What Is A Sturgeon?
We went sturgeon viewing at the fish hatchery at Bonneville Dam. Rather than describe the huge fish, I've included this sign. If you're interseted, you can click on it. They have a huge sturgeon in the viewing pond at the hatchery. Not to give any lunatics ideas, but a few years ago my brother said someone broke in at night and stole an even larger sturgeon. Guess they are kind of hard to catch with rod and reel? Idiots often ruin it for the rest of us, no?
The Oregon Pony - first steam locomotive in Oregon
One might rightly assume that the first railroad in Oregon was in the Portland area, since after all that was where most of the population was. However, that was only partly the case.
The first "railway" (if it can be called that) here was a simple series of carts pulled by horses to get freight and passengers around Willamette Falls in Oregon City. It did run on rails, but it wasn't exactly a true railroad.
A similar, but much longer railway was built at Cascade Locks, and eventually the portage railway here became a fairly substantial operation. Not exactly a long distance railway, by any means, but it did have fully enclosed passenger cars and a reasonable assortment of freight cars, and traveled a distance measured in miles rather than yards.
In the 1850s, the Oregon Pony became the first steam locomotive delivered to Oregon, for operation on this river portage railway, and remained in operation until around 1905. It was then put on display at Union Station, and for a while was on display at the Lewis & Clark Exhibition in Portland (a "World's Fair" type of event).
Eventually, however, it wound up back home in Cascade Locks.
Here, it is on display in a park near the remains of the river locks that once doomed this little locomotive to a life of obscurity, as without the locks the portage railway around the very rough rapids in the river would have continued until the Bonneville Dam was completed.
Unfortunately, the display enclosure makes it very difficult to view the locomotive. It is possible to see all the parts, and to get a reasonably up-close look at the machine, in terms of trying to photograph it the enclosure is quite difficult to work around.
The locomotive is a "gypsy" style locomotive with two cylinders driving a gear shaft at the front of the locomotive, and the reduced gearing driving the front wheel. This style remained fairly popular in the Pacific Northwest for a number of decades, particularly among logging operators. Bigger and heavier and faster standard style locomotives were quickly put into service as they became available and as the track was rebuilt to accommodate them.
The locomotive is located in Marine Park. You will find the entrance to Marine Park to be a narrow paved road that goes sharply down hill from the main road through town, on the north (river) side of the city. There is a very sharp curve just before going under the railroad line, so large vehicles will have their work cut out for them getting through here. The display structure is to the left on a grassy mound just after you pass under the railroad line.
A Lot to See Here
"Salmon run was very interesting"
This area includes the first Bonneville Dam, the lock for boats, the fish hatchery and the opportunity to see a sturgeon up close. There was also a nice little gift shop.
The dam on the Oregon side was built during the Depression and changed forever the character of the Columbia river. It also helped with creating new jobs and new industry in the area. We had seen the dam and fish ladders on the Washington side so didn't take the tour on the Oregon side. It is said the experiences are similar.
What we did enjoy however were the activities at the hatchery. Salmon run is late summer to early fall. It was rather amazing to watch the salmon swimming upstream be caught in the gates, sent in one by one to be examined for readiness to spawn, if ready to be stripped of eggs and then thrown on ice for food. If they weren't ready they were sent back out for a few days.
The eggs that are harvested and fertilized here are hatched and raised here until ready to be sent back to the river. The ponds hold various sizes of fingerlings.
It would be good to plan the greater part of a day here during salmon run in order to see all there is to see. If no salmon are running then half a day would be enough for the ponds, the dam, the fish ladders and the lock.
The town was named for the series of locks built in 1896 on the Columbia River to navigate boats past what were once dangerous rapids. Provides access to Cascade Locks, and Bridge of the Gods Historic Site. If you wish to head for Washington, Bridge of the Gods Toll Bridge will take you there. Cross the bridge and check out Beacon Rock and the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center near Stevenson, Washington.