I (Debb) was going through some files today and found some photos taken several years ago, while hiking in the Columbia River Gorge. Specifically, we were hiking the old Columbia River Highway State trail. Here's a photo of Mac and Bernie enjoying the trek through the Mosier Twin tunnels. The first tunnel is the longest at 288 feet, and the next one is 81 feet long.
As you can see, the second and shortest tunnel has wood panels framing the walls and ceilings.
We are sorry we don't have photos to share of a hike we once took on the Oneota Gorge trail. It too is an engineering marvel and the tunnel was a sight to behold.
Photo Courtesy of Hikelandia
Photo Courtesy of KGW
Building it was quite a tedious task too. Crews had to blast through basalt using the skills of an expert in explosives. The tunnel was completed at a cost of $6,683.88. Can you imagine the costs of such a project in today's dollars?
Sadly, in 2017, the longstanding Oneota tunnel was consumed by flames. Despite a ban on the use of fireworks and high fire dangers in the Gorge, a teenager sparked a wildfire by throwing a smoke bomb into tinder dry vegetation. He has been ordered to pay 36 million dollars in restitution. One wonders how likely the 15-year- old will be able to fulfill that obligation.
Photo credit - Doug Gross, Oregon Department of Transportation
The Oneonta tunnel was orginally built for cars traveling along the historic Columbia River Highway. It closed in 1948 and stayed closed for over half a century, until it re-opened in 2009 for pedestrians and cyclists only.
Nearly two years after the devastating Eagle Creek fire, the tunnel remains closed. The fire also burned more than 48,000 acres in the scenic Columbia River Gorge. Other hiking trails, also damaged by the flames, could remain closed for years.
The sign pictured in the first photo, urging hikers and bikers to share the path, takes on bittersweet tones. If we all remember the importance of sharing the path with others, whatever the path, what a more harmonious world we could create.