Cathlapotle Plankhouse Project

Lewis and Clark at Cathlapotle


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In his mind's eye, Ridgefield artist Gene Ellis had an image of what Lewis and Clark's visit to Cathlapotle might have looked like to an observer. He turned that vision into a vivid painting for Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in 2002. Gene's work can also be seen in a mural at the Old Liberty Theater in downtown Ridgefield.

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Copyright 2002, Gene Ellis.
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Lewis and Clark passed by Cathlapotle for the first time on November 5, 1805, and were greeted by several canoes which came out from Cathlapotle to meet them. It wasn't until their return trip on March 29, 1806, when the members of the Corps beached their dugouts on the shore beside the plankhouses and stopped in to visit and trade with the Cathlapotle Chinookans. After their visit, the expedition continued a short distance up Lake River to "butiful grassy place" where they spent the night. Known as Wapato Portage today, this spot is also on Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. While encamped there, Clark took the time to write in his journal about the women who harvested wapato in the small lake (Carty Lake) and then portaged their tuber-laden canoes across to Lake River for the short journey back to Cathlapotle, hence the modern name for the site.
This page last updated: 12-Aug-2004 Top