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Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon"
Includes ... Vista House ... Crown Point ... Historic Columbia River Highway ... National Register of Historic Places ... The Golden Age of Postcards ... Views from Vista House ...
Image, 2004, Columbia River Gorge and Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Looking towards the Columbia River Gorge, Crown Point, and Vista House. View from The Portland Womans Forum Scenic View (formerly Chanticleer Point). Image taken October 11, 2004.


Vista House ...
The Vista House was built in 1916 at the same time as the Columbia River Highway - today known as the Historic Columbia River Highway. It is still the only route to Crown Point. The official opening of the Columbia River Highway (from Portland to Hood River) was on June 6, 1916. The dedication took place at Crown Point, 733 feet above the Columbia River. Construction of Vista House began that same year.

Image, 2004, Crown Point and Vista House, click to enlarge
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Crown Point and Vista House. View from the Portland Womans Forum Scenic Overlook. Image taken October 10, 2004.
Image, 2004, Vista House, 1917, click to enlarge
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Vista House, 1917. Automobiles once dropped ladies off at this lower entrance in order to visit the lounge on the lower level of Vista House. Image taken October 11, 2004.
Image, 2005, Vista House and Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Vista House at Crown Point. Image taken March 6, 2005.


Vista House History ...
The construction of Vista House was completed by Multnomah County, under the direction of John B. Yeon, Multnomah County roadmaster. Plans for the interior decorations were furnished by Samuel Lancaster. Total cost of the Vista House construction was approximately $100,000. The dedication of Vista House took place on May 5, 1918 (See "The Golden Age of Postcards" below). Vista House was designed to be a place of refreshment and enjoyment of the Columbia Gorge. The octagonal building with its copper dome now houses a museum, gift shop and interpretive display of historic and geologic points of interest in the Gorge. The architect of the Vista House was Edgar Lazarus, brother to Emma Lazarus who wrote the poem of the Statue of Liberty. In 1974 Vista House was added to the National Register of Historic Places (Building #74001705). In the mid-2000s Vista House was rennovated and opened for visitors in the summer of 2005.

Vista House Dedication, May 5, 1918 ...

From:
Oregon Historical Quarterly, June 1918, vol.XIX, no.2, p.171-172.


VISTA HOUSE DEDICATION:

This monument to the early pioneers of Oregon was dedicated Sunday, May 5, 1918. The site of the costly and imposing structure is Crown Point, overlooking the Columbia River from one of the most sightly elevations of the Columbia Highway. The cost of the Vista House and its appurtenances has been about $100,000. Its hexagonal walls inside are inscribed with the names of McLoughlin, Lee, Whitman, Applegate, Lane, Nesmith, Deady and Bush. These names were recommended by Frederick V. Holman, president of the Oregon Historical Society, and George H. Himes, curator of that organization and secretary of the Oregon Pioneer Association.

Frank Branch Riley, of Portland, delivered the dedicatory address, and Frederick V. Holman, the response. John B. Yeon, of Portland, county roadmaster, under whose direction the highway and the Vista House were built, spoke of the difficulties that had to be overcome in the progress of the project. Others presented were Simon Benson, who had agreed to pay the cost of the structure should Multnomah County fail to do so; Philo Holbrook and A.A. Muck, county commissioners, under whose administration the structure was built; Henry L. Pittock, publisher of The Oregonian, founded in 1850, pioneer of 1853, and president of the Vista House Association which promoted the pioneer memorial plan. George L. Baker, mayor of Portland, made the presentations. A spectacular pageant of raising the flag, led by the Royal Rosarians, concluded the ceremonies.

The initial fund for the Vista House, $3,812.35, was raised by public contribution. The additional moneys have come from county taxation. Among the items detailed in the Portland Journal of May 5, 1918, were the following: Building, $70,787.74; rock wall, $9,297.71; grading and paving, $7,395.69; architect, $6,264.47; various, $2,976.96; total of foregoing items, $96,722.57. The architect is Edgar M. Lazarus.


