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THE COLUMBIA: a gem of a river

From Grand Coulee Dam to the sea, the Columbia is familiar, but in its little-known Canadian reaches it is a surging, mysterious stream that flows both north and south through a vast wilderness

Between the Selkirks and the Rockies in eastern British Columbia there is a high, narrow valley that suffers from the indignity of being known as the Rocky Mountain Trench. Whatever that may mean geologically, it is akin to describing the Taj Mahal as an eight-sided building. The trench is really a world of its own, a green and grassy plain a few miles wide lying warm and sheltered beneath the glaciers, with innumerable little streams careering through gorges and curving through groves of trees. It is a region famed for its windless fall days, its historic hunting grounds and its forests that somehow suggest, even in their primeval depths, a vast park or playground. But if the trench is a wonder, what runs through it and out of it is wondrous indeed. There is, first, a smallish river called the Kootenay. And then there is a brash, roaring, marvelous monster of a river that would be famed and heralded but for the fact that so few people know its far reaches. This is the Columbia. Four weeks ago the U.S. and Canada agreed on a treaty for the development of the upper Columbia, development that will, eventually, make the river more accessible. What has been a remote haunt for a few hardy travelers at last will come into its own as a locale for outdoor recreation on a grand scale. Nor are any of these future visitors likely to call the area a trench.

In 1962 the last link of the Trans-Canada Highway was opened through Rogers Pass between Golden, where the Columbia River flows its improbable way north, and Revelstoke where, after a 200-mile wilderness detour, it has gotten itself straightened out and flows calmly south—the direction a right-thinking river ought to run. The Golden-Revelstoke road crosses the Selkirk Mountains, a maze of gigantic 10,000-foot peaks that were old before the Rockies emerged from the sea. The Selkirks rise humped and awkward above velvet timberlands for three-quarters of the distance to their summits, and then soar to knife-edged flint pyramids, their flat snow plains and black rock shadows stark against the sky—a sea of mountains so vast that early travelers despaired of ever finding a route to the Pacific through their hidden defiles. The opening of the highway was an almost poignant occasion of national rejoicing, and an indication of what sort of travel can be expected on the upper Columbia in the future. There were 21,000 carloads of visitors the first week, and Revelstoke, a town of 2,100, found itself with 1,200 sightseers a day.

But let there be no fears of overcrowding. Haif a million people could be swallowed up in the woods without one of them being able to hear the next one call for help. In The Columbia, written 15 years ago, Murray Morgan gave a good account of what this territory is like. He had followed a dirt road along the Columbia to Downie Creek, which flows into the Columbia above Revelstoke. Here, he wrote, is one of the finest campgrounds in North America, with the snow-covered mountains near the river, the smell of cedar sharp in the thin cool air, and the Columbia itself, "a living thing, strong and beautiful.... While the sky darkens and the pinpoint stars expand and the nightbirds call in the dark woods, it is easy to slip back a century."

It is still easy. I was at Revelstoke the week the new highway opened, and I drove up Morgan's road and stopped at the campground he described. The washboarded road bumped along the densely wooded slope, and bits of the wild green Columbia could be seen far below, mere glimpses caught between huge tree trunks. From the headlands, where the road came out into the open above the river, awesome vistas unfolded of tier after tier of evergreen mountains and glinting white peaks.

After the town and the traffic of the new highway had been left behind, I did not see a person for 40 miles. There were a few abandoned cabins, a deserted shingle mill, an inhabited dwelling at Downie Creek, and another at the Big Bend of the Columbia, 65 miles farther north, but that was about all. If anything, the seclusion was deeper than it was when Morgan wrote, for the old road was no longer kept up. And this was, of course, only the accessible fringe of the wilderness, for Downie Creek once had a gold rush, and some of the country has been logged.

The Columbia has created a kind of gigantic flume for itself as it races through these woods. Bowl-shaped stones half the size of a man's head have been hammered into the banks by the current, fitting as snugly as if driven in by hand. Below this stone wall there is often a narrow beach of overlapping rocks that have been packed one on top of the other like the scales of a fish by the rush and weight of the water. At Downie Creek, which is still a thousand miles from the sea, the Columbia is 500 feet across and about 12 feet deep, moving at seven to 12 miles an hour. In the 292 miles from its source to this point the river has dropped 1,065 feet, but there are no falls and not many rapids in its descent; it slides down an incline, the smooth stones offering scarcely more resistance than so many ball bearings. The air along the river seems to vibrate with its power. A rock the size of a bowling ball, dropped into the water, may be carried 10 feet before it sinks out of sight. A viewer is likely to be startled by sudden, drumlike rumbles, thuds and growls from below the surface, as stones—or something-shift in the depths. Here, for the first time, it is easy to credit a statistic that otherwise seems unbelievable: the Columbia River contains a third of all the water power that can be produced by all the rivers in North America.

