Columbia River Facts

Columbia River Facts
The Columbia River is the fourth-largest river in the United States by volume, flowing 1,243 miles from British Columbia, Canada to the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. The Columbia River's watershed (area of land that is drained by the river) is 259,000 square miles and drains parts of seven states and the Canadian province British Columbia. The Columbia River has served as a transportation route since ancient times, as well as a source for drinking water, irrigation, and fishing. It is believed that the Columbia River basin was formed at the end of the last ice age when melting ice formed ice dams and periodic flooding, approximately 12,000 to 19,000 years ago.
Interesting Columbia River Facts:
The Columbia River watershed has been inhabited by people for as many as 15,000 years. A 9,000 year old skeleton was found in 1996, known as Kennewick Man, near Kennewick in Washington.
The Columbia River was named for Captain Robert Gray's ship the Columbia Rediviva. It has also been known as Big River, River Oregon, and the River of the West.
The Columbia River region was inhabited by Native Americans and explorers began arriving in the region in the 1700s, including Alexander Mackenzie in 1793. In the early 1800s Lewis and Clark arrived in the Oregon region and discovered the Natives had already engaged in trade with foreigners.
Many believe that explorers from Asia reached the west coast as early as 219BC but there is no proof that they reached the Columbia River.
Fishing has been an important activity in the Columbia River for as long as the region has been inhabited. It is estimated that prehistoric figures of steelhead and salmon reached 10 to 16 million whereas in the 1980s it was only approximately 3.2 million.
Of the 1,243 miles of Columbia River, 498 are located in Canada.
There are 14 hydroelectric dams along the Columbia River. The Columbia River is responsible for one-third of the hydro potential in the United States. There are also more than 450 other dams in the Columbia River watershed.
The Columbia River's largest dam is the Grand Coulee Dam at 500 feet tall.
The three dams on the Columbia River that are located in Canada are the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, the Duncan Dam, and the Mica Dam.
The Columbia River flows through British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.
The main tributaries of the Columbia River include Spillimacheen River, Beaver River, Illecillewaet River, Incomappleux River, Kootenay River, Pend Oreille Rover, Spokane River, Snake River, John Day River, Deschutes River, Willamette River, Kicking Horse River, Blaeberry River, Canoe River, Kettle River, Sanpoil River, Okanogan River, Entiat River, Wenatchee River, Yakima River, Lews River, and Kalama River.
Columbia River flows through many major cities including Revelstoke, Tri-Cities, Portland, Vancouver (WA), Longview, and Astoria.
The fishing industry and water quality of the Columbia River has been greatly affected by environmental pollution.
The Manhattan Project beginning in the 1940s resulted in radioactive material being released into Columbia River. The nuclear reactors have leaked waste that is now traveling by groundwater to the river.

Related Links:
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Lewis and Clark Expedition Timeline
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