With a portion of SR 14 through Bingen and White Salmon being reconstructed this year, some bits and pieces of our local history will be removed as that project reaches its completion, so it seems proper to chronicle the history of the route between the Hood River-White Salmon bridge and Bingen.
The first roads in our vicinity were likely wagon roads to the Columbia made by the efforts of the local landowners, who grew crops or sold dairy products, some of which were shipped to markets in Hood River or Portland. Local populations began to increase in the early 1900's and many land owners were willing to provide their time and labor to construct roads, with assistance from the county.
The Plat of Bingen, filed in 1892, provided an 80-foot right of way for Steuben Street [now SR 14]. The Plat of Joslyn filed in 1907 [vacated in 1908] included the adjacent fields now owned by Dickey Farms and provided a 50-foot right of way for Railroad Avenue adjacent to the North edge of the SP&S railway right of way, a portion of which is considered to be the 1910 road that was constructed with County assistance.
The remains of the frame of the first bridge for Railroad Avenue across then Joslyn [now Jewett] Creek is still in place, just South of the Dickey Farms stand.
Remains of the 1910 road also exist just north of SR 14, from the Bridge RV Park to the west edge of the Underwood Fruit complex. Across from the east end of the RV Park, one can still see the foundation of the Ziegler house, one of the early homes in our area [The stairway to White Salmon and the proposed tramway will be discussed later].
Some of the hand-placed rockwork for the 1910 road is presently visible just east of the RV Park and the new access spurs opened last month to allow the PUD to move their utility poles to the north side of SR 14 are, in part, over some of that 1910 roadbed.
If you are heading out of Bingen and upriver, immediately east of the Lyle tunnels are the remains of a fine example of the type of stonework placed to support the 1910 roadbed. A steep, but short, trail at the adjacent parking area allows one to hike up and onto the old roadway. And opposite the entrance to Maryhill Museum and heading east towards Goldendale, one can see the original road above the present route, that led into Sam Hill's home when Maryhill was surveyed in 1907.
With the need for better roads, in 1922 the Washington Department of Transportation [WASHDOT] designed a location for Highway 8 [the Evergreen Highway] along the north shore of the Columbia River, which along with the construction of the White Salmon-Hood River bridge in 1924 opened up this area to both states. More about our Highways next month.
The Gorge Heritage Museum collection has some images of the early roads and commercial buildings, but would like to copy pictures that readers may have from any period prior to the 1960's.
The museum, 212 E. Humboldt in Bingen, is open from May-September on Friday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the support of its membership and volunteers.
The Museum files and library are available for research at no charge during regular hours or by appointment throughout the year.
Persons wishing to support the museum by donation or membership [individuals, $15/year], can write to PO Box 394, Bingen, Wash. 98605, call 493-3228 to leave a message, or 493-3111 to contact the current president.
Next: hiway 8-C, the stairs and the tram