The Dalles, Oregon

Sep 22, 2017 - National Geographic Sea Lion


“There is much more than concrete in this structure,” said Queen Marie of Romania as she dedicated her friend Sam Hill’s new museum of art in 1926.  “There is a dream built into this place, a dream for today and especially for tomorrow.”

Structures and dreams provided a unifying theme for the day.  We began with an early morning tour of the marvelous Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center, an interpretive museum featuring an overview of the human landscape of this gorgeous gorge through which we’ve been passing these past few days.  The center invites us to enter the dreams of those who passed through the gorge long ago.  What dream inspired President Jefferson to send out those intrepid explorers William Clark and Meriwether Lewis?  What dreams motivated the hardy Oregon Trail pioneers who nervously boarded log rafts at The Dalles to float downriver to the promised land of the Willamette Valley?   

Following our time in the Discovery Center, some of us opted for photo walks or nature walks while others braved a bike ride or hike along a scenic river trail back to the ship.  Along the way, we passed the bare tipi polls of the indigenous people who once were in exclusive occupancy of this fair land.  What dreams were in their hearts during the millennia they lived along this mighty river?  What spirit-quests inspired their rock art in the flooded nearby Petroglyph Canyon?  

After lunch, we boarded our motor coaches for Maryhill Museum of Art.  As we passed The Dalles Dam, we imagined the dreams of prosperity and progress in the minds of those who attended the dam dedication along with Vice President Nixon in 1957.  Entering the Maryhill Museum, we recalled the words of Queen Marie and the dream of Sam Hill “to reconcile nature and civilization” and “to promote French art in the Pacific Northwest.”  The museum’s star attraction is the collection of sculptures by Auguste Rodin—of special interest in this centennial year of the great man’s passing.  What were his dreams as he constructed his sensuous “Eve,” the metaphorical mother of us all?

It was a good day, a long day.  After another of the galley’s sumptuous evening meals, our geologist Lida rocked us with her presentation on “The Geology of the Columbia River Gorge.”  Then we were off to our cabins and to (what else?) the land of dreams.

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About the Author

Jim Rawls

Historian

Jim Rawls, a native of Washington D.C., received his B.A. with honors from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley. He grew up in Washington State where he developed an early interest in the land and peoples of the Pacific Northwest. A Fellow of the California Historical Society and a recipient of the National Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas, Jim has taught at UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Diablo Valley College. Since 1995 he has served as a historian with Lindblad Expeditions on voyages along the inland waterways of Alta California, the coastal waters of Baja California, and the Columbia and Snake rivers.

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