Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Bridge of the Gods"
Includes ... Bridge of the Gods ... The Legend ... The Portage ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2004, Bridge of the Gods, as seen from Cascade Locks, click to enlarge
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Bridge of the Gods, from upstream. View of the Bridge of the Gods as seen from the locks at Cascade Locks. Image taken November 4, 2004.


Bridge of the Gods ...
The Bridge of the Gods is located at Columbia River at River Mile (RM) 148, nearly three miles upstream of Bonneville Dam, and just downstream of the historic canal and locks at Cascade Locks. The bridge is located at the toe of the Table Mountain Landslide (Bonneville Landslide) which created the Cascade Rapids. The bridge is a cantilever bridge, 1,131 feet, with an overall bridge length of 1,858 feet. In 1938 the bridge was raised to accommodate the rising pool behind the Bonneville Dam. Currently the Bridge of the Gods is a toll bridge allowing motor and foot traffic, and it is the Columbia River crossing for the Pacific Crest Trail.

Image, 2005, Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Bridge of the Gods, Cascade Locks. From the Oregon side, looking across the Columbia River at the toe of the Table Mountain Landslide. Image taken May 13, 2005.


The Portage ...
Lewis and Clark came past the Bridge of the Gods area in late October and early November 1805, and again on their return in mid-April 1806. Both times they were forced to portage around the Cascade Rapids, a problem which faced travelers for years. Portage roads developed on both sides of the Columbia. In 1896 a navigational canal and locks were completed at the rapids, and in 1926 the Bridge of the Gods was completed, providing a link between Oregon and Washington State.
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Lewis and Clark and the Portage ...
On their journey downstream in 1805 Lewis and Clark left their camp near Ashes Lake and made their way around the falls located in the Bridge of the Gods and Cascade Locks area. They camped that night at the end of the portage near Fort Rains, Washington.
"... The Indians who arrived last evining took their Canoes on ther Sholders and Carried them below the Great Shute, we Set about takeing our Small Canoe and all the baggage by land 940 yards of bad Slippery and rockey way The Indians we discoverd took ther loading the whole length of the portage 2½ miles, to avoid a Second Shute which appears verry bad to pass, and thro' which they passed with their empty canoes ..." [Clark, November 1, 1806]

"... we got all our baggage over the Portage of 940 yards, after which we got the 4 large Canoes over by Slipping them over the rocks on poles placed across from one rock to another, and at Some places along partial Streams of the river. ..." [Clark, November 1, 1806]

"... . we carried all our baggage past the portage a number of Indians with canoe loads of pounded Sammon are going down the River tradeing. they are carrying their loads past the portage with us & their canoes also. we then took down the rest of the canoes. got them all Safe below the big Shoote and Camped their on the Stard. Side. ..." [Ordway, November 1, 1806]

Views of Bridge of the Gods ...

Image, 2011, Cascade Locks looking downstream, click to enlarge
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Bridge of the Gods as seen from Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken May 20, 2011.
Image, 2004, Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Bridge of the Gods, Cascade Locks. From the Oregon side, looking across the Columbia River at the toe of the Table Mountain Landslide. Image taken October 27, 2004.
Image, 2006, Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Framework, Bridge of the Gods. View from Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken October 21, 2006.
Image, 2006, Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Bridge of the Gods with reflection. View from Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken October 21, 2006.


Bridge of the Gods in 1940 ...
From the Oregon State Archives "A 1940 Journey Across Oregon":

"... The entrance to the BRIDGE OF THE GODS is at 146 m., this is a cantilever toll bridge (cars, 50c; good for return within three hours) spanning the river just west of Cascade Locks, and occupies a place where, according to Indian legend, a natural bridge at one time arched the river. This bridge, they say, was cast into the river when Tyhee Sahale, the Supreme Being, became angry with his two sons, who had quarreled over the beautiful Loo wit, guardian of a sacred flame on the bridge. The two sons and the girl, crushed in the destruction of the bridge, whose debris created the Cascades, were resurrected as Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens. This legend is used by Frederic Homer Balch in his romance, The Bridge of the Gods. ..."


Bridge of the Gods in 1941 ...
From "The New Washington: A Guide to the Evergreen State, Federal Writers' Project, 1941":

"... West of Stevenson, the modern BRIDGE OF THE GODS (toll: 50c driver and auto; 10c pedestrian), spans the Columbia River to Oregon. ..."


The Legend ...
The "Bridge of the Gods" legend has it that the sons of Old Coyote, Wy’east (Mount Hood) and Pahto (Mount Adams), were powerful braves both in love with a maiden (Mount St. Helens). Because they crossed the “Bridge of the Gods” to fight over their love for her, Old Coyote collapsed the land bridge to keep his sons from fighting.
[More Legends]

Mural, South Support ...
On the south support structure of the Bridge of the Gods is a wonderful large mural showing the legend, local wildlife, and historical events of the Cascade Rapids, Cascade Locks, and Bridge of the Gods area. The mural was completed in May 2002. The artist was Larry Kangas.
[More]

Image, 2010, South Support, Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Mujral, South Support, Bridge of the Gods, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken October 18, 2010.
Image, 2010, South Support, Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Legend, Mural, South Support, Bridge of the Gods, Cascade Locks, Oregon. Image taken October 18, 2010.
Image, 2005, South Support, Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Lewis and Clark, South Support, Bridge of the Gods, Cascade Locks. Image taken May 13, 2005.


