Chapter 7 – Before the Wagons arrived

Work in progress on this section…

Today Portland dominates the confluence of the Willamette River and the Columbia River. But it was not always so. In fact when Lewis and Clark passed by they missed seeing the Willamette River altogether, because at that time it was obscured by two island that lay across its confluence. Lying closer to Sauvie Island,  Coon Island obscured the view of the tributary. Eventually was later incorporated into Sauvie’s Island at a place now called Belle Vue Point. On the southern side of the confluence Pearcy’s Island effectively blocked the view of the stately Willamette River

An 1854 cadastral survey (tax survey) for T2N R1W showed two islands at the mouth of the Willamette River. The island on the north side of the mouth of the Willamette would eventually merge with Sauvie Island and would become today’s Belle Vue Point. The island on the south side of the mouth of the Willamette when merged with mainland Oregon would become Kelley Point. The map also shows a small island off of the Kelley Point island which also would become part of Kelley Point, and a second small island in the slough separating the Kelley Point island from mainland Oregon, which would become part of mainland Oregon.

An 1888 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Chart “Columbia River Sheet No.6, Fales Landing to Portland” has the same four islands, with sand bars in the sloughs separating the islands from land. The mouth of the Willamette River runs between the islands. “Coon I.” was the island off of Sauvie Island, “Pearcy’s Island” was the island which was to become Kelley Point and “Pearcy’s Slough” separated the island from mainland Oregon. “Ramsey’s I.” was the small island in the slough and “Nigger Tom I.” was the small island off of Pearcy’s Island which would later become part of Kelley Point.


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