I knew that Memaloose Island was a sacred burial place for Native Americans in this area, but I wasn't aware of the story behind the monument. It marks the grave of a white settler, Victor Trevitt, who also had a significant place in local history. The folks at Historic the Dalles tell the story well, so I won't rewrite it. It's an interesting read.
The Native American remains were relocated when Bonneville Dam waters covered much of the island, but Trevitt's monument is still there.
Keep in mind this is "Lower" Memaloose Island. The other was up the river beyond The Dalles. I do not know for fact, but was told many years ago that the Indian remains that were removed from there were taken to that Indian cemetry that is across the Columbia at The Dalles. The cemetery is located not too far from the Washington end of the bridge. Does anyone know this for fact?
Charlott on 30th July 2015 @ 7:15am
I would like to see a then and now photo of those hills on the Washington side.
I have read that the 1894 flood covered much of Memaloose Island. I wonder how high it was compared to the Bonneville pool?
L.E. on 30th July 2015 @ 8:07am
I just drove to The Dalles this morning and the mouth of the Klickitat River is full of buzzards. I wonder what Memaloose Island used to be like?
l.e. on 30th July 2015 @ 9:55am
This is from the memories of Ira Rowland who was born at Lyle in 1873.
From the Mt Adams Sun.
Thanks to Jeffrey Elmer for making available online.
"I was just a little bare foot kid standing near the Columbia river one Sunday afternoon when a sad and solemn thing happened Two river steamers, the Hassalo and the Mountain Queen hove into site. Their flags were flying at half mast. I watched them stop in mid-stream, off a Memaloose, The Island of the Dead, below Lyle.
"Now I have been over to Memaloose and I knew what it was like; a small island of about ten or fifteen acres where the Indians took their dead. It was half covered with skulls and bones. It was the Indian custom to wrap their dead and leave them on Memaloose and the possessions they had the most prized in life. The idea was then they would have their things to take with them up to be Happy Hunting Grounds. If it happened to be a fine horse the Indian had valued, the horses were shot and taken to Memaloose with its dead master.
"We never went on the windward side of the island if we could help it. The stench of the dead was terrific. But there were lots of interesting things to be seen on a Memaloose; old flintlock muskets, gold pieces, beads and many other things. But there was always that awful smell and hundreds of skulls staring out of empty eyes.
"Quite a large party of folks got off the river steamers. They let down a coffin. In it was the body of Victor Trivett an oldtime Columbia River captain. His last request was to be buried on Memaloose Island with the Indians. He considered them the most honest people in the world.
"The party from the steamers built a vault of basalt rock and concrete and put Victor Trevitt's body in it. They put an eight foot stone monument on top of the vault. The inscription on it reads: 'Here he lies among honest men'. You can see the monument to this day from the Evergreen Highway, just after you pass Major Creek.
"I visited Memaloose lots of times in the old days before the high waters washed away so many relics and people looted so much of the stuff. There was a big skull there that always interested me. I would sure have liked to have seen the man it belonged to when he was alive. My uncle, Green Rowland, measured it. It was thirteen inches from jawbone to jawbone. There was a bullet hole in the forehead, so we always knew how of the giant died."
L.E. on 30th July 2015 @ 4:33pm
When I traveled to The Dalles today, I passed the cemetery where many of the bones from Memaloose were supposedly buried in a mass grave.
The cemetery is on the east side of Highway 197 at Dallesport.
I always thought it was such a barren, lonely place.
L.E. on 30th July 2015 @ 4:55pm
Looks to be the old hwy 8 midway up the hill- with the rail road along the river-
Guessing some of this property is the " sauter " family. A visible home site is clear- Quite a clean looking fence line down the hillside-
Steve r on 31st July 2015 @ 7:20pm
You can see my zoomed pic of Trevitt's gravestone here from Google earth: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/74333979?source=wapi&referrer=kh.google.com
The gravestone and base are about 13 feet high combined--quite impressive when you are close-up. The Indian remains were unearthed here and first moved to Upper Memaloose, and then subsequently moved to the Indian Cemetery LE mentions when The Dalles Dam was being built. This was a huge big deal with extensive newspaper coverage in the day. The more interesting story though is about Grave Island near The Dalles Dam, but that involves extensive lies by the OR Historical Society about the provenance of their artifacts...so maybe we'll leave that for another day or another book huh :-)
Scott Cook on 3rd August 2015 @ 10:58pm
Yeah ... Yeah.....!
That's it !
No doubt a google earth image ...
Steve r on 4th August 2015 @ 9:57pm