An undiscourageable sportsman, I tried fishing here. On my first cast into this pistonlike current, I lost my spinner, a saffron-colored fluorescent item closely resembling a piece of costume jewelry that I had been told would catch fish in the Columbia if anything would. So I quit fishing and scrambled through the woods above the bank. I soon found that the Columbia keeps one at a distance. Only rarely, at the mouths of such creeks as Downie and at occasional gravel bars, was it possible to get close to the river. At other places, vine maples and even small pines elbowed out over the water above the wall of stones, and the current was so strong that wading beyond these projections is most unattractive. Back from the riverbanks the woods were often fairly open cedar groves, aromatic and soft underfoot. Tracks of deer were everywhere, and the forest seemed ideal for birds. Yet the dominant impression was of utter silence, a silence strangely deepened by the hum of the river itself. There was a literal accuracy to the lines of William Cullen Bryant, who called the river the Oregon but was writing of the Columbia:

...the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound
Save his own dashings—

There is a trail from Downie Creek to nearby Death Rapids—the worst rapids on the whole Columbia—but I missed it, and instead came out on a bluff 200 or 300 feet above the river. There was a sort of terrace of light-green ferns and pine needles beneath some good-sized trees, and at this distance the 15-foot waves in the rapids looked almost tranquil, and their roar was softened to a pulsebeat. There are innumerable accounts of how Death Rapids got its name, the likeliest involving a Hudson Bay fur trader who, accustomed to the rivers east of the Rockies, denounced his companions as cowards when they wanted to line the canoe through the rapids. He cut the rope and pushed the craft into the water, with the loss of 16 lives. Bryant's lines were even more haunting:

Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound
Save his own dashings—yet—the dead are there.

In the evening, when I went down the Columbia several miles to fish at the mouth of another creek, the silence was deeper. The river widened here to half a mile, with a low gravel bar in midstream. On the far side a sharp, triangular 8,000-foot peak rose almost sheer above the trees. In 1865 an exploring party looking for a wagon route to the gold fields found a pass below the mountain. It was never used, though a trail of sorts still runs through there, and the spot has become the subject of worry to one country and threat by another. When the U.S. and Canada were arguing two years ago over the treaty they have now settled on, it was pointed out that the Canadians need only bore a hole in the mountains a little north of Revelstoke and the Columbia would drain into the Fraser River and then forthwith to the sea. This would make Grand Coulee Dam the world's biggest wall across a dry gulch and turn off lights from Seattle to Los Angeles, among other things. In Canada a committee of the House of Commons was told that such an action would be completely legal under international law. "Whether it would be a wise or friendly thing to do," said the committee's legal consultant, "is another point." The U.S. Government was in no mood to argue the point, and the treaty talks moved with dispatch after the feasibility of this bit of engineering derring-don't was made clear.

I found an empty forest-service cabin at the mouth of this second creek. An otter undulated across one of the floor joists below the cabin as I came up, then moved unhurriedly away. The air was still, and the high rocks on the peak across the river were yellow and warm in the late sunlight. But a pennant of snow and vapor began streaming eastward from the summit ridge, and little billows of mist soon rose and vanished in the trees below the timberline. During the hour or so that I fished, the pennant stretched steadily east, and the thickening clouds became indistinguishable from the planes of snow near the summit. The world suddenly turned gray, and out in the river clouds of spray were lifted 20 or 30 feet in the air, blowing upstream in fitful and erratic sheets of mist like dust in a desert windstorm, though on the bank the branches of the trees were motionless.

Never have I had so strong an impression of natural power made visible, or so strong a sense of some issue of consequence related to a place. The Columbia always seemed a river of destiny to its explorers, and the abiding impression it communicates now is that something of lasting importance is involved in its dark and wild passage. "This river exceeds in grandeur any other in the world," said Paul Kane, the great wilderness painter, "not so much for the volume of its water, though that is immense, as for the romantic wildness of its stupendous and ever-varying scenery." Kane came through this same area about a century ago, after a lifetime of traveling that had taken him to many rivers. "The most terrific grandeur," noted David Douglas, the botanist for whom the Douglas fir is named. "Passing this place just as the sun was tipping the mountains, his feeble rays now and then seen through the shady forests, imparts a melancholy sensation of no ordinary description, filling the mind with awe."

