Historic Hood River
“At Shell Mountain”
This B.C. Markham real photo postcard shows one of the most difficult portions of the Columbia River Highway, where it crosses the scree slope at Shellrock Mountain. This constantly moving flow of rocks was a persistent obstacle to the 1870s wagon road, the 1880s railroad, the 1910’s Columbia River Highway, and the modern I-84. During construction of a segment of the Columbia River Highway State Trail at this spot the Eagle Creek fire sent burning logs careening down the hillside and opened up another rock chute. Rather than clear the rock the trail was just raised a bit to pass over it.
We have some other great images of this spot. Here it was on the first day of construction of the Columbia River Highway segment in Hood River County, and here is was, covered by an avalanche, a couple of years later.
Tags: Columbia River Highway, Markham, postcard, Shellrock Mountain
I apologize in advance if this link of the modern view does not work.
Part of the Columbia River Highway was built using convict labor. I think convicts were used in the Shellrock Mountain section.
Arlen L Sheldrake
I have memories of brother John W who worked for ODOT telling us that there was ice under that rock causing ODOT all kinds of headaches.
Who remembers sometime in the eighties, the gorge here especially by Shellrock Mtn., got several inches, maybe more of graupel (ice pellets), and once the rocks were snuggled in with ice, it just slide down, covering/closing I84 for sometime. Later, driving by, the drifts were quite impressive…..
I have heard that across the River, where the land slides, just east of Wind Mountain, there was ice beneath the ground. This is also the area of Collins Hot Springs, so there is definitely some interesting geological features in this area.
The Submerged Forest was also visible in this area. Will the new Trail make note of it?
A little searching reveals new info ..
Interesting info about the cold vents under the talus. I know during the Eagle Creek fire the firefighters reported the fire burning under the talus, and popping up in different places. I think it's appropriate to think about this hillside as a living, breathing thing.
The convict laborers were known as “honor men” and definitely worked on this section of road. They were used extensively on the CRH. You can see them at work if you look at the first link I included in the “Notes” section.
@James, I remember that storm and that incident in the late eighties. I have never seen a storm drop so much graupel. I was cross country skiing the old highway near the Hood River side of the Mosier twin tunnels (They were still filled in and blocked then) and we came across a spot where the graupel was flowing down a low spot on the hill just like a steep river of styrofoam pellets. It was not a slide event but a continuous flow. I had never seen anything like that before or since. I assume that it was the same type of thing that blocked 84 at Shell Rock mountain during that storm. I would guess 1988 or 1989.