Map of the Lower Columbia

Route of November 6–7, 1805, and March 25–26, 1806

Moulton, Atlas map 81
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On March 26, 1806, the homeward-bound Corps of Discovery passed "an Elegant and extensive bottom on the South side [of the Columbia River] and an island near it's upper point which we call Fanny's Island and bottom." Presumably Clark was thinking of his youngest sister, Frances. Topographically speaking, a "bottom" is a broad, flat river valley or floodplain, and the double-entendre in this context may have been unintentional. However, it evidently crossed his mind, and he had reservations about imposing any such sibling ribaldry upon the annals of the expedition. His second choice was "Fanny's Valley & Isd." The memorial to sister Fanny has not survived on current maps. In 1871 the island, a few miles downriver from Longview, Washington, was homesteaded by James F. Crim, and in 1927 officially became Crims Island.1

"Sturgeon Island" was perhaps today's Wallace Island.

The name of the "War ki a cum [Wahkiakum] Nation" came from a Chinookan expression meaning "region downriver." The people of the "Skillute Nation" were properly called Watlalas. On New Year's Eve, 1805, two canoes arrived at Fort Clatsop. One was from the War-ci-a-cum Village, with three Indians, and the other from "higher up the river of the Skil-lute nation" with three men and a woman.

Those people brought with them Some Wapto roots, mats made of flags2 & rushes, dried fish and Some fiew She-ne-tock-we (or black) roots & Dressed Elk Skins, all of which they asked enormous prices for, particularly the Dressed Elk Skins; I purchase of those people Some Wapto roots, two mats and a Small pouch of Tobacco of their own manufactory–for which I gave large fish hooks, which they were verry fond.

The "Cow-a-lis-kee River" is today the Cowlitz River, with the cities of Longview and Kelso, Washington at its confluence with the Columbia River. A Hudson's Bay Co. warehouse was built at the mouth of the Cowlitz in 1846, and an American settlement called Monticello flourished there from 1852 until 1867. In 1923 a lumber mill became the center of Longview, the first planned city in the Northwest. The name Cowlitz&mdasg;which over the years has been spelled 16 different ways–possibly came from the Salish Indian word tawallitch, meaning "capturing the medicine spirit."3

"Those Indians," Clark said of the "Cath lah mah" [Cathlamet] Nation, "are Certainly the best canoe navigators I ever Saw." (November 11, 1805)

"Sea Otter Isd." had already been named Puget Island, for Lieutenant Peter Puget, a member of Captain George Vancouver's crew, in 1792.


1. Lewis A. McArthur, Oregon Geographic Names (6th ed., rev. and enl., Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1992).

2. Common cat-tail, Typha latifolia L.

3. James W. Phillips, Washington State Place Names (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1971).