Donner und Blitzen River

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Donner und Blitzen River
Donner und Blitzen River, Harney County, Oregon.jpg
Donner und Blitzen River near Page Springs campground
Donner und Blitzen River is located in Oregon
Donner und Blitzen River
Location of the mouth of the Donner und Blitzen River in Oregon
EtymologyGerman for thunder and lightning. Given in 1864 by soldiers who crossed the river during a thunderstorm.[2]
CountryUnited States
Physical characteristics
Sourcesouthwest of Steens Mountain
 ⁃ locationHarney County, Oregon
 ⁃ coordinates42°32′02″N 118°43′52″W / 42.53389°N 118.73111°W / 42.53389; -118.73111[1]
 ⁃ elevation6,527 ft (1,989 m)[3]
MouthMalheur Lake
 ⁃ location
Harney County, Oregon
 ⁃ coordinates
43°17′30″N 118°49′12″W / 43.29167°N 118.82000°W / 43.29167; -118.82000Coordinates: 43°17′30″N 118°49′12″W / 43.29167°N 118.82000°W / 43.29167; -118.82000[1]
 ⁃ elevation
4,101 ft (1,250 m)[1]
Length60 mi (97 km)[4]
Basin size791 sq mi (2,050 km2)[6]
 ⁃ location3.5 miles (5.6 km) southeast of Frenchglen[5]
 ⁃ average126 cu ft/s (3.6 m3/s)[5]
 ⁃ minimum4.2 cu ft/s (0.12 m3/s)
 ⁃ maximum4,270 cu ft/s (121 m3/s)
DesignatedOctober 28, 1988

The Donner und Blitzen River[needs IPA] is a river on the eastern Oregon high desert which drains a relatively arid basin, the southern portion of Harney Basin, from roughly 20 to 80 miles (30 to 130 km) south-southeast of Burns including Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Though much of its course is marsh, it offers scenic glaciated canyons, unique ecosystems, and exceptional wild trout fisheries.[7] Named by soldiers of German origin, the Donner und Blitzen River translates as "thunder and lightning".[8] The name usually brings to mind two of Santa Claus' reindeer,[9] but the river is named for a thunderstorm the soldiers experienced as they crossed the river;[2] dry lightning is an almost daily occurrence in the region during certain times of the year.

The Donner und Blitzen River arises as an intermittent stream on the lower slopes west of Steens Mountain at the 6,500-foot (2,000 m) level at 42°32′02″N 118°43′52″W / 42.533779°N 118.731023°W / 42.533779; -118.731023 (Donner und Blitzen River source), roughly 80 miles (130 km) south-southeast of Burns and 11 miles (18 km) northwest of Alvord Lake and empties at 43°17′30″N 118°49′12″W / 43.291542°N 118.8199273°W / 43.291542; -118.8199273 (Donner und Blitzen River mouth) into Malheur Lake.[3][1] Numerous nearby springs create its tributaries including South Fork Blitzen River,[10] Little Blitzen River, Big Indian Creek, Little Indian Creek, Fish Creek, Mud Creek, and Ankle Creek. It collects these and runs north or northwest descending rapidly to the plateau floor then turns northward to Malheur Lake which has no outlet. It does not pass through any cities, though it comes within 2 miles (3.2 km) of Frenchglen.

In 1988, 72.7 miles (117.0 km) of rivers in its basin were designated Wild and Scenic, and another 14.8 miles (23.8 km) were added in 2000.[7] The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) lists seven temperature impairments on the river system.[11] The maximum recorded flow of 4,270 cubic feet per second (121 m3/s) occurred on April 26, 1978, and was extrapolated from a calibrated value of 1,900 cu ft/s (54 m3/s). The minimum recorded flow 4.2 cu ft/s (0.12 m3/s) occurred December 9, 1972, caused by widespread freezing.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Donner und Blitzen River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. November 28, 1980. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  2. ^ a b McArthur, Lewis A.; McArthur, Lewis L. (2003) [1928]. Oregon Geographic Names (7th ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. p. 297. ISBN 978-0875952772.
  3. ^ a b Source elevation derived from Google Earth search using GNIS source coordinates.
  4. ^ "Donner und Blitzen River". The Columbia Gazetteer of North America. Columbia University Press via 2000. Archived from the original on July 2, 2004. Retrieved December 19, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Water-data report 2007: USGS 10396000 Donner und Blitzen River near Frenchglen, OR" (pdf). United States Geological Survey (USGS). 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  6. ^ National Resources Conservation Service (2006). "Donner und Blitzen – 17120003 8-Digit Hydrologic Unit Profile" (pdf). U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved December 18, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b "Wild and Scenic Rivers System". National Park System. January 7, 2005. Retrieved August 8, 2006.
  8. ^ Stefoff, Rebecca (1 September 2005). Oregon. Marshall Cavendish. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-7614-2022-4.
  9. ^ Jouris, David (1994). All Over the Map: An Extraordinary Atlas of the United States. Ten Speed Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-89815-649-1. Retrieved December 18, 2008.
  10. ^ The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) lists source and mouth coordinates for the Donner und Blitzen River that include the South Fork as part of the main stem. In this article, Donner und Blitzen River refers to the full length of the river between those sets of coordinates.
  11. ^ "Total Maximum Daily Loads (Section 303(d) List Fact Sheet) for Watershed Donner und Blitzen". United States Environmental Protection Agency. 1998. Retrieved August 8, 2006.
  12. ^ "National Water Systems Information Interface". USGS. Retrieved August 8, 2006.

External links

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX