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May 30, 2006
From journal Columbia Gorge - DuPont Forever Young Seniors
July 15, 2004
Sam Hill, "good roads" advocate, was instrumental in its creation, making a convincing case for construction. Multnomah County hired landscaper/engineer Samuel C. Lancaster to build it, at which time the road experiments at Maryhill took place. The intent was a road to match the landscape: imported Italian masons creating parapets for beauty as well as utility, for example.
Associated Sam Hill journal entries.
--Maryhill Museum of Art
The original 74-miles fell into disuse (portions as early as the 1930s) after the easier (mostly flat grade) drive that became Interstate-84 was laid along the river below. In fact extensions (not intended as scenic road) were replaced by the new interstate. Today about 55-miles of road exist, and around 40 are still drivable. One section, including two tunnels, is only available from a trail by hiking or biking in.
--See journal Overview for more information on trails, etc.
Lancaster chose Crown Point, 733-feet above the river, as a viewpoint based upon his belief that this location would highlight the beauty of the gorge. Referring to it as an "observatory," Lancaster thought it would be the perfect place for visitors to "refresh" themselves. Generations of visitors agree.
Portland architect Edgar M. Lazarus (whose sister, Emma, penned the poem on the Statue of Liberty) was hired to design the art nouveau style visitor center/museum named Vista House. The relatively small copper-roofed sandstone structure, 44-feet in diameter, 55-feet tall, was built in 1916. Interiors are real or faux-marble. Currently under renovation, scheduled to re-open late summer 2004. A trailer houses a temporary information kiosk onsite. The view up and down the gorge is always available. Make a photo of yourself superimposed against the postcard view here and consider that during the Missoula Floods geology entry (13,000 years ago), rising 800-feet, you would have been submerged here.
[The Guestbook is all that remains of the Crown Point Chalet roadhouse. A perusal of signatures reveals a listing of the region’s influential during its heyday. This pdf contains a facsimile of Sam Hill’s signature and a nice biography.]
Visitor Center Open: (Apr 1-May 26) Fri-Sun 9am-6pm, (May 27-Aug 31) 9am-6pm, (Sept 1-Thanksgiving weekend) Thurs-Sun 9am-6pm, (after Thanksgiving) weekends weather permiting 10am-5pm.
Contact: (State Park Dept.) 1-800-551-6949, 503-695-2261; (Friends of Vista House) 503-695-2230, (fax) 503-695-2250, firstname.lastname@example.org
From journal Columbia River Gorge: Geology, Myth & Legend