Tag Archives: Columbia River

Five Fun Facts About Rock Island, Washington

Rock Island, Washington

Born in 1930

The town of Rock Island had been inhabited for years, going way back to when the North Central Washington region first started receiving settlers. It wasn’t incorporated officially until 1930.

What’s In A Name?

The first town started in the Rock Island vicinity was actually located two miles south and was named Hammond when it was platted in 1891. Four years later, based on development by the Great Northern Railroad, the town would be moved to its present site and renamed Rock Island.

Two Labor Booms

Rock Island saw its population boom twice due to major construction projects. The first was the building of the large steel railroad bridge across the Columbia River in the early 1890’s. The second was in the early 1930’s with the building of Rock Island Dam.

A State Park?

On old maps dating back before 1940, there was actually a Rock Island State Park listed. It was located southeast of the current town of Rock Island near Rock Island Dam.

The Wheat Chute

Rock Island founder James Keane built a large wheat chute that would carry wheat from the plateau up above down to the townsite where it could be loaded on wagons or rail cars. The trestles and wooden chutes making up this structure decayed, and in some cases burned, long ago.

Five Fun Facts About Priest Rapids Dam

Priest Rapids Dam is one of the many hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River that’s generating power for, and benefiting the residents of, Central Washington. This dam doesn’t get as much attention as some of the others, but it is very important nonetheless.

Here are five fun facts about Priest Rapids Dam.


Construction on Priest Rapids Dam began in July of 1956. It first opened in 1959 but was not fully completed until 1961.


Priest Rapids Dam is located just over 397 miles upriver from the mouth of the Columbia River.


Priest Rapids Dam is 178 feet tall. It measures 10,103 feet across from the west side of the river to the east side.


Priest Rapids Dam is a power producing dam and has 10 turbine generators in place to produce that power.


Priest Rapids Lake is the name given to the water on the Columbia River that is backed up behind Priest Rapids Dam.

Five Fun Facts About Alcoa Wenatchee Works

Alcoa’s Wenatchee Works plant played a large role in the development and growth of not only Wenatchee, but all of North Central Washington. It supplied materials for all kinds of industrial needs and also provide good paying jobs for thousands of local residents over the years. Recently, it was announced, that Alcoa was to idle its Wenatchee plant.

Here is a look at five fun facts about Alcoa Wenatchee Works:

Grand Opening

Alcoa opened its Wenatchee Works plant in 1952. This is the same year that the Today Show debuted on NBC, Humphrey Bogart won his Best Actor Oscar for The African Queen, Bob Costas and Dan Aykroyd were born, and Elizabeth II is crowned Queen of England.

How Big?

Alcoa Wenatchee Works entire land holdings cover 2,700 acres of land right along the shore of the Columbia River, just one and a half miles north of Rock Island Dam. The developed industrial part of the plant covers approximately 100 acres.

A Big Price Tag

The cost of building the Alcoa Wenatchee Works facility was $58 million.

The First After The Big One!

When Alcoa Wenatchee Works opened in 1952, it was the first smelter built in the Pacific Northwest after World War II.

Big Remodeling Job!

As a result of the building of Alcoa and the energy it required, Rock Island Dam, the first dam built on the Columbia River in the United States, saw its power production expanded.

Fun Facts About Beebe Bridge Near Chelan

The Beebe Bridge is somewhat of a historic crossing in North Central Washington. Even before the current bridge stood there, early settlers and the military were in need of crossing the Columbia River there at Chelan Falls. Here is a look at five fun facts about the Beebe Bridge.

-The Beebe Bridge is 1,040 feet long and the bridge deck is 26 feet wide.

-Construction began on the modern Beebe Bridge in 1959 and it opened in 1963.

-The Beebe Bridge gets its name from The Beebe Orchard Company which had built the original bridge at that location in 1919. The original bridge’s main purpose was to carry irrigation water from the west side of the river to the east but it later developed into a private toll bridge that operated until it was replaced with the new bridge in 1963. The old concrete towers of the original bridge are still visible.

-The construction of the piers for the modern Beebe Bridge was able to be done on dry land. The land surrounding the piers would later be covered by water backed up behind the newly build Rocky Reach Dam.

