Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Part VIII Multnomah Falls and Portland

Around mile 138 we made a short stop at the beguiling Multnomah Falls. It is now owned by the Forest Service and according to one of our guides it was the most often visited site in Oregon until the opening of an Indian Casino a few years ago. 

There is path up to the bridge in this picture and another even steeper one that can take the most hearty visitors all the way to the top of precipice. 

Native Lore says that it created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a pleasant secluded place to bathe. The lower pool certainly fills the bill. 

The favorite activity of couples is to pose with the falls in the background. 
There is no evidence that the Lewis and Clark party ever saw the falls even though they are quite close to the river bank.


Just a reminder that our cruise did actually start and end in Portland, but I have re-arranged the parts of this report to follow the first journey of the Corps of Discovery down the Snake and the Columbia to the sea.  Our stay in Portland was short.  We arrived on the afternoon of Oct. 3rd. and had an introductory get acquainted dinner that night.

The following morning we had a major orientation meeting with the Road Scholar Leader/representative Roger Dammarell. 

Lunch was high in the sky at a rooftop restaurant

This is the Willamette River not the Columbia.


I tried not to look down but it was compelling.

 Although neither of them had any Lewis and Clark connection, the rest of the afternoon was taken up by visits to the acclaimed Portland Japanese Garden and a Rose Garden.

You can't have a Japanese garden without a Koi  Pond

Or a bridge over untroubled waters.

                                                                                Or a display of  Bonzai trees.

The roses were not at their peak in October, but some blooms were still going.


 Later in the afternoon we were transported to our ship.  If you need some reminders on the nature of the vessel,  you can click back to Part I.

We set sail for the upper reaches of the Columbia just as the sun was going down


That takes care of Portland. We returned to Portland on a long overnight cruise from Astoria on Oct. 11th.  Luggage was out before breakfast and shortly after we were on our way to the airport and back to Chicago.

Lewis and Clark camped in four different locations as they passed through what would be the Portland area in 1805, but to my knowledge nothing exciting broke the drive downstream.

And so on to Part IX and X that deal with the final leg of the journey and a cold damp winter by the sea. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Part VII The Bonneville Dam and Beacon Rock

The Columbia Gorge is a scenic wonderland and also a climate border. As the river punches its way through the Cascade Mountains the weather shifts from the more arid irrigation dependent upper the rain and humidity of the coast   The warmer moisture ridden ocean air hits the coastal mountains and drops its rain and snow on the western slopes.  You see this immediately in an increase in green vegetation and trees on the hills and river banks.  

Until 1896, when the Cascade Locks were constructed in this part of the Gorge, navigation remained difficult.  There could be as much as 70 feet difference in the river levels between spring and fall. The  Bonneville Dam and Lock was constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers just below the old Cascade locks and opened in  1938--the year of my birth. It has been changed and augmented over the years and is still operated by the Corps

Here's a photo of the major spillway.

Here you can see a model of the initial dam area that shows the navigation lock, Powerhouse #1, and the Spillway.  

Our visit  started with a lecture at the visitor center.

We then took an elevator down to the observation area to get an up close look at the  Bradford Island Fishway or ladder. 

From the top it looks like this.

Down below it appears like this.

Yikes, there's a big one.

Off to one side of this viewing room is a private area in which hired fish counters monitor the fish passage up the river. They count the number and identify each type of fish that goes by their window.   
After learning some more about the nature of the fish ladders and the census process, our ranger took us on a short walk to Powerhouse #1

This generating station was completed in 1938 and had additions in the early 1940's. A second powerhouse was built and went on line in 1986.  Together the two plants can create over 1200 megawatts of power.                                                                                     

The current navigation lock has only one chamber and uses the more traditional swinging doors. We are in the lock and looking upstream.

Here we are heading out of the lock and into the lower river. There are no more dams all the way through Portland, OR and to the Pacific.

A few miles downstream from the Bonneville Dam and Lock, we were able to get a nice view of Beacon Rock.  This 848 foot  basalt volcanic plug is now a Washington State Park and there is a popular  mile long switchback trail that leads to its summit. It is an important marker on the Lewis and Clark journey  not because they climbed it (neither did), but because it was while camped near there that they started to find the first measurable tides on the river.  It was now clear that they were getting closer to their final destination--the western ocean. Like many natural features this one has gone through some name changes over time.   Native Americans called it  "Che-Che-op-tin" which basically translates as "the navel of the world."   That was a pretty good comparison as the basalt plug actually was the core or belly of an ancient volcano.  Lewis and Clark first called it "Beaten Rock" probably because it was so rough and weathered. That name was changed to "Beacon" by an early editor. It was also called Castle Rock for a time before being officially named  on maps as "Beacon Rock" in 1915.  If you need more on this massive landmark check out the website below.   This site also has a wonderful picture of the river taken from the top of the summit trail.

Hey, let's run on down to Multnomah Falls.  Sorry, you'll have to wait for the next boat in Part VIII.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Part VI Cellilo Falls and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center

On Oct 22, 1805, at what is now Mile 205 from the sea on the Columbia River, Lewis and Clark camped near a  thundering set of rapids and falls. It has been called Celilo Falls more recently, but they called them the "great falls" and below is the map that William Clark drew for his journal.  

The native residents, however, had named the falls long ago. They called them   "Wy-am " meaning "echoes of falling water."  Archaeologists now know that over  thousands of years this spot had become legendary for  fishing, trading, and socializing. 
This is a view of the river at a pull off on the highway where our guide Roger Downs is lecturing about the geology of the river, its falls and rapids, and their demise.

The sign he is lecturing in front of looks like this and

on Oct. 23, 1805 William Clark wrote in his journal, ""We were obliged to let the canoes down by strong ropes of elk skins."    

And here again is that picture of the pull off  just referenced a moment ago. Those falls and rapids pictured in the previous two photos are now some 50 feet below the surface of what is now called Lake Celilo.  In 1957 a few days after the floodgates were closed at the recently finished Dalles Dam, Celilo Falls and the historic remains of two ancient Indian villages ceased to exist. The compensation paid to the native peoples for this destruction  was 26.8 million dollars. 

The waters are now calm and beautiful, but the price was high and fueled by the tears of generations.

A few more miles downstream at The Dalles  we stopped to visit the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum. It is a modern building

with a large central hall that has a basalt path of the Columbia River on the floor.

There are several rooms of exhibits dealing with the history and geology of the gorge.
 It is also home to a Raptor Center that treats injured birds of prey that can no longer live in the wild. We had a nice presentation by a young staff member.

Not too far past The Dalles Dam (around mile 178) and now in the pool created by the Bonneville Dam we passed another submerged native site.  There is not much left of a piece of land that used to be larger and used to be the Lower Memalloose Island Native Burial Site

At mile 170 we approached The Hood River Bridge, which has to be raised for larger commercial traffic. 

It was a reminder that the dams and the bridges are now king.  Commerce rules and a still vital logging industry is fueled by the still plentiful downstream forests.

Rail and auto traffic is now constant along the river.  The routes and rails have been literally blasted through the basalt.  

Next up in Part VII is a visit to the Bonneville Dam and Multnomah Falls.