March Header
In This Issue:

--History Pub at Kennedy School on March 29 features the Historic Columbia River Highway. 

 --Cultural Landscape Inventory. What is it?
--Check out who ranks the Columbia River Gorge as a world class destination. 
--Join the Gorge Bike Ride
--Summer I-84 & SR 14 Construction tips
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"On starting the surveys, our first business was to find the beauty spots, or those points where the most beautiful things along the line might be seen in the best advantage, and if possible to locate the road in such a way as to reach them."
Samuel C. Lancaster
HCRH Engineer
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Historic Columbia River Highway Facts
First major paved road in the Pacific Northwest

It was originally paved with "Warrenite," an early, patented asphalt material.
Soon after construction it was hailed "King of Roads - America's Greatest Highway"
For many years it was the only road between Portland and The Dalles
The Vista House was opened in 1918. 


children overlooking the Old Highway

Imagine crafting a national treasure on a landscape so revered that each viewpoint is protected, the design and material in complete harmony with the natural elements, and the creation so good that people come from all over the world to marvel at its perfection.
This is the Historic Columbia River Highway--The King of Roads--a road through the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.  Whether you are seeing it for the first time or you know every inch by heart, each time you experience the Historic Highway, you begin the journey anew.
To learn more, check out the Milepost 2016 Reconnection Strategy or watch a 9 minute video about this project. 
Get Involved in the Preservation of the Historic Columbia River Highway  
Join us at the next quarterly Historic Columbia River Highway Advisory Committee meeting on March 29, 2010, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Multnomah County Library, 801 SW 10th Avenue, in downtown Portland.  The public is encouraged to attend. 
Highlights of the meeting will include:

  • Cascade Avenue (HCRH) in Hood River Design Workshop outcomes
  • Trail Design Guidelines Overview
  • GIS and LIDAR - New tools for Trail Planning in the Gorge
  • Overview of the upcoming Trails Plan for the HCRH 
  • Update of the State Parks' plans for Latourelle and Mitchell Point Waysides
The agenda and minutes from the December 10, 2009, meeting are available here.

For more information on the Advisory Committee, click here
Historic Columbia River Highway headlines History Pub at Kennedy School
Horsetail Falls
This is an event not to be missed.  George Fekaris, David Sell and Robert Hadlow will be presenting their captivating presentation on the history, decline and preservation of the highway on March 29, 2010, at the Kennedy School at 5736 Northeast 33rd Avenue, Portland.  
For more information check out the McMenamin's Kennedy School  Web site:   
The Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH) was the country's first scenic highway, constructed between 1913 and 1922.  It served millions of travelers and took advantage of the Columbia River Gorge's natural beauty to become one of our nation's grandest roads.  Less than 31 years later, construction of a water level route, now known as Interstate 84, obliterated many sections of the Historic Highway, leaving it disconnected and abandoned.  
Rediscovering the Abandoned Highway Features   

In fall 2009 ODOT undertook a comprehensive inventory of the abandoned sections of the highway between Cascade Locks and Hood River.  The Cultural Landscape Inventory documents important features of the highway, and helps us understand how they were constructed and how they fit into the overall experience of the road.  Read more about the Cultural Landscape Inventory.

Today the remaining segments of the HCRH and State Trail receive over 2 million visitors per year.  Its attractions are Pacific Northwest icons.  The Historic Highway and State Trail are our portal to recreational opportunities connecting us with historic communities and sites in the Gorge.  The restored, drivable portions maintain their 1920s character and appearance. Eleven miles of State Trail have been constructed during the past 18 years.  However, the old highway remains disconnected.  
Latourelle Falls 
children overlooking the Old Highway

