Celebrate 100 years of the Historic Columbia River Highway

Your Parks "Go Guide"

Events this summer

VistaHouse More than 700,000 visitors each year stop at the iconic Vista House at Crown Point along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Hailed “King of Roads,” Historic Route 30 was officially dedicated on June 7, 1916, with a dazzling affair that drew the attention of the nation and the world. This summer, we invite you to explore and rediscover the historic highway and the beautiful Columbia River Gorge it traverses. Take a drive, hike or bike ride. View magnificent waterfalls and vistas and stop by the communities along the way–many are hosting  events to celebrate the centennial. Here’s our guide to four new experiences you can have in the Gorge this summer.

1.Music in the Gorge. This summer brings opportunity to attend some not-so-traditional concerts in some unexpected venues.

  • Sing-along, play along, or just sit back and enjoy the Song Circles at Vista House at Crown…

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Planning for the Big One-Oh-Oh

On June 7, 2016 (and during the months that follow) the Columbia River Gorge will be celebrating.  Our favorite traveling companion is turning 100!  And what a long, winding road it has been.  

Literally.

Antique autos parked below Multnomah Falls as they might have in the 1920s.

Autos and owners from left to right:  Steve Knepper’s 1929 Model A Ford Roadster, Edward DeVito’s 1918 Model R-1 Hupmobile Touring Car, Donn Snyder’s 1912 Reo Touring Car — all parked at Multnomah Falls as they might have in the 1920s.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH).  Begun in 1913 and fully completed in 1922, the scenic byway was dedicated on June 7, 1916 with celebrations at both Vista House on Crown Point and Multnomah Falls.  And in recognition, this year the entire Gorge is hosting a series of events throughout the summer months.  And you’re invited.  

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Add Warrenite paving and take out the railing, and this is about how things would have looked 100 years ago!  1918 Hupmobile (left) and 1929 Model A (right).

Want to learn about the Highway?  Visit the Troutdale Historical Society or Maryhill Museum to delve into the “King of Roads'” historical past.  Want to revel in the Highway?  Attend one of the summer’s many HCRH-themed festivals.  Want to experience the Highway?  Take a leisurely drive or, better yet, bike or hike one of the reconnected HCRH State Trail segments.  Want to breathe the Highway?  Sign up for one of the many Gorge runs and rides.  Want to see the Highway through the eyes of yesteryear?  Come out to watch antique autos parade by as they caravan from Troutdale to The Dalles on the July 23, 2016.

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Driving along the Historic Columbia River Highway’s iconic white fence.

For a list of tours, rides, runs, festivals, and events visit the Oregon Department of Transportations’s website:  HCRH Centennial Events

For a sneak peek into the July’s antique auto tour, take a look below at some photos from our January test-drive!

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My “ride” for the day, a 1929 Model A Ford Roadster.

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The view at Vista House from the passenger’s seat on a rainy, blustery day in January.

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Even the license plate is cooler.

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Three cheers for the Portland chapter of the Horseless Carriage Club for an amazing day!

 

Holiday Cheer is Here!

‘Tis the season, and rangers and volunteers in the Gorge are feeling holiday spirit!

Last week, rangers changed the light bulbs on “Thor’s Crown” from all white to red and green.  And over the past week, rangers and Vista House volunteers have been working on decorating Vista House’s first ever tree!  As always, it’s been a team effort to make the holidays happen.

Special Thanks

  • To the Olcott Christmas Tree farm in Corbett, Oregon for donating the perfect tree.
  • To the Friends of Vista House Volunteer Development Committee for donating ornaments and helping to decorate.
  • To the Friends of Vista House Volunteer Coordinator for donating a train for under the tree.
  • To the Park Rangers and Vista House Volunteers for keeping the lights on and the tree watered.
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We found the perfect tree! Mr. Olcott graciously cut it down for us.

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. . . and then generously loaded it into our park truck!

