Wallowa River

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Wallowa River
Wallowa River at Wallowa.jpg
Wallowa River at Wallowa, Oregon
Name origin: A Nez Perce word for a triangle of stakes forming part of a fish trap[1]
Country United States
State Oregon
County Wallowa and Union
 - left Lostine River, Minam River
Source Confluence of the east and west forks of the Wallowa River
 - location about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Wallowa Lake, Wallowa County, Oregon
 - elevation 4,499 ft (1,371 m) [5]
 - coordinates 45°16′28″N 117°12′42″W / 45.27444°N 117.21167°W / 45.27444; -117.21167 [4]
Mouth Grande Ronde River
 - elevation 2,316 ft (706 m)
 - coordinates 45°43′31″N 117°47′09″W / 45.72528°N 117.78583°W / 45.72528; -117.78583Coordinates: 45°43′31″N 117°47′09″W / 45.72528°N 117.78583°W / 45.72528; -117.78583 [4]
Length 55 mi (89 km) [2]
Basin 950 sq mi (2,460 km2) [3]
Discharge for Wallowa
 - average 610 cu ft/s (17 m3/s)
 - max 4,640 cu ft/s (131 m3/s)
 - min 89 cu ft/s (3 m3/s)
Wallowa River is located in Oregon
Wallowa River
Location of the mouth of the Wallowa River in Oregon
Wikimedia Commons: Wallowa River
DesignatedJuly 23, 1996

The Wallowa River is a tributary of the Grande Ronde River, approximately 55 miles (89 km) long, in northeastern Oregon in the United States. It drains a valley on the Columbia Plateau in the northeast corner of the state north of Wallowa Mountains.

The river begins at the confluence of its east and west forks, which rise in southern Wallowa County, in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of the Wallowa–Whitman National Forest. It flows generally northwest through the Wallowa Valley, past the communities of Joseph, Enterprise, and Wallowa. It receives the Minam River from the left at the hamlet of Minam. Continuing north another 10 miles (16 km), it joins the Grande Ronde along the Wallowa–Union county line about 10 miles (16 km) north-northeast of Elgin and about 81 miles (130 km) from the larger river's confluence with the Snake River.[2]

The Wallowa Valley was home to Chief Joseph's band of the Nez Perce Tribe. Chief Joseph asked the first white settlers to leave when they arrived in 1871.[6] The U.S. government expelled the tribe and seized their property and livestock in 1877,[6] when non-Indian farmers and ranchers wanted to settle the fertile Wallowa valley. The tribe was barred from returning to their homeland by the government after repeated petitions. The tribal members were shipped in unheated box cars to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) to be placed in a prisoner of war camp never to see their home again.


The Wallowa River supports populations of steelhead, spring Chinook salmon, and mountain whitefish among other species. Sockeye salmon were extirpated from the Wallowa River when a small dam was constructed at the outlet of Wallowa Lake in the headwaters of the river. The dam was constructed to raise the level of the lake to store water for irrigation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McArthur, Lewis A.; McArthur, Lewis L. (2003). Oregon Geographic Names (Seventh ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. p. 1006. ISBN 0-87595-277-1..
  2. ^ a b United States Geological Survey (USGS). "United States Geological Survey Topographic Map". TopoQuest. Retrieved July 1, 2009. The maps, which include river mile (RM) markers from the mouth to the downstream end of Wallowa Lake at RM 50 or river kilometer (RK) 80, cover the following quadrangles from mouth to source: Rondowa, Howard Butte, Minam, Wallowa, Evans, Lostine, Enterprise, Joseph NW, and Joseph.
  3. ^ "Boundary Descriptions and Names of Regions, Subregions, Accounting Units and Cataloging Units". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Wallowa River". Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). United States Geological Survey. November 28, 1980. Retrieved July 1, 2009.
  5. ^ Google Earth elevation for GNIS coordinates
  6. ^ a b Deumling, Dietrich (1972). The Roles of the Railroad in the Development of the Grande Ronde Valley. Flagstaff, Arizona: Northern Arizona University. pp. 5, 7. OCLC 4383986.

External links[edit]