June history dinner looks at the Columbia River Highway

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center presents the June history dinner on “Building the Columbia River Highway: They Said It Couldn’t Be Done,” with author Peg Willis, Friday, June 13. A pasta bar dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. followed by a 6:30 p.m. presentation at the Discovery Center.

Dinner and presentation price for non-members is $18, members $15. The presentation only is $5. Reservations are required by June 11, by calling 541-296-8600, ext. 200.

Ride along with author Peg Willis as she explores the beginnings of Oregon’s Historic Columbia River Highway and the men who created it. Oregon’s Historic Columbia River Highway is hidden among the trees, where it meanders past spectacular waterfalls and dramatic views.

It took an artist-poet-engineer extraordinaire to conquer this reluctant piece of real estate and produce the nation’s first scenic highway, artfully woven into the landscape of the Columbia River Gorge. Meet Sam Hill, the mover and shaker, and Samuel Lancaster, the polio survivor, who turned modern engineering on its ear to create a “poem in stone.”

Peg Willis, a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, grew up loving the Columbia River Highway. More than just a way to get from one place to another, it was a playground and an adventure.

Since retirement from teaching, Willis has pursued a longtime dream of becoming more intimately acquainted with this historic beauty, its origins and its secrets. Her search has led her to volunteer with the Vista House and the Friends of the Historic Columbia River Highway. Her work has been published in a number of magazines and regional newspapers.

The Discovery Center and Wasco County Historical Museum is the official interpretive center for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Live raptor shows are presented daily. Hands-on, multi-media exhibits illuminate the cultural and natural history of the Gorge, including Ice Age geology, Native American culture, Lewis and Clark’s cargo, the Oregon Trail, trade, transportation, ecology, and more.

The Discovery Center is located off I-84 at exit 82, 5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles, and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Museum adult admission is $9, seniors $7, kids 6 to16 are $5, and children 5 and under free. For more information or reservations, call 541-296-8600, ext. 200.

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