This book includes a plain text version that is designed for high accessibility. To use this version please follow this link.
Columbia River Highway: historic road to trail

By Linea Gagliano and Robert Hadlow Travel Oregon/Oregon Tourism Commission


t its dedication on June 7, 1916, the Columbia River Highway was touted by the Illustrated London News as the “King of

Roads.” As America’s first scenic highway, it is one of the most significant historic roads in the nation. Many praised the highway at its completion for its wonderful bridges— each an architectural gem— its magnificent waterfalls, and its stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge. This narrow two-lane road connected travelers with

resplendent overlooks offering views of the Columbia River Gorge and the impressive waterfalls that dot its landscape, including Multnomah Falls (one of the most visited natural sites in Oregon). It also connected the smaller communities of Cascade Locks, Hood River, Mosier, and The Dalles with Portland, the regional center of commerce. The increasing popularity of the automobile and freight

trucks in the 1920s pushed this scenic road to its limits. The Oregon State Highway Department began planning for a new water-level route along the Columbia River, the location of today’s Interstate 84. Construction began at the end of World War II and by 1953 a new two-lane route was open as far east as The Dalles. The second two lanes were completed by 1970. The state highway department preserved two long segments of the his- toric highway, from the Sandy River to Ainsworth in the west and from Mosier to The Dalles in the east. But the department abandoned much of the roadway in between, and filled in Mitchell Point Tunnel and the Mosier Twin Tunnels. The abandoned segments began to be overtak- en by weeds, moss, and crumbling walls.

8 SPRING 2015 continued on page 10

Moffett Creek Bridge along the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail; photos courtesy of ODOT Photo and Video Services

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40