89. Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
n the night of 4 November 1805, Clark "could not Sleep for the noise kept by the Swans, Geese, white & black brant, Ducks . . . & Sand hill Crane. They were emensely numerous and their noise horrid." The Corps’ campsite was a few miles north of Vancouver, Washington.
The party set out again at sunrise. Nine miles downriver, near today’s Ridgefield, they passed "an Isld. Covered with tall trees & green briers Seperated from the Stard. Shore by a narrow Chanel." The captains understood from the Indians that the channel (at right, beneath the low cloud bank) was a river called Cah-wah-nah-hi-ooks, a Chinookan word for "enemies." It received its modern name, Lewis River, not in honor of Meriwether Lewis, but rather for a surveyor and settler named Adolphus Lee Lewes — pronounced like Lewis.
Ridgefield, hidden by the thin cloud at upper right, is headquarters for the 4,600-acre Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, which harbors more than 180 species of birds. "This is certainly a fertill and a handsom valley," Clark observed as he passed through the scene in this picture, "at this time Crouded with Indians." However, the camp that night, twenty-three miles farther on, was "the first night which we have been entirely clear of Indians Since our arrival on the waters of the Columbia River."
On the upstream trek, breasting the rising spring freshet, they camped near here again on 29 March 1806. This time the explorers remarked not on the birds, but on the reptiles. "The garter snakes are innumerable, & are seen entwined arround each other in large bundles of forty or fifty lying about in different directions through the praries." Apparently they were unaware that this an annual mating ritual among certain species of reptiles.
From Discovering Lewis & Clark from the Air
Photography by Jim Wark
Text by Joseph Mussulman
Reproduced by permission of Mountain Press.