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Many thanks to Olcott’s Christmas Trees in Corbett, Oregon for donating our first tree!

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Rangers were dedicated to getting the tree just right!

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Thanks to Vista House volunteers for their time and donations!

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Join us at Vista House this weekend or next to catch the holiday spirit!  We’re open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm, weather depending.

Don’t have your own tree yet?  Check out this guide to local tree farms from the Pamplin Media Group:

http://pamplinmedia.com/sp/68-news/283724-160016-over-the-river-and-though-the-woods

 

 

Ice Castle on Thor’s Heights

Winter storms have hit early and hard this year in the Columbia River Gorge.  Wind gusts are consistently in the 70 mph-range and ice still coats the trees, roads, and buildings around Crown Point.  Temperatures are slowly rising and winds have crept down from the 80s.  And Vista House’s Crown Point — once called “Thor’s Heights” — has lived up to its stormy name.

Here’s a look around the west end of the Gorge:

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Angel’s Rest Trailhead’s new ice skating rink.

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Ice-coated trees at Rooster Rock State Park.

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Ice covered vehicles in the town of Corbett, Oregon.

Tree Over Power Lines at Latourell

Wind and ice have taken out many trees — and sometimes the power with it.

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A passenger’s view of the Historic Columbia River Highway outside of Corbett, Oregon.

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The road to Vista House on Thursday morning.

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The view to Vista House from an icy Portland Women’s Forum.

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A melting ice castle. Vista House on Crown Point.

Wondering what the winds and temps are like at Vista House?  You can click here to check our weather station:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mesowest/getobext.php?wfo=pqr&sid=D6193&num=60&raw=0&banner=off

Of course, if the wind gauge is iced over (like it has been for the last two days), it will look like there is no wind at all . . .

In Her Own Words: Cycling the Historic Columbia River Highway

In October of this year, visitor Linda Hill rode her bicycle from Portland, Oregon to The Dalles.  One of our Park Managers had the pleasure of meeting Linda at Senator Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead outside of Hood River and asked that she share her story.  Kindly, she did.

 

1 Leaving Portland

Linda Hill leaving Portland for her 100-mile ride along the Historic Columbia River Highway

I spent 4 wonderful days in early October 2015 cycling a hundred miles from Portland to The Dalles along the Historic Columbia River Highway.  This was my dream ride to celebrate my 61st birthday and I savoured every moment.

3 Heading down to the Waterfalls

Heading down from Vista House to the waterfalls.

4 Horse Tail Falls

Horsetail Falls along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The location of the small towns along the route let me slow down to a very enjoyable rhythm of 20 to 35 miles per day.  This pace gave me time to stop when I wanted to chat with people and enjoy the views, waterfalls, tunnels, plateaus, and a few of the many trails along this stunningly beautiful bikeway.

Even though there are plenty of campsites along this route, I decided to stay in a few of the many motels in Troutdale, Cascade Locks, and Hood River.  This decision meant that I didn’t have to carry much gear and I had a comfortable bed to sleep in each night. 

5 Bridge of the Gods

Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks.

By traveling weekdays instead of on the weekend, the traffic was very light on the portions of the historic highway that are shared with cars.  The ride from Troutdale to Cascade Locks is probably the most beautiful day of cycling I have ever had.

6 West Mark O Hatfield Trailhead

Senator Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead, outside of Hood River.

The decision I felt best about, though, was to make use of the Columbia Area Transit (CAT) Dial-A-Ride Service to get around the yet-to-be re-connected 10 mile stretch from Wyeth to Hood River.  After watching the ODOT videos about the plans for the final 10 miles of trail, I had no interest in attempting to share any part of the I-84 Freeway with huge trucks hurtling along at 80 miles per hour.  I was especially worried about the narrow section around Shellrock Mountain that is described by Park Rangers as ‘frightening’ and ‘harrowing.’