Crossing the Bridge ...

Image, 2011, Pacific Crest Trail, click to enlarge
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Pacific Crest Trail, heading north, toll booth at southern end of Bridge of the Gods. The Bridge of the Gods is part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Image taken May 20, 2011.
Image, 2006, Crossing the Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Pacific Crest Trail, heading south, over the Bridge of the Gods. Image taken April 22, 2006.
Image, 2012, Looking upstream from Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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North end of Bridge of the Gods, looking north. Image taken May 11, 2012.


Views upstream and downstream ...
Immediately apparent in the upstream view while crossing the Bridge of the Gods are the locks (now flooded) of the Cascade Locks with Thunder Island. Downstream is a view of the toe of the Bonneville Landslide. The Bridge can be crossed on foot ($0.50 in June 2005) as the Bridge of the Gods is the crossing for the Pacific Crest Trail.

Image, 2011, Looking upstream from Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Looking upstream from Bridge of the Gods. View towards Thunder Island and the now-flooded Cascade Locks. Image taken May 20, 2011.
Image, 2005, Looking downstream from Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Looking downstream from Bridge of the Gods. View looking at the toe of the Bonneville Landslide. Image taken June 19, 2005.


Bonneville Landslide ...
The Bridge of the Gods is located at the toe of the Table Mountain Landslide, which temporarily blocked the Columbia River. Downstream is located the location of Fort Rains, one of the forts built in the middle 1800s to defend the Cascade Rapids. The cape between Fort Rains and the Bridge is known as Sheridan Point, the location of Sheridan's landing during the Indian Wars. Lewis and Clark in 1805 and on their return in 1806 had to portage around this section of the Columbia.

Image, 2003, Columbia River looking downstream Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Columbia River looking downstream from Bridge of the Gods. Sheridan Point. Image taken June 15, 2003.
Image, 2005, Columbia River looking downstream Bridge of the Gods, click to enlarge
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Columbia River looking downstream from Bridge of the Gods. Sheridan Point. Image taken May 13, 2005.


Pacific Crest Trail ...
The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. It crosses the Columbia River at Columbia River Mile (RM) 148, via the Bridge of the Gods. The trail is restriced to human and horse traffic only.
[More]

Image, 2011, Pacific Crest Trail, click to enlarge
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Sign, Pacific Crest Trail, heading south, at toll booth at southern end of Bridge of the Gods. Image taken May 20, 2011.


"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Penny Postcards today show us a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Bridge of the Gods, ca.1930, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Penny Postcard: Bridge of the Gods, ca.1930. Penny Postcard, ca.1930, "Bridge of the Gods. Columbia River Highway. Cascade Locks, Ore.". Published by Beals Litho, Des Moines, Iowa. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 1, 1805 ...
A verry Cool morning wind hard from the N. E. [Lewis and Clark's camp of October 31, 1805, was across from Cascade Locks, on an island off the Washington shore near Ashes Lake, now under the waters of the Bonneville Reservoir.] The Indians who arrived last evining took their Canoes on ther Sholders and Carried them below the Great Shute ["Lower Falls of the Columbia", the "Cascade Rapids"], we Set about takeing our Small Canoe and all the baggage by land 940 yards of bad Slippery and rockey way [this rocky location later became the location of the Bridge of the Gods]     The Indians we discoverd took ther loading the whole length of the portage 2½ miles, to avoid a Second Shute [Lower Cascades, by Bonneville Dam] which appears verry bad to pass, and thro' which they passed with their empty canoes. Great numbers of Sea Otters [Harbor Seals], they are So cautious that I with dificuelty got a Shot at one to day, which I must have killed, but could not get him as he Sunk

we got all our baggage over the Portage of 940 yards, after which we got the 4 large Canoes over by Slipping them over the rocks on poles placed across from one rock to another, and at Some places along partial Streams of the river. in passing those canoes over the rocks &c. three of them recived injuries which obliged us to delay to have them repared. [the lower end of the portage at Fort Rains] ...





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*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003

Sources: "CascadeLocks.net" website, 2004; Federal Writers' Project, 1941, "The New Washington: A Guild to the Evergreen State"; Norman, D.K., and Roloff, J.M., 2004, A Self-Guided Tour of the Geology of the Columbia River Gorge - Portland Airport to Skamania Lodge, Stevenson, Washington, Washington State Division of Geology and Earth Resources Open-File Report 2004-7, March 2004; Personal Communication, City of Cascade Locks, 2005; U.S. Library of Congress, American Memories website, 2007; Washington State Secretary of State website, 2007, "History of Clarke County, Washington Territory", by B.F. Alley and J.P. Munro-Fraser, published in Portland, Oregon, 1885; Washington State Secretary of State website, 2007, "Myths and legends of the Pacific Northwest, especially of Washington and Oregon", by Katherine Berry Judson, published by A.C. McClurg, Chicago, 1912.

All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
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October 2010