A Hundred Miles of Community
THE GORGE © Shawn Kinkade
Ten-thousand years of human history have culminated in the Gorge as we know it today. It is home to ancient tribes and cutting-edge technology, more than 85,000 residents, and hundreds of businesses.
Agriculture, world-class recreation, high-tech manufacturing, and acclaimed tourism are the bedrock of local enterprise. Wind, sunshine, and the power of the mighty Columbia River are resources for renewable energy. Wood products, light manufacturing, sports gear, healthcare, and value-added enterprises contribute to a vibrant economic mix that is as diverse as the people who live here.
Living in the Columbia River Gorge with its more than sixty named waterfalls, spectacular views, and distinctive geology is better than living in a national park - which, of course, is impossible unless you’re a staffer. National parks typically have a single main attraction and charge an entry fee. The Gorge offers abundant choices, and admittance is free.
The Gorge has hiking, biking, backpacking, camping, fishing, hunting, boating, sailing, kayaking, climbing, sail-boarding, wineries, breweries, cideries, museums, sight-seeing, artisan crafts, farmers markets, community theater… The list goes on. No matter your interest or mobility, there is something for everyone.
The canyon we call “the Gorge,” with its steep basalt walls rising thousands of feet above the water, stretches along the shores of the Columbia for nearly a hundred miles. It forms the border of two states, spans seven counties, and connects dozens of tiny towns. Its small towns and hamlets characterize the bustling river corridor and are home to the businesses that fuel the region’s economy. Each town has its own story. This issue of Bridge of the Gods Magazine will illuminate a few of those stories.
As we prepare to go to press, COVID-19 has been with us for several months. When COVID hit, Gorge sporting goods manufacturers quickly turned their skills and machinery to making personal protective equipment. Local distilleries shifted from distilling spirits to producing hand-sanitizer. Communities self-organized and set to work making masks, checking on neighbors, and caring for those at highest risk. They responded to and continue to respond to the changing needs of people during a pandemic. It was, and continues to be, an inspiring outpouring of creativity and innovation.
Gorge visitors are fewer for now, and people are restless from having been house-bound because of shelter-in-place mandates. Hikers carry masks and wear them on crowded trails. Restaurants serve take-out, limit dining-in, or host diners in outside eating areas that allow for social-distancing. Businesses use enhanced cleaning protocols as prescribed by public health agencies. Retailers offer online ordering and delivery to your car. We are all in this together.
We know we will not only survive; we will grow and thrive. We are still here, still working, still caring, still welcoming travelers and visitors. We can, with a little thought, support local businesses and care for one another as we continue to enjoy the hospitality and wonders of the Gorge. Come and see for yourself. You are welcome here!