8 Rowena Loops

Coming down the Rowena Loops on the Historic Columbia River Highway between Mosier and The Dalles.

What a relief to find out about CAT and their bicycle friendly busses. I simply called 541-386-4202 a couple of days ahead and booked an early morning ride from Cascade Locks to Hood River.  Then after being shuttled around the scary part, I hopped on my bicycle and spent a wonderful day riding up the easy 5 percent grade to the West Mark O Hatfield Trailhead and then on to the famous Mosier Tunnels, the town of Mosier where bike racks are works of art.  I climbed up and up some more to Rowena Crest and then rode the swooping loops down toward The Dalles.

At the end of my trip, I caught the scheduled CAT bus service from The Dalles back to overnight in Hood River and then the next morning I caught the bus back to Portland.

9 Columbia Area Transit

The Columbia Area Transit bus.

ABOUT THE HISTORIC COLUMBIA RIVER HIGHWAY

The Historic Columbia River Highway was designed by Samuel Lancaster and constructed between 1913 to 1922.  Its purpose was not merely to offer an east-west transportation route through the Columbia River Gorge, but to take full advantage of every natural aspect, scenic feature, waterfall, viewpoint and panorama.  When bridges or tunnels were designed, they stood by themselves as artistic compliments to the landscape.  The Columbia River Highway served millions of travelers and became one of the grandest highways in the nation.

When transportation needs required faster and larger roads, sections of the old highway were bypassed. By 1960, a new interstate highway had replaced nearly all the older road.  In the 1980s, new interest in the old scenic highway began to resurface.  Lost sections of highway were identified, unearthed and studied for potential renovation.  Ambitions restoration projects began.  Since the 1987, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been charged with working with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), the State Historic Preservation Office and Travel Oregon to preserve, enhance, and reconnect the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Much work has been accomplished since that date.  63 of the original 73 miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway are now open to travel either by motor vehicle (by Highway or connecting county roads) or by foot and bicycle (State Trail.)  Only 10 miles are needed to complete the connection.

To learn more about cycling the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, check out our website:

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/HCRH/pages/trail.aspx

 

Flame-Free Foods: Don’t Let the Fire Ban Rain on Your Picnic

Due to extensively dry and hot conditions, Oregon State Parks everywhere have banned fires.

The ban covers all open fires, including those in designated fire rings.  For parks in the West Gorge (between Troutdale and Cascade Locks), it also includes briquettes.  (Propane stoves are okay—check with your destination park to confirm.)

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Open fires, including campfires in fire pits and briquettes on the grill are banned in Oregon State Parks in the west end of the Gorge.

And visitors are not the only ones affected by the ban.  Even park rangers are scratching their heads now that they cannot burn charcoal briquettes for their annual Volunteer Appreciation BBQ.

At a loss for what to do without the grill?  Here are some ideas.

 

SANDWICHES

If you’re like me, this is one of the first places your brain went when you heard the words “fire ban.”  Cold cuts, lots of spreads, a variety of cheese, garden-fresh veggies . . . the options are limitless with a good old-fashioned sandwich.  Everyone can build his or her own to his/her own liking.  But.  Sandwiches can be somewhat, well, boring.

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Instead of bread, try creative wraps!

Here’s the twist.  Instead of loaf of bread, try:

  • Bagel sandwiches
  • Loaded pita pockets
  • Flavored wraps
  • Multiple gourmet breads cut and sized for multiple mini-sandwiches

 

FINGER FOODS

And if your brain tracked like mine, soon after sandwiches you thought of trays.  Trays full of delicious finger foods.  Again, it’s bound to be a crowd pleaser as you’re sure to have something for everyone.

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If it can go on a skewer, it can be a kabob!

A few twists on the ol’ veggie tray:

  • Fruit kabobs
  • Veggie kabobs
  • Cheese and sausage kabobs
  • Bread or cracker platter with a various sweet, spicy, and tangy dips
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You can never go wrong with the artful tray.

