A project that combined great engineering ambition and burgeoning civic pride, the Columbia River Highway was built at the dawn of the automobile age out of a desire to bring greater attention to the growing population and natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. By the time of its completion in the 1920s, the 73.8-mile highway had become a textbook example of modern highway construction and an important commercial and recreational link between Oregon's coastal Willamette Valley and the inland areas of eastern Oregon and Washington.
The Bonneville Dam, Columbia River Power and Navigation System consists of 55 major projects on Oregon's Columbia River and is said to be the largest hydroelectric system in the world.
The Columbia River forms part of the border between Washington and Oregon and flows inland through the only waterway that crosses the Cascade Mountains. To harness the energy of the ninth longest river in North America, engineers developed unique design and construction approaches to overcome problems caused by depth of water, current velocity, and an irregularly-shaped river bottom.