Saturday, July 12, 2014
Basic Guide to Exploring Oregon City on a Short Day Hike or Walk
Basic Guide to Exploring Oregon City on a Short Day Hike or Walk Oregon City is a Curious Place to Visit. Very Close to Portland, Oregon, it Has History , Natural and Industrial Scenery Lex Loeb Contributor Network . Oregon City is a worthwhile place for a day hike near Portland, Oregon. It used to be the capitol of the State of Oregon. Situated on the bank of the Willamette River, This small city straddles shear black basalt cliffs that cut across the old town panorama built up along the river. The town is still something of a time warp because the re-development people have not yet arrived to replace the town real life character with a gloss over version. The town has the sulfur smell of the paper mill actually still making paper just up river from the main old downtown section. The paper mill just stops the city dead in its tracks with a barrier and forces cars to drive behind it though a tunnel cut out of the solid black basalt cliffs. It is a very picturesque town but few people will actually stop and walk around it to explore it. It is the best time to do now before it becomes some kind of redevelopment as a tourist mecca. It clearly has that potential. Now it real and now is the best time to explore it before it becomes a Disney main street style attraction. Sunday maybe the best day to come for a day hike or walk because parking is free but you can also park away from the meters up the top of the basalt cliffs near where the old Carnegie library is to avoid the parking fees down below in the more commercial downtown area. Either up or down you should make a point of taking the public elevator up or down the basalt rock face to continue the walk. At the top of the elevator you can visit the McLaughlin House, which commemorates the beginnings of Europeanization of Oregon. The McLaughlin's are buried in the yard over looking the river and the old house and the one next to it are under the conservator ship of the national park service. Below the house is a trail that follows an urban water fall that was once a flour grinding mill across the street from the McLaughlin house. The water fall pops out form a creak hidden under present day Oregon city streets and it cascades over a series of concrete walls down to the rail road tracks and the commercial area , and county court house, down below. The old trail used by the Molala Indians is associated with the present street that allows cars to come up from the river. The public elevator is just across the street from the McLaughlin house. Walking further up hill a bit you will find some of the old homes and churches of the town and the old Andrew Carnegie library. Along the top of the basalt cliffs on either side of the entrance to the free public elevator tower is a public park and promenade . Walking away from the McLaughlin house and in the direction up river along the promenade you can see the huge tops of some of the black basalt columns that are integrated into the cliff walls. Behind the park over looking the river are picturesque old Victorian view homes. Looking out over the bluff is a panoramic view of the old Edison electric plant, the dam and locks to power it, the paper mill just below with it's industrial smoke stacks actually working and further in the distance Willamette falls which looks like a miniature horse shoe shaped Niagara falls but it definitely changes depending on the season and the level of the water in the river. You can follow the promenade path to a dangerous looking steel pedestrian bridge that crosses over the highway below the cliffs with a stairway that down after that reminiscent of a steel fire escape. The view from this pedestrian foot bridge is the paper mill, the Edison plant across the river and the falls. It is one of the more exciting walks you will find in the Portland area if you have an interest or curiosity in the industrial aspects of the place. There is a Willamette falls locks museum on the West Lynn side of the river and nice panoramic views of Oregon City, the basalt cliffs and the paper mill. The west Lynn bridge looks like s skate boarding night mare and appears to be in major need of repairs with a heavy set rusted steel structure buried in think concrete. The slope of the arches is so low one can see kids walking up on top of them across the bridge or risking riding bikes or skate boards over them. The bridge sports concrete odalisques which are of some interest. At the time of writing this the bridge was being refurbished. Oregon city is the kind of place unlikely to last. Already the fake tourist style trolleys have arrived and other things are modernizing. nearby is also Clackamette park where the Clackamas river converses in its "delta" with the Willamette river just down river from town. There are bike paths along the river that may extend into the park. It is a worthwhile secondary walk on trails in Clackamette park. Also near by town is the eye sore giant waggon train tourist pioneer museum built in the lets make oregon a tourist trap days of the 1980s and 90s. Oregon City is a fun place to walk around and explore with the cliffs, the industrial area, old historic houses and other building, the public elevator, parks , water falls, old electric plant, locks, views bridges and prominades and rough edges on everything giving it a very special character that is likely to be lost quickly when ever it gets rediscovered. If I were on the city commission I would probably work to get better public viewing access to Willamette falls in the middle of the river than presently exists and leave the rest of the town alone. See it and walk it before it's gone. .