 

ELECTRIC APPLIANCES

Thinking outside of the box and depending on where you’ve planned to hold your picnic, you might have access to regular old electricity.  Our picnic shelters and our improved campsites have power.  What can you do with power?  Plug in your kitchen appliances!

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What’s in your pot? Crock pots and blenders and other appliances can easily be plugged in.  Check with your park to see about electricity availability.

A few appliances and picnic suggestions:

  • Electric Skillet + Power = Grilled Cheese Bar
  • Electric Skillet + Power = Sandwich Melt Madness
  • Crock Pot + Power = Chili Bar
  • Crock Pot + Pre-Baked Potatoes + Power = Baked Potato Bar
  • Fondue Maker + Power = Fondue Party
  • Toaster + Power = Toast Bar
  • Blender + Power = Smoothie Station

 

OTHER BAR-IFFIC  IDEAS

The build-your-own or bar-method of food is always a solid one.

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I’m dreaming of chips, pickles, and cheese on my BLT on sourdough toast.

In addition to the above, here are a few every-day and “outside-the-bar” ideas:

  • Salad Bar:  Spice this staple up with nuts, chopped meats, crunchy toppings, fruits, and different kinds of greens.
  • Cool Pasta Bar:  Use a range of flavors and shapes of pre-cooked noodles; sliced and diced veggies, meats, and cheeses; variety of dressings.
  • BLT Bar:  Assorted breads, veggies, spreads, flavors of pre-cooked bacon.  Include a “toasting station.”
  • Nacho Bar:  Use the crock pot for cheeses and meats; switch up your chips for more choices; think of the Baja Fresh array when planning your salsas.
  • Trail Mix Bar:  Go nuts with unusual dried fruit; candies like gummies, Mike & Ikes, and coated chocolates; crunchy grains like pretzels, chips, and cereals; and, of course, nuts.
  • Cupcake Bar:  Various frostings and creative toppings.
  • Ice Cream Sundae Bar:  You know the drill.  Call your local grocery store to see about dry ice for the cooler.
  • Ice Cream Float Bar:  Mix it up with unusual sodas and frozen creams.
  • Ice Cream Sandwich Bar:  Exactly what you think it is.  Fun!
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Desserts can be more fun when you build your own!

TAKE OUT(SIDE)

All of this sound too complicated?  For a few extra bucks and a lot less hassle, you can always order your hot food from a local restaurant or store and then supplement with your own sides and desserts.  Simply order ahead, and then take your take-out outside.

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Fried chicken from a restaurant is quick, easy, and can substitute for grilled chicken.

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When in doubt, pizza is usually a pleaser. Especially now that it comes in everything from gluten- and cheese-free to meat-lovers.

Have an idea you’d like to share?   Please post below!

I Sing, You Sing, We All Sing . . . (Or We Used To!): Children’s Sing-Along Event

Join us at Vista House on Friday, August 28 from 7-9 pm for our special childrens’ sing-along event with musician and educator, Jory Aronson!

http://jorysings.com/

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Jory Aronson engages all of the senses with her dynamic musical programs.

Bring your favorite young people and a couple of chairs for a lively evening filled with songs, instruments, skits, and puppets.

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We have been hosting (and, at times, leading!) a series of singing events in the Gorge this year.

At Rooster Rock State Park, it has been monthly song circles on the waterfront–singing songs of yesteryear as swimmers romp around in the Columbia, barges plod through the channel, and the sun sinks slowly over Washington in a crimson wave.

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Enjoy a sunset and a children’s sing-along at Vista House on Crown Point.

At Vista House, it has also been monthly song circles, but within the magical sand and limestone walls of the rotunda as visitors flock to capture the last moments of the sun’s rays falling across the Gorge, birds soar towards their final resting spots for the night, and the Columbia rolls on for as far as the eye can see.