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is preparing plans to improve the Latourelle Falls parking lot and viewpoints.  This site is included in an historic landmark district. The improvements will most likely include the installation of the rock walls iconic to the Historic Highway to frame the breathtaking views to the falls and new rest room facility. This project is funded through the Forest Highway Enhancement Project, a program administered by the Western Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration.  
New Look for the Old Road       
What do you call it?  The Gorge Highway?  The Scenic Highway?  Old Route 30? The Waterfall Route?  All these may be right in a sense. However, in an effort to "brand" the road for its entire length between Troutdale and The Dalles, the official name of the road is the Historic Columbia River Highway or HCRH for short. ODOT has prepared a comprehensive sign plan for the old road.  The goal of this plan is to provide consistency along the route and improve wayfinding.  This project was funded through a National Scenic Byways grant.  Look for the new signs this spring.  
Getting from here to there along the Historic Columbia River Highway will be much easier once the new Historic Route 30 signs and new Scenic Byway Portal signs are installed this spring along the entire route of the Historic Highway from Troutdale to The Dalles. Funded through a grant from National Scenic Byways Program, the new signs help tourists find their way and clean up the mess of multiple signs that have accumulated over the years. 
Horsetail Falls

Additionally, another National Scenic Byways Grant will fund the replacement of the last remaining one-rail wooden guard rail located along the Historic Highway along the Sandy River between Troutdale and Corbett with the historically appropriate two-rail, white wooden guardrail. Don't worry, the new two-rail guardrail may look old but to meet current crash test standards it is backed and reinforced with steel. 
It took Samuel Hill and Samuel Lancaster only 9 years to build 73 miles of highway between Portland and The Dalles.  Twelve challenging miles of new trail await reconnection in time for the highway's centennial in 2016.  This undertaking will require the support of local communities and trail advocates throughout Oregon.  
children overlooking the Old Highway
ODOT is seeking an earmark for $23 million through the surface transportation authorizing legislation to construct the Reconnection Strategy's top three priority projects including: the John Yeon State Park to Moffett Creek Trail Connection, a new tunnel at Mitchell Point and a trail connection between Lindsey Creek State Park and the Starvation Creek State Trailhead.    
The Columbia Gorge and the Historic Highway - World Class Sustainable Destination
National Geographic Society's Center for sustainable development recently ranked 133 international tourist destinations on environmental quality, social and cultural integrity, historic buildings and archaeological sites, aesthetic appeal, tourism managementand outlook for the future.  The Columbia River Gorge was tied for 10th place internationally and No. 2 nationally for sustainable destinations.  One of the judges even commented "The historic road that is the gateway to the region is one of the best managed roads in the nations."One may ask, "How will the Gorge rank once the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail is reconnected as trail?"
Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway
Gorge Ride Numbers Continue to Grow
Bicyclists on HCRH
The fourth annual Gorge Ride sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway will be held Saturday, June 12, 2010, beginning at the Gorge Discovery Center, 5000 Discovery Drive, in The Dalles, Oregon.  It will extend 19.25 miles along the historic highway and State Trail to the west to the Senator Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead, just east of Hood River.  This will be an out and back route of 38.5 miles.  The ride is supported with water stops, snacks, mechanical support and sag wagons. Last year's event drew well over 400 cyclists and the numbers continue to grow each year as more and more enthusiastic riders tell others of the ride.  To sign up go to:
 Grant's Getaways            
Grant McOmie, his photographer and Wayne Stewart of the Advisory Committee
Recently, Grant McOmie, of KGW's outdoor show Grant's Getaways, took a tour of the Historic Columbia River Highway with ODOT's Kristen Stallman and Ernie Drapela of the Historic Columbia River Highway Advisory Committee.  They toured some of the sections of the old Highway that will be turned into trails as part of the Reconnection Strategy.  Kristen showed Grant some of old highway pavement buried under the moss. 
Watch the video, click on the link: Read Grant's story, click on the link. 
Grants Getaways

Summer Construction on Interstate 84 and Washington SR 14

This summer there will be several construction projects happening on Interstate 84 and SR 14 in Washington.  For the latest information, check out  for Oregon and  WSDOT Construction   Know before you go! 
Your Thoughts 
Tell us what you think of this update.  What would you like to see in future issues? 
Email Kristen
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Contact Info
Kristen Stallman, Historic Columbia River Highway Coordinator
ODOT Region 1
  All photos are from ODOT files.