Outside ...
Vista House is considered "Art Nouveau" and is approximately 44 feet in diameter and 55 feet high. The foundation was crafted by Italian craftsmen in the Italian-style "dry masonry" technique, without use of cement or mortar. The outside of Vista House is faced with light gray sandstone and the roof is covered with glazed green tiles. The windows are made of amber-green opalescent art glass. Interior stairways lead to a observation walkway around the structure.

Image, 2004, Vista House and Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Vista House and Crown Point. Image taken June 27, 2004.
Image, 2004, Vista House, click to enlarge
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Vista House. Image taken June 27, 2004.
Image, 2004, Vista House roof detail, click to enlarge
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Vista House roof detail. Image taken June 27, 2004.
Image, 2004, Vista House window detail, click to enlarge
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Vista House window detail. Image taken June 27, 2004.


Inside ...
In 2006 with restoration done, Vista House was once again open to the public. The interior rotunda rises above the visitor showing off the windows and dome. Most of the interior of the rotunda is light cream and pink Kasota limestone. The windows are amber-green opalescent art glass. The inside of the rotunda dome and its supporting "ribs" are painted to simulate the marble and bronze originally planned for the building. Eight Native American faces (2 each of 4 different individuals) are atop the columns in the rotunda. These were cast in plaster and gilded. Their identity is unknown. Between these columns are carved stone memorials depicting native plants, and carved with a shield bearing the name of early Oregon pioneers. The floors and stairs in the rotunda and wainscoting in the basement are made of Tokeen Alaskan marble. Stairways lead up to a walk-around-look-at-the-view balcony or down to the sub-level which houses a small museum, gift shop, and restrooms.

Image, 2006, Inside Vista House, click to enlarge
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Inside Vista House. Image taken October 21, 2006.
Image, 2006, Inside Vista House, click to enlarge
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Window, inside Vista House. Image taken October 21, 2006.
Image, 2006, Inside Vista House, click to enlarge
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Inside Vista House. Four different gilded plaster Indian heads adorn the eight columns inside the rotunda. They are unidentified. Image taken October 21, 2006.
Image, 2006, Inside Vista House, click to enlarge
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Stone carving, with shield bearing the name "Applegate". Image taken October 21, 2006.
Image, 2006, Inside Vista House, click to enlarge
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Rotunda ceiling, inside Vista House. Image taken October 21, 2006.


Views of Vista House ...
Pullouts along Washington State Highway 14, west of the Cape Horn Viewpoint, provide spectacular views of Vista House and Crown Point. On the Oregon side great views of Vista House can be had from the next ridge downstream, Chanticleer Point, home of the Portland Women's Forum Scenic Viewpoint.

Image, 2005, Vista House from Washington State Highway 14, click to enlarge
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Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon, as seen from Washington State Highway 14. Image taken, June 19, 2005.
Image, 2005, Crown Point from Portland Woman's Forum Scenic View, click to enlarge
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Crown Point and Vista House. View from Portland's Woman Forum Scenic View (formerly Chanticleer Point). Image taken October 22, 2005.
Image, 2006, Vista House from Chanticleer Point, click to enlarge
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Vista House from Chanticleer Point. Bonneville Dam complex is visible in the background. Image taken September 23, 2006.


