Celilo Falls - A moment in time from 1956
When we first talked about sharing Richard's Celilo Falls images in a gallery art show, we were uncertain if anyone would be interested. Would they remember? 1956 was a long time ago; Celilo Falls a now-distant chapter in Oregon's history.
It turned out we had nothing to be concerned about. We were overwhelmed by the response. Hundreds of people packed into our gallery. Visitors stood entranced by the photos, tears running down the faces of those who remembered the lost glory of the Falls. We could hear gasps of recognition as faces in the images were recognized and identified. Names, memories came flooding back.
These images have become some of Richard's most popular historical art prints.
Now we share these images with you. For a limited time, we are offering Richard's Celilo Falls open edition photographs at 25% off. No code needed, the discount will automatically apply. Just head over to our (click here) online gallery and make your selections. Frames and all finishings are also 25% off so that you can save a bundle on beautiful ready-to-hang art. Shipped straight to your door. But act fast – this offer expires Sept. 30.
Not familiar with Celilo Falls?
For centuries, Celilo Falls, or Wy-am, located on the Columbia River about 12 miles east of The Dalles, was one of history’s great marketplaces. People would meet here to trade, fish and participate in religious ceremonies. At the falls, the Columbia’s riverbed constricted to a passageway as narrow as forty feet across. The rapids, which exceed eighty feet in a half-mile, created one of the most productive and famous fishing sites in the Pacific Northwest. During spring flooding, ten times more water passed over Celilo Falls than passes over Niagara Falls today.
Archeological records tell us of human occupation at the village sites dating to at least 11,000 years ago. The first written records come from the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who estimated in about 1805 that 7,200 to 10,400 Indian people were active and living between the Cascade Rapids and The Dalles.
Fishermen built wooden scaffolds out over the river and fished with long-handled dip nets. They fished for Lamprey eel, sturgeon, and four species of salmon. Generational agreements determined who had rights to fish from the sites at the falls, and scaffold locations were inherited. Men were the fishers, while women collected, cleaned, butchered, and dried the fish.
But all was destroyed on the morning of March 10, 1957, when the massive steel and concrete gates of The Dalles Dam closed, choking back the downstream surge of the Columbia River. Six hours later and eight miles upstream, Celilo Falls, the spectacular natural wonder and the age-old Indian salmon fishery associated with it, was under water.
What are your memories of Celilo Falls?
We’d love to know. Please comment below and share!