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Willamette Falls, Oregon City

Categories: Waterfalls, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
3.8/5 based on 120+ reviews on the web
The Willamette Falls is a natural waterfall on the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn, Oregon, in the United States. It is the largest waterfall in the American Pacific Northwest by volume, and the seventeenth widest in the world. Horseshoe in shape, it is 1500ft wide and 40ft high with a flow of 30,849 cu ft/s (874 m³/s), located 26mi upriver from the Willamette's mouth.Until 2011 a canal and set of locks allowed vessels to pass into the main Willamette Valley. Those locks are now closed.Human historyNative American legends taught that the falls were placed there by a great god so that their people would have fish to eat all winter. Many local tribes built villages in the area because of the abundance of salmon that could only pass the falls at certain water levels. Native Americans still harvest Pacific Lamprey at the falls each year in the early summer. Willamette Falls is a traditional fishing site for the Warm Springs Indians as well as other tribes. It was first discovered by European fur traders in 1810. John McLoughlin established a land claim at the falls in the name of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1829. Oregon City was established in 1842 near the east end of the falls. The town of Linn City was founded on the western shore one year later in 1843. The two towns competed economically, vying for the lucrative steamboat traffic and the trade it generated. With the falls representing the end of the line for boat traffic, river boat captains were forced to choose a side of the river on which they would dock to unload their passengers and goods; some of which would continue their upriver journey on winding portage toll roads. Competition between the towns was fierce until the winter of 1861, which saw one of Oregon's worst natural disasters occur in the form of catastrophic flooding. Oregon City was inundated and badly damaged, but the unluckier Linn City was obliterated.
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  • Started out later than we could have- but still got to see the magnificent falls up the historic highway. Lots of great look out spots and generally easy parking. It was great to be able to jump on th...  read more »
  • This is where it all started for a lot of Oregonian families. this is where my great grandfather and a lot of other good people worked in the mills on the river. where generations of Native Americans ...  read more »
  • If you're' in the neighborhood, pull over and have a look. Although the falls aren't quite the record height as hyped on the placards (Google it...), they are still worth a look. You park across the s...  read more »
  • Great view of the river but hard to see the falls close up
  • Magnificent view from Oregon City of the Willamette River and the falls. Definitely worth a look.
  • Great place to stop and see the falls.
  • Neat viewpoint that can be seen from the highway point of interest stop. Worth a look.
  • Exciting. Rain coming down but fun.
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