- Skamania County Chamber of Commerce
- 167 NW Second Avenue (Highway 14) in Stevenson
Skamania County, located in the state of Washington, is home to a significant portion of the Columbia River, one of the largest rivers in North America. The history of the Columbia River in Skamania County is rich and diverse, encompassing the stories of Native American tribes, early European explorers, pioneers, and the development of hydroelectric power.
Before European exploration and settlement, the Columbia River and its surrounding areas were inhabited by Native American tribes for thousands of years. The major tribes in the region included the Chinook, Klickitat, Wasco, and Wishram, among others. These tribes relied on the river for sustenance, transportation, and cultural practices. The Columbia River served as a vital trading route, connecting tribes from the interior to the coast.
In the late 18th century, European explorers began to navigate the Columbia River. In 1805-1806, the Lewis and Clark expedition, commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, reached the mouth of the Columbia River. Their journey marked the first recorded European exploration of the region. The expedition played a crucial role in opening up the area for future settlement and development.
With the arrival of settlers in the mid-19th century, Skamania County saw an influx of pioneers who were drawn to the area by the abundant natural resources, including timber and fish. Logging and fishing industries quickly developed along the Columbia River. Steamboats became a common sight, transporting goods and people up and down the river.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought significant changes to the Columbia River in Skamania County with the construction of hydroelectric dams. In 1938, the Bonneville Dam, the first major dam on the Columbia River, was completed near the border of Skamania County and Multnomah County, Oregon. The dam and subsequent hydroelectric projects had a profound impact on the region's economy, providing electricity for the growing population and facilitating industrial development.
The construction of dams, such as Bonneville, The Dalles, and John Day, also had ecological consequences. These projects disrupted the natural flow of the river, impacted fish migration patterns, and led to the decline of salmon populations. Over time, efforts have been made to mitigate these effects and restore fish populations, including the installation of fish ladders and the implementation of fish hatcheries.
Today, the Columbia River in Skamania County continues to play a vital role in the region's economy, serving as a hub for outdoor recreation, including fishing, boating, and hiking. The river and its surrounding areas also hold cultural and historical significance, with numerous sites and museums dedicated to preserving the rich heritage of the region.
Overall, the history of the Columbia River in Skamania County is intertwined with the stories of Native American tribes, explorers, pioneers, and the development of industries such as logging and hydroelectric power. It remains a prominent feature of the county, shaping its past, present, and future.
Top Tourist Attractions
The Columbia River is a majestic waterway that stretches over 1,200 miles, offering a wide range of tourist attractions and stunning natural landscapes. Here are some of the top tourist attractions along the Columbia River:
- Multnomah Falls (Oregon): Located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Multnomah Falls is one of the most iconic waterfalls in the United States. The falls cascade down over 600 feet in two tiers, surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful hiking trails.
- Bonneville Dam (Oregon/Washington): The Bonneville Dam, located east of Portland, is a historic landmark on the Columbia River. Visitors can explore the dam's visitor center, learn about its hydropower operations, and observe fish passing through the fish ladders.
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (Oregon/Washington): Stretching along the Columbia River, the Columbia River Gorge is a breathtaking natural wonder. It offers numerous hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, and opportunities for windsurfing, kiteboarding, and other outdoor activities.
- Mount Hood (Oregon): While not directly on the Columbia River, Mount Hood is a prominent feature of the landscape and offers year-round recreational opportunities. Visitors can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain climbing in this picturesque area.
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (Washington): Situated in Vancouver, Washington, the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site preserves the history of a 19th-century fur trading post. Visitors can explore the reconstructed fort, watch demonstrations of traditional crafts, and learn about the region's early settlement.
- Hood River (Oregon): Hood River is a charming town located in the Columbia River Gorge. It is renowned for its windsurfing and kiteboarding conditions, attracting enthusiasts from around the world. The town also offers breweries, wineries, and a vibrant downtown area.
- Maryhill Museum of Art (Washington): Overlooking the Columbia River, the Maryhill Museum of Art houses a diverse collection of artwork, including European and American paintings, sculptures, Native American artifacts, and more. The museum is surrounded by stunning views of the river and the surrounding landscape.
- Beacon Rock State Park (Washington): This state park features the iconic Beacon Rock, an ancient volcanic core that stands over 800 feet tall. Visitors can hike to the top of the rock for panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge.
