Media Room


Willamette Falls Riverwalk

May 29, 2015

Good afternoon.

What a great turnout here today. I guess it isn’t surprising given the amazing views I just saw on my tour.  

I would like to recognize all of the local elected officials, private partners, and community members who are here today.

It is a pleasure to be with you at the start of this project to open the falls to the public. 

People have been coming to this place to harvest salmon, trade goods, and navigate its waters for centuries. Today I would like to recognize and honor the tribal representatives who have joined us from the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla. 

Oregon’s statehood began here. The falls are the true end of the Oregon Trail. John McLoughlin made his home here. We milled wool and paper from these falls, and fed our families for more than 100 years. This amazing place was the birth of industry in the West, and the site of the first long-distance power transmission in the world. 

It is my pleasure to be here with Representative Barton and all of you who have done so much to make the Willamette Falls Legacy Project a reality. The Riverwalk is an example of Oregonians seizing an opportunity to work together to make the community stronger and our natural wonders more accessible — all while maintaining natural habitats and highlighting the important cultural significance of this precious location. 

When the Blue Heron paper mill went bankrupt four years ago, it was a blow to Oregon City. 

175 jobs were lost. 

In the aftermath of that loss, four public partners — Metro, Oregon City, Clackamas County, and Oregon’s Regional Solutions Center — took action to recapture the value of value of the falls and create economic opportunity. 

I want to thank the private partners in this project, PGE, and Legacy Falls who provided necessary easements for the Riverwalk. I would like to thank Betsy Heidgerken (HYDE-gerkin) for the generous contribution to the design project. I know your father George was unable to make it but I hope you send him our thanks and our well wishes.

Today we mark the next step forward for this project: the design of the Riverwalk that will bring Oregonians to the falls for the first time in 100 years. This is a huge undertaking, and we are only at the beginning. It will require the help of everyone here to advocate for these falls, raise the funds, and support the effort. 

Now, I have the honor to announce the team selected for the schematic design of the Riverwalk – 


- the team of Mayer/Reed, Snøhetta (SNOW-hetta) and Dialog have been selected to move this project forward into the next phase. 

This team was brings world renowned talent to this project and will begin the first phase of public access, featuring some of the best architects from Oregon and around the world.

Thank you all so much for your work to make this special and historic place more accessible to visitors and locals alike. 

Congratulations on your hard work. I can’t wait to come back and see the final Riverwalk design!