Newsletter header 



The Historic Columbia River Highway News is your source for updates and information regarding efforts to remember, restore and reconnect the Historic Columbia River Highway and State Trail--a world class adventure from Portland to The Dalles.  


Moffett Creek Bridge
Moffett Creek Bridge--Longest concrete arch in the world in 1945 photo.

 "The curving lines of the arch are harmonious and pleasing .  It's boldness is in keeping with the surrounding landscape.  God made this country on a mighty scale.  The mountains are high and the river is broad and deep. The towering rock, three miles distant on the north bank of the river, was a beacon to Lewis and Clark and the pioneer home-seekers who came after them." 


Samuel Lancaster, designer of the Historic Columbia River Highway, 1915.

GetInvolvedGet Involved in the Preservation of the

Historic Columbia River Highway


The Historic Columbia River Highway Advisory Committee will meet at the Mosier View Terrace on Tuesday, September 18 from 10 am - 3 pm. The meeting highlights include funding and construction updates; the "One Road, Many Great Economic Benefits" printed piece and companion video and a wayfinding plan update. 


To request the full agenda or the minutes of the previous meeting, contact Kristen Stallman 

To learn more, check out the Milepost 2016 Reconnection Strategy here

For more information on the Advisory Committee, click here


HighwayUpdatesHistoric Columbia River Highway

closing for one mile in restoration project.

Vista House open until Oct. 1. 

Vista House
Vista House open until Oct. 1

The Historic Columbia River Highway is closed from Sept. 4 through the end of September from Crown Point to Latourell Falls as part of a highway restoration project. This one-mile stretch of road will be closed to all motorized vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. You can drive to Vista House from the west. 


In addition, a section of the highway from Larch Mountain Road to Crown Point will be closed to vehicles longer than 25 feet. Vista House will remain open through September but will close Oct. 1 until the end of 2012 while crews restore the 600-foot Crown Point viaduct that encircles the historic 1918 building.


The viaduct and its 29 support columns are deteriorating and without restoration, the walls could fail and jeopardize the safety of both Vista House and the highway.


Here is the updated closure schedule:

  • Sept. 4 to Sept. 30, 2012: The Historic Columbia River Highway from Crown Point to Latourell Falls will be closed to all pedestrians and vehicles, including bicycles. In addition the Highway from Larch Mountain Road to Crown Point closed to vehicles longer than 25 feet. Vista House will be open.
  • Oct. 1 to Dec. 31: The Historic Highway from Larch Mountain Road to Latourell Falls will be closed to all pedestrians and vehicles, including bicycles. The section from Latourell Falls to Bridal Veil Falls will be closed to vehicles longer than 25 feet. Vista House will be closed.
  • Jan. 1 to April 1: Infrequent lane closures with specific traffic restrictions yet to be determined. Vista House will be open on its winter schedule.
  • April 1, 2013: Tentative start date for the final phase of the project, expected to be completed by late spring 2013. Periodic lane closures with specifics still to be determined. Vista House will be open.

For more information, click here

MitchellMitchell Point Parking Lot Improvements Coming


From September 10 until October 30, Oregon State Parks and Recreation will close the parking and viewpoint at Mitchell Point at I-84 exit 58, to make improvements to the area.


The project will repave and restripe the parking lot and create a viewpoint lined with stone retaining walls iconic to the Historic Highway. Other new features include ADA parking spaces and landscaping with native plants.


