Saturday, September 06, 2014

Viewpoint Road, The Dalles

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In the previous post about the Seufert Viaduct bridge in The Dalles, I mentioned that the bridge now carries lightly used Viewpoint Road, which dead ends at a viewpoint just east of the bridge. Here are a few photos from that viewpoint, which offers a nice view of Mt. Hood, the river, and the Dalles Dam. It's basically just a big unmarked gravel lot at end of the road. Strangely there aren't any signs explaining what you're looking at or even indicating who owns it. There isn't even anything in the net about there being a scenic viewpoint here. I consulted the Wasco County GIS system, which seems to indicate the state owns it, as part of the I-84 right of way. But that's literally the only concrete piece of information I have about this place. I don't even know for a fact that this is the viewpoint mentioned in the road's name, though I don't know what else it would be.

It would be interesting to at least know whether the viewpoint predates the dam or the other way around. There were once rapids on the Columbia here where the dam now stands, so there would've been something to see. In the old Oregon Trail computer game, The Dalles was the spot where the player had to make a critical choice: Go on a dangerous road over the mountains, or take an equally dangerous raft downstream through the rapids. Either way was invariably fatal, in my experience. Anyway, if you've ever drowned while playing Oregon Trail, this viewpoint lets you see one of the spots where it may have happened.

So... it's a scenic spot, yet kind of forgotten and secluded, and it's outside of town but not that far from town. If it's not a popular teen make-out spot now (and I have no idea whether that's still a thing or not), It must have been one at some point. I mean, c'mon. Even the name's perfect. "Let's go to Viewpoint Road" totally sounds like a euphemism. The whole thing's like something out of central casting. Of course then the creature shows up, maybe some sort of vengeful river spirit conjured by the old salmon cannery that used to be nearby, and mayhem ensues. But hey, nothing's perfect.

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