Fort Lugenbeel

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Fort Lugenbeel (1856-1861) - One of three U.S. Army forts established to protect the portage around the Cascade Rapids of the Columbia River. Named after Captain (Bvt. Major) Pinkney Lugenbeel, (Cullum 1044). Abandoned in 1861.

Fort Lugenbeel Blockhouse at Cascade Rapids, 1867 (Right Middle). (University of Washington Archive).


Fort Lugenbeel was the last of three forts established to protect the required portage around the Cascade Rapids of the Columbia River, Skamania County, Washington. Fort Cascades was built at the lower end of the rapids to protect the portage road. Fort Rains was built to protect the middle section of the portage and Fort Lugenbeel was located at the beginning of the portage.

On 26 Mar 1856, a group of Yakama and Cascade Indians attacked the white settlements at the Cascades. Settlers took refuge at Fort Rains and Bradford's Store. Fort Cascades was burned to the ground.

On March 27, 40 dragoons arrived from The Dalles under Lieutenant Philip H. Sheridan. Sheridan attempted to attack Indians who were engaged in horse races at the upper landing, but his movement was compromised by the bugles from a larger force under Lieutenant Edward J. Steptoe. Gunfire was exchanged for the rest of the 27th and 28th of March, with the Indians surrendering late in the evening on 28 Mar 1856. The Yakamas fled leaving the Cascades behind. The Cascade Indians surrendered without a fight. Lt. Steptoe summarily tried and hanged nine of the Cascade Indians.

Col. Wright who had commanded the relief expedition ordered that two new blockhouses be built, one to replace the burned-out Fort Cascades and a new blockhouse at the start of the portage that became Fort Lugenbeel. Captain Winder was left with orders to defend the portage.

By August 1857 the Fort Lugebeel blockhouse and an adjacent set of officer's quarters were complete. The blockhouse was a two-story affair with a cupola on top. Each of the two stories was an open single room designed to hold troops. The separate officer's quarters (32' by 17) had three rooms one of which was a small kitchen. Colonel Joseph K.F. Mansfield on his 1858 inspection tour of Northwest forts found the fort to be manned by a sergeant and 11 privates detailed to the post. By the start of the U.S. Civil War, the troops had been withdrawn. The building continued to stand until the early 1900s.

Location: Cascade Rapids of the Columbia River
Skamania County, Washington

Maps & Images

Lat: 45.67036 Long: -121.90876

GPS Locations:

See Also:



Fortification ID:

  • WA0190 - Fort Lugenbeel

Visited: Sep 2005

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