Additionally, a new interpretive sign will be installed highlighting the "road house" that was located at Mitchell Point along the Historic Columbia River Highway and is detailed in the Highway Oral History Report  (large file) by Michael Tenney and Barbara Hosford.  


statetrail  McCord Creek is Spanned - New Trail Bridge is Underway


Long, dry days of summer have helped extend the construction season so much progress is being toward completion of the State Trail connection between John B.Yeon State Park and Moffett Creek. On July 19th, a large crane was brought in to place two concrete bridge spans over McCord Creek. Moffett Bridge constructionThe arched bridge spans were fabricated offsite and delivered via semi trucks. Over a couple hours, the crane lifted the spans and set them in place. the new bridge will continue to take shape over the next several weeks. The design of this new bridge was inspired by the impressive historic bridges along the Historic Highway. The bridge will include decorative concrete rail and art deco inspired bridge piers. The bridge was designed by Susan Riccomini, ODOT's Region 1 Bridge Engineer, and Magnus Bernhardt, ODOT's Region 1 Landscape Architect.


Officials Tour the Construction Site

On August 27, 2012, elected officials and key stakeholders got a first hand look at the progress being made on the Historic Highway State Trail. The tour started at J.B Yeon Trailhead where the group talked about the project and its significance for the State Trail network- once complete cyclists will no longer have to ride the shoulder of I-84 between Hard Hat TourCascade Locks and Troutdale The group got a close-up look at construction of the McCord Creek Bridge. The group ended its tour at the "rest and pause" areas midway along the 1.6 mile Trail. At this area, the group was impressed by the majestic views of Beacon Rock to the north and the towering talus slopes immediately to the south.


latourell Latourell Falls Wayside Takes Shape    


The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is giving the Latourell Falls Wayside and parking lot a much needed a facelift this summer. The project includes redesign of the lower viewpoint and replacement of a wooden rail with the iconic rock walls. The parking lot Latourell improvementswill be repaved and basalt curbing installed. The project includes a new vault toilet and stone steps to the upper viewpoint. Complementing this effort, OPRD has received future funding to restore the trails and trail bridges at this cherished site.

"Shovel Ready" Plans in the Works


Engineers and trail designers will soon be sharpening their pencils as they get to work on the next segment of trail to be designed. Our partners at Western Federal Lands Highway will be managing the next "big project". ODOT has secured funding through the Public Lands Highway Discretionary Program to start engineering the next trail segment - Warren Creek to Lindsey Creek. ODOT is also working to leverage other funding sources to stretch trail design and engineering all the way to Mitchell Point- totaling over six miles of the remaining nine miles of trail. Although construction funding for this segment is not yet available, having construction ready plans complete will make this project "shovel-ready" as future funding becomes available.

Hannah's Story  Hannah


As an ODOT intern during the summer of 2008, Hannah Kullberg was instrumental in the development of the Historic Columbia River Highway Oral History report (large file). The stories she collected for this Oral History Report helped shape our view of the highway and drew her in to its rich history.


Hannah Kullerg
Hannah Kullberg
This spring, Hannah discovered her own family's connection to the Historic Highway in her grandfather's memoirs. Her grandfather, Robert W. Kullberg, migrated with his family from Canada to Portland via the Historic Columbia River Highway.  Hannah shared this excerpt from his memoirs:


"In the Spring of 1946 we loaded our little 1941 Plymouth sedan with all our worldly goods and our two little boys, Rick and Wayne, and headed for Portland. The trip took three days, the last was from Arlington on the old Columbia Scenic Highway. It was a hot day and the boys sat or lay on top of a pile of luggage that was at the level of the back of the front seat. We didn't realize the greater need for fluids by children at this age until we stopped at a roadside drinking fountain. I held Wayne so he could drink, and never in my life have I seen a baby drink so much water. Rick also consumed a very large quantity. Hilda and I almost felt guilty of child abuse!" 


 The mention of water fountains is not unique to Hannah's grandfather (see Darlene Stiles and Valda Dryden interview and the William Pattison interview).  Memories of water fountains along the Historic Highway come up again and again in the oral histories.


stiles water fountain
The Viento Fountain--courtesy of Darlene Stiles

 It seems the water fountains helped to counter balance the car sickness caused by the multiple curves in the road and perhaps the water was needed to cool the radiators in the old cars prior to the ascents to places such as Rowena Crest and Crown Point.  


