The Klamath River flows for 257 miles (415 km) from a broad patchwork of lakes and marshes at the edge of the Oregon high desert, through the Cascades and the Klamath Mountains, and enters the Pacific Ocean at the community of Requa, about 52 miles (84 km) north of Eureka and 16 miles (26 km) south-southeast of Crescent City, California. Prospectors were the first to arrive here and used the river to access the mountains and the interior. Requa was settled by Europeans in 1851 and was named after a pre-colonial Native American village called Rekwoi located about 1 mile (1.6 km) upstream from today’s community. Requa is a Yurok word meaning “mouth of the creek”.
The Klamath is the most important North American river south of the Columbia River for anadromous fish. Salmon, steelhead, and rainbow trout have adapted to unusually high water temperatures and acidity levels relative to other rivers in the Pacific Northwest. The numerous fish were a major source of food for Native Americans, who have inhabited the basin for at least 7,000 years. There are at least 40 prehistoric sites in the river canyon. The river has been home to the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa, Shasta, and Klamath tribes. The river was also an attractive location for early European settlement, providing a travel corridor through the mountains. Requa was home to one of several salmon canneries for the Klamath Packing & Trading Co. which started in 1881.
The Klamath River historically had the third-largest salmon run in the continental United States, but now has only a fraction of the original fish population. The dams built on the Klamath River have been identified as one cause of the drop in salmon numbers. Eight dams were built on the river between the early 1900s and 1962 to produce hydroelectric power, and four of these will soon be removed. An agreement was signed between the dam operator PacifiCorp, the Yurok, and other stakeholders to facilitate the removals. In 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a plan for the demolition of four aging dams which may be completed by 2024. Read more here and here. Explore more of Klamath River here: