A Camera Expedition and a Study in Contrasts

White River Falls located 35 miles by road south of The Dalles, Oregon by Carl Jameson

My picture postcard of White River Falls in Oregon. © Carl Jameson 2015


Who doesn’t like to play outside? It’s one of my favorite activities. If I have the opportunity to combine it with a camera expedition, so much the better.

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I made the trek to one of the most beautiful spots in Oregon, White River Falls, to experiment with a new camera. The images in this blog are stills pulled from it.

The car trip east on I-84 from Portland through the Columbia River gorge to White River State Park began a day in the study of contrasts. The drive begins on the wet and lush western side of Oregon with its green and Douglas Fir covered hills and segues near The Dalles into the dry and sparse high desert eastern side of browns and Ponderosa Pines.

We headed south on U.S. Route 197 for about thirty-five miles by fields of wheat, barley and rye grass, through small towns with new bike lanes and empty storefronts, and rangeland with cattle and a few sheep. Tygh Valley, Oregon is quiet.

Once you arrive in the park there is noise. White River Falls crashes down to its basalt floor 90 feet below with a constant hammering thunder. Just upriver from the falls is a crumpling concrete dam that used to hold the river back. The river flows over and around the low dam now. Its spillway permanently open.


A pipe rusts near White River Falls.                                                                                 © Carl Jameson 2015

What’s left of a power plant that supplied electricity to the area from 1910 until 1960 is strewn about the park. The state park web page calls the site historic and goes on to say, “The chasm of the falls tells a geological story of violence and power; the old grist pond tells the story of people learning to use that power. The hydroelectric plant at the bottom tells the story of human ingenuity and persistence as we turned the Pacific Northwest’s abundant natural energy into electricity.”

White River Falls- pipe

View of Tygh Valley from inside a pipe.                                                                                       © Carl Jameson 2015

We spent about four hours taking video of the waterfall and the detritus of power generation. The river flowing in geologic time and using gravity to find its way to the ocean. The power station built to transform the river’s energy and send it to a flickering filament in an incandescent light bulb.

The dam is gone and river still flows.


Water wearing away stone in geologic time.                                                                 © Carl Jameson 2015

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