The Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge from Crown Point, Courtesy WikiMedia Commons

Columbia River Gorge from Crown Point, Courtesy WikiMedia Commons


My first trip along the Columbia River, the border between Oregon and Washington, cam after a drive from Seattle to Portland. Next, incongruously we boarded a paddleboat for a trip through a portion of the massive gorge, carved eons ago by ice-age  floods. From the deck, we watched parasailors catch the wind as the boat meandered through the stunning gorge.

To a New Englander,the Columbia salmon fishery is a marvel of planning and organization with its farm-raised salmon hatcheries. We also passed netted salmon blinds on small docks high above the shore—all that is left of the rights of Indians to fish in the traditional manner. Only later did we learn how the Bonneville and other dams had decimated the Indian’s supply of salmon by taming the wild Columbia in order to produce cheap electricity for nearly one third of the U.S.

In Maine, mandated cutbacks in allowable fishing days have brought hardship to fishermen as conservationists work to replenish stocks of cod, halibut, tuna, and swordfish. With no big fish to eat them, the lobster population proliferates.  Fishermen must still maintain their boats and equipment, and deal with changing fuel costs as the price of lobster declines..

Sightseeing by car the next day, we climbed the  620 foot high Multnomah Falls trail and worked up an appetite for a tasty lunch at the Timberlake Lodge at the base of Mt Hood. At the lodge, a project of the WPA in 1936, a docent pointed out the detailed work of the artisans; the forged metal, the now unobtainable hand-hewn wood mantels fashioned from thick Douglas fir. Skilled artisans made $.90 an hour, unskilled labor brought $.50 an hour.

My love affair with the Pacific Northwest keeps growing. Where is your favorite spot on earth?

2 responses

    • Thanks Bruce i’m an East Coaster but am writing a memoir about my father, Hans Pederson, a major pioneer Seattle builder. A mystery, really, because he died when I was one month old. I knew nothing about him so have made several research trips to Seattle. I’d probably move there if I could shed a few decades.

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