Cascade Locks

Date of visit: May 12, 2012
Population: 1,144 (2010 Census)

The town of Cascade Locks is on the south bank of the river in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. The river at this spot used to be very dangerous for boats since the channel contained numerous eddies, boulders, and rocky reefs, compounded by a swift current. In November 1878 construction of a locks was started, although it was plagued with problems at the beginning. The managing contractor, A.H. Ball died from exposure. Work was slowed by delays in receiving and assembling equipment and by severe weather: high winds and large masses of floating ice in winter followed by heavy rain and high water in the spring. Worker morale was low due to the primitive living conditions for the workers and the lack of medical facilities. Eventually the workers went on strike. Fed up, the Army Corps of Engineers canceled the contract in November 1879 and took over supervision of the construction.

By 1880 a town had started to develop thanks to the presence of the workers, the emergence of a fishing industry, and the summer tourists drawn to the scenic beauty of the Gorge. On November 5, 1896, residents and visitors cheered the opening of the locks. Although construction had taken 17 years, the economic benefits began immediately since the value of freight through the canal each year usually exceeded the entire cost of the locks construction. The locks were used for more than 40 years until they became obsolete when the backwaters of the Bonneville Dam drowned them in 1938.

Welcome to Cascade Locks
Welcome to Cascade Locks

Old locks
Looking downstream from the flooded locks

Historical Museum
History museum located in one of the old locks tender’s houses

Cascade Locks
The main drag in Cascade Locks

Cascade Locks post office
Post office

Pacific Crest Pub


Clark Thompson House
The historic 1907 Clark Thompson House

City Hall
City Hall

Map of Cascade Locks

Oregon Towns Project

Winter wonderland

Greg and I headed up to Mt. Hood on Sunday to go snowshoeing. Traffic slowed to a crawl in Rhododendron where the two lanes merged down to one and then right after that we ended up behind the slow-moving gravel truck, which was actually okay because the roads were a little slick and it was nice to have fresh gravel to drive on. It made for a slow trek up to Government Camp but we were so busy gawking at the winter wonderland all around us that the slow pace was okay. The trees were snowy/frosty starting about 2,000 feet and it was SO beautiful!

White River was our first choice if the weather was clear and Twin Lakes was our backup. Even though it had been clear for the drive up the clouds started rolling in pretty quickly and the mountain was already vanishing when we left Government Camp. Plus there was a sign that said chains or snow tires were required on Highway 35 and we had neither. So we headed to Twin Lakes.

The scene at Frog Lake Sno Park. Beautiful!!


The trail was well-traveled and pretty packed and we had an easy trek.


I love snowy trees against a blue sky! (It was REALLY cold out but that was actually okay because if it had been warmer then all that snow would have been sliding off the trees onto our heads!)


We got to the lower lake where we had a bite to eat.


Gray jays hung around begging for food:


Then we headed to the upper lake, which was further away than I remembered. Beautiful snowy landscape along the way:


Normally you’d be able to see the tip of Mt. Hood poking up above the trees over there, but it was too cloudy. Glad we didn’t go to White River!


More gray jays hung around and did their cute begging thing. Many many photos ensued.


Greg at the lake:


Then we turned and headed back to the car. One last picture at Twin Lakes Summit.


Back at the sno park we made great haste to stow the gear and get the hell out of there. The place was full of idling snowmobiles and the exhaust fumes were overwhelming. I started feeling nauseous. I don’t know how those guys put up with the fumes. On our way to Government Camp for some nosh we saw LOTS of cars parked along the highway near Trillium Lake because the parking lot had filled up. When we passed the ODOT yard we saw that they had spray-painted “NO PARKING” all along on the piles of plowed snow at the entrance. The areas along 26 near the Timberline Road junction were crazy with people putting on or removing chains. Then we got to Government Camp and it took us 15 minutes to drive the business loop from the east end to the Ice Axe Grill (we had to return Greg’s rented snowshoes at the Huckleberry Inn, which is why we drove through the middle of town). There were hundreds of cars, pedestrians, snowshoers, skiers, sledders, and dogs all over the place. It was a madhouse.

On a side note, the icicles on the buildings in Government Camp were wicked.

A beautiful day on the mountain! Really glad we went.