Although they are not widely advertised, we are also bringing song back to the campground with “Old-Fashioned Campfire” events at Ainsworth State Park on the first and third Fridays of the month.  These programs, as you might imagine, are a bit different.  There are fewer instruments, Ranger Patrick and I sing far less well (although Ranger Jami can hold a tune!), and the songs are less formal.  Instead, we stomp and clap and lead skits, we beg and plead until campers come up to sing for us, and the songs less than sing-y are more, well, campy.

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As children, we sang and danced unabashedly.

Our last old-fashioned campfire at Ainsworth was hands-down our best.  Sure, we rangers are getting our shtick down.  But what really made the night so wonderful was that before the 8:30 hour even rolled around, a little camper was up on the stage declaring that she would like to sing the first song.  We could hardly say no.  And without a moment’s hesitation, she started in on “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”  Not one song later, she was marching up to the stage again, this time with her cousin in tow.  They performed “The Alphabet Song,” complete with the elemeno p.  Five minutes later they were back.  Something from Frozen, although they couldn’t agree on what until another young camper from another family jumped up and in to help the group settle on “Let It Go.”  This other camper also led us in a handful of her favorite camp songs, from “Apples and Bananas” to “Bazooka Bubblegum.”

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As a long-time performer, educator, and advocate of young children, Jory believes in the magic that can be created with music.

Besides we rangers, only one other adult dared lead any part of any other song.  It was really the kids jumping up and leading unabashedly that made the night a roaring success.  It was a reminder of both how fearless kids can be and how important singing is to us in childhood.  Learning a song as a child was a big deal, something to be celebrated . . . by singing it repeatedly.  And which of we did not use the alphabet song to learn our letters?  Many of us teach it to our kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews today.  In some ways childhood and singing are inseparable.

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“Today, young children are often in front of screens … [I believe] that children thrive when they’re using their senses.”

Which brings me to our next event at Vista House on August 28:  A Children’s Sing-Along with Jory Aronson, a musician and early education trainer.  Jory blends song with puppets, skits, and instruments for a fully participatory musical experience for children.  Besides being fun for the whole family, there is sound benefit to music for children:

“Music is an intelligence in and of itself. It also uses some of the other 6 intelligences in various ways. Songs are linguistic, rhythm is logical, dance and using instruments is body kinesthetic, musical interpretation is interpersonal, etc. Thus, by being involved in music, a child becomes in tune with many aspects of the self.”  – Dr. Howard Gardner (The Theory of Multiple Intelligences)

Join us at Vista House on Friday, August 28 from 7-9 pm for our special kids’ event!

Singing In the Gorge

A couple of weeks ago, on a Friday night, I took several of trips.  I traveled to Michigan, back to the kitchen of my childhood home.  Everything was there—the yellow and white linoleum floor, the long wooden island painted white, the over-sized industrial sink where all kids under four years of age took a bath.

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Vista House all lit up after an evening of singing.

My mom and I were doing dishes while belting out, “Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, someone’s in the kitchen I know-oh-oh-oh, someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, strummin’ on the old banjo . . .”  My mother had just taught me “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”  Thirty years later, I still know all the words.  And every time I sing them, I go back to my childhood, back to that kitchen, back to my mom making “dish detail” fun.

Then I went back to Michigan again.  Same area, different time.  This visit to St. James Catholic Church—to the “new addition” constructed after the congregation outgrew the church.

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The cathedral-like dome of Vista House as seen when laying back, listening to music.

We were all gathered there— family, friends, and churchgoers.  Service was nearly over; last hymn, last words.  As they closed my grandmother’s casket, the choir and congregation started in, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me . . .”  And as we sang, the words reached out to my grandfather and swept him to knees, arms outstretched onto my grandmother’s casket.  For the first time in my life, I saw my grandfather’s bright blue, dancing eyes fill with tears.  And from that day forward, when I hear “Amazing Grace,” that moment flashes by, and my own eyes fill with tears.

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Strangers brought together by song at a Vista House Song Circle event.

