Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Taming the Columbia

Mt Hood rises on the horizon in the vicinity of a particularly difficult stretch of the Columbia River for the intrepid Lewis and Clark team. Before The Dalles Dam was built, the river plunged over the Celilo Falls and cut through the Narrows or Five Mile Rapids. For more than 10,000 years, Shahaptin and Chinookan people lined the shore and braved the currents while plunging dipping nets into the massive runs of fish. On October 22, 1805, Clark writes "We arrived at 5 Large Lodges of Nativs drying and prepareing fish for market . . ."

More recently, a series of large hydroelectric dams have harnessed the Columbia's energy and tamed large sections of this once roiling river. The Bonneville Dam is one of these behemoths, backing up the water where it is used to drive the electric turbines and for pleasure. Here's a riverside park favored by local windsurfers for its steady, firm winds.

Rising waters have covered many artifacts of previous civilizations. Some local petroglyphs, removed from there original locations which are now underwater, are on display at Columbia Hills State Park on the Washington side of the Columbia.

The Rolling Rally settled in at Memaloose State Park to see the sights. Nearby Memaloose Island was use by the Chinook as a respectful burial site for the departed. The islands name comes from"memalutz" which, in the language of the Chinook Indians, means "to die."
Lewis and Clark landed on the island in 1806 during their return journey up the Columbia and counted 13 structures full of bodies.

To be continued . . .

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