A man who would take himself to British Columbia and to the Selkirk Mountains and to a town called Revelstoke and up a rutted road from there to Downie Creek—a man who would do all that just to savor the Columbia in its wilderness is a man, I confess, possessed. But even once you have done this, and seen the Columbia in its mightiness, you have not put yourself at ease, for you are possessed again, this time with the necessity for seeing where this river begins. That is my excuse, at least, for what I did next. I made my way 300-odd miles southeastward to where the Columbia rises in a small gravel plain at a place called Canal Flats (pop. 356), roughly 80 miles north of the U.S.-Canada boundary. Canal Flats has a little sawmill, a railroad siding and the ruins of a timbered canal lock. A sign depicting an up-rearing grizzly bear with bloody jaws stands at the junction of the side road leading to the one-block business district. It says, in somewhat shaky letters, WELCOME TO CANAL FLATS. The town describes itself as the grizzly-bear capital of the world, and closer examination of the sign reveals that there is a cut-out figure of a hunter below the bear. He is kneeling and has just shot the grizzly. However, weeds have grown over the hunter. He can hardly be seen without a search, and the sign, as a result, looks like the least hospitable invitation to a town ever placed beside a road. Canal Flats is correct to consider itself a great hunting center, however, and every fall it fills up with parties—unintimidated by the sign—that have come in quest of the moose, elk, deer, bear, cougar and mountain goat that range through the area.

Canal Flats is the source of the Columbia, yet only a few hundred yards out of town is the Kootenay River, whose headwaters are 90 miles north in the Rockies. The Kootenay passes Canal Flats flowing rapidly southward, while the Columbia gathers volume and velocity and begins flowing north. They pass in opposite directions so close that you can see both from a little hill, and this very situation is another of the Columbia's wonders that has tried men's patience and imagination, if not their souls.

No other river system on earth contains anything comparable to the perplexing relationship of these two streams. The Columbia flows north for 232 miles, turns due south at the Big Bend, and after 465 miles in Canada crosses the international boundary into Washington. The Kootenay flows 172 miles through Idaho and Montana, then turns back into Canada, creating Kootenay Lake, which drains into the Columbia itself just before the Columbia becomes a U.S. river. The Kootenay is as much as 11 feet higher than the Columbia where they pass each other at Canal Flats, and the land between them is a level expanse of gravel covered thinly with grass and alders and willows and small pines. It seems that you could scrape a stick between them and start the Kootenay flowing into the Columbia. Once started, it would certainly deepen its own ditch.

This is no new idea. Back in 1882 a 31-year-old Irish-Austrian hunter named William Adolph Baillie-Grohman was looking for mountain goats when he stumbled upon the source of the Columbia and saw the Columbia and Kootenay racing past each other like trains going in opposite directions on adjoining tracks. Baillie-Grohman's life was never the same thereafter, something frequently noted about people who get mixed up with the Columbia. When he got back to the map room of the British Museum in London he found that "while all the travelers who had visited the spot and left any record behind them had noticed and expressed surprise at this singular configuration, none appeared to realize the importance of a canal between the two rivers."

Baillie-Grohman was perhaps the foremost hunting writer of the time, with an unparalleled following among British aristocrats. He was the sort of writer who contributed serious articles to sporting journals, advising his readers not to take their valets with them on hunting trips to Wyoming. He argued that valets also ate, so more food would have to be packed in, which would require another pack-horse and perhaps another handler, who would also need supplies. Also he warned that if you took a portable bathtub along and expected your valet to prepare your bath after a day's hunt someone would probably shoot holes in the bottom of the bathtub.

