Saturday, August 15, 2009

Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler

Today we decided to ride the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler.


That paddlewheel is real, and is the only means of propulsion for the boat. The captain explained that he had no side thrusters, or any other propellers of any kind. The boat was licensed as a diesel electric, meaning that the diesel turns generators and the stern wheel is driven by electric motors.


We took the two hour scenic tour of the river, down to the Bonneville Dam and then back up river for about 5 miles.

The top deck and the wheel house. It was cold up here folks!


The wind from yesterday hasn’t changed much, even though it was 20 degrees cooler. Loyce doesn’t look too warm!


Bridge of the Gods between Oregon and Washington.


This bridge was built in the 1920’s at a cost of $600K. It is estimated to cost over $27M today. It the 1940’s the bridge was elevated 44 feet, to raise it above the newly constructed Bonneville Dam head waters.

Along the Washington side of the river are crudely constructed dip net fishing platforms. These are allowed only for Native American usage. They do have to be permitted, but the boat captain said almost anything is allowed. The yellow train cars in the background are for transporting finished lumber from the saw mills.


The Bonneville Dam is built in several sections with an island in the middle. This is the spillway.


More of the spillway with lift doors to the left of the first picture. I have photos from the other side later.


Left of the tower is the new lock to drop barges 60 feet to the other side of the dam. An older narrow lock is to the right of the tower next to the generator building.


This is the generator building.


They were having a single man sailboat regatta. These are not sailboards, but do have a boat hull, and hydrofoils under the keel and rudder to lift them from the water. They are the fastest single man sailboat in the world. As the captain informed us.



After two hours we were all cold, and ready for the ride to be over. But it was fun!

Once back in the car, we drove around the Bonneville Dam, and took the down river side of the dam. This is an old dam but is Army Core of Engineers. The spillway is quite spectacular.


This is the fish ladder, where the salmon can swim up the current of the river by jumping each successive dam. I had to take the picture thru the fence.


The spillway from farther back. The start of the fish ladder is the black box like structure on the right side.


Its late at night, and I hear another train coming in the distance. The boat captain said that there were over 40 trains a day on the Oregon side of the river, and that is about one and a half an hour.

Since we enjoyed this so much last night, we signed up for the third night, so we can do some more sight seeing again tomorrow.

Retired Rod

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