Big Water, Great River: Two Ways of Looking at the Columbia River
Landscapes and Communities on the Pacific Rim
Human ecology -- Pacific Northwest, Pacific Northwest -- Environmental conditions
East of Portland, Oregon, the Columbia River runs through a 3,000 foot-deep gorge in the Cascade Mountains on its westward course to the Pacific Ocean. Nearly at the end of its 1,210-mile run from the Canadian Rockies, the river cuts the only sea-level passageway through the chain of volcanic mountains that rise along the western edge of North America. It is a spectacularly scenic landscape. Rising steeply on the south bank, volcanic cliffs clothed in hemlock, fir, oak, spruce, and cedar loom over the river and elevated escarpments on the north bank. Dozens of glacier-fed streams fringe the precipices, dropping their waters hundreds of feet in falls and cascades to the Columbia. Formed by millions of years of catastrophic geological and hydrological forces, the “Gorge” has impressed, even stunned, every generation since it was first described in journal entries written by explorer William Clark in 1805.
© 2000 by Taylor and Francis
Locate the Document
“Big Water, Great River: Two Ways of Looking at the Columbia River,” Landscapes and Communities on the Pacific Rim, edited by Karen Gaul and Jackie Hiltz (Baltimore: M.E. Sharpe, 2000), 130-146.