As the most important thing was the construction of the Columbia Highway as quickly as possible through Multnomah County, in order to be ready to handle the immense tourist travel coming to this coast in 1915, an examination of the record was made for my guidance. This showed that on May 25, 1910, road viewers were appointed, according to law, at the instance of Mr. Henry Wemme and others, who petitioned for this road to be built from Bridal Veil east to the Hood River County line. The viewers made a report favorable to the Columbia Highway. The County Surveyor ran a line and made a map and profile, which was filed.
On April 29, 1911, the road was formally declared to be a public highway, and shortly thereafter a county force constructed 1.8 miles of road 20 feet wide, conforming to the general practice of that time, with steep grades and short curves, and when the county construction forces engaged in this work began to dig into the steep slopes of the mountain
side above the main line tracks of the 0. W. R. & N. Company, the work was stopped until an agreement could be entered into between the rail way company and the county authorities, permitting the use of their right-of-way at certain points. Under this original agreement made by the old county court permission was granted to build any width of roadway
the county might desire, but in no case more than 14 feet, the grade to be 7% per cent., although in many places grades as high as 9 per cent, were contemplated.
This much having been done all work ceased, for seemingly the Columbia Highway had no backers except a few "road enthusiasts."
It had been urged that Shell Rock Mountain in Hood River County was an impassable barrier, and had it not been for the timely assistance of one of Portland's prominent citizens the work would have stopped for many years. In the fall of 1912 Mr. S. Benson placed $10,000 in the Governor's hands to be used in connection with prison labor in building the road past this point, reviving interest through his splendid generosity.
(Lancaster, 1914 59)
There was a narrow, steep and crooked link from Chanticleer down the side of the gorge to Latourelle, then up and over and down again to Bridal Veil, connecting with the short piece of road built in response to the petition previously referred to of Henry Wemme and others, when the Columbia Highway was inaugurated and where it had ended its course abruptly against a rugged mountainside some distance above the track of a trans-continental railway. (Lancaster, 1914 58)
5. Early Routes >