As we plan new trail segments, we hope to reintroduce water fountains in special places along the trail. In fact, the proposed  Mosier Hub will feature a water fountain designed by local artists.




Highway Happenings  highwayhappenings 


The Historic Highway Reconnection Project received a huge round of applause at the July 20th Policy Makers Ride. The eighth annual peloton, for the region's policy-makers, on July 20th explored on-road and off-road cycling facilities, parks, trails, and natural areas of east Multnomah County, with links to the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood National Forest. Kristen Stallman, ODOT's National Scenic Area Coordinator shared the Advisory Committee's vision for a 'world class adventure' between Portland and Dalles on the Historic Columbia River Highway and State Trail. This vision was well received by the group.   

road marker

On August 14th, Historic Highway and Gorge Historian, Steve Kenney, provide a guided tour of Historic Highway pointing out many of the sites of the 42 old "road houses" (yes 42!) that once lined the old highway. The group which included Kristen Stallman, Scott Cook, Terry Anderson, Al Gillis and Alan Winans rediscovered a Historic Highway relic -- by removing the dirt and debris from a concrete gutter cover, they revealed the words "Columbia River Highway 1916" etched on the gutter. This was a trip highlight.


During the third week of August, the 1st Marine Division Association had their 65th National Reunion in Portland. On August 19th, they were treated to a tour of the Historic Highway by Gary Brannen, an esteemed Marine himself and member of the Friends of the Historic Highway "Road Gang".


Mark your Calendars, Get Inspired! mark

The Architectural Heritage Center is hosting an art exhibit this November and December entitled "Gorge Inspirations". The exhibit will feature Gorge artists.  Additionally, Clarence Mershon's collection of historic photos depicting the construction of the Historic Highway will be on loan from the Rooster Rock State Park Office.   Mark your calendars for the First Friday openings in November and December and for the following events at the Center:


November 2: First Friday Exhibit Opening, 6:00 - 8:00 pm, featuring a guest presentation by Renee Tkach who will provide the Friends of the Gorge's vision for the Towns to Trails program


November 7: Lunchtime Lecture, 12:00 - 1:00 pm, Tom Kloster will provide a presentation on Hole in the Wall Falls - the only man made waterfall in the Gorge. Kristen Stallman will share how this project fits into large vision to reconnect the Historic Highway as trail through the Gorge.


December 6 - Gorge Stories for the Curious- 7:00 - 9:00, Gorge travel writer, Scott Cook and Lewis and Clark Professor Stephanie Arnold will host a round table discussion on what makes the Gorge a fascinating place. Bring those nagging questions and your own "Gorge" story.


December 7 - First Friday Exhibit - 6:00 - 8:00 pm hosted by Friends of Vista House and Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway.


For more information, hours and locations check out the Architectural Heritage Center's website at

News from the Friends of the Historic HighwayFirends


Work Party Scheduled

The Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway have scheduled a work party on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail for September 29.  Contact Jeanette Kloos for details.


"Most scenic ride I've done."

Thoughts from  a recent participant in this year's Gorge Ride sponsored by the Friends.  The Friends raised $14,000 making it the most successful ride to date.  459 riders experienced the beauty of the Gorge from the Historic Highway.


New Trail Counter

The Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway have purchased a new trail counter for State Parks  It will be installed near the undercrossing of Interstate 84 west of Cascade Locks.  It will allow OPRD to count usage before and after the John B. Yeon to Moffett Creek sections opens next year.

Lil' Bit-O-History


From the Oregonian Archives - Thanks to Tom Kloster for sharing this article dated July, 25, 1915.  


Mitchell Point article 1915 

Your Thoughts
  • Share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues by clicking on the Forward email link below. 
  • Please email Kristen if you want to be added to the mailing list. Names are not shared. 
  • Tell us what you think of this update.  What would you like to see in future issues? 
Kristen Stallman, Historic Columbia River Highway Coordinator
Oregon Department of Transportation, Region 1