Cascades Rapids

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Cascades Rapids

The Cascades Rapids (sometimes called "Cascade Falls") is an area of rapids in the Columbia River where travelers by boat along the river were forced to either portage boats and supplies or pull boats up with ropes. It is generally held that these rapids or cascades (or the many cascades along the Columbia River Gorge in this area) gave rise to the name for the surrounding mountains: the Cascade Range.

We concluded to take our canoes first to the head of the rapids, hoping that by evening the rain would cease and afford us a fair afternoon to take our baggage over the portage. this portage is two thousand eight hundred yards along a narrow rough and slipery road. ... a few men were absolutely necessary at any rate to guard our baggage from the War-clel-lars who crowded about our camp in considerable numbers. these are the greates[t] thieves and scoundrels we have met with. ... the canoes were much damaged by being driven against the rocks in despite of every precaution which could be taken to prevent it. ... many of the natives crowded about the bank of the river where the men were engaged in taking up canoes; one of them had the insolence to cast stones down the bank at two of the men who happened to be a little detached from the party at the time. on the return of the party in the evening from the head of the rapids they met with many of the natives on the road, who seemed but illy disposed ...Meriwether Lewis, Friday April 11, 1806.
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Cascade Locks and Rapids, September 8, 1929

Conflicts continued thereafter between the Cascade Indians and Europeans and Americans who generally refused to recognize the native's authority over passage through the area. By 1813-14, fur traders passing through were resorting to violent force against the Indians. Although more diplomatic approaches eventually prevailed, a malaria outbreak in the 1830's so reduced the populations of the Cascade and other Indian tribes, that they ceased to be a powerful force along the river.

A canal and lock around the rapids was completed in 1896 (see Cascade Locks, Oregon). But by 1938 the rapids were gone, submerged under Lake Bonneville as it formed behind Bonneville Dam. Bonneville Lock at the dam, completed in 1937, replaced the old Cascade Locks around the rapids.

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