-Due to damage to the steel trusses and beams from a semi-truck collision on August 31, 2009, the Beebe Bridge was closed until repairs and safety inspections could be completed. It reopened on October 9, 2009. In the meantime, traffic in the area wanting to cross the river was detoured on U.S. 97 and U.S. 97A down to Wenatchee.

Fun Facts About The Columbia River Bridge At Wenatchee

The Columbia River Bridge is one of the most storied bridges in the entire North Central Washington region. It is a bit taken for granted now, but the history of this impressive and amazing structure, is very interesting. Especially considering how long ago it was built. Here is a look at five fun facts about the Columbia River Bridge in Wenatchee.

-The old Columbia River Bridge in Wenatchee was the first bridge to carry motor traffic across the Columbia River when it opened in 1908. It also had two pipes strapped to its side carrying irrigation water to where East Wenatchee sits now.

-The man who planned the building of the Columbia River Bridge was W.T. Clark who had also been one of the builders of the Highline Canal that was responsible for irrigating so many orchards in the Wenatchee area.

-At the time it opened, the Columbia River Bridge was privately owned. The owners started charging a toll to cross it a couple of years after it opened and this prompted civic leaders of Wenatchee to put in a request that the state buy the bridge and make it part of the early highway system, which they did.

-The Columbia River Bridge, currently used as a pedestrian only bridge, was used by cars up until 1950 when a newer bridge was built immediately south of it.

-The construction cost of the Columbia River Bridge was $177,000.

Fun Facts About Brewster Bridge

The Brewster Bridge has a unique history. Though the highway it carries across the Columbia River is not considered a major road, it is vital to the local residents. Here is a look at five fun facts about the Brewster Bridge.

-The original Brewster Bridge opened in 1928.

-At the time it opened, the Brewster Bridge was a privately owned toll bridge.

-The Brewster Bridge was bought by the Washington Department of Highways which raised it seven and a half feet in preparation for the rising waters behind Wells Dam.

-The Brewster Bridge was destroyed by a fire in 1967 and was not rebuilt until the early 1970s. During that time, there was a ferry crossing that took its place at that point on the river.

-The new Brewster Bridge, the one currently in use, was built right on the same concrete piers of the one that had been previously burned down.

A Visit To Rocky Reach Dam Is An NCW Tradition

Rocky Reach Dam is impressive to look at when you drive by on Highway 97A between Chelan and Wenatchee. Seeing the high water level behind it compared to the low level in front of it points out just how much water this man made concrete and steel contraption is holding back. Seeing it from the highway doesn’t do it justice though. There is a reason that visiting Rocky Reach Dam for an up close look is a North Central Washington tradition.

Whether you’re by yourself, with your significant other, or bringing the kids along, Rocky Reach Dam has all you need for a great visit. Upon entering the property, you’re greeted with a huge open grass area with room enough for the biggest group. There’s also meticulously groomed flower gardens, pleasant picnic shelters, and even climbing toys for the kids. Make sure to get an up close look at an actual turbine generator that was once a working part of the dam and is now on display for viewing and even touching. Whether you’re just looking for a nice spot for a picnic or a place for the kiddos to burn off some energy, this is the spot.

If that’s all you do at Rocky Reach Dam though, you’ve missed out on some of its best features. Right inside the visitors center is a nice cafe and several interesting antique items on display, as well as a gorgeous and huge horse mural too. Going downstairs at the visitors center leads you to a small theater where information movies about the dam are played. Below that is the viewing windows where you can watch all kinds of fish make their way up and down the Columbia River. Return to the top and you can go outside for a great view of the dam itself, as well as a nice look both up and down the river.

Now though, you get to actually walk out on the dam. Your view of the structure continues here and you can even see all the way back to the picnic and play area you may have stopped at first. Out on the dam structure is where the Museum of the Columbia is located. A short elevator ride brings you to the museum where you can learn all about the history of the Columbia River in this part of North Central Washington. You’ll see displays on both the lives of early settlers in the area as well as Native American life too. When you’ve finished your trip through the museum, an entryway across from it will lead you to more displays involving information about the dam as well as a viewing window where you can see the spillway gates of Rocky Reach Dam, and if you’re lucky, the water of the Columbia River raging through them.

