Bonneville Lock and Dam

Saturday September 14, 2014

I thought I’d throw in some information of our current location. My next post I’ll include what hosting at Bonneville Hatchery entails as well as historical information of the area.

The Bonneville Lock and Dam is located in the Columbia River Gorge approximately 40 miles east of downtown Portland Oregon. The Bonneville Fish Hatchery is adjacent to the dam. It consists of two powerhouses, and three islands. Bradford Island visitors center is accessed from Oregon and the North Bonneville visitors center is accessed from Washington.

Bonneville Lock & Dam, built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was the first federal lock and dam on the Columbia and Snake rivers. The project’s first powerhouse, spillway and original navigation lock were completed in 1938 to improve navigation on Columbia River and provide hydropower to the Pacific Northwest. A second powerhouse was completed in 1981, and a larger navigation lock in 1993. 

Today, the project is a critical part of the water resource management system that provides flood risk management, power generation, water quality improvement, irrigation, fish and wildlife habitat and recreation along the Columbia River.

A Public Works Administration project of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, portions of Bonneville Lock and Dam Project were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Bradford Island Visitors Center (BIVC) entrance

A lot of folks like to visit the dam. Bradford Island has an outstanding visitors center which is accessed from the Oregon side of the river. In it is a large fish ladder that allows many species of fish to travel from below the dam to the lakes and river above the dam. Folks can either view the ladder outside from above or go into the visitors center where they can view fish through a long viewing window. In a private area adjacent to that window fish counters sit for hours identifying the different species of fish and the numbers of each that pass through the dam.

Back on September 5th the lock operators noticed a problem with the downstream lock gates and shut the lock down. The lock was drained and the problem identified. There is only one lock that allows vessels to pass from river level to lake level. River traffic is at a standstill. That means barges full of wheat and other goods heading down river to market are stymied and barges bringing supplies up river also have to wait. Cruise ships are on hold.

A roadway provides vehicular access over the lock and that is now closed. Bradford Island Visitors Center is not accessible to the public. The dam has another visitors center in North Bonneville, WA but it doesn’t have a fish ladder nor a viewing window. A lot of would-be visitors are disappointed. Now comes the process of repairing the damage. The estimated date when the lock will be reopened to river traffic is September 30th.

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