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Klamath River
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Klamath River

The Klamath River, approximately 250 mi (400 km) long, is a major river of the Pacific coast in southern Oregon and northern California in the United States. It drains an arid farming valley in its upper reaches, passing swiftly through the mountains in its lower reaches before emptying into the ocean. It is one of only three rivers that pass through the Cascade Range and the second longest river in California.

Table of contents
1 Description
2 History
3 See also
4 External links


It issues from the southern end of Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon just above the town of Klamath Falls. It flows roughly southwestward into northern California, passing through the Klamath Mountains and along the southern side of the Siskiyou Mountains. It enters the Pacific at Klamath in northern Humboldt County, approximately 20 mi (32 km) SSE of Crescent City.

The watershed of the river above Upper Klamath Lake is fed primarily by the Williamson River and its tributaries, including the Sprague River, which stretch into south central Oregon west of the Cascades. In California, it receives the Shasta River from the south approximately 10 mi (16 km) south of Yreka, the Scott River from the south in central Siskiyou County, and the Salmon River from the east along the border between Siksyou and Humboldt counties, and the Trinity River from the south at Weitchpec in northern Humboldt County.

Below Klamath Falls, the water of the river, along with that of the nearby Lost River, is extensively diverted for irrigation as part of the Klamath Irrigation District.Much of the lower course of the river in California is within the Klamath National Forest. The lower course of the river in northern Humboldt passes through the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation and the Yurok Indian Reservation.


The name of the river comes from a Native American word klamet meaning "swiftness". It provided a significant passage for the nearby Native American tribes to pass through the Cascades. Archeological evidence in the valley suggests it has been inhabited for at least 7,000 years. The area is considered sacred by both the Shasta Nation and the Klamath tribes. The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum in Berkeley, California contains a collection of carvings from tribes in the regions.

An 11-mile section of the river in Oregon south of Klamath Falls to the California-Oregon border, including the Hell's Corner Gorge, has been designated as the Klamath Wild and Scenic River.

The river is considered a prime habitat for king salmon, coho salmon, silver salmon, steelhead trout, and rainbow trout. Once the third-largest producer of salmon on the West Coast, the river has produced only a fraction of its historic runs since the construction of six dams built between 1908 and 1962. The possible removal of the dams has been a controversial issue in the region in recent years. Despite intense lobbying by locatl Native American tribes, conservationists, and fisherment, the 2004 renewal application by PacifiCorp for the federal operating licence for the dams did not include any provisions for restoring the runs around the dams.

A separate controversy on the river surrounds the removal of water from the Upper Klamath Lake for agriculture, which was temporarily halted in 2001, has fueled a political battle between conservationists and farmers in the Klamath Irrigation District.

See also

External links