Tributaries: A Confluence History Blog

Spearing salmon in the Long Narrows, 1901. In the 19th century spearing was the preferred way Indians fished in clear water that had good visibility of the fish. Gradually spears were replaced by dip nets made with a steel hoop and a net connected by wire rings, which would stay open until struck by a fish, which released a tonge and the net would fold around the fish like a purse. The practice of waiting for a fish to appear and catching it with a net is called roping. Most waters in this area were too turbulant or aeriated to see a fish, so neither spearing or roping was practiced as much as 'blind' dip netting. By 1939, a reporter noted that spearing was rarely used anymore and by 1950 had apparently ceased. Photo by Benjamin Gifford.

Complicated History of the River, Told Through Images

All tributaries eventually lead to the Big River that lead to the ocean. Using images and records, we take the wide view of the river system and see how connections to place and people are made through stories and culture. more >

Matsura & Chelsea Woodward pose outdoors with rifle and camera in 1908.

Images of the Northwest: Part II “The Photo Man”

In Part II of Images of the Northwest, learn about Frank Sakae Matsura, a Japanese photographer who spent much of his time in the northern regions of the Columbia River in Okanagan country. more >

Cape Horn, Columbia River, Oregon; Carleton Watkins

Images of the Northwest: Part I Carleton E. Watkins

The iconic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest have captured the imagination of many photographers and artists. The legacy of early photographer Carleton E. Watkins depicts an amazing perspective of this region. more >

3155A. In 1941, the photographer Ray Atkeson observed this fisherman "throwing back, over a period, a dozen salmon nearly two feet long. He disdained them as not suitable for his purpose." This catch is typical of Columbia River salmon born before the dams were built. Fish were big and rich in oil because they traveled a thousand miles to spawn in Canada. The size of a fish is proportional to the length of their journey to spawn. The largest of the fish became extinct when the Grand Coulee dam was built in upstate Washington and blocked all Canadian salmon.

On The Water: Salmon as a Gift Economy

The salmon of the Columbia River system is more than a commodity. It is “gift” and it must be passed on, and in accepting the gift, the receiver assumes responsibilities. more >


Plunge Into Darkness: Baker City, Oregon in 1918 Part V

The Great American Eclipse of August 21st, 2017 will be remembered for its traffic jams. There weren’t as many cars in 1918 but many descended on the Eastern Oregon town of Baker City of watch the eclipse then. more >