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Nesmith Point

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

View from Nesmith Point (Jeff Statt)
Abandoned outhouse, now collapsed, on Nesmith Point (Jeff Statt)


At 3842 feet, Nesmith Point is one of the highest points directly above the Columbia Gorge. Here you can find the ruins of a lookout tower, as well as the surviving relic of an outhouse. There is an informal trail down a little to the north to a viewpoint with fewer trees. The first lookout here was erected in 1929 and replaced in the 1930s. The lookout was dismantled in the early 1960s.

Nesmith Point is one of the easternmost representatives of the Boring Lava Field and is perhaps only a million years old. The reddish interior was exposed by the Bretz Floods, which also probably caused a massive collapse of the interior of the volcano resulting in the dense fan of debris, now forest covered, below the cliffs here.

In March 1915, the Oregon Historical Society working with the Mazamas and the Oregon Geographic Board, named the peak Mount Nesmith, noting that it was "the highest point immediately adjacent to the Columbia River between Portland and The Dalles." Later changed to Nesmith Point, the feature is named for James Willis Nesmith, a Canadian born lawyer and politician who moved to Oregon in 1843. He served as a captain in the militia forces during the Rogue River War in 1853 and the Yakima Indian War in 1855. From 1857 to 1859 he was superintendent of Indian affairs for Oregon and Washington Territories and later was elected U.S. Senator from Oregon (1861-1867) after the state achieved statehood.

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