USGS Logo Geological Survey Bulletin 581—B
Oil and Gas in the Western Part of the Olympic Peninsula, Washington



The area examined, which is shown on Plate II (p. 78), lies on the west slope of the Olympic Peninsula (see fig. 1) and is bounded by meridians 123° 45' and 124° 40' W. and parallels 47° 8' and 48° N. It is approximately 60 miles long, from north to south, and about 25 miles wide from east to west.

The southern part of the field, extending as far north as the Clearwater River basin, is most easily accessible from the Northern Pacific Railway, which has its western terminus at Moclips, situated on the coast at the mouth of Moclips River and approximately 163 miles by rail from Seattle. Taholah, a small Indian village at the mouth of Queniult River, and other settlements along Queets and Clearwater rivers can be most easily visited by following the beach at low tide to the mouths of these streams. There is a fairly good wagon road from Moclips to Taholah, but northward from this place almost to the northern edge of the area shown on Plate II, in the vicinity of Forks and Quillayute, there are no wagon roads. Persons desiring to enter this country must either travel on foot or horseback along the beach and the very poor trails which lead into the interior. The settlements along the rivers are, however, most easily reached from the mouths of the streams by means of canoes. An automobile stage connects Aberdeen and Hoquiam with Humptulips. Between Humptulips and Queniult Lake there is a poor wagon road, but the State is now constructing a highway, which, it is planned, will be extended northwestward to the vicinity of Clallam Bay and from that locality eastward around the peninsula.

The settlements on Hoh River and also those in the vicinity of Forks and Quillayute are tributary to Seattle by way of Clallam Bay. A daily mail stage connects Mora, a few miles from the coast on Quillayute River, and Forks, in the northern part of T. 28 N., R. 13 W., with Clallam Bay, which has daily steamer connections with ports on Puget Sound. Clallam Bay is estimated to be approximately 125 miles by boat from Seattle. It is 31 miles or a day's ride by stage from Clallam Bay to Forks, at the northern extremity of the field. The principal trails in the interior of the field are shown on the map (Pl. II, p. 78). Away from these trails traveling is exceedingly difficult and in many places almost impossible on account of the dense growth of timber and underbrush.

FIGURE 1.—Index map of western Washington, showing location of area examined.


This field is included in one of the areas of greatest rainfall in the United States. At Tatoosh Island, just off Cape Flattery, 25 or 30 miles northwest of this area, the mean annual rainfall for 22 years is about 88 inches. Near the center of this field, at Clearwater post office, the average annual rainfall for 10 years is a little more than 128 inches. The mean annual precipitation at Aberdeen, which is situated about 15 miles south of the field, for a period covering 11 years, is in excess of 86 inches. From these figures it seems safe to assume that the mean annual rainfall in the area shown on Plate II is at least 100 inches. The natural result of this great precipitation, combined with a mean temperature of about 49° F. and extremes of temperature ranging from 11° to 100° F., is that dense forests of spruce, fir, cedar, and hemlock, with an almost impenetrable growth of underbrush, consisting of salal brush, salmon berry, devil's club, and other bushes, cover the greater part of the field, with the exception of a few comparatively small "burns" and "prairies." The latter name is applied to open spaces in the forests where the larger vegetation has not existed recently and where considerable farming is carried on. Good examples of these are the Humptulips and Forks "prairies," situated at the south and north ends of the field, respectively.

The large annual precipitation above mentioned necessarily makes all the streams perennial. Humptulips, Queniult, Queets, Clearwater, Hoh, Quillayute, Bogachiel, Calawa, and Soleduck rivers and many of the larger creeks are navigable for canoes throughout the greater part of their courses in this field, and many of them can be used to good advantage as logging streams. Hoh River, which has the highest gradient and swiftest current, is rather dangerous for canoeing, especially in its upper course. Logging is extensively carried on along Humptulips River. Moclips River, which is a comparatively small stream, flows through an excellent cedar forest and is used to float shingle bolts to the mill which is situated at Moclips, near the mouth of the stream.

Queniult Lake, situated at the east end of the Queniult Indian Reservation, is about 200 feet above sea level and has an area of approximately 6 square miles. It derives its water from the upper part of Queniult River, Canoe Creek, and several smaller streams, and is drained by the lower part of Queniult River.

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Last Updated: 28-Mar-2006