What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

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chameleon
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What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

Post by chameleon » November 5th, 2011, 7:24 pm

So, in my quest to better understand the history of the Gorge, I picked up a 19th century text at Powell's a few weeks ago. In it, the author describes a waterfall I'd love to see. It was not in the Gorge, but rather a short ways north in WA. The author was camped on the "Palux River." I looked on a map, and today the spelling has changed to Palix. Oddly though, the map does not indicate that there is a waterfall anywhere on it.

Here is the description of what this author saw in the 1850's though:

"The falls are a succession of cataracts from ten to twenty feet high, and the whole fall of the river is some two hundred feet. Although there was not much water, the scene was fine, and, could it be viewed when the river was full, must be magnificent."

If that doesn't sound pretty cool, I don't know what does. Does anyone have any information on this falls? I couldn't find anything online about it.

Thanks!

-Zach

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pyles_94
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Re: What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

Post by pyles_94 » November 7th, 2011, 9:38 pm

I'm not finding the river on the map. It points to a bay on the coast in WA?? The falls sound cool, albeit nowhere near the gorge if Google map is right
Jamey Pyles

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chameleon
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Re: What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

Post by chameleon » November 8th, 2011, 12:09 am

Yep, that's the river Jamey. And you're right, it's not near the Gorge. The book I found it in though deals with the Northwest in a general way, and the author does make a trip down to the Columbia at one point. It provides a neat window into the lives of the coastal tribes and political maneuverings of European-American settlers back then. And a lot of it (especially the Native American elements) would have been very similar to the goings on in the Gorge.

The waterfall on the Palux sounds really neat. And in the process of describing his trip into it, he also sheds light on the origin of the name "devil's club." He writes:

"After we had eaten our dinners we started up the stream to see the falls, which were a few miles distant. We found this rather a tough job, as the bed of the river was full of fallen trees, old logs, and rocks. As we approached the falls, we had to clamber up the steep sides of the banks, which were covered with a growth of shrubbery similar in appearance to sumach, and having its stems covered with sharp thorns, which readily pierce the flesh, and sting like nettles. The name given to this most villainous shrub is the Devil's walking stick."

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Re: What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

Post by Sore Feet » November 8th, 2011, 1:03 pm

This is the first I've heard of it. There aren't many waterfalls in that part of the state, but it does appear like there is something to be found on the North Fork of the Palix about 2/3 of a mile above tidewater. There are six or seven very clearly visible white marks along the river in that canyon that can be seen on Google Earth. The valley upstream of the canyon is at 128 feet ASL and tidewater is at the mouth of the canyon, so there's about 120 feet worth of loss taking place in there. Looks to me like two drops, then the river makes a 90 degree left turn and drops four more times back-to-back.

I do not expect getting in there will be very easy.

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Re: What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

Post by chameleon » November 8th, 2011, 2:41 pm

Interesting Bryan! Here is a detail from the foldout map included in the book. The Palux River is in the middle there, and he does specify in the book that it was on the north fork. This is the area in 1857.
map detail palux river.jpg

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Re: What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

Post by alton » July 25th, 2012, 11:56 pm

Nice post. I like it. Thanks for sharing these information. Keep it up. :roll: :lol:
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Re: What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

Post by forester » July 26th, 2012, 6:47 pm

We're looking near 46.605870, -123.864525, right?

The GE images are old and grainy, the Bing images on ArcGIS Explorer are better. Looks like 3 chunks of whitewater and maybe a couple others hidden in the shadows. Also, the differences between the older Google maps and the newer Microsoft maps shows a great deal of clear-cutting happening, so quite a bit of that may be on private property.

From the west side, you're looking at a 400' change in elevation over about 700 feet of ground. Pretty steep. Nothing down there looks huge, so it had better be the prettiest small falls you've ever seen to make it worth the effort.
Last edited by forester on July 29th, 2012, 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

Post by Sore Feet » July 29th, 2012, 12:11 am

Yeah that's the spot. Bing certainly has better resolution images for a lot of places, but I usually stick with GE because it's more accessible and intuitive, and they have imagery for the whole planet rather than just the US. Plus I hate Bing just on principal - though the Birds Eye images are damn impressive and something I need to take more advantage of.

I don't know that what Bing shows for the falls on the Palix River would provide any more beta for someone who wanted to check it out, save for the fact that there are clear cuts all around it now. I'm not sure whether Weyerhauser still allows recreational use of their land down in that part of the state, but if their policy hasn't changed from the past, it may be possible to get in there on the weekends.

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Re: What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

Post by clintqh » June 11th, 2021, 8:33 pm

The falls are there, though not easy to get to. My parents live just a couple of miles north on the next river (the Niawiakum.) The falls on the Palix are a deceptively long paddle upriver and can only be done at high tide as much of the river is blocked by logs. The name "Palux” is actually the Chinook word for "tree covered river.” There is a boat ramp right off US101 where you can put in.

As far as I know there is no real way of hiking to it. Most the nearby roads have locked gates on them.

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Re: What happened to the "Falls of the Palux River?"

Post by Webfoot » June 12th, 2021, 4:51 pm

Welcome clintqh, and thank you.

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