Another day, another adventure…

Where we continue our exploration of the Columbia River Gorge…

We we’re so enchanted with Multnomah Falls Lodge last night that we decided to have breakfast there this morning. When we arrived, we were the only people in the room and they seated us right by the giant roaring fireplace. Toasty!

It’s just as beautiful inside as out.  

The food was good, the prices were reasonable and the ambiance can’t be beat.

After breakfast it was time to continue our exploration of Highway 30.

Our next stop was Oneonta Tunnel. The basalt outcropping here posed a problem for the road builders. The basalt is so fractured that the builders were afraid if they dug a tunnel it would cave in. The solution was to inject concrete into the fractured rock as they drilled. Construction began in 1914.  The tunnel was bypassed and filled with rubble in 1948 and reopened to pedestrians in 2009.

The tunnel is located at Oneonta Gorge. 

Oneonta Gorge is a slot gorge which leads to a waterfall but to reach it it’s a hike over rocks and through water that’s waist high at times. Not a hike for us today, though we did go into the gorge as fas as possible.

It was very beautiful and dark.

We left there and continued our drive and came to another waterfall next to the road, Horsetail Falls.

Soon the canyon opens up and becomes wider and sunnier and the Bonneville Lock and Dam comes into sight. We pulled off the highway to check it out. There’s a guard shack at the entrance to the Dam and the guard will search your car . The tour is free.

As you approach the Dam, you pass by the massive doors for the lock which was not operational today and then drive across the front of the dam over crane rails and machinery. The water is directly to the right visible through openings in the dam railings. It was a little disconcerting! I took this picture on the return trip.

Excuse the bug spots on the windshield.

Around the corner is a view of the spillway and the back of the Dam and power plant.

The visitors center isn’t very large but they had some interesting exhibits about Lewis and Clark and exhibits about building the Dam. We listened to a ranger led presentation and took a tour of the old power plant.  The ranger told us that the new power plant on the Washington side of the river was designed so that visitors can actually walk on top of the generators themselves. Unfortunately we were not planning on going that direction.

It was very loud inside and they had some wonderful multimedia exhibits and models.

The sign below was a little disturbing…

The best part of the Dam, in my opinion, is the intricate fish ladder and viewing center they’ve constructed to get the salmon past the Dam. Recently they replaced the turbines inside the generators and the new blades were designed with the fish in mind. The fish do not go through the turbines but occasionally a very small one will get in. Now, if a fish does get in, it has a 99 percent chance of making it through due to the new design, the tilt and roundness of the blades make the difference.

Here is the top of the fish ladder.

These are some of the friends we made at the viewing windows below.

The little  guy below, was a ham he loved having his picture taken and wouldn’t leave!

We finally tired of the Dam and moved on to the next attraction.

The Bonneville Fish Hatchery.

I’ve been to many fish hatcheries with the kids over the years so I didn’t have high expectations for this one. Boy was I ever wrong!

Things started off as expected at first. There were rows of tanks with fish of differing sizes. Jeff bought some pellets of food and started a small feeding frenzy among the rainbow trout.

There are little white fish painted on the ground as arrows to show you where to go for the next part of the tour. I had no idea how big this hatchery is, I thought it would be a quick “waste time” trip. They have a pamphlet at the sign in front with a map inside which would have been helpful if we had seen it on the way in instead of the way out.

This hatchery has lots of beautiful trails and ponds and gardens.

We followed along and came to some ponds with thousands of small fry.

We followed the “white fish arrows” to a natural pond area with a small building. This is the hatchery’s special Sturgeon area where you can view the sturgeon in the pond above or view them “aquarium style” below.

In the viewing window below you can see Herman the famous Sturgeon.

Herman is 77 years old, 11 feet long and weighs 500 pounds. He used to tour the Oregon State Fair, has merchandise and a Facebook page but it’s next to impossible to get a picture of him the way the window is set up. This is the best I could do.

We left Herman and kept walking along the beautiful path where we came to another pond with a fish food dispenser. The ducks have discovered this pond and they are also quite fond of the fish food. Jeff tried to buy some but it wouldn’t work. This duck was not pleased with him and kept following him around.

Jeff had to make a phone call so I sat by the beautiful pond took duck portraits.

It was very serene.

Another family got the food dispenser working so Jeff started feeding the “gang”. He thought he was feeding fish and ducks but someone else was not pleased about being left out and had other ideas about who should be fed.

Angry Bird!

I was worried the pellets were too big. He informed us that he was perfectly capable!

When we ran out of food and figured we’d seen most of the ponds and exhibits we started walking toward the parking lot. On the way, we noticed another building near the back and some people walking that way.

Sure enough another white fish arrow was pointing behind the building. We walked down some stairs to an area in the back which is apparently a fish ladder for wild fish. This is where you can watch the Salmon jump in the fall.


It was hard to get a picture and crazy to see how high the fish jumped. When one jumped, it encouraged others to jump. They’d fly through the air and slap back down into the water one after another. It was really fun to watch!

By now we were certain we’d seen it all and very hungry since we’d skipped lunch. We drove into the town of Cascade Locks in hopes of finding something to eat. There were not a lot of options but we thought Locks’ Waterfront Grill sounded interesting.

When we walked in, we were greeted enthusiastically by the counter girl. She was so sweet and welcoming that we decided to go ahead and order some food despite the fact that it was apparent that this was a tourist spot and we were the only ones there.

The building is a visitors center with pamphlets and information, a ticket counter for Sternwheeler tours, a gift shop and a grill all rolled into one.

Our food was neither the best nor worst food I’ve ever had but I’d come back again because there was something about the place which was just so charming.

This is the sternwheeler tour boat.

 Our camp host in Corbett had told us that there are no actual locks at Cascade Locks which is technically true but there is a place where there WERE locks a long time ago.  Of course we had to check it out. Work began on these locks in 1878 and it was such a difficult task that they did not open until 1896. Its an incredible story and here they still sit today.

The bridge leads to a beautiful park and there is a park and museum on this side too.

Unfortunately it was closed by the time we got here.

I thought these fishing pallets hanging off the sides were interesting.

Who in their right mind would climb down one of these rickety ladders to fish? They’re chained to the railing and are taller than they look. The ladder of the one on the far end has rungs that have broken and sticks have been nailed back on in place of the rungs.

No thanks!

The nets and buckets look fairly new as though these are used frequently.

What I can’t figure out is why the city allows it?

You wouldn’t see that in California! 

I wonder what surprises tomorrow will hold?

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