Willamette Falls, Oregon City

3.3
#4 of 6 in Nature in Clackamas County
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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144 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • August 13, 2017
    What is most interesting about this view is seeing the potential of the area. It is about to be rejuvenated, if the plans are approved and completed.  more »
  • August 8, 2017
    If your traveling thru Portland make a ten mile excursion to Oregon City to see the falls from the viewpoint on 99E. The Willamette Falls are located between Oregon City and West Lynn. Not very many p...  more »
  • July 18, 2017
    I love this!! Such a beautiful place, a must see in Oregon City! You can sit on one of the benches and enjoy the view.  more »

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