Dismal Nitch, Columbia River

Dismal Nitch, Columbia River

by | Jun 18, 2019

Dismal Nitch is the name of a cove on the north shore of the lower Columbia River in Washington, about 7 miles (11 km) north of Astoria, Oregon. The cove is notable as the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s last campsite before sighting the Pacific Ocean. Today it is a rest stop on the Washington State Route 401 highway just east of the Astoria–Megler Bridge over the Columbia River.

In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition Corps of Discovery were low on supplies and traveling rapidly down the Columbia River. They planned to meet one of the last trading ships of the season, secure needed supplies, and send journals documenting their travels and discoveries to President Thomas Jefferson. On November 10, a severe winter storm struck the area forcing them off the river for six days. This delay prevented them from meeting the supply ships. The group landed in a cove on the north bank of the river that Captain William Clark called in his journals “that dismal little nitch”. After the storm passed the company moved to a better location and eventually relocated for the winter to what would become Fort Clatsop.

In the 1870s and 1880s, Joseph G. Megler operated a fish buying station in Dismal Nitch, and it in time became known as Megler Cove. In 1921, increased tourism to the nearby Long Beach Peninsula led to a car ferry linking Astoria with Megler’s dock. In 1956, Washington State Route 401 was constructed east of Megler, and the Astoria–Megler Bridge was completed in 1966. The last ferry run occurred in July of that year. In 1968 and 1969, the Washington Department of Highways demolished the ferry landing and constructed the Megler Rest Area in its place. The Megler Rest Area was renamed the Dismal Nitch Rest Area in 2005. Read more here and here. Explore more of Dismal Nitch here:

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