“This Land is Your Land” took me back to elementary school to music class.  Flashes of ribbons and highways and skyways.  The feeling that everything is bright and right and Disney happy.

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The sun setting as visitors sing on during the July 10 Song Circle at Vista House.

“You Are My Sunshine” took me back to summertime in our little neighborhood.  My best friend, Tony, singing to me as we walked up the gravel road on our way to climb the “Jungle Tree.”

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Musicians from the Portland FolkMusic Society leading the group in songs of yesteryear . . . and tomorrow.

All the while, I am actually at Vista House at Crown Point, in the Columbia River Gorge.  It is our second in a series of “Song Circles” in the Gorge.  I am mostly surrounded by perfect strangers, who are surrounded by the same.  But we’re all singing from the heart, smiling as if we’re with old friends.  We sing songs we’ve all known for years, transporting us back in time and space.  We sing new songs whose words when we hear them again will likely bring us back to Vista House . . . to a warm summer night, with a golden sunset, rich voices swirling around the rotunda, wrapping us in a blanket of fullness and contentment.

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Voices rising as the sun was falling.

Join us for our next Song Circle on July 31 at Rooster Rock State Park from 7 to 9 PM.  Bring a friend, your family, your favorite sing-along, and a chair!  Parking permit ($5) or annual pass ($30) required.

For more information, contact Ranger Dorothy Brown-Kwaiser, 503-695-2261 x228

Future Song Circles:

  • July 31, 7-9 PM.  Rooster Rock State Park.

  • August 28*, 7-9 PM.  Vista House.  *Special kids’ sing-along.

  • September 11, 7-9 PM.  Vista House.

Mystery Photo Answer: Where’s Sam

Did you find Samuel Boardman?  Tucked off to the left of the towering trees?  Congratulations to all of you who did!

Sam Boardman

Samuel H. Boardman, Oregon State Park’s first Park Superintendent, exploring Silver Falls State Park in 1941.

This photo was taken at Silver Falls State Park while Boardman was scouting for an amphitheater site.  More than one site was proposed, so we are not entirely sure where this spot is within the park.

Boardman Files at State Archives

For boxes of Boardman files were donated by Oregon State Parks to the Oregon State Archives so that they would be available to the public.

Boadman's Masterpices

Boardman’s finest writings are compiled in folders simply called “Masterpieces.”

 

Stay tuned for an update in April after we at second time with Sam’s relatives.  Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more, Oregon State Archives in Salem has boxes of Boardman documents for your reading pleasure!

 

Mystery Photo: Where’s Sam?

Much has happened since my last post about Oregon’s first State Park Superintendent, Samuel H. Boardman.  On Friday, few of us from Oregon State Parks had the honor of meeting with the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Samuel Boardman.  Over a cup of coffee, they shared stories, books, photos, letters, and newspaper articles about Sam.

We were star-struck to say the least are planning to meet again to record some of the Boardman family’s stories.  And in preparation for the next get-together, we have been digging through the Oregon State Park archives to find interesting items to share with Sam’s relatives.

Forest Panorama with Samuel H. Boardman

Do you see Oregon’s first State Parks Superintendent, Samuel Boardman?  Can you figure out which park this is?

Yesterday, I found a gigantic photo file and let my computer work on it overnight.  I arrived this morning to find this photo of Sam Boardman.  At first I thought it must have been a mistake.  Where was Sam?  It took me a minute, but I assure you that he is there.  Here is your challenge:

 

Part One:  Find Sam in the photo.

But don’t tell us yet!  Let others try, too.

 

Part Two:  Take a guess at where the photo was taken.

Hints:  This forest panorama was taken at a proposed amphitheater site.  The park has an amphitheater today, as well as a campground — something Sam never allowed during his tenure at State Parks.  Sam was very influential in acquiring and developing this inland (not coastal!) park.

 

Can you tell us where Sam is?

 

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