Your walk back across the dam is enjoyable too with the view of the high water on one side, low water on the other, and the scenery all around. Whether you have a short time to visit or as long as it takes to see everything, Rocky Reach Dam is about as perfect of a day trip destination or break from a road trip that you could find.

Find out more here: Rocky Reach Dam

Photos of Rocky Reach Dam

Five Fun Facts About The Apple Capital Loop Trail in Wenatchee

The Apple Capital Loop Trail in Wenatchee has been one of the best civic additions of the last half century. This 10+ mile loop trail, suitable for everything from walking to bicycling, runs along the shore of the Columbia River on both the Wenatchee and East Wenatchee side. Locals and travelers alike make use of the trail each and every day. It is even used several times a year by groups and organizations putting on benefit walks as well as competitive runs. It really is something the entire community can take pride in.

Here are five fun facts about Wenatchee’s Apple Capital Loop Trail.

Well, Since It Was There Already
Getting the Apple Capital Loop Trail across the Columbia River on the south end of the trail was extremely easy. Opened in 1908, the Old Wenatchee Bridge is well over 100 years old and was in fact the first road bridge to cross the Columbia River south of the Canadian border. Pedestrians share the bridge today with a large irrigation water pipe. When originally constructed, the pipe carrying the irrigation was across the bridge was actually mounted onto the outside of the bridge structure.

A Whole New Structure
Crossing the Columbia River on the north end was an interesting problem because there was no pedestrian bridge already in place. The solution was to add a pedestrian walkway off the side of the already built Richard Odabashian Bridge in the Olds Station of Wenatchee. This was added in 2001 and is maintained by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

From Barnyard Animals To Kayaks
Located in the Linden Tree Area of the Apple Capital Loop Trail is a small historic barn. This barn was used long ago to house a small herd of cows, among other things. Today, it is used by the Wenatchee Row & Paddle Club to house kayaks.

Man Gives Back To Nature
Located on the southern banks of the Wenatchee River and accessible from the Apple Capital Loop Trail is the Horan Nature Area. This is a beautiful little protected area where at different times of the year it is possible to see eagles, ducks, raccoons, deer, squirrels, minks, beaver, and even skunk. This area for a very long time was actually farmed orchard land. It was bulldozed and shaped back into a nature area for everyone to enjoy.

Third And Final Bridge
Within a short distance of each other, there are actually three crossings of the Wenatchee River in the Olds Station area of Wenatchee. The Wenatchee River Bridge carries SR 285 over the river so that residents of and visitors to Wenatchee can get in and out of town on the north end. There is also a railroad bridge that spans the river too which is helpful for moving various types of freight through the region. In 1994, the third bridge crossing of the river in this area was completed when a pedestrian bridge was opened for public use, connecting Wenatchee Confluence State Park with the Horan Nature Area. This bridge is an essential part of the Apple Capital Loop Trail now and is used by many area residents for both enjoyment as well as commuting by foot or on bike to and from work in the Olds Station area.

Find out more about the Apple Capital Loop Trail right here: The Apple Capital Loop Trail

Fun Facts About The Grand Coulee Bridge

The Grand Coulee Bridge crosses the Columbia River just downstream of Grand Coulee Dam and sees a lot of tourist traffic, as well as freight traffic headed up into the region. It’s a very important bridge, as well as a notable historic feature. Here is a look at five fun facts about the Grand Coulee Bridge.

-The Grand Coulee Bridge was built by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, opening for traffic in 1935.

-Though known to most as the Grand Coulee Bridge, this steel thru cantilever bridge is also known by its official name, the Columbia River Bridge at Grand Coulee Dam.

-Highway 155 crosses the Grand Coulee Bridge today. Prior to 1964, this same roadway was known as Highway 2F south of the bridge and 10F north of the bridge.

-The Grand Coulee Bridge measures in at 1,089 feet in length from one side of the river to the other.

-1982 saw the Grand Coulee Bridge added to the National Register of Historic Places.