Monday, November 04, 2013

Oneonta Tunnel

[View Larger Map]

Here are a few photos of the restored tunnel next to Oneonta Gorge. The tunnel was part of the original 1914 Columbia River Highway, but was closed and sealed up in 1948 when the railroad was rerouted away from the cliff, and the highway was rerouted to use the railroad's old right of way, bypassing the tunnel. Over time the old highway was replaced by a river-level route that eventually became Interstate 84; a December 7th, 1954 article headlined "Gorge Lovers Deplore Eclipse of Scenic Road; Age Demands Utilitarian Route" sort of rolls its eyes at preservationists and their futile efforts to stand in the way of Progress.

The tunnel remained sealed until 2009, when it was finally restored and reopened, after a couple of decades of lobbying efforts. I remember reading about the tunnel as a kid, on a list of the Columbia Gorge's "lost wonders". Among the other lost wonders, the Mitchell Point Tunnels really are gone for good, having been dynamited and all, but I haven't quite given up on getting Celilo Falls back someday. Anyway, I remember thinking it would be cool if they could reopen the Oneonta Tunnel, and being fairly certain it was never going to happen in real life. But amazingly someone with actual power had the same idea I did, and it happened. Granted it finally happened because they needed more parking at Oneonta Gorge, and the only free space was on the far side of the old tunnel, so it's not like they did it for the history and romance of the thing. But still.

No comments :