[9] Between the 1850s and the 1960s, channel-straightening and flood control projects, as well as agricultural and urban encroachment, cut the length of the river between the McKenzie River confluence and Harrisburg by 65 percent. FEATURED PARTNER. Thirteen of these dams were built from the 1940s through the 1960s to be operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE),[86][87] and 11 of those produce hydropower. [135] In October, they were replaced by a larger steel wall that cost the city about $300,000. These conditions, similar to those that caused the 1861 flood, caused some of the costliest flooding in the river's recorded history. [44] People of the south were more nomadic, traveling from place to place with the seasons. Today the city of West Linn stands about where Linn City once was. McArthur, Lewis A.; McArthur, Lewis L. (2003) [1928]. [126] Before dawn on December 21, 1964, the Willamette reached 29.4 feet (9.0 m), which was higher than the seawall on its banks in Portland. Mineral Collecting - Willamette Valley. It ends about 14.5 miles (23.3 km) further downstream on the Columbia, near St. Helens in Columbia County. [11] The main stem of the Willamette varies in width from about 330 to 660 feet (100 to 200 m). At times, however, the Chinook territory extended even farther south in the Willamette Valley. [18], The Willamette River basin was created primarily by plate tectonics and volcanism and was altered by erosion and sedimentation, including some related to enormous glacial floods as recent as 13,000 years ago. This trading path, over 600 miles (970 km) long, stretched from the mouth of the Willamette River near present-day Portland south through the Willamette Valley, crossing the Cascades and the Siskiyou Mountains, and south through the Sacramento Valley to San Francisco. [127], On December 24, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered federal aid for the flooded areas, as the Willamette continued to rise. Linn City (originally Robins Nest) was established across the Willamette from Oregon City. [14] The highest flow recorded at this station was 420,000 cubic feet per second (11,893 m3/s) on February 9, 1996, during the Willamette Valley Flood of 1996, and the minimum was 4,200 cubic feet per second (120 m3/s) on July 10, 1978. The bill passed, but Governor Charles Martin vetoed it. * This email is used only to keep track of your favorites and itineraries. The highest peak in the state is Mount Hood (3,428.8 m or 11,249 ft), a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. Garter snakes are among the 15 species of reptiles found in the basin. The other 11 dams are Big Cliff on the North Santiam River; Green Peter and Foster on the Santiam River; Cougar on the South Fork McKenzie River; Blue River on the Blue River; Fern Ridge on the Long Tom River; Hills Creek, Dexter on the Middle Fork Willamette River; Fall Creek on Fall Creek; Cottage Grove on the Coast Fork Willamette River, and Dorena on the Row River. [36], For at least 10,000 years, a variety of indigenous peoples populated the Willamette Valley. The project, part of a related series of Portland CSO projects completed in late 2011 at a cost of $1.44 billion,[80] separates the city's sanitary sewer lines from storm-water inputs that sometimes overwhelmed the combined system during heavy rains. The Willamette River (/wɪˈlæmɪt/ (listen) wil-AM-it) is a major tributary of the Columbia River, accounting for 12 to 15 percent of the Columbia's flow. [148], Over the past 150 years, a significant change for the Willamette River has been the loss of its floodplain forests, which covered an estimated 89 percent of a 400-foot (120 m) band along each river bank in 1850. The Steel Bridge is "believed to be the world's only double-lift span that can raise its lower deck independently of the upper deck. [40] In that time period, the Clackamas' tribal population was roughly 1,800. (1997). "[4], A 1927 City Club of Portland report labeled the waterway "filthy and ugly", and identified the City of Portland as the worst offender. [62] Today, the lock system is little used. Rich with sediments deposited by flooding and fed by prolific rainfall on the western side of the Cascades, the Willamette Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in North America, and was thus the destination of many 19th-century pioneers traveling west along the Oregon Trail. Use our interactive map explorer to discover things to do on your next Willamette Valley vacation. [11] For the rest of its course, the river is extremely low-gradient and is