Washington – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today introduced a resolution congratulating the Historic Columbia River Highway on the upcoming 100th anniversary of America’s first scenic highway, known both for its remarkable scenery and innovative engineering.
“Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-time admirer, the views of Multnomah Falls and the Columbia Gorge from this landmark byway are unmatched,” Wyden said. “Congress must work to preserve and restore this highway both to protect that experience for future generations and to continue creating jobs that build on Oregon’s growing outdoor recreation and tourism economy.”
“The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking landscapes in our country,” said Merkley. “The restoration of the Historic Columbia River Highway is a testament to the vision and determination of many Oregonians, and I’ve been proud to partner with the local community and Senator Wyden to help bring federal support to this deserving project. It’s terrific to celebrate 100 years of the Columbia River Highway, and to look forward to many more years ahead of sharing this amazing place with Oregonians and visitors alike.”
A National Historic Landmark, the 75-mile long scenic highway designed by Samuel C. Lancaster, runs through the Gorge between Troutdale and The Dalles. It is the first scenic highway in the United States and the first modern highway in the Pacific Northwest. It is also a popular tourist destination in the Columbia River Gorge, each year bringing thousands of visitors to hike and bike its trails and connecting travelers from one Oregon treasure to the next.
The Oregon Department of Transportation is working to connect existing highway segments with recreation trails to establish a continuous historic route through the Columbia River Gorge. Ten miles await reconnection to the main trail, which will open access to the Gorge for hikers and bikers.
Kevin Gorman, Executive Director of Friends of the Gorge, called the centennial-year resolution by Wyden and Merkley a “clarion call” to finish reconnecting this national gem.
“Ten miles remain to restore the glory of yesteryear,” Gorman said. “The Historic Columbia River Highway is worthy of national recognition and the Senate continues to demonstrate its support of the Columbia Gorge with this amazing resolution. It was the U.S. Senate 30 years ago that led efforts to create the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and with this resolution the Senate again steps up to support a national treasure.”