Baillie-Grohman's idea was to turn the Kootenay into the Columbia and thus develop for agriculture the rich land that could not now be used because of the Kootenay's fierce annual floods. A peppery little man with a spiked mustache and a combative disposition, he had prepared for his lifework by memorizing the measurements of virtually every trophy head in the world. No small part of the correspondence columns in English periodicals was filled with his denunciations of the errors of other authorities. He was particularly severe with an unfortunate Tacoma taxidermist who was reported to have an elk head with antlers measuring 70 inches. Baillie-Grohman was certain that the record was 62½ inches, and that his own best head, shot in the Wind River Range in Wyoming and awarded first prize at the American Trophy show in London in 1887, was second at 60½ inches. When word reached Baillie-Grohman that there was an elk head on the wall of a firehouse in Portland, Ore. measuring 73 inches he was sure it was a fake. Hurrying to the spot, he secured the assistance of people he described as some of the leading citizens of Portland, climbed a ladder to look at the antlers at close range and concluded they were made from two separate pairs carefully joined by plaster. "I at once communicated my suspicions," he wrote, "and suggested that an investigator should tap the upper length of either antler with a hammer, which would cause particles of the cement to become dislodged." The owner refused, but when the trophy was later sold, cement was found.

Obviously, Baillie-Grohman was the ideal person to start a major engineering project in a remote country, and when he formed the Kootenay Syndicate a large number of titled Englishmen eagerly joined his company, some of them hurrying west to build country houses along the Columbia River. Lady Gwendoline Rous, a daughter of the Earl of Stradbroke, and Mrs. Algernon St. Maur, who later became the Duchess of Somerset, were among these early visitors. Money was also put into Baillie-Grohman's project by Lord Norbury, who settled across the Kootenay not far away, and by Lady Adela Cochrane, an intrepid woman who eventually operated a placer mine on Findlay Creek about four miles from Canal Flats. Additional financial support came from Frank Lascelles, a son of the Earl of Harewood, who, as a wilderness historian wrote, "climaxed his many shooting and killing his Chinese servant at his home at Columbia Lake." A little later, Captain Northcote Cantile, a nephew of Lord Mount Stephen, became a prominent figure on the upper Columbia, always drinking champagne for breakfast and accompanied everywhere by his personal attendant wearing Highland regalia and playing the bagpipes. All of which was pretty heady stuff by Northwest standards.

From the provincial government Baillie-Grohman received a grant of 47,500 acres, plus every inch of valley lying between the U.S. border and Kootenay Lake, a stupendous chunk of fantastically beautiful real estate. In his eagerness to develop the Kootenay, however, he had not thought enough about what might happen to the Columbia when the waters of the Kootenay were added to it. When he arrived at Canal Flats in the summer of 1884 with a party of English backers, he found the Canadian government had put a stop to his work. The trouble, or at least part of the trouble, was that the Kootenay's flood waters, added to those of the Columbia, would almost certainly wash away the tracks and bridges of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which was then being constructed down the river. In justice to Baillie-Grohman, it should be said that when he first came upon the Columbia there were only 11 settlers in a region as big as England and Wales, and it would have taken a Noah-sized flood to cause the least concern. Also, the railroad had changed its plans, threading through the Selkirks to Revelstoke instead of following the Columbia around the Big Bend.

Baillie-Grohman lit into the government of Canada and the Canadian Pacific Railway with the energy he had formerly devoted to exposing false claims to hunting records. He accused them of treachery, deceit, fraud, theft, graft, high freight rates and the appropriation of articles from a box of clothes sent to him by his tailor in London. The political and commercial agencies quickly capitulated, and a compromise was worked out: Baillie-Grohman could not dig a drainage canal, but he could build a navigation canal, with locks, across Canal Flats, and he was given an additional grant of 78,500 acres because he could not reclaim flood land as he had planned.

To add to his trials, he was pursued by a wealthy and vengeful American named Robert Sproule, who vowed to shoot him on sight in a dispute about a gold mine on Kootenay Lake. On one occasion Sproule jumped from behind a tree on a trail only three feet away and fired. Baillie-Grohman's horse reared and the shot missed. On another occasion Baillie-Grohman was riding on a train on his way to file a warrant for Sproule's arrest, when Sproule sat down behind him in the smoker. They rode along for several miles with Sproule's revolver pressed against Baillie-Grohman's head. Finally the conductor persuaded Sproule to put the gun away. Shortly thereafter, Sproule killed another man involved in the mine dispute and was hanged.

"The experiences of that summer, 1884," wrote Baillie-Grohman, "in spite of the hard work and the sinister events...were of the pleasantest kind."

As a result of Baillie-Grohman's enterprise, the upper Columbia became a fashionable place to be. Walter Clutterbuck and James Lees, a pair of famous travel writers who could show occasional Gilbert-and-Sullivan flashes of wit, arrived to gather material for a book. Count Ernst Hoyos and Count Ferdinand Trauttsmannsdorff of the Imperial Court in Vienna came to hunt mountain goats. One of the owners of Tiffany's in New York was located near by. The Duke of Somerset was another aristocratic frontiersman and bought his moccasins at Baillie-Grohman's store. It was, in all, a brilliant society.

