Condit Dam History – Part 1

When looking back over the human history that surrounds the White Salmon River and Condit Dam, it is easy to forget that the lower river had been used for thousands of years by Klickitat people (and their predecessors) for harvesting salmon, steelhead and perhaps Pacific lamprey.  Some historians have estimated the native American population at Nakipanic (the village site at Husum Falls, now Husum) was several hundred.  Given that, there were more people living in the Husum town center before 1855 (date of the Yakima Treaty) than there are today.  This concentration of people lends strong support to the presence of a large and vibrant community before homesteading… perhaps more vibrant than today’s.  While construction of Condit Dam in 1913 spelled the certain end of the fishery above river mile 3.2 (i.e., Condit Dam), it’s likely that the 1855 treaty that resulted in translocation of people north to the Yakama reservation, spelled the real end of the fishery and an early way of life on the White Salmon.  The photo at left (taken from Williams “Guardians of the Columbia”, 1912), shows Jacob Hunt, who was born and lived his life in Nakipanic.

5 thoughts on “Condit Dam History – Part 1

  1. Thanks for reminding readers about the original inhabitants of this area! Newspaper accounts of dam removal often describe the concerns of nearby property owners and the loss of Northwestern Lake, but overlook the much deeper losses suffered by earlier residents of this area.

  2. Thats My great great grandfather in that photo!~ Jake Hunt.
    I remember my grampa Virgil Hunt talking about the fishing ways long ago and how they could walk on the salmon!! I’ve heard of the old sweats they would do, have a sweat lodge in the cliffs, then jump into Columbia river!!
    I am so Proud to be born into this family! I thanked my mom and told her i was a proud daughter before she passed into the Spirit World~ she now lies in the same family cemetery as her ancestors and great grandfather Jake Hunt!

    Jake Hunt is also the founder if the Feather Religion.
    Was known to lead 2 military expeditions into the Cascade mountains to fight non~natives.
    Was acknowledged as being the oldest soul to live on the Columbia river.


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