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Wallowa River
Wallowa Lake and the town of Joseph, seen from the top of Mt Howard. The Wallowa River flows out of the lake through the treed bottomlands.
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
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) [2]
 - coordinates 45°16′28″N 117°12′42″W / 45.27444°N 117.21167°W / 45.27444; -117.21167 [3]
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; -117.78583 [3]
Length 55 mi (89 km) [4]
Location of the mouth of the Wallowa River in Oregon

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. It rises in southern Wallowa County, in the Wallowa Mountains 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 south at the hamlet of Minam, then flows north another 10 miles (16 km) to join the Grande Ronde along the Wallowa–Union county line approximately 10 miles (16 km) north-northeast of Elgin and about 81 miles (130 km) from the larger river's confluence with the Snake River.

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.[5] The government expelled the tribe in 1877,[5] when non-Indian farmers and ranchers wanted to settle the fertile Wallowa valley.


The Wallowa River supports populations of steelhead, spring chinook salmon, 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


  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. ^ Google Earth elevation for GNIS coordinates
  3. ^ a b "Wallowa River". Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). United States Geological Survey. November 28, 1980. Retrieved July 1, 2009.  
  4. ^ 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 source to the downstream end of Wallowa Lake at RM 50 or river kilometer (RK) 80, cover the following quadrants from mouth to source: Rondowa, Howard Butte, Minam, Wallowa, Evans, Lostine, Enterprise, Joseph NW, and Joseph.
  5. ^ a b Deumling, Dietrich (1972-05). The roles of the railroad in the development of the Grande Ronde Valley (masters thesis). Flagstaff, Arizona: Northern Arizona University. pp. 5,7. OCLC 4383986.  


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