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Willamette Falls, Oregon City

(3.8/5 based on 130+ 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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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Just amazing to see, the Willamette River Falls over giant rocks spread all the way across the river and at the bottom 100 years ago, they built a mill, used the water to power it. At this site across...  more »
  • Not much to do other than look. Easy pull off and view. Best time is when the river is high and a lot of water is flowing. Pull off on I205 North for a East view and Hwy 99E for a West view. 
  • The Willamette Falls has so much significant here in Oregon City. It is the 2nd highest volume in the US. The changing season and the respective volume are always an attraction. The bridge, the observ...  more »
Google
  • 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.