Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Pacific Northwest


For work I and one of my work colleagues, Bob, were sent to the Columbia Gorge Area of the Pacific Northwest to do a Historic Buildings Survey (HABS) on seven little cabins located around Northwestern Lake.  After arriving in Portland, we drove east for about an hour to the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area, which divides the states of Washington and Oregon.
On our way to the cabins along State Highway 14 in Washington.

Starvation Creek is on of many hiking trail heads in the area.  This particular creek is named after the 1884 Pacific Express trail that was buried near this point under 25 feet of snow.  The passengers were stranded for three weeks.  More history of this event and the area can be found at
The lake, well really a reservoir, was created in 1915 by the creation of the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Skamania and Klickitat Counties, Washington.  A number of years ago, the company that owns the dam decided to decommission the structure and remove it.  The result: Northwestern Lake will no longer be a lake, and cabin-owner's lake-front property would revert to White Salmon river-front property.  As part of the mitigation efforts undertaken, seven cabins were determined eligible by the Washington State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  In a nut-shell, the cabins are now being documented so that future generations would know what the lake and cabins looked like. 
One of the cabins surveyed constructed c.1925

Large format photography is a HABS requirement.  This is the camera used by the photographer to shoot black and white photos of the cabins and Northwestern Lake before the lake is drained this August.

For the most part, the cabin owners that we talked to were somewhat saddened by the loss of Northwestern Lake, but looking forward to having a river in their back yard.  In on instance, a young boy told me that he was excited to go out and hunt for artifacts in the dry lake bed.  The area in general was beautiful, with over 120 tall cedar and pine trees, the call of birds, and picturesque views. 
A view of Northwestern Lake from one of the cabins surveyed.  The river will naturally flow along the banks of trees in the background.  In some cases, such as this one, the cabin will be far from the river.

This is possibly the oldest cabin (c.1915) on Northwestern Lake.  What a setting!

After work I had the chance to do a little exploring.  The Columbia Gorge Scenic Area was absolutely gorgeous!  While the Midwest was sweltering under the heat bubble, the area was a cool 65 degrees and everything was so green.  The area has great recreational opportunities including hiking and biking trails, wind surfing, kite surfing, and sailing.  Not to mention all of the breweries and wineries.  Heaven!
Bob and I enjoying ice cream (yes those are little chairs) after a hard day's work.  Bob's ice cream had Huckleberries, while mine had fresh cherries, mixed in.... Yum!!

One of the many recreational opportunities - kite surfing on the Columbia River.

One of my favorite hikes was along the Senator Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead (whew, what a name!).  The trail wound up along Mount Hood and overlooked the Columbia River.  The trail was originally the historic state highway route. In order to get through the mountains, engineers used controlled blasting to create a series of tunnels.  In the 1960s, the construction of Interstate 84 demolished many of the tunnels, but here along the Hatfeld Trail, a few of the extraordinary tunnels are still in use by hikers and bikers.  The last scenic spot Bob and I stopped at before heading back to the airport was Multnohma Falls.  The Falls was touted as the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States.  Multnohma Falls is actually made up of two waterfalls - the upper waterfall is 542 feet and a secondary waterfall 69 feet. This waterfall has been a tourist attraction since 1915.  The small concrete bridge spanning between the two falls was constructed in 1925. 
View of the Columbia River basin from the trail.  Interstate 84 snakes along the right side; Washington is to the left.

Along a scenic overlook just after the tunnel system.  The 8-mile, roundtrip, walk was worth it!

Tunnel along the historic state highway. 
Multnomah Falls

Overall, I loved this area!  The recreational and social opportunities abound.  They have so many great fruits in season, and while there I had my first taste of the Marionberry and the Huckleberry.  The people were friendly and weather perfect.  A future visit for more adventuring is already being planned....

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