"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, Crown Point and Vista House, Oregon, ca.1920
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Penny Postcard: Aerial view, Crown Point and Vista House, Oregon, with Crown Point Chalet, ca.1920.
Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Vista House - Crown Point 'On the Columbia River Highway'." Building on the right is the "Crown Point Chalet", which was built in 1915 and closed in 1927. The building was demolished in the 1950s. Between Vista House and the Crown Point Chalet is "Gardiner's Cafe". Gardinerís Cafe opened in 1922 as Johnsonís Confectionary. In later years it was known as Vista Cafe. It was torn down by the Forest Service in 1963. Photo by A.M. Prentiss. Published by The Rose City News Co., Portland, Oregon. Card #7. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Crown Point and Vista House, Oregon, ca.1930
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Penny Postcard: Crown Point and Vista House, Oregon, ca.1930.
Penny Postcard, ca.1930, "Crown Point and Vista House, Columbia River Highway, Oregon". Caption on back reads: "Crown Point 25.5 miles from Portland, Oregon. A view of 35 miles both East and West can be seen from Vista House." Copyright Cross & Dimmitt. Published by Angelus Commercial Studio, Portland, Oregon. Card #2. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Vista House Dedication, May 5, 1918
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Penny Postcard: Vista House Dedication, May 5, 1918.
Penny Postcard, May 5, 1918, "Vista House, Columbia River Highway, Oregon." Published by The Oregon News, Portland, Oregon. Card #17. Caption on back reads: "Vista House, Columbia River Highway, Ore., Erected in 1917 at a cost of over $100,000. Finished on the inside with marble. Used for an Observatory and Comfort station. From this point one gets a beautiful view of the Columbia River for 25 to 40 miles.". The dedication of Vista House was May 5, 1918. Portland's Royal Rosarians can be seen dressed in white. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon, 1918
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Penny Postcard: Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon, 1918.
Penny Postcard, Copyright 1918, "Vista House, Columbia River Highway, Ore." Image copyright 1918 by Angelus Studio, #13751. Published by The Oregon News Co., Portland, Oregon. Card #45. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon, ca.1920
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Penny Postcard: Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon, ca.1920.
Penny Postcard, ca.1920, "Crown Point and Vista House, Columbia River Highway, Oregon." Published by The Oregon News Co., Portland, Oregon. Card #13761. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon, ca.1927
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Penny Postcard: Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon, ca.1927.
Penny Postcard, ca.1927, "Vista House at Crown Point, Columbia River Highway." Wesley Andrews #759. Postcard appears re-printed, caption on back reads "Vista House at Crown Point, 1927". In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
Penny Postcard, Crown Point and Vista House, Oregon, ca.1943
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Penny Postcard: Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon, ca.1943.
Penny Postcard, Postmarked 1943, "Vista House, Columbia River Highway, Oregon." The Crown Point Chalet is visible in the background on the right above Vista House. Image copyright Angelus Studio. Published by Wesley Andrews Co., Portland, Oregon. Card #859. Card is postmarked August 18, 1943. In the private collection of Lyn Topinka.
MORE Penny Postcards of Crown Point and Vista House Button


Views from Vista House ...

Good views of the Columbia River can be seen from Crown Point and Vista House. Upstream views include Rooster Rock and Rooster Rock State Park, Shepperds Dell, Youngs Creek, Sand Island, Dalton Point, Beacon Rock, and Cape Horn and Phoca Rock. Across the Columbia is Steigerwald Lake and Point Vancouver. Downstream views include Reed Island and Tunnel Point. Off in the distance is Washougal, Washington.

Image, 2008, View from Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Painting the view from Crown Point, Oregon. Image taken July 27, 2008.
Image, 2004, Rooster Rock State Park and Cape Horn, as seen from Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Rooster Rock State Park, Oregon, and Cape Horn, Washington, as seen from Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon. Image taken October 11, 2004.
Image, 2005, Columbia River looking upstream from Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Columbia River, looking upstream, as seen from Crown Point, Oregon. Rooster Rock State Park and Youngs Creek are on the right. Beacon Rock, Phoca Rock, and Cape Horn are all visible. Image taken March 6, 2005.
Image, 2004, Columbia River Gorge, as seen from Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Columbia River Gorge, looking upstream, as seen from Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon. The Historic Columbia River Highway is in the foreground. Image taken October 10, 2004.
Image, 2004, Columbia River Gorge, as seen from Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Columbia River Gorge, looking upstream, as seen from Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon. The Historic Columbia River Highway is in the foreground. Image taken June 27, 2004.
Image, 2006, Columbia River Gorge, as seen from Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Columbia River Gorge, looking upstream, as seen from Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon. The Historic Looking at the Columbia River Highway in the foreground and Youngs Creek (Shepperds Dell) on the lower right. Sand Island is in the middle ground with Dalton Point jutting into the Columbia. Phoca Rock is just visible on the left and Beacon Rock is in the background. Image taken October 21, 2006.
Image, 2004, Steigerwald Lake and Point Vancouver, as seen from Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Steigerwald Lake and Point Vancouver, as seen from Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon. The Historic Columbia River Highway is in the foreground. Image taken June 27, 2004.
Image, 2004, Rooster Rock as seen from Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Rooster Rock State Park, Oregon, as seen from Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon. Image taken October 10, 2004.
Image, 2004, Reed Island, Washington, as seen from Crown Point, Oregon, click to enlarge
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Reed Island, Washington, as seen from Crown Point, Oregon. Steigerwald Lake NWR is in the distance (right) on the Washington shore. Rooster Rock State Park, Oregon, is in the foreground. Image taken October 11, 2004.
Image, 2006, View downstream from Vista House, click to enlarge
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View downstream from Vista House. View shows Tunnel Point, Reed Island, and Cottonwood Point behind Reed Island. Interstate 84 is in the foreground below the lighting fixture from the Historic Columbia River Highway. Image taken October 21, 2006.
Image, 2005, Tunnel Point and Onion Rock, from Crown Point, click to enlarge
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Tunnel Point and Onion Rock, from Crown Point, Oregon. View from Vista House, Crown Point, Oregon. Image taken March 6, 2005.