- Bridge of the Gods (Oregon/Washington): The Bridge of the Gods is a steel truss bridge that spans the Columbia River, connecting Oregon and Washington. The bridge offers scenic views of the river and is a popular spot for photography and sightseeing.
- The Dalles (Oregon): Situated on the Columbia River, The Dalles is a historic town with a rich pioneer heritage. Visitors can explore the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, visit local wineries, and learn about the town's history at the Fort Dalles Museum.
These attractions represent just a fraction of the numerous sites and activities available along the Columbia River. Whether you're interested in natural beauty, outdoor adventures, or cultural experiences, the Columbia River offers something for every traveler.
Skamania County, situated along the Columbia River in Washington State, experiences a climate characterized by mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Here's a closer look at the climate in Skamania County along the Columbia River:
- Summers (June to September): Summers in Skamania County are typically warm and dry, offering pleasant weather for outdoor activities. Average temperatures range from the upper 70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit (25-30 degrees Celsius). However, temperatures can occasionally soar into the 90s Fahrenheit (32-37 degrees Celsius) during heatwaves. The region receives minimal rainfall during this season, making it ideal for recreational pursuits along the river.
- Autumn (October to November): Autumn brings cooler temperatures to Skamania County. Average highs range from the upper 60s to the low 70s Fahrenheit (around 20 degrees Celsius). As the season progresses, rainfall gradually increases. Fall foliage displays can be seen along the river, adding to the scenic beauty of the area.
- Winters (December to February): Winters in Skamania County are mild but wet. Average temperatures range from the mid-40s to the low 50s Fahrenheit (7-10 degrees Celsius). While snowfall is possible in the higher elevations, it is relatively rare along the Columbia River. Rainfall is more frequent during this season, contributing to the lush vegetation surrounding the river.
- Spring (March to May): Spring brings a gradual warming trend to Skamania County. Average temperatures climb from the 50s to the 60s Fahrenheit (10-15 degrees Celsius) early in the season, reaching the upper 60s to low 70s Fahrenheit (around 20 degrees Celsius) by late spring. Rainfall remains relatively consistent during this period, contributing to the region's vibrant spring blooms.
It's important to note that weather patterns can vary from year to year, and extreme events like heatwaves or cold snaps can occur. It's advisable to check local weather forecasts when planning outdoor activities along the Columbia River in Skamania County.
Skamania County, situated along the Columbia River in Washington State, is characterized by diverse geography shaped by the presence of the river and surrounding natural features. Here's an overview of the geography of the Columbia River in Skamania County:
- Columbia River: The Columbia River is the central geographic feature of Skamania County. It serves as the county's western border, flowing from north to south. The river is one of the largest in North America, spanning over 1,200 miles and originating in the Canadian province of British Columbia. In Skamania County, the Columbia River is a vital waterway for transportation, recreation, and hydroelectric power generation.
- Columbia River Gorge: Skamania County encompasses a significant portion of the Columbia River Gorge, a dramatic canyon that stretches along the river. The gorge is a prominent geographical feature, with towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and scenic viewpoints. It serves as a gateway between the moist western side of the state and the drier eastern side, creating unique ecosystems and microclimates.
- Mountains: Skamania County is bordered by mountains to the east, including the Cascade Range. These mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the Columbia River and offer outdoor recreational opportunities such as hiking, climbing, and camping. Mount Adams, the second-highest peak in Washington State, is located in the county's northeastern corner and stands at an elevation of 12,280 feet (3,743 meters).
- Forests: Skamania County is covered with vast expanses of forests, including parts of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The forests are predominantly composed of Douglas fir, western hemlock, and other coniferous trees. They provide habitat for diverse wildlife and offer opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and nature exploration.
- Waterfalls: Skamania County boasts numerous waterfalls that flow into the Columbia River. Notable waterfalls include the iconic Multnomah Falls, as well as Bridal Veil Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and Horsetail Falls. These cascades contribute to the scenic beauty of the area and attract visitors from around the world.
- Valleys and Plateaus: Skamania County encompasses various valleys and plateaus alongside the Columbia River. These areas provide fertile land for agriculture, including orchards, vineyards, and small farms. The valleys and plateaus offer panoramic views of the river and surrounding landscapes.
The geography of the Columbia River in Skamania County offers a diverse and picturesque environment, combining the majestic river, stunning canyons, towering mountains, lush forests, and captivating waterfalls. This unique geography attracts outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and tourists who appreciate the natural beauty and recreational opportunities of the region.