An improvised steamboat, the Duchess, ran the 100 miles from the railroad at Golden to Canal Flats, making the upstream trip in two days and coming back in one. Soon really fine steamers, with baths and comfortable staterooms, were in use, for the river voyages became a popular side trip for transcontinental passengers. What made the trip thrilling to tourists was the savor of a new country that the Duchess of Somerset captured in her charming Impressions of a Tenderfoot and which moved Clutterbuck and Lees to eloquence: "...the sense of freedom, the exhilarating atmosphere, the scent of the pine forests, the glancing and splashing of the torrent, the glow of the rising sun and the thousand and one adjuncts that go to make up enjoyment, and without which the most lovely prospect imaginable is but a poor thing. There is only one way in which any real idea of these treasures...can be obtained, and that is to go yourself."

The tourists did go, at least until 1915, when the steamboats stopped running, but they could not help Baillie-Grohman's river-diversion project. He could afford to dig a 6,700-foot canal across Canal Flats, but the two locks, 35 feet wide and 125 feet long, proved a disastrous difficulty. There was no foundation below the watery gravel, and the locks cost more than the land grant was worth. Only two boats ever went through the canal. One of these, the Northern Star, was too big for the locks, so an improvised dam of sand-filled ore bags was piled around it, the Kootenay was sealed off behind, and the ore sacks in front blown up with dynamite, sending the Northern Star scooting across the flats on the crest of a wave. It was hardly a practical method of steamboating, and by then Baillie-Grohman had long since retired to his ancestral estate in Austria. Soon little remained of Baillie-Grohman's project except a ditch, about 10 feet wide and a foot deep, that stretched halfway across Canal Flats and was filled with water clear as glass. Small pines grew up along the bank, adding a landscaped air that seemed strange in the wild surroundings.

This is the way things were when a 68-year-old retired civil engineer named Madison Lorraine visited Canal Flats in 1921. He found that nothing was left of the place except an abandoned boxcar on a railroad siding. He had come to Canal Flats on an impulse (I am not the only man the Columbia has possessed, you see) and had learned that no one had ever made a continuous trip from the source of the river to the mouth. He decided to try it, "to record my protest," he wrote, "against the present unjust, as well as senseless...theory that men are no longer efficient after 45 or 50 years of age."

Using the boxcar as his shop, he built a 17-foot rowboat, and on the morning of June 13, 1921 began rowing north, down the Columbia. His equipment consisted of a tent, a sleeping bag, a typewriter, a camera, his boat-building tools, fishing tackle, shotgun, rifle and 110 pounds of ammunition. He had a pleasant trip, people on both sides of the border believing that he was a bootlegger.

Like everyone else who ever had anything to do with the Columbia, Lorraine felt that his journey was somehow tremendously important, though he could not say why. He believed it unnatural that Canadians and Americans were unfamiliar with "the location, course and character of the Columbia," since the river rivaled the Mississippi and he thought the universal ignorance stemmed from the fact that authorities studied only the American or the Canadian sections and did not ever sit down to consider the river as a whole.

Bending on his oars, Madison Lorraine certainly did so. Avoiding the purple prose found in other reports on the river, he merely noted what he found, mile by mile: a strong headwind on Columbia Lake (13 miles long); a hot spring, with a temperature of 115°; a duck on a snag, which he shot; a three-mile current in the 90 miles from the lake to Golden; a gorge a mile long and 100 to 200 feet wide at Redgrave Canyon below Golden where the water was 70 feet deep; a three-mile stretch of continuous bad water at Surprise Rapids below the mouth of Bush River, where he lined his boat down; and 23 rapids in the 20 miles below Kinbasket Lake where the river dropped 316 feet and where he could make only three miles a day. A miner had a cabin at Mica Creek 10 miles downstream from the Big Bend, and the next human being he encountered was a prospector, 40 miles farther on, who helped him line his boat down Death Rapids. Thereafter the current carried him 40 or 50 miles a day, except through the 100 miles of Upper and Lower Arrow lakes. He passed the point where the Kootenay joined the Columbia, almost doubling its volume, and then camped on the U.S.-Canada boundary, where the Columbia was 1,290 feet above sea level, having dropped 1,360 feet. He now had hard going through the dry, rocky lava beds of eastern Washington until the river swung west to the foot of the Cascades, curved eastward again to meet the Snake, then flowed due west to the sea. By now the Columbia was flowing at about 150,000 cubic feet a second (compared to the Mississippi's more than 200,000 cubic feet a second at New Orleans), or roughly 34 times the volume of the Hudson. On a rainy November morning Lorraine tied up at a dock at Astoria, Ore., having rowed his boat 1,246 miles and portaged or lined nine miles of rapids, an epic achievement that first communicated a sense of the magnitude of the river as a whole.

