Thursday, August 14, 2014


Tuesday I was driving down the Columbia River Gorge which is also the border between southern Washington State and northern Oregon.  I wasn’t in a rush so I decided to explore the Historic Columbia River Highway. It goes in the same direction as Interstate 84 but is a slower and more scenic route.

 The Columbia River Highway, also known as Highway 30, was finished in the 1920’s.  It was designed to offer scenic views of wide vistas and plenty of waterfalls.  When the four lane Interstate 84 was built in the 1950s, highway travel became swifter, but views of the Columbia River Gorge were sacrificed.

In recent times the old highway,

…along with some impressive stone guard rails and bridges have been restored where possible.

The westbound highway began just out of The Dalles.  I stopped at a visitors’ center to learn how to find my way there.  The lady said because of a huge range fire the nearby section of the Historic Highway had been closed and she wasn’t sure it had been re-opened.

 I drove off to find my way back to the Interstate and somehow stumbled onto Highway 30. 

A haze of smoke filled the river canyon as I drove on expecting to meet up at any time with road blocks.

 In many places the ground had been blackened right down to the road and the branches of the trees were scorched where the fire had passed by.

 Evidence was everywhere of the battle between the blaze and the firefighters.

 Sometimes a line in the dry grass marked where the flames had been stopped.

 I didn’t see any burned structures but some buildings must have seen the fire up close before it was extinguished.

 It was around noon when I passed by a fire crew taking a lunch break.

 Some of the guys were kind enough to pose for my camera.  They said the fire had been contained except for a few hot spots and they were turning the job over to the county fire department to keep an eye on things and snuff out any remaining sparks.

 I’m guessing there was a team up the hill working on the source of this smoke. 

A few hours later I traveled through a heavy rain storm moving through the canyon which probably helped the fire fighters finish their job; and increased the possibility for more fires with the lightning and wind.  

According to the news, close to a million acres in the Washington and Oregon area have already gone up in smoke this summer and many wildfires are still burning. 


Anonymous said...

Beautiful bridges.

Sarah said...

Hi Leenie, This looks like a fascinating trip. I like the idea of roads actually meant to be enjoyed for their scenic beauty. There should be more of those. I love the photo of the fire crew. They look so tired and sooty. It must be scary work much of the time.

Val said...

What a chore it must have been to build that original bridge!

Buttons Thoughts said...

Oh this is so scary those brave firemen. This reminds me of our Feral Woman's Story something I will never forget. Thank you for sharing these pics Leenie. Take care hug. B

Should Fish More said...

The George is a beautiful are, some miles west of where you ended your post is a overlook, a circular stone edifice, built in 1935, my dad was on the crew that did it.
Enjoy your time there, I'm 4th gen Oregonion, my ancestors got there in 1847.

Joanne Noragon said...

The known is less frightening than the unknown. I do believe I can live more easily along side tornadoes than wildfires. The rugged scenery is majestic.

Deairdre said...

So close to me! I have often traveled the Historic Highway, usually showing friends from out of town. When my grandmother (now 93)was a girl, her family traveled the road every summer from The Dalles to Marcola, OR where her grandparents lived. They never visited for Christmas because it was too likely the roads would close and her father taught school and couldn't miss. Thanks for bringing back the memory!

Terry and Linda said...

Fire is so frightening. To be up close and personal with it be a hell of sorts. Thanks to those guys...they looked beat.


Carla said...

Wildfires might be necessary, but they are terrifying and so destructive. I'm glad you got to roll along Hwy. 30 despite the fires.