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 Post subject: Pipeline along the Upper McCord Trail
 Post Posted: December 24th, 2009, 11:30 pm 
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I've finally stumbled across some historical evidence that explains the old pipeline crossed by the Upper McCord Creek trail spur. Take a look at this 1902 view of the Warren Landing (later "Warrendale") and the steamships Tahoma and Dalles City:

Image

Look directly above the pier section of the landing structure, and you can plainly see the pipline running up the slope, behind the steam from the upstream ship. The structures are part of the Warren cannery operation, so the best explanation for pipelines of this size is that they served the industrial community and surrounding buildings.

What makes less sense is the diameter of the pipe -- something like 18 or 20 inches, which is way more than any spring in the area would require. This leads me to think that the pipes might have been part of an attempt to tap McCord Creek from above Upper McCord Falls, and perhaps with a cistern similar to the one located at the modern trailhead somewhere above the pipe remnant. Piping water in that quantity could be explained by the cannery operation, or perhaps as a source of hydraulic power for the plant?

Here's another puzzle: what I initially thought was a scratch on the above photo turns out to be a SECOND pipeline to the east of the straight, prominent line -- you can see it passing behind trees in this enlarged/enhanced clip from the photo:

Image

An older line? An additional line? Who knows..? Just more in the mystery about this area. But it does help to explain the many roadbeds that criss-cross the slopes west of McCord Creek canyon.

A couple more factoids about the area that gathered while researching a blog article earlier this year: cannery owner Frank Warren was the only Oregon resident known to have perished on the Titanic; his wife Anna was among the few to escape in a lifeboat, and survived, while her husband stayed behind on the ship to help other women and children into lifeboats. So, Warren died a hero. His cannery didn't survive long after this photo was taken, as fish wheels rapidly disappeared from the river along with the canneries.

As always, each answer brings with it more questions...

Tom :)

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 Post subject: Re: Pipeline along the Upper McCord Trail
 Post Posted: December 24th, 2009, 11:42 pm 
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Wow Tom....Very interesting and informative. As you stated, this info has answered some questions and brought up new ones. Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: Pipeline along the Upper McCord Trail
 Post Posted: December 25th, 2009, 3:27 pm 
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Just speculating...

While Upper McCord Creek falls is a nice waterfall, I doubt a trail to it was worth all that dynamite to carve the trail into the cliff so I posit the original purpose of the path across the cliff face was for a ditch or flume that ran from McCord Creek to the top of the pipe. The reason the pipes are so large and extend so far up the hill side was to generate head at the factory level.

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 Post subject: Re: Pipeline along the Upper McCord Trail
 Post Posted: December 25th, 2009, 5:59 pm 
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I was wondering the same thing, Paul! But the puzzling part is why there isn't some sort of structure where the trail meets the creek (although it would explain why the trail DOES meet the creek). Maybe whatever was there was swept away over the years? For example, a structure like the one on Gorton Creek that seems on the brink of collapse.

Interesting!

Tom

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 Post subject: Re: Pipeline along the Upper McCord Trail
 Post Posted: December 25th, 2009, 7:36 pm 
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Also speculating...

I agree about the likely purpose of the blasted trail, but the large-bore riveted pipe crosses the trail and continue upward, as I remember. I have not explored its path above the trail.

The large diameter tube may have been a steep reservoir fed by a smaller diameter, less steep pipe.

Riveting allowed construction of pipes in a manner akin to railroad boilers. Rugged assemblies, capable of taking a lot of pressure. The only construction technology available at the time suited to use in the field. Effectively the steep long pipe was a vertical reservoir capabe of delivering water at full pressure head, whereas a narrower tube delivering water from a reservoir would suffer a pressure drop due to flow limitations. The water pressure at a 500 foot head is only about 215 psi, and so should be within the limitations of that pipe.

I know how we would use the pressurized water now, but not how they used the water at the turn of the century. Were hoses available that would take the pressure? Were valved spigots were in use that could routinely handle the pressure or whther pressure reduction systems were used, etc.? They builders went out of their way to have high pressure water, so they must have been able to use the pressure. Can anyone enlighten me as to why pressurized water was so valuable that a cheaper solution -- a flume to a shorter pipe -- wasn't preferred?

That brings me back to the trail as a flume route. The last time I examined the pipe where it crossed the trail, there was no obvious means of feeding water into the pipe. Anyone know when the blasting was done? The water may have been piped/conveyed along a higher elevation route originally.

Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Pipeline along the Upper McCord Trail
 Post Posted: December 27th, 2009, 12:11 pm 
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Great find Tom I have been curious about those pipes since I first hiked that trail. When I was up there yesterday I also noticed this much smaller diameter pipe (but looks to be of the same vintage) crossing the trail just before you get to the falls.
Attachment:
DSC03698a.jpg
DSC03698a.jpg [ 479.65 KiB | Viewed 2651 times ]


PS is that photo copy write protected? I was thinking of using it to show what things used to look like compared to now.

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 Post subject: Re: Pipeline along the Upper McCord Trail
 Post Posted: December 27th, 2009, 10:14 pm 
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I don't think so, Guy - I can't find the original file, but I think I pulled it off the USGS site on the Gorge... possibly from Wikipedia.

Interesting, Steve -- I'm torn on the theory about the trail/ledge blasting, too. The large pipe crosses the trail a couple of switchbacks below the terrace level where the blasting begins, so maybe following it uphill would provide the answer?

Sadly, these bits and pieces of history have really begun to fade in the last 20 years or so (as Don Nelson has ably documented). Like big wood barns, the old logging and cannery apparatus is rapidly disappearing. If you haven't had a chance to visit the bones of old canneries on the lower Columbia, there are still a couple left. Astoria's canneries have been reduced to photogenic rows of pilings, for the most part.

Tom

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 Post subject: Re: Pipeline along the Upper McCord Trail
 Post Posted: December 28th, 2009, 8:34 am 
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The upper trail wasn't blasted out of the cliffs altogether. It's an improved natural feature. If you look across the other side of the canyon, you can see that the crack between lava flows continues on the other side. The track may have been passable to adventurous (read foolish) types before the trail was improved. I'm sure some blasting was done, but it wasn't nearly on the scale of Eagle Creek. Since the developed stonework lower down proves that at least that portion was built for tourism, I suspect the entire trail was a very early tourist trap.

I was up there a couple of weeks ago and noticed that the trail east of the junction to the upper falls is much older than the trail west of there. The trail to the top forms a continuous alignment with the trail to the east. The original trail alignment seems to lead from the old highway near the east side of McCord Creek on the current Gorge Trail to Elowah Falls and then continuing on the current alignment on up to the upper falls. The western piece of trail to Yeon Park seems like a much later addition.

A few years ago, a link to a video file circulated around here proving that Elowah Falls could be seen from the old highway bridge over McCord Creek. I suspect that there was a developed turnout at the trailhead just east of the bridge. Of course, all of this was destroyed for I-84.


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 Post subject: Re: Pipeline along the Upper McCord Trail
 Post Posted: December 28th, 2009, 8:47 am 
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That's my read of the trail history, too, Steve -- plus, the traverse segment of trail from the junction down to flats above the parking area clearly follows an old skid road. You can still see the upper half of Elowah from the freeway, if you know where to look... and are willing to risk driving over the side of the bridge! :)

I agree on the natural ledges theory, too -- in fact, the approach from the final switchbacks to the blasted section seems pretty clearly to be a natural ledge that didn't require blasting. But no sign of pipework, here... at least not that I've notices.

Back to Guy's photo, I think I've noticed that pipe before, too -- is it in the short section of trail between the cliffs and the first view of Upper McCord?

Tom

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 Post subject: Re: Pipeline along the Upper McCord Trail
 Post Posted: December 28th, 2009, 2:05 pm 
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So just thinking out loud here, but what if there wasn't a pipe but a sluicebox type flume that lead to the pipe that the trail crosses? The trail ledge is obviously wide enough to have carried a pipe or a flume of some sort, and if it was all wood there would have been very little evidence left over of its existence once it was dismantled or destroyed. This might also explain what Tom identifies as a second pipe in the picture he found - but I don't think its a pipe, it looks more like overflow water being drained from above. It just looks too steep to be a pipe dropping right down that talus slope (and its pretty bright against the background, which makes me think falling water even more).

If this is the case, then I would also wager that there was indeed a diversion structure above the upper falls and it was probably a wooden coffer dam type thing, which again would have left very little to no evidence of its existence 100 years later. Perhaps the dam breaking is what caused the now dry third channel of the upper falls to be plugged and dry up?

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