Two summers ago a 21-year-old Santa Ana College student, Alex Laird, who had been inspired by Lorraine's account, became the second person to make a continuous voyage the length of the river, leaving Canal Flats in a canvas canoe on July 4 and reaching Astoria three months later. Except for the smooth water behind the big dams in Washington, Laird found that little had changed on the river in 41 years. The only profound difference was in the stretch of the Columbia immediately south of the border. Where Lorraine had hoisted and yanked his boat over rocky ledges, there is now a 150-mile tree-lined lake behind one of the largest man-made concrete structures on earth, Grand Coulee Dam. It is true that the water and the campsites and recreation facilities look a little unreal amid the bare hills. It is also true, what with Chief Joseph Dam, Bonneville Dam, The Dalles, Ice Harbor and a multitude of other dams, that critics have become increasingly articulate about the transformation of living rivers into stagnant reservoirs behind concrete walls. The best U.S. dam sites have been used, and each new projected dam generally has some tangible disadvantage, like the interference with the Chinook salmon run that created a crisis over Mayfield Dam on the Cowlitz, or the blocking of steelheads from their spawning grounds that led to a bitter struggle over the proposed Nez Perce Dam on the Snake.

Yet in Canada, where the real power of the river is concentrated, there has never been a dam on the Columbia. The treaty that the U.S. and Canada agreed upon last month will change all that. Two dams on the Kootenay and two on the Columbia will launch a gigantic development of the Northwest area that will dwarf the Saint Lawrence Seaway project. Flood control benefits alone will exceed $100 million a year throughout the whole Columbia River system, and even this is a small benefit compared to the tremendous hydroelectric power that the dams will provide. What this all portends is an opening up of the northern Columbia, but hardly a despoiling of it. The 465 miles of the Columbia in Canada will still be marked by only two dams—compared to 28 built or being constructed in the U.S. section of the Columbia watershed.

Nor does it seem a distortion of nature that a smooth-water lake should reach 50 miles up the Canoe River, where in 1811 David Thompson poled his way against the current at the rate of a mile and a half an hour, and where there has scarcely been a visitor since his time. There seems nothing wrong with a plan for threads of water to lace these mountains together. It is a magnificent notion. It is connected with a sense of opportunity, something new in the world in international cooperation for peaceful ends. Perhaps the best statement of it comes at the conclusion of Raymond Patterson's recent book, The Buffalo Head. Patterson describes crossing the mountains and the valleys of the Elk and the Kootenay to the headwaters of the Columbia: "There was a moose browsing in the willows down below me in the valley bottom—and another moose a mile or so to the north, heading for the pass. One or two more elk came into sight, coming out of Le Roy Creek Valley—and then more and more. They streamed steadily around the point of the mountain, coming from God knows where, and they kept on coming. I counted up to about 70 and then I gave it up. I just sat there entranced, watching them, cows, young bulls, old bulls with their glorious antlers, as they moved slowly and quietly across the tawny mountainside, feeding as they went, headed for the pass.

"Late that evening I made my usual round of the horses. If, I thought, this valley had been in the mountains of Europe it would have seen so much: ambushes and raids, the journeyings of princes and of merchant caravans, the passage of armies. These things would have been a part of the history of our own people and we should have known of them. And so, upon this camp, with its horse bells and its crackling stove and the candlelight that glowed so warmly through the tent walls, the past would have come crowding in and we would have felt, all around us, the quiet pressure of the vanished centuries.... But here nothing had ever happened."

Now things will happen, small things still when compared to all that vastness. Now others, too, will come to the Columbia and look with awe as I did, and be possessed.



The upper Columbia, which goes north from Canal Flats, shows its perplexing relationship with the Kootenay, headed south a mile away. The rivers outline an immense area famous for hunting.


Big Bend

Mica Creek Dam

To Fraser River














Grand Coulee







Famed Hunter and Author Baillie-Grohman, shown here with his record elk head, had a spectacular scheme for the Columbia.