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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Mayer State Park, Oregon"
Includes ... Mayer State Park ... Rowena Gap ... Rowena Crest ... Sailboarding ... The Golden Age of Postcards ...
Image, 2004, Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mayer State Park, Oregon. View towards boat ramp at Mayer State Park, Oregon. Rowena Crest is in the background. Image taken November 11, 2004.


Mayer State Park ...
Mayer State Park is located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River at approximately River Mile (RM) 183. Upstream is The Dalles, Oregon and downstream is Hood River, Oregon. Across the Columbia River on the Washington side lies the community of Lyle along with the mouth of the Klickitat River. Upstream on the Washington side is the surfing spot Dougs Beach. Mayer State Park includes acreage along the Columbia and up on the basalt cliffs, Rowena Crest and the Tom McCall Nature Preserve.

Mark Mayer ...
The land for Mayer State Park was donated to Wasco County by Mark Mayer, who in 1910 built a mansion and orchard in Mosier known as the "Mayerdale Place".
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Mayer State Park and the Missoula Floods ...
The upper part of Mayer State Park which includes Rowena Crest and Tom McCall Nature Preserve is located on a basalt mesa which was stripped clean during the last ice age by the Missoula Floods. This surface was then covered by 3-4 feet of loess which eventually eroded into the mounds which dot the surface of the basalt flow.
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Views of Mayer State Park ...

Image, 2009, Columbia River, upstream from Rowena, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Columbia River upstream from Rowena, Oregon. Mayer State Park, Oregon, is along the river in the foreground. Image taken May 9, 2009.
Image, 2004, Fall colors, from Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Fall colors at Mayer State Park, Oregon. Washington State and the Rowena Gap basalts are in the background. Image taken November 11, 2004.
Image, 2004, Rowena Gap, Washington, from Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Mayer State Park, Oregon, boat dock. Looking towards Washington State and the Rowena Gap basalts. Image taken November 11, 2004.
Image, 2004, Rowena Crest from Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Rowena Crest from Mayer State Park, Oregon. Image taken November 11, 2004.


Mayer State Park in 1965 ...
MAYER STATE PARK

Mayer State Park is part of an area known as Rowena Heights. It is located on Interstate Highway 80N, approximately 10 miles west of the city of The Dalles in Wasco County.

The first land acquired for Mayer Park was 260 acres given to the state by Mark A. Mayer in April, 1924. Negotiations were started as early as 1921 by Mr. Mayer to purchase land to be donated to the state for use as a park. He had difficulty in obtaining a part of the land he had selected, as the owner was holding out for an exorbitantly fantastic price, he claimed. However, late in 1921 the Highway Commission sanctioned a proposal of a condemnation suit through the Wasco County Court, which followed and favored Mr. Mayer. This culminated a very unusual transaction in order to enable Mr. Mayer to donate 260 acres of land to the state for park use.

There have been other acquisitions of small acreages for this park, such as two areas totaling 8.3 acres located on the north side of the railroad in 1952 and 1956 at a total cost of $2,872, and another 40-acre tract in 1961 at a cost of $26,570. These transactions brought the total area to 308.30 acres as of the close of 1963.

In general, the area is quite rough with a great difference in elevation between the land near the river and that on top of Rowena Point. The cover is scattered ponderosa pine and oak with indigenous brush as an undercover.

The park development is located on an arm of Bonneville Lake north of the Union Pacific Railroad Company track. It consists of a swimming area, boat ramp 40 x 55 feet, picnic tables, stoves, sanitary facilities and water. Entrance is via Lyle Ferry Road.

Day use at Mayer in 1963 totaled 74,728 visitors. Overnight camping facilities have not been provided."


Source:    Chester H. Armstrong (compiler), 1965, "History of the Oregon State Parks: 1917-1963, published by Oregon State Parks.



Sailboarding ...
The Columbia River Gorge and the Bonneville Reservoir have become one of the world's leading windsurfing and sailboarding areas. Mayer State Park and Dougs Beach across the river are two popular areas. Kite boarding has also become popular during the recent years with Hood River, Oregon becoming a favorite location.

Image, 2005, Sailboarding, Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sailboarding, from Mayer State Park, Oregon. Image taken June 4, 2005.
Image, 2005, Sailboarding, Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sailboarding, from Mayer State Park, Oregon. Image taken June 4, 2005.
Image, 2005, Sailboarder, Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sailboarding, from Mayer State Park, Oregon. Image taken June 4, 2005.
Image, 2005, Sailboarder, Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Sailboarding, from Mayer State Park, Oregon. Image taken June 4, 2005.


Across the Columbia ...

Image, 2004, Rowena Gap, Washington, from Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Basalts of Rowena Gap, Washington, from Mayer State Park, Oregon. Image taken November 11, 2004.
Image, 2004, Lyle, Washington, from Mayer State Park, Oregon, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Lyle, Washington, from Mayer State Park, Oregon. Image taken November 11, 2004.


