This page was last updated on March 19, 2017: These volume levels made Celilo Falls the largest waterfall by volume in North America while it still existed (though before Niagara Falls was incorporated into a hydroelectric facility, Niagara had a greater average volume but still peaked at lower levels than Celilo Falls did). , Celilo Falls itself was the first in a series of cascades and rapids known collectively as The Narrows or The Dalles, stretching for about 12 miles (19 km) downstream. Check flight prices and hotel availability for your visit. If known, the primary source of the watercourse which produces the waterfall will be listed here. Villages near Celilo Falls incorporated cultural characteristics from the Chinookan people, who lived at the mouth of the Columbia and along the coast, and the inland Sahaptin-speaking people of the Columbia Plateau. A small Native American community exists today at nearby Celilo Village, on a bluff overlooking the former location of the falls. While we try to ensure this information is as accurate as possible, sometimes it will prove necessary to either estimate or flat out guess at certain characteristics where either enough information isn't readily available, is not known, or we were not able to confirm a given trait upon surveying. The falls are from 3 to 12 and 15 feet high. The Average Width of the waterfall represents the breadth of the waterfall from bank to bank under typical flow conditions, or if the waterfall has been Cataloged, under the conditions which it was most thoroughly surveyed. When European Americans settled at The Dalles, the Indigenous communities near Celilo Falls were compromised. On March 10, 1957, hundreds of observers looked on as a rising Lake Celilo rapidly silenced the falls, submerged fishing platforms, and consumed the village of Celilo, ending an age-old existence for those who lived there. It acted as a melting pot for the cultures which fished and traded there. Added this waterfall to the database.
The rapids at Celilo Falls provided Oregon Trail travelers with one of the trip's quintessential quandaries: to brave the rapids in makeshift boats or to travel inland and cross Mount Hood (after 1846, on the Barlow Trail). Many lost their lives in the violent currents near Celilo. The vast majority of waterfalls featured on this website will technically be truly perennial waterfalls (those that flow all year long), but some may see their flow dwindle greatly in the late summer months. Rushing waters at the falls disoriented salmon swimming upstream to their natal streambeds, offering people the opportunity to catch the fish using nets and spears. Reference Location: Celilo Falls Area: 10.8 mile - 17.4 km radius. Waterfalls with only one drop will have the total height of the waterfall repeated here.
In 1899, seventy-six fish wheels were operating on the Columbia River, twenty of them between Five Mile Rapids and Celilo Falls. At Celilo Falls, the Columbia's riverbed constricted to a passageway as narrow as forty feet across, producing what nineteenth-century observer Alexander Ross described as "great impetuosity” where “the foaming surges dash through the rocks with terrific violence." During the post-contact period, the numbers of people declined as a result of diseases that dramatically reduced native populations. There may be variance within the range specified where the flow will be better or worse, but visiting at any time in the range specified (if available) will generally present the waterfall in its best light. This is often the most difficult figure to pin down because accurately measuring streamflow is not a simple process. Alexander Ross described it as the "great rendezvous" of native traders, as "the great emporium or mart of the Columbia. As more settlers arrived in the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s and 1940s, civic leaders advocated a system of hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River. The system of classification of waterfall forms we use is a heavily modified derivative of the classifications outlined by Greg Plumb in his "Waterfall Lover's Guide to the Pacific Northwest" books. One-half mile west from Wishram by trail to CELILO FALLS, where the Columbia River plunges 20 feet over a knife-edged precipice extending across the river. A rough estimation of how many months out of the year the stream which produces the waterfall will actually hold water. ", Celilo Falls retains great cultural significance for native peoples.  These features were formed by the Columbia River's relentless push through basalt narrows on the final leg of its journey to the Pacific Ocean. The Pitch of a waterfall is an estimated - often very roughly - measure of the average slope or steepness of a waterfall. There is no guarantee that this figure will be accurate, and in cases where there is no USGS data to use, it may be a very, very rough estimate at best. " Explorer Charles Wilkes described it as "one of the most remarkable places upon the Columbia."
This entry was last updated on Sept. 17, 2020, Celilo Falls, fishing at, colorized, Picture 008, Oreg. Waterfalls with only one drop will of have the height of only the single drop listed here. Until recently, men were the primary fishers, while women collected, cleaned, butchered, and dried the fish. The watershed which a waterfall occurs within, if it is specified, will be based on the ultimate distributary watercourse to the ocean. Additional deliniation is then applied depending on characteristics such as the breadth of the falls, whether it splits into two or more channels, whether it falls in multiple successive drops, etc. "They are never passed without dread," wrote François Blanchet in 1839.
