Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bridge to Nowhere

From 1921 until 1966, scheduled ferry service connected automobile travelers across the Columbia River between Astoria, Oregon and Megler, Washington. When the 4.1 mile Astoria-Megler Bridge opened to traffic in August 1966, it was the final link in U.S. Highway 101 between Mexico and Canada.

Critics opposed to the bridge's construction called it the "bridge to nowhere" and said that tolls would never recoup the cost of the bridge. But traffic far exceeded even official projections and, by the end of 1993, tolls were removed when the construction bonds were repaid two years ahead of schedule.

The Astoria -Megler Bridge appears to float in the fog above Astoria's Riverwalk.

The Astoria-Megler Bridge rises above the Cannery Pier Hotel.

Astoria's waterfront was once a major fish processing center as evidenced by the many pilings that line the riverfront.

View Astoria-Megler Bridge in a larger map

Photographs ©Michael Launder. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Valley View School

From 1909 until 1946, students attended classes in the one-room Valley View School at the intersection of Yamhill-Newberg Highway (today's Oregon 240) and Ribbon Ridge Road. After the children from Valley View began taking their lessons at Ewing Young School in 1946, the schoolhouse sat vacant and deteriorating for 40 years.

In 1986, the Valley View School building was moved, in pieces, to George Fox University's Tilikum Retreat Center. Since then, the building has been restored, repainted, and furnished in a manner suiting it's time as an active school.

View Valley View School in a larger map

Photographs ©Michael Launder. All rights reserved.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Willamette Valley oaks

Today's Sunday Oregonian had a front page feature on the role large oak trees play in the ecosystem of the Willamette Valley. The article particularly mentions the role of large isolated trees. It is well worth a read.

There is also a nice photograph of a lone, still bare of leaves, in a field of tulips that accompanies the story. This got me to thinking about my own photographs of Willamette Valley oaks. I find these trees to be a signature feature of the valley and a worthy subject of photography. The photographs that accompany this post were taken this past January at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge near Rickreall, Oregon.

Baskett Slough is part the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Willamette Valley NWRC encompasses the Ankeny, Baskett Slough, and William Finley NWRs. The purpose of the refuge complex is to provide wintering habitat for the dusky Canada goose. Another goal is to preserve habitat for native species. An important part of achieving this goal is the preservation of oak woodlands. In addition to the refuge complex, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service offers the Partnership for Fish & Wildlife program to support and encourage private property owners in the protection of and restoration of wetlands and fish and wildlife habitat on private land.

I find winter to be an especially rewarding time to visit Baskett Slough NWR for photography. The bare oak trees against the crisp blue sky make for a wonderful subject.

View Baskett Slough NWR in a larger map

Photographs ©Michael Launder. All rights reserved.