From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, November 2, 1805 ...
Examined the rapid below us [from their camp at Fort Rains, looking at the Cascade Rapids] more pertcelarly the danger appearing too great to Hazzard our Canoes loaded, dispatched all the men who could not Swim with loads to the end of the portage below, I also walked to the end of the portage with the carriers where I delayed untill everry articles was brought over and canoes arrived Safe. here we brackfast and took a Meridn. altitude 59į 45' 45" about the time we were Setting out 7 Squars came over loaded with Dried fish, and bear grass neetly bundled up, Soon after 4 Indian men came down over the rapid in a large canoe.     passed a rapid at 2 miles & 1 at 4 miles opposite the lower point of a high Island on the Lard Side [Bradford Island], and a little below 4 Houses on the Stard. Bank, a Small Creek on the Lard Side [Tanner Creek] opposit Straw berry Island [Hamilton Island], which heads below the last rapid, opposit the lower point of this Island [Hamilton Island] passed three Islands covered with tall timber [today there are two, Ives and Pierce] opposit the Beatin rock [Beacon Rock]     Those Islands are nearest the Starboard Side, imediately below on the Stard. Side passed a village of nine houses [Skamania and Skamania Landing], which is Situated between 2 Small Creeks [Woodward Creek and Duncan Creek], and are of the Same construction of those above; here the river widens to near a mile, and the bottoms are more extensive and thickly timbered, as also the high mountains on each Side, with Pine, Spruce pine, Cotton wood, a Species of ash, and alder.     at 17 miles passed a rock near the middle of the river [Phoca Rock], about 100 feet high and 80 feet Diamuter,     proceed on down a Smoth gentle Stream of about 2 miles wide, in which the tide has its effect as high as the Beaten rock [Beacon Rock] or the Last rapids at Strawberry Island [Hamilton Island],- Saw great numbers of waterfowl of Different kinds, Such as Swan, Geese, white & grey brants, ducks of various kinds, Guls, & Pleaver [today just below Beacon Rock is Franz National Wildlife Refuge]. ...     we encamped under a high projecting rock on the Lard. Side [Rooster Rock, with Crown Point rising above it],     here the mountains leave the river on each Side [leaving the Columbia River Gorge, Steigerwald Land NWR is on the north and the Sandy River delta is on the south], which from the great Shute to this place is high and rugid [Columbia River Gorge]; thickly Covered with timber principalley of the Pine Species. The bottoms below appear extensive and thickly Covered with wood.     river here about 2Ĺ miles wide.     Seven Indians in a Canoe on their way down to trade with the nativs below, encamp with us, those we left at the portage passed us this evening and proceeded on down The ebb tide rose here about 9 Inches, the flood tide must rise here much higher- we made 29 miles to day from the Great Shute [Cascade Locks]-





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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: Friends of Vista House publication, "Vista House, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon", published 2006; Friends of Vista House website, 2004; National Register of Historic Places website, 2004; "PDXHistory.com" website, 2006.

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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August 2011