, The main waterfall, known variously as Celilo Falls, The Chutes, Great Falls, or Columbia Falls, consisted of three sections: a cataract, called Horseshoe Falls or Tumwater Falls; a deep eddy, the Cul-de-Sac; and the main channel. Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 2005.
Stream between two tiers of a waterfall is counted in its overall height regardless of whether or not that section of the stream would be legitimately considered a waterfall on its own right, were it to be isolated.
" The Wishram people lived on the north bank, while the Wasco lived on the south bank, with the most intense bargaining occurring at the Wishram village of Nix-luidix. Pools or stretches of level stream in between two or more successive drops of the falls will not factor in this figure. One early observer, Ross Cox, noted a three-mile "succession of boiling whirlpools. This figure will not take into account the winter months when the waterfall may freeze, because in such cases the waterfall will very often be inaccessible. Hist. ", —Portland investor and civic leader Joseph Nathan Teal, at the canal's opening ceremony. During floods, this obstruction, or ledge of rocks, is covered with water, yet the passage of the narrows is not thereby improved. The information presented in this table is meant to help identify and clarify the physical aspects of the waterfall for comparative purposes. , For 15,000 years, native peoples gathered at Wyam to fish and exchange goods.
 The volume of water at Celilo Falls made The Dalles an attractive site for a new dam in the eyes of the Corps of Engineers.
 Over that length, the river dropped 82 feet (25 m) at high water and 63 feet (19 m) at low water. Maximum Width represents a hypothetical measurement of roughly how wide a waterfall could get during peak streamflow or flood conditions. Celilo Falls was one of the largest Native American fishing sites on the west coast. The volume of water present in the stream at the location of the waterfall. Directions are not available at this time. The introduction of horses in the 1730s enlarged the regional trade network even more. When The Dalles Dam’s doors closed at 10 a.m. on March 10, 1957, the falls were flooded in less than five hours, forming what is today Celilo Lake. B. Tyrell, ed., David Thompson: Narrative of his Explorations in Western America, 1784-1812 (Toronto, 1916, 496-97; "Address of Joseph Nathan Teal), The Dalles-Celilo Celebration, Big Eddy, Oregon (May 5, 1915," Oregon Historical quarterly, 16 (Fall 1916), 107-8. This blast was more than 20 tons of powder and removed 60,000 cubic yards of basalt. Celilo Falls was the largest waterfall along the Columbia River up until the mid 1950s when the falls were submerged behind the backwaters of the Dalles Dam. This stretch of rapids was about 3 miles (4.8 km) long, and the river channel narrowed to 75 feet (23 m).
We often utilize Google Earth to measure the width (where imagery is of sufficient quality and resolution to allow it. This is helpful in determining whether a waterfall may flow more consistently during certain periods of the year - streams which originate in Springs, Lakes, or Glaciers will often flow more consistently throughout the year than those fueled by simply Runoff. Ten miles (16 km) below Celilo Falls was another stretch of rapids, this one known as the Long Narrows, Five Mile Rapids, the Big (or Lower) Dalles, Les Grandes Dalles, or Grand Dalles. In 1850, the United States Army founded Fort Dalles to protect overlanders and miners who used the area as a jumping-off point to the gold and silver fields of the interior. They argued that the dams would improve navigation for barge traffic from interior regions to the ocean; provide a reliable source of irrigation for agricultural production; provide electricity for the World War II defense industry; and alleviate the flooding of downriver cities, as occurred in the 1948 destruction of Vanport City, Oregon. Boyd, Robert.  Historically, an estimated fifteen to twenty million salmon passed through the falls every year, making it one of the greatest fishing sites in North America. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005.  They built wooden platforms out over the water and caught salmon with dipnets and long spears on poles as the fish swam up through the rapids and jumped over the falls.  When the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through the area in 1805, the explorers found a "great emporium...where all the neighboring nations assemble," and a population density unlike anything they had seen on their journey. The commercial fishery used a variety of methods to harvest salmon runs, but none was as efficient as the fish wheel, a contraption introduced in 1894 that could scoop salmon from the river continuously with little human labor. The Number of Drops in a waterfall is a tally of the total number of distinct drops which make up the waterfall.
Lewis and Clark reached Celilo Falls in the late autumn when the water was relatively low, turning the falls into a major barrier. In contrast, when David Thompson passed Celilo Falls in July 1811, the high water obscured the falls and made his passage through the Columbia Gorge relatively easy.
While plumb uses eight distnct forms, we wanted further granularity and opted to break down the hierarchy twofold: first based on the overall pitch of the waterfall, and then based on what shape the fall takes as it makes its descent. , The Long Narrows and the Dalles Rapids are sometimes grouped together under names such as Grand Dalles, Les Dalles, Big Dalles, or The Dalles.