Biking the Columbia River Levee, Hurricane Katrina, and the Vanport Flood

In February 2013, I posted a blog about the precarious condition of the levee along the south bank of the Columbia River, using a photo I had taken on one of my bike rides along the bike trail. With my permission, a Portland newsweekly, Willamette Week, has used that photo with an online article about the difficulties that are likely to be encountered in finding funds to repair the levee. I am reposting my blog from last year.

Keith Watkins Historian

Columbia River Levee

My Monday bike ride includes ten miles along the Columbia River Levee. For part of the distance the wide, paved bike trail runs between the levee and the riprap-protected riverbank. Other sections of the trail take cyclists, runners, walkers, and skaters on top of the dike. At other places, the trail is on the town side, with cyclists using the shoulder of Marine Drive, a heavily traveled industrial arterial.

The river is broad; Mt Hood dominates the eastern horizon, and much of the trail is a tranquil route where cyclists can ride as fast or as leisurely as they desire.

An article by Steve Law in this week’s Portland Tribune has reminded me of the fragility of things that seem to be built for the ages. One of the vivid memories of my adolescent years was a Friday afternoon in mid May 1948. I was running the mile on…

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