Dismal Nitch sign
Astoria Megler Bridge
Bridge at Megler
Adams - St. Helens mountains
Adams - St. Helens mountains
Mt. Adams & Mt. St. Helens as seen from Dismal Nitch

Dismal Nitch -- Clark's


Dismal Nitch is the name assigned to this local by Lewis and Clark in 1805. As the National Park Service tells it:

On November 10th, as the party paddled past Grays Point, they saw that the steep, forested shoreline consisted of a series of coves, or "nitches", each divided from the next by a small point of land. They passed present-day Dismal Nitch (also known as Megler Cove), but as the weather again worsened, the party retreated to a sheltered cove upriver from the Dismal Nitch, approximately 600 feet north / northeast of the eastern end of the present-day "Dismal Nitch Safety Rest Area".

Rain soaked the expedition party that night, and it continued at intervals throughout the next day, November 11, 1805. Conditions worsened on November 12th; on top of rain, wind and cold came thunder, lightning and hail. Clark describes their move from the unnamed cove to the Dismal Nitch:

"As our situation became Seriously dangerous, we took the advantage of a low tide & moved our Camp around a point a Short distance to a Small wet bottom at the mouth of a Small Creek (Megler Creek), which we had observed when we first came to this cove…"

The rain continued on November 13 and 14. On the morning of November 15 Clark awoke to calm weather for the first time in 10 days. Clark describes the party's escape from what became know as the Dismal Nitch:

"About 3 oClock the wind lulled and the river became calm, I had the canoes loaded in great haste and Set Out, from this dismal nitich where we have been confined for 6 days…"

The later and better known name for the area is "Megler," as the area became the site of a fish buying station and ultimately the northern destination of ferry service from Astoria. It was also the southern terminius of the Ilwaco Railroad and Navigation Company narrow guage Railroad which operated north from Ilwaco up the Long Beach sand spit, and later south from Ilwaco to Megler which provided a deep water access to the Columbia River. The railroad failed in 1930 and was scrapped out. It was followed by car ferries from Astoria to Megler and ultimately a bridge which landed downstream of the historic Megler site at the narrow point in the River.

There is presently a rest area on the site which provides on clear days a dramatic view (see photo) of Mt. Adams hiding behind Mt. St. Helens.

- - Updated 1/03/2014