Our Daily Sykes #80 – Snake River, Lower Granite Lake

In searching for this site I skimmed  the surface of the Snake River from the mouth at the Columbia through the roughly 130 miles upstream to it’s Clearwater contributions at Lewiston/Clarkston on the Idaho-Washington border.   About 20 miles down stream from Clarkston I found the site, or believed I had.

In the slack Lower Granite Lake, behind the dam of the same name, the orchard seen here far right has been submerged, and many others that once thrived along the banks of the Snake.  (Horace Sykes took his photo ca. 1950 when the river was still running free, and the fish were not confused.) Ladders that were included with the four dams built in this stretch of the Snake between 1948, when the site was chosen for the first one, Ice Harbor ten miles above the Columbia, and 1975 when the last three – Lower Monumental, Little Goose, Lower Granite  – were dedicated.

With the opening of the locks, Lewiston and Clarkston became  ocean seaports. In the first full three-year period after this “Inland Passage” was completed, barge traffic increased through Lower Granite from 559,000 to 1,422,000 tons – by now a nearly ancient statistic, and one for which I have no recent update.  Most of this was wheat that the railroads had formerly hauled, some of it to Puget Sound ports, although the commerce of southeast Washington was almost always more tied to Portland than to Seattle/Tacoma.

The Canyon drop here is on an average about 2000 feet from the wheat fields of the Palouse above to the lake/river.  Garfield Country is south of the river and Whitman County to the north.

When I returned to Google Earth to hunt a name for the contributing gully on the right I became confused and could not find my way.   Perhaps some reader would like to try and find this place again, starting with my suggestion (only)  that it is about 20 miles down stream from Clarkston, and about 12 miles south of Pullman.

The road along the north bank of the river is called the Wawawai River  Road. Wawhy we can imagine.  (Click to Enlarge.)

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