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In 1910 a power generation facility was constructed at the base of the falls. The water was originally diverted from above the crest of the falls and channeled into a silt dam where the sediments settled and made the water less corrosive to the hydroelectric parts.
It was then funneled into a large pipe which can still be seen in pieces moving down the hillside it was sent into the hydro facility and generated electricity for local agricultural processing in Wasco and Sherman Counties. After the construction of the Dalles Dam in 1957 the power generation facility was no longer needed.
Today the trail to the Lower Falls passes by the old building which has been boarded up. The park rangers have had to board up the structure several times as curious visitors have broken in. Please view the old building from outside as the roof structure is very unstable and has been known to collapse.
Updated Nov 1, 2007
Middle White River Falls is easier to view than its upper counterpart but are somewhat less impressive to me. They are almost always viewed in tandem with the upper falls which makes the whole scene very impressive.
The lower falls is about 35 feet (10 m) but contains the whole volume of the spread out upper falls. The gorge beneath these falls is much cooler than the surrounding area and can be reached by following a short trail from the upper viewing platform.
Another small rapid beneath the middle tier gives the appearance of a triple tiered waterfall when viewed from the trail.
Written May 23, 2007
Upper White River Falls is a very powerful waterfall. Even if it were only this fall I believe it would be worth the 45 minute drive from the Dalles. The Fall is across a very wide crest (about 150 feet or 45 m) and with its desert-like surroundings it seems almost like an African waterfall. The Falls are about 80 feet (24 m) tall but look much larger in real life.
I spoke to a park ranger while visiting the park and he told me that this last year he noticed about 13 adolescents standing across the crest of the waterfall. They were throwing large pieces of wood over the falls for entertainment. This waterfall is very powerful and being in that location would be very dangerous and stupid so don't do that.
Written May 23, 2007
Although Sherars Falls is not entirely impressive in height, it is only 20 feet (6 m), however this falls holds vast importance to the peoples of the Warm Springs Native American Nation. In 1957 the construction of The Dalles Dam submerged the most important fishing grounds in the entire Pacific Northwest Region.
Celilo falls served as a location where native fishermen could net up to 100 salmon in one single day. This fishing location served as the wintering village for not only the Warm Springs Peoples but many other Columbia Plateau groups.
Shears Falls, like Celilo has become not only an important fishing location but an embodiment of the tribes culture itself. When visiting Sherars Falls i could not help but feel out of place and possibly guilt for the harsh treatment that European settlers have done to destroy the culture of these peoples.
The scene at the falls is one which will allow you to gain reverence and respect for native peoples that they continue even today with the traditional practice of building platforms to access the fish jumping in the river.
Written May 15, 2007
A visit to the area surrounding the Warm Springs Reservation would be much less enlightening in my opinion if it was not accompanied with some appreciation of the local culture. The best way i found to get in the mentality to understand more about these people was by listening on my radio to the local Warm Springs Radio Station.
91.9 KWSO plays Native American themed music including "Talking Drum" pow wow music. This step into the musical part of the Warm Springs culture was very interesting and bestowed a level of respect and reverence on me.
Written May 15, 2007
Lower White River Falls is quite Small in comparison to the nearby Upper and Middle White River Falls. This waterfall is separated from the main attraction by a short .2 mile (.3 km) hike through desert like vegetation.
The park ranger i spoke to said that someone in the last year had slipped on the rocks on this trail and broke their back so be careful while traversing the sometimes slippery path. The falls themselves are rather scenic in their lack of development. The surrounding basaltic cliffs and desert plant life also add to the scene.
Updated May 15, 2007