I found a fun little website devoted to the Historic Columbia River highway which includes links to maps and even a collection of historic postcards and other ephemera. The bridges were built from 1913-1921 and while some of them are looking a bit sketchy these day the one at Latourell Falls was a beauty.
If you want to read in detail how the foot paths became the Oregon Trail, railroads came to the area, how this road began as a wagon road, and how the popularity of the bicycle helped prompt road improvement and eventually the bridges go to this link.
More history can be found at Vista House which was built as a rest stop observatory for travelers (according to the guy on desk duty specifically women, a fact he felt obliged to repeat often) on the old Columbia River Gorge Highway and as a memorial honoring Oregon’s pioneers who made their way down the Columbia River. It is celebrating its 100th birthday this year so if you can you may end up catching a special event such as birthday cake served by costumed volunteers on May 5th.
The architectiure is German Art Nouveau, but the windows reminded me a lot of the Prairie Style that Frank Lloyd Wright is so known for. All those Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles were around at the same time so I'm sure they all influenced each other.
Downstairs you'll find exhibits devoted to the history of the highway and Vista House, as well as restrooms and a gift shop that serves beverages. I got the hot apple cider and Linda got the peppermint mocha which were good choices as it was snowing and windy on the point when we returned to her car.
|Hey, there's the Gorge behind us!|
I also got a new hat, just in case everyone is tired of that red rosette on my hat in all my winter photos. I took a few pictures of the Gorge, but due to the weather they were so ugly I didn't want to give a negative impression and scare everyone away. Let's stick to the close-ups and leave the Gorge views to Linda when she starts featuring it again later this spring!
Like me, Linda is appreciative off all that green during winter. She's originally from South Dakota so she gets it when I grump about the snow and severe cold of the upper Midwest! We took our time on the mile roundtrip walk just digging the crazy amount of mosses on display with all the leaves off the trees.
The nearby U.S. post office is kept busy with engaged couples dropping off their wedding invitations so that they can be postmarked at Bridal Veil. And kayakers even go down the falls along Bridal Veil Creek when the water is high.
Along our journey I learned the story of the devastating fire to hit the Gorge last year. The fire was set by a 15 year old using fireworks last September in very dry conditions. Here's a link to that story. Linda is one the many heartbroken by the loss, but luckily the fire is a "mosaic" and not all the forest is lost.
Multnomah Falls is normally a huge attraction with more than 2 million visitors stopping by each year to take in the views, but isn't currently open to the public due to the concerns resulting from the fire including falling trees, landslides, rockfall, and debris flow, which can be triggered by heavy rainfall or freeze/thaw cycles.
And here is the link to her Fall 2016 hike which she hopes she will be able to do this coming year after the necessary repairs are made to the trail. Let's hope this beautiful area re-opens quickly!