Low river levels of February 1929 let Alva Day shoot this image capturing the railroad bridge, the barge canal, and part of the falls. The falls are now covered by water backed up behind the Dalles Dam. The remains of the canal are visible next to Interstate 84.
Does that mean there was not enough water to use the canal?
It looks cold. Maybe there is an ice jam somewhere up the river.
Just last week we were driving past this section of I84 and I was looking for the remains of the canal. I have never seen them, but maybe I need to look when I am not driving 65 mph.
L.E. on 24th April 2015 @ 7:53am
Canal wall still shows and the upper end of the canal is now a boat launching ramp in the park. The 3248' long bridge was built with all piers on dry rock, rare. The swing span over the canal between piers 1 & 2 still exists and is visible immediately south of the 1950's lift span. The 300' lift span is not a rectangle but a parallelogram for added strength.
Kenn on 24th April 2015 @ 8:15am
Look at these Alva Day photos of the river in February 1929.
Record low for Pendleton was February of 1929 with 28 below. That actually doesn't seem that cold for Pendleton, but over an extended period of time, I guess it would freeze a river.
L.E. on 24th April 2015 @ 8:47am
I wish they would take out The Dalles Dam and restore the falls.
Bill Seaton on 24th April 2015 @ 8:50am
You really have to know where to look for the remains of the canal. There are areas that the actual 84 is built right over it. Part of it actually runs on the river side of the freeway.
It is hard to believe that in February with snow on the Washington hilltops that the river is this low. Keep in mind though that there was no Bonneville or The Dalles Dam in those days either.
Bill, this day and age The Dalles Dam would not have been built there. There would have been too much objection. I would have been first one in line. Never marched in any protest, but I would certainly this one!!!!!!!!
Charlott on 24th April 2015 @ 9:53am
I have been reading a lot of books and google e-books lately, on the history of the Indians in this area of the Columbia River.
I have an idea the United States Government was more than happy to drown this fall into non existence.
It had become a constant turmoil. The River Indians, Klickitat, Wishrams, etc., believed this was their fishing area. As Indians in other areas were losing fishing ground they were encroaching on Celilo Falls.
Most people think, that if you were Indian you could just walk up with a net and start dipping fish jumping over the falls. That is not how the Indians looked at it then and they still don't.
Rivers like the Yakima and Umatilla were being dammed for irrigation and those Indians were losing their fish runs, so during the salmon runs they moved down or up to Celilo.
Plus, Seufert Brothers Cannery could no longer use fish wheels, so their main source of salmon was to buy from the Indians. They supplied them with lumber for scaffolds, gave them credit at their store and put in the cable car system.
This brought in Indians from everywhere to earn some money.
Legal court battles were constant.
Seufert Brothers and Native Americans fought the construction of The Dalles Dam.
When the dam went in, the fishing headaches for the government were over.
Anyway, that is my take on it.
L.E. on 24th April 2015 @ 10:38am
Celilo is just resting and someday will wake back up. It is amazing how "intelligent" we have been over the years....will future generations look back at today with similar thoughts?
Arlen Sheldrake on 24th April 2015 @ 2:50pm
My guess is only the Indians and people who saw and experienced the falls before the dam would like to see the dam removed. That does not bode well for its removal.
Buzz on 25th April 2015 @ 5:24am
This is probably why there are no boats or water in the canal:
From the Klickitat County Agriculturist, Feb. 22, 1929:
CROSSING COLUMBIA RIVER ON THE ICE
The first time since 1910, according to the weather man, the Columbia river is frozen over from shore to shore, and people and teams are able to cross over on the ice.
Roosevelt residents have been crossing over to Arlington frequently. The ice is said to be of considerable thickness.
All of the ferries plying across the Columbia have been tied up for some time and at present no certain date can be given as to when they will resume operations.
Over at Arlington, according to the Bulletin, everything is frozen as tight as a brick. In an editorial on the continuing cold spell, the editor goes on as follows:
"It is safe to say that there are faces in Arlington that has not been washed since the beginning of the cold spell, and it also a safe bet that there are wash pans full of water that has washed a score of faces. It is used over and over again until it assumes the same appearance as molasses. It has been around the house so long that it becomes a pet, like a cat, and there are tears in the children's eyes and a lump in the throat of the man and woman of the house when it is at last disposed of! Old timers will tell you it is the longest cold spell since '93."
From Bingen we are informed where a complete record is kept, it is said to be the longest and coldest winter now in the northwest. This is disclosed by a weather chart recorded by E.S. Joslyn, one of the earliest pioneers of Klickitat. Mr. Joslyn goes back to 1862 in his record. That year the mercury ranged as low as 25 below zero most of the time for 60 days.............
L.E. on 25th April 2015 @ 6:37am
LE, great post, a well documented account. I have photos of Tex Rankin landing on this ice under the interstate bridge at Vancouver in January 1930.
Regarding canal sightings, the lower concrete entrance is still obvious at The Dalles dam and pictures exist of a boat entering for comparison.
Kenn on 25th April 2015 @ 7:45am
The only locks and canal remaining in the area are the 1873 locks at Oregon City falls. The spruce goose went through them on the way to McMinneville and there are plans to get them again operational.
Kenn on 25th April 2015 @ 7:51am
A good book about the legal history of the falls
Longshot on 25th April 2015 @ 9:22am
Another good book that addresses the continuing conflicts amongst the federally recognized tribes and the river Indians, in the Mid Columbia and Celilo area, is the book, "Shadow Tribe" by Andrew Fisher.
L.E. on 26th April 2015 @ 6:40am
Kenn, just went to a lecture on the locks and canal at Orgeon City. Will take lots of $$$ to get them operational again…think it’s a ways off.
LE, thanks for sharing your observations on the demise of Celilo Falls. Seems there’s always more to a story than most of us know.
Ellen on 26th April 2015 @ 11:18am
When you're west bound on I-84 and a few miles before coming into The Dalles, on your right in the river you see a row of trees and brush in the water with a space of emptiness between them. This is the old canal. Continuing west where the The Dalles Dam meets the Oregon side look down. You will see the remnants of the entry into the canal. I really enjoy your site.
Gary Elkinton on 28th April 2015 @ 3:18am
An article providing the status of the excavation of the Celilo canal can be found at the following site:
Jeffrey Bryant on 25th December 2015 @ 8:42am