(Please remember to click your mouse on these images – sometimes twice – to enlarge them.) How many waterways are there this size in the American West? A highway – far right – runs to Horace’s side. What seems like a huge sandbar with piles of itself directs the flow around itself, it seems, and against the steep incline beyond it, which is dappled with dark evergreens as are some Okanogan Mountains. For instance, there is a hillside vaguely like this directly across the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers from Brewster – see the now-then below – that has a scattered forest clinging to its side. The comparison below is lifted from Jean’s and my book Washington Then and Now.
The principal difference between the original and its repeat in the above comparison is the Wells Dam, which flooded the Columbia with a slack-water Lake Pateros behind it that reaches upstream beyond Brewster. The new dam started producing electricity in the summer of 1967, aka, in some places, as “the summer of love.”
And now taking my own Okanogan clue I have found it with thrills and the help of Google Earth. Horace is looking west-southwest from the north bank of the Columbia about five miles downstream from Brewster. He is looking at the point – at the eastern end of the town of Pateros – where the “Big Bend” in the Columbia begins its crooked flow to the south for 100 miles (as the crow covers the distance) to the Priest Rapid dams where the river heads roughly east to take on the contributions of the Snake River before making its next big bend and heading west to the Pacific. (For that part of the river search here – or almost anywhere – for Wallula Gap.) Here that badly called (by me) “sandbar” is not pushing the river to the right because the Columbia turns left before reaching it – or where it reaches it. The “incline” dappled with evergreens is Goat Mount, which at 5,300 feet rises an impressive 4,500 feet above the river. It is but five miles from Pateros to the summit of what is – if I have read the elevations correctly – the highest mountain to rise from the Columbia at least through these 100 miles but probably many more. Directly below I have grabbed the Google Earth look with Horace’s side-by-side. The scale is different (and the yellow grid lines are an embarrassment I am momentarily stuck with) but the repeat of the features – including the “sandbar” – are obvious. (Now I wonder if that “sandy” part where the river turns was desposited there during the great ice age floods that carved the Grand Coulee. Here I imagine that pile of “sand” was left as a filtered sediment where the river turned suddenly because it could not push through Goat Mountain. It is to be hoped that among our readers there is a Pateros geologist.) That is US Highway 97 on the right of the Daily Sykes at the top.