Whatever I'm Thinking

Stevenson, Washington in the Columbia River Gorge

November 29, 2020

Stevenson is an old Columbia River port town lying about 50 miles upstream from the Portland (OR)/Vancouver (WA) metro area. The town of 1,500 lies on the steep northern banks of the Columbia River at the western edge of the Columbia River Gorge. The high Cascade Mountains can be seen across the river on the Oregon side.

Downtown Stevenson, Washington, from the steps of the Skamania County Courthouse

Main Street Stevenson is called the Lewis and Clark Highway after the famous explorers. The Corps of Discovery, as Lewis and Clark referred to their expedition, came past this spot going downriver in November 1805, and again returning upriver in April 1806. They referred to the area as the “Great Shoote” for the difficult rapids at this spot.

Historical sign explaining the Lewis and Clark expedition’s travails at Stevenson

In the 20th Century, a series of dams were built on the Columbia to help tame the river and to provide hydroelectric power. The Bonneville Dam, 10 miles downstream of Stevenson, was completed in 1937 and provides some calm to the river at this point. This is how the Columbia River at Stevenson looks today:

Columbia River at Stevenson, Washington

Stevenson is an old river port town.  Little of the port remains but the government recently built a jetty into the river, some shoreline sidewalks, and a park to commemorate the old port. 

Columbia River jetty at Stevenson Landing
A historical sign explains the steamboat era at Stevenson

Stevenson is still small despite its location (within commuting distance to Portland). Today the town is half rural residential and half rural logging community.  There are a few diners downtown and a few brewpubs have been popping up to service the hiking, biking, and wind-surfing crowd.

Walking Man Brewing. Stevenson, Washington
Downtown Stevenson

It’s often cold and windy around here but I lucked out today.  Today is a clear, warm November day.  About half the autumn leaves remain on the trees, leaving the hillsides speckled with gold against an evergreen background.

Along the Columbia in Stevenson, Washington
Looking down toward 1st Street. Stevenson, Washington

The Skamania County Courthouse is a 1970s-style building three stories tall with a wide front lawn sloping down toward the Lewis and Clark Highway below.  The bright green of the Washington state flag reflects off the courthouse’s front glass windows.  Views from the building could be sold as real estate; they look up and down the Columbia River and include the steep green cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon side.

Skamania County Courthouse. Stevenson, Washington
Skamania County Courthouse. Stevenson, Washington
Skamania County in the state of Washington

A large tree stump from Skamania County’s logging days serves as the county veterans’ memorial. The best view of the Columbia River Gorge has been reserved for the veterans’ memory.

Skamania County Veterans Memorial

All photos were taken by the author on November 2, 2009.

A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.

I travel as a hobby and not for a living (yet) — but donations are happily accepted if you’d like to help defer my costs.
The TimMan


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