Rivière des Chutes

A Five Million Year Journey to the Columbia River

More than two hundred years ago on Oct. 22, 1805, Lewis & Clark first set eyes on the mouth of the Deschutes River, then called by it's Native American name, Towarnehiooks, and 6 miles downriver they came upon the Great Falls or Celilo Falls which is now covered by the waters behind the Dalles Dam.  The river is named for Celilo and is known as the 'River of Falls'.  Below a photo of Celilo falls taken by Benjamin A. Gifford in 1907.

Photo of Celilo Falls by Benjamin A. Giffords, 1907

William Clark, October 22, 1805
“we proceeded on pass the mouth of this river at which place it appears to discharge ¼ as much water as runs down the Columbia.    at two miles below this River passed Eight Lodges on the Lower point of the Rock Island aforesaid    at those Lodges we saw large logs of wood which must have been rafted down the Towarnehiooks  River, below this Island on the main Stard Shore is 16 Lodges of nativs; here we landed a fiew minits to Smoke, the lower point of one Island opposit which heads in the mouth of Towarnehiooks River which I did not observe untill after passing these lodges    about ½ a mile lower passed 6 more Lodges on the Same Side and 6 miles below the upper mouth of Towarnehiooks River the comencement of the pitch of the Great falls,  opposit on the Stard. Side is 17 Lodges of the nativs    we landed and walked down accompanied by an old man to view the falls, and the best rout for to make a portage which we Soon discovered was much nearest on the Stard. Side, and the distance 1200 yards one third of the way on a rock, about 200 yards over a loose Sand collected in a hollar blown by the winds from the bottoms below which was disagreeable to pass, as it was Steep and loose.”

Copyright 2018. Deschutes River Film. All rights reserved.