The Evolving Landscape of the Columbia River Gorge: Lewis and Clark and Cataclysms on the Columbia

Oregon Historical Society Quarterly


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TAVELERS RETRACING LEWIS AND CLARKE JOURNEY to the Pacific over the past two hundred years have witnessed tre mendous change to the Columbia River Gorge and its pri mary feature, the Columbia River. Dams, reservoirs, timber harvest, altered fisheries, transportation infrastructure, and growth and shrinkage of communities have transformed the river and valley.1 This radically different geography of human use and habitation is commonly contrasted with the sometimes romantic view of a prior time provided both by early nineteenth-century chroniclers and present-day critics of the modern condition ? an ecotopia of plentiful and perpetual resources sustaining a stable culture from time immemorial. Reality is more com plicated. Certainly the human-caused changes to the Columbia River and the gorge since Lewis and Clark have been profound; but the geologic his tory of immense floods, landslides, and volcanic eruptions that occurred before their journey had equally, if not more, acute effects on landscapes and societies of the gorge. In many ways, the Lewis and Clark Expedi tion can be viewed as a hinge point for the Columbia River, the changes engineered to the river and its valley in the two hundred years since their visit mirrored by tremendous changes geologically engendered in the thousands of years before. 

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The Evolving Landscape of the Columbia River Gorge: Lewis and Clark and Cataclysms on the Columbia
Series title Oregon Historical Society Quarterly
Volume 105
Issue 3
Year Published 2004
Contributing office(s) Oregon Water Science Center
Description 32 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
First page 390
Last page 421
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N