"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. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

Penny Postcard, Mayer State Park, Rowena Heights, ca.1920 Penny Postcard: Mayer State Park, Rowena Heights, Columbia River, ca.1920. Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Mayer Park on Rowena Heights, Columbia River Highway near The Dalles, Oregon.". Published by Wesley Andrews, Inc., Portland, Oregon. Card #827. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Mayer State Park, Rowena Heights, ca.1920 Penny Postcard: Mayer State Park, Rowena Heights, Columbia River, ca.1920. Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Mayer Park, Rowena Heights, On Columbia River Highway". Photo by A.M. Prentiss. Published by Rose City News Co., Portland, Oregon. Card #24. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, October 29, 1805 ...
A cloudy morning wind from the West but not hard, we Set out at day light [from their camp on Rocky Island at Crates Point], and proceeded on about five miles Came too on the Stard. Side at a village of 7 houses built in the Same form and materials of those above, here we found the Chief we had Seen at the long narrows [The Dalles] ...     they are hospitable and good humered Speak the Same language of the inhabitants of the last village, we call this the friendly village [vicinity of Dougs Beach]. ...     after brackfast we proceeded on, the mountains are high on each Side [high basalt cliffs of the Rowena Gap, with Rowena Crest on the south and the Chamberlain Lake area on the north], containing Scattering pine white oake & under groth, hill Sides Steep and rockey; at 4 miles lower we observed a Small river falling in with great rapidity on the Stard. Side [Klickitat River] below which is a village of 11 houses [today the town of Lyle is on the upstream side of the Klickitat], here we landed to Smoke a pipe with the nativs and examine the mouth of the river, which I found to be 60 yards wide rapid and deep, The inhabitants of the village are friendly and Chearfull; those people inform us also those at the last village that this little river is long and full of falls, no Salmon pass up it, it runs from N. N. E. that ten nations live on this river and its waters, on buries, and what game that Can kill with their Bow & arrows

we purchased 4 dogs and Set out- (this village is the of the Same nation of the one we last passed) and proceeded on The Countrey on each side begin to be thicker timbered with Pine and low white Oake; verry rockey and broken [passing Mayer State Park on the Oregon side]. passed three large rocks in The river the middle rock is large long and has Several Squar vaults on it. we call this rockey Island the Sepulchar [Memaloose Island] - The last river we passed we Shall Call the Cataract River [Klickitat River] from the number of falls which the Indians say is on it- passed 2 Lodges of Indians a Short distance below the Sepulchar Island [Memaloose Island] on the Stard. Side river wide, at 4 mile passed 2 houses on the Stard. Side, Six miles lower passed 4 houses above the mouth of a Small river 40 yards wide on the Lard. Side [Hood River]    a thick timbered bottom above & back of those houses; those are the first houses which we have Seen on the South Side of the Columbia River, (and the axess to those dificuelt) for fear of the approach of their common enemies the Snake Indians, passed 14 houses on the Std. Side Scattered on the bank- from the mouth of this little river which we shall Call Labeasche River [Hood River], the falls mountain [Mount Hood] is South and the top is covered with Snow.    one mile below pass the mouth of a large rapid Stream on the Stard. Side [White Salmon River], opposit to a large Sand bar [from Hood River], in this creek the Indians above take their fish, here we Saw Several canoes, which induced us to call this Canoe Creek [White Salmon River] it is 28 yards wide, about 4 miles lower and below the Sand bar [Hood River sandbar] is a butifull cascade falling over a rock of about 100 feet [Wah Gwin Gwin Falls, location of the Columbia Gorge Hotel],

[On the route map (Moulton, vol.1, map#78) a "C___ Spring" is shown on the north side of the river, today the location of Spring Creek and Spring Creek Fish Hatchery, with no mention of it in any text. On the south side, at the location of Wah Gwin Gwin Falls, only "Cascade" is labeled and "4 Houses of Indians".]

a Short distance lower passed 4 Indian houses on the Lard. Side in a timbered bottom, a fiew miles further we came too at 3 houses on Stard. Side, back of which is a pond [today the location of Drano Lake. The Little White Salmon River empties into Drano Lake.] in which I Saw Great numbers of Small Swan, Capt. Lewis and went into the houses of those people ...     Here the mountains are high on each Side, those to the Lard. Side has Some Snow on them at this time, more timber than above and of greater variety.





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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:    "a2zgorge.info" website, 2005;    Allen, J.E., Burns, M., and Sargent, S.C., 1986, Cataclysms on the Columbia, Timber Press, Oregon;    Armstrong, C.H., (compiler), 1965, "History of the Oregon State Parks: 1917-1963, published by Oregon State Parks;    Waitt, R., 2007, personal communication, "Missoula Floods";   

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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December 2010