Our Daily Sykes #118 – Willamette Falls Sunset

It's an odd arrangement from most perspectives - the ancient falls on the Willamette River 26 miles upstream from where it joins the Columbia River. Since the late 1880s it has been a waterfall lassoed by a power company. It resembles a fallen cat's cradle. These falls can seem majestic from photographs taken below them. You need a boat with power. From this prospect they are more surreal. The Sykes view does not show the great sprawl of industrial structures built beside the falls and downstream. They are, I think, on the whole larger than the falls themselves. And yet the size of this cataract is deceptive. It is claimed to be the largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest. I imagine (only) that the Celilo Falls and Kettle Falls, both on the Columbia and both covered now by slack water lakes behind dams, were both larger. These falls form a horseshoe on their own. The power companies booms (if that is what they are called) seem to draw an outline about it. (See "lasso" above) They are 1500 feet wide although they do not seem so. (As any male with bad knees will remind you that is five football fields!) The drop here at Oregon City is 40 feet, and that too seems excessive, unless you are below them in that powerboat. When judged by water volume the Willamette falls are rated the eighteenth largest in the world. The canal that passes beside them to the west has several locks. It was opened in 1873. Eight years later a fish latter was added. I first (and last) saw them from a train heading to California. A surprise. (Click to Enlarge)

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