Fort Rains

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Fort Rains (1855-1867) - A blockhouse built in Oct 1855 to defend the Middle Cascades. The location of this structure was on the north bank of the Columbia above the present site of the Bonneville Dam and below the Bridge of the Gods. Fort Rains was named for Major Gabriel Rains (Cullum 482) who supervised the construction.

Fort Rains Blockhouse, circa 1870 (University of Washington Archive)
Fort Rains Blockhouse, 1867 (University of Washington Archive)


Fort Rains was one of three forts established to protect the required portage around the Cascade Rapids of the Columbia River. 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 27 Mar, 40 dragoons arrived from Fort Dalles under Lieutenant Philip H. Sheridan. Sheridan attempted to attack Indians 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, 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. Steptoe summarily tried and hanged nine of the Cascade Indians.

The military finally abandoned Fort Rains on 6 Nov 1861. Private owners took over the property in 1867. A flood destroyed all three blockhouses in 1876.

Location: Just east of Bonneville Dam on the North Side
of the Columbia River, Skamania County, Washington.

Maps & Images

Lat: 45.65424 Long: -121.92184

  • Multi Maps from ACME
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  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: Unknown

GPS Locations:

See Also:



Fortification ID:

  • WA0270 - Fort Rains

Visited: Sep 2005

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