affected by Pacific Ocean tidal effects from the Columbia. [28] Evidence suggests that massive quakes of 8 or more on the Richter scale have occurred historically in the Cascadia subduction zone off the Oregon coast, most recently in 1700 CE, and that others as strong as 9 on the Richter scale occur every 500 to 800 years. [55] John McLoughlin, a Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) official, was one of the major contributors to the founding of the town in 1829. It is 463 feet (141 m) high and stores 455,000 acre feet (561,000,000 m3) of water. The new wall had 0.25-inch (6.4 mm) removable steel plates designed to better prevent future flooding. [26], The Willamette River drains a region of 11,478 square miles (29,730 km2), which is 12 percent of the total area of Oregon. The expedition members noted extensive salmon fishing by natives at Willamette Falls, much like that at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River. Flowing northward between the Oregon Coast Range and the Cascade Range, the river and its tributaries form the Willamette Valley, a basin that contains two-thirds of Oregon's population, including the state capital, Salem, and the state's largest city, Portland, which surrounds the Willamette's mouth at the Columbia. [33][34] Other cities in the watershed (but not on the main-stem river) with populations of 20,000 or more are Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, McMinnville, Tualatin, Woodburn, and Forest Grove. Upper-river tribes caught steelhead and salmon, often by building weirs across tributary streams. (1986). The channel forms the primary navigational conduit for Portland's harbor and riverside industrial areas. [65] They were first led off their traditional lands to the Willamette Valley, but soon were marched to the Coast Indian Reservation. Tribes of the northern Willamette Valley practiced a generally settled lifestyle. [76] Four years later, the National Park Service added the Willamette water trail—expanded to 217 miles (349 km) to include some of the major tributaries—to its list of national water trails. Reset Overlays. This and many other large flows preceded the Flood Control Act of 1936 and dam construction on the Willamette's major tributaries. When that occurred, some of the raw sewage in the system flowed into the river instead of into the city's wastewater treatment plant. The main channel, which is 40 feet (12 m) deep and varies in width from 600 to 1,900 feet (180 to 580 m) (although the river broadens to 2,000 feet (610 m) in some of its lower reaches),[5][6] enters the Columbia about 101 miles (163 km) from the larger river's mouth on the Pacific Ocean. [46], The dams on the Willamette's major tributaries are primarily large flood-control, water storage, and power-generating dams. [4][37] The name Willamette is of indigenous origin, deriving from the French pronunciation of the name of a Clackamas Native American village. [155] Beaver populations, presumed to be much lower than historic levels, are increasing throughout the basin. [75] By 2007 the Greenway had grown to include more than 170 separate land parcels, including 10 state parks. First-timer’s Adventure. Shopping Districts in the Willamette Valley. [4][114] The greatest Willamette River flood in recorded history began in 1861, well before the construction of dams in the watershed. Sherar’s Falls, 33-mile loop map, map and cue sheet | Ride with gps Traverse a strikingly scenic high desert canyon and then ride along the Deschutes River en route to Sherar’s Falls. [90], Detroit Dam on the North Santiam River is the second tallest dam in the Willamette River basin after Cougar Dam. Originally created by plate tectonics about 35 million years ago and subsequently altered by volcanism and erosion, the river's drainage basin was significantly modified by the Missoula Floods at the end of the most recent ice age. His work helped open the port of Portland to commerce. [136], Since as early as 1869, with the introduction of a federally funded "snag puller" designed to keep the waterway clear, human habitation has affected the ecology of the river basin. [149] The remaining forests close to the river include large stands of black cottonwood, Oregon ash, willow, and bigleaf maple. [95][96] The Oregon City Bridge, built in 1922, replaced a suspension span constructed at the site in 1888. [37] The territory of the Clackamas encompassed the northeastern portion of the basin, including the Clackamas River (with which their name is shared).
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