#10 Elowah Falls

Elowah Falls and McCord Creek Falls

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Note, in my book I state that Elowah Falls is 289 feet high. This is incorrect.  Though the height of 289 feet is commonly stated, the true height of Elowah Falls is about 220 feet, with Upper McCord falls being an additional 69 feet, thus totalling the oft-stated figure of 289 feet.   Various waterfall websites have corrected their estimates also: here is the entry on Northwest Waterfall Survey: http://www.waterfallsnorthwest.com/nws/waterfall.php?num=1933 .

Elowah falls and its footbridge

 
     Below is some explanation as to the existence of the water flume pipe on the Upper McCord trail at Elowah Falls.

Upper McCord trail pipe at Elowah Falls

Upper McCord trail pipe at Elowah Falls

Myron Kelly Columbia River paper pulp mill circa 1890, using pressurized water from a penstock pipe installed fromt the top of Upper McCord falls down to the mill at river level

Circa 1890-ish photo of Myron Kelly's pulp mill, showing two different pressurized pipes coming down from the top of Elowah Falls and Upper McCord Creek. The pressurized water was used to turn Kelly's mill wheels to grind up Cottonwood trees for paper pulp.

 As you hike upwards on the Upper McCord Falls trail you’ll pass remnants of one or both of these century-old pipes.  Kelly dug-out the notch in the basalt at the top, where the guard-railed trail is now overlooking Elowah Falls, for his penstock pipe to rest on instead of hanging the pipe off the basalt wall.

1890s photo showing stacks of Myron Kelly's Cottonwood trees as well as the numerous fishwheels that were operating in the area (the mouth of McCord Creek)

This photo is a 1914 shot of the construction of the Historic Hwy bridge over McCord Creek. Notice in the background the stacks of cord wood and the barely-visible dock of Myron Kelly behind the stacked wood

 Pages 22-23 of “Fishwheels of the Columbia” history book have some details about Myron Kelly…the only details I’ve ever come across for this Gorge pioneer.

      Here is a 1936 Oregonian article describing the trail, the Flume pipeline, and a bit about the petrified tree stump that once graced the McCord Creek bridge before being removed for the I-84 bridge widening:   McCord Creek petrified trees and pipe trail, May 1936

     Here are some pix of present-day Elowah falls.  This waterfall was named by a Mazamas committee in 1916. It had been called Pierce falls up to that point.

Elowah falls and its footbridge

The cliff-cut trail to upper McCord falls----the route of the Kelly flume pipeline

Upper McCord Creek Falls

6 Responses to “#10 Elowah Falls”

  1. Kerry Says:

    I’m wondering if there is anyone who knows what the wooden water “container” at the start of the trail is about?

    • curiousgorgeguidebook Says:

      My GUESS is age-old water supply for the Warrendale homes along the river…the remnant properties of the Warrendale Cannery site. Just an educated guess though. Cheers, scott

  2. Ryan French Says:

    Did this hike about three weeks ago… LOVED IT! Although the sound of the road in the beginning is a slight annoyance, once you get to the top and turn the corner after a wonderful view of not only the gorge, but the tops of the trees in the mini gorge below you, the sound is drowned out and the best part of the hike comes now!(We saw a hawk hunting for prey here!) After an easy rock hop down the the McCord Creek to the top of Twin Falls, we did some more easy scrambling and rock hopping up the creek where we found a series of three small waterfalls! They may have only been about ten or less feet, but the surrounding beauty made it fun to do our first off the trail experience.

  3. Rob Richter Says:

    Googled in to the blog–looks great! I’ll have to explore it. The search question was about those big pipes–thanks for the excellent explanation! PS: our big surprise at this falls: the “garden wall” of flowers at the cliff-face trail section (Memorial Day weekend/ie: spring blooms). And…just how MANY kinds of ferns grow in that canyon? We lost count…

  4. airoff Says:

    Hey Scott,

    Thanks for the comment on Portland Hikers regarding the old trail on the east side of the foot bridge. I wandered up it today and it was a true delight. I had no idea that was even there!

  5. Eli Dukes Says:

    After a few years, STILL our favorite hiking book! Thank you for so many great trips. We did #10 this Independence Day. But, couldn’t find the picnic tables? Found some new one. Maybe been replaced. Could have been in the wrong place too!

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