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Nancy Russell Overlook

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The Columbia River Gorge from the Nancy Russell Overlook (Steve Hart)
The Nancy Russell Overlook in a Gorge mist (bobcat)


This viewpoint from a stone-walled amphitheater is high above the Highway 14 viaduct at Cape Horn. There are beautiful views to the east of the river and across the gorge to Multnomah Falls, Mist Falls, and directly down to Phoca Rock. The Prindle Cliffs, Beacon Rock, and the south face of Hamilton Mountain can be seen upriver on the Washington side.

In 1979, well-known Portland architect John Yeon invited Nancy Russell and her husband, Bruce, to his secluded property, the Shire, at the base of Cape Horn. He challenged them to begin a campaign to spare the Columbia River Gorge from rampant development. In 1980, Nancy Russell co-founded the Friends of the Columbia Gorge, an organization which became the spearhead of the Gorge Scenic Area battle. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act into law. The plateau near the summit of Biddle Butte at Cape Horn, where a subdivision was planned, was one of Nancy's last fights. Most of the subdivisions plots were purchased and then transferred to the Forest Service. In 2008, the only house that was built on the high bluff, just above where the overlook now is, was demolished. A few weeks later, Nancy Russell died of Lou Gehrig's disease, but not after a final trip to the acres at Cape Horn that she spared from development.

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