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Heritage Commission declares a statewide celebration for Columbia River Highway's centennial

​Oct. 6, 2015

The 2016 centennial of the dedication of the first modern highway constructed in the Pacific Northwest has been declared a statewide celebration by the Oregon Heritage Commission. The highway, known today as the Historic Columbia River Highway, was the major commercial route between Portland and eastern Oregon for more than 40 years.

“This 73-mile-long highway is a National Historic Landmark and was the first scenic highway in the United States,” said Eric Martin, chair of the Oregon Heritage Commission. “It is an integral part of the Columbia River Gorge that hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoy each year for its mosaic of uses and natural beauty.”

“Much of the old highway is publicly accessible by car or by foot,” said Wayne P. Stewart, chair of the highway’s advisory committee. “The 2016 Centennial Celebration will celebrate the history of the highway, once known as the ‘King of Roads,’ and promote the reconnection of the abandoned highway segments as a trail, the ‘King of Trails’.”

A major objective of the advisory committee is to reconnect the last remaining 10 miles of the original highway as part of the multi-use trail. Some of these sections were closed with the construction of Interstate 84.

State law authorizes the Heritage Commission, whose members are appointed by the governor, to declare celebrations of statewide significance. Prior to the Historic Columbia River Highway declaration, the most recent celebration was the 2014 centennial of the birth of poet laureate William Stafford. The Commission maintains a list of previous statewide celebrations and commemorations.

For more information about the Historic Columbia River Highway, visit its website at www.historichighway.org