Our Daily Sykes #376 – Another Roadside Attraction

Sometime in the late 1940s the Dorpat family made its first trip from Spokane to Portland in a 1946 Plymouth sedan and stopped to give a devotional study to the sublime Multnomah Falls. (We were on our way to a church-something in Portland.) In 1949, say, these falls were nearly the most exciting roadside attraction along the Columbia. That distinction still held then to Celilo Falls, with the native American fishing platforms and the camps they set up beside them. It was explained to me then - I don't recall by whom - that many of the jalopies strewn about the camp site were broken cars abandoned to the elements, for "the Indians never fix their cars." This seemed wonderfully strange to me at the time, now it seems more like an example of racist half-wittedness. The Dalles dam submerged the falls, the camp sites and whatever motorcars were not dragged or driven to higher ground. My most recent visit to - or past - Multnomah Falls was in 2005, and Jean was driving. We were chasing some "repeats" for our book "Washington Then and Now." As a sign either of being in a hurry or, most likely, our inured sensibility, we scarsely turned our heads to the falls as we sped by on what is now a freeway along the river's Oregon side. Now I wonder if I have posted this subject earlier. It is a another tribute to Horace Sykes that he too in the late 1940s - most likely - felt the need to record these falls in spite of the season. Some last vestiges of the fall's Action Painting survive here in Sykes' setting and the falls themselves are softened in the dim light by his slow shutter. (Click to Enlarge)

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