Tag Archives: columbia river

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 >

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 >

American bison or buffalo.

Yes, Buffalo Did Once Roam Here

Bison migration is as unpredictable as the animals themselves. There’s lots of evidence that buffalo roamed in the Northwest but not so much when early explorers came through. But native stories of Tsoo-thlum live on. more >

Louis Caywood at Fort Clatsop – a less than successful search.

The Archaeological Footprints of Louis R. Caywood

Archeologist Louis Caywood was a pioneer of studying the buried clues that’ll the story of the Columbia River. He represents a good starting point but modern archeologists have learned to dig deeper to unearth valuable insights to our past. more >