to fence itself out. Upon the jetty a railroad has been built, and a train, loaded with rock and willows, runs out on this every eleven minutes for dumping material into the space between the piles. Very gratifying results have already been secured. There is now a depth of twenty-six feet on the Bar at low water. The crest of the Bar has been cut much deeper at several narrow points, and this indicates the progress that may be expected. It is hoped that the completed jetty will maintain a permanent channel of forty feet at low water. In stormy weather the work on the jetty is difficult and dangerous. The impact of the Pacific waves when lashed by a sixty-mile "sou'-wester" is something terrific. Large sections of piling have been torn out, and much loss has resulted. But patience and money triumph over all obstacles, and the work goes steadily on. Some conception of the magnitude of the commerce to be accommodated by this great work may be formed from the fact that in the year 1907 the freight handled on the lower River by both river and ocean vessels amounted to 4,251,681 tons, valued at $76,583,804. This is but a fraction of what will come with the full development of the Columbia Valley and with the needed improvements to navigation. The Federal Government maintains life-saving stations on both sides of the River. Many a tale of daring could these heroes of the beach tell, should we stop to question them.

We are at the point of the jetty. The buoys rise and fall behind us. The horrible blare of the fog-horn sounds across the thunder of the surf, as we cross the imaginary line from headland to headland. Sea-captains tell us that ten miles from the River's mouth—so powerfully does the mighty current cleave the sea—they can dip up fresh water. But now, to west and north and south, the deep blue, though crossed by the pale green of the River water, assures us that we are fairly upon the Bar. The River of the West is all behind us. If it be very clear, we can just discern upon the horizon's verge, cameo-like and glistening white, Mt. Hood, monarch of the Oregon Cascades, for ever standing guard over the disappearing River.

As the shore line grows vague, it would not be difficult for the imagination to conjure up the navigators of the Old World who sailed these seas, then unknown seas of mystery and romance. Looming up through the ocean mists we may see strange ships and stranger crews emerge,—junks with Oriental castaways swept hither by storms and ocean currents; caravels with the dauntless sailors of the sixteenth

The Columbia River Its History, Its Myths, Its Scenery, Its Commerce p 577.png

Bridal Veil Bluff, Columbia River, Ore.
Photo. by E. H. Moorehouse, Portland.

century; buccaneers and pirates, a motley flotilla. Then the stout crafts of Drake, Behring, Heceta, Cook, Malaspina, Valdez, Bodega, Vancouver, La Perouse; ships of discovery, of trade, of war, of adventure, of science; flags of Spain, of Russia, of Portugal, of France, of England;—on they throng from the hazy Pacific rim toward the Oregon shore. And soon we seem to see, circling around them, canoes with their red-skinned paddlers from the River's mouth. But ships and flags, explorers and natives, fade like a dissolving view. In their place appears a gallant bark, with banner streaming free. What ship? What banner? The Columbia Rediviva, and the Stars and Stripes—the flag that still waves over the land of the Oregon.

And now our vessel rises and falls upon the long swell of the Pacific. Our journey on the Columbia River is ended, and we are upon the open sea.