Historic Hood River
Supervisors and Workers
Thanks to some careful research by ODOT historian Robert Hadlow we now know this image and the series it comes from represent to very earliest moments of Columbia River Highway construction in Hood River county. Mr. Hadlow recognized Oregon Governor Oswald West as one of the “supervisors” and recognizing the site as Shellrock Mountain, and was able to unite this image with this Oregonian article from May 24, 1912:
CONVICTS START NEW ROAD
Work on Columbia River Highway Is Begun by Prison Labor
WYETH, Or., May 23.-(Special.)-
An agreement having been reached with the O.-W. R.&N. Company as to the right of way with the exception of the location at one point, where solid cliffs overhang the railroad, the 15 convicts at Camp Benson broke ground at 1 o’clock this afternoon on the Columbia River Highway. This is the first work ever done in Hood River County by convicts.
County Commissioner G. A. McCurdy and County Engineer Murray Kay met Governor West at Camp Benson this morning and were present when the first stones were turned on the initial work of the scenic route.
Mr. Kay will supervise the work to be done by the convict laborers, the crew of which will immediately be increased to 25 men. The Governor and county officials who were accompanied by W. L. Clark and Ernest J. Bloom, of Hood River, lunched at the convict camp. They spent a part of the afternoon inspecting the stretch of the Columbia road that is being constructed by the Wyeth road district.
The series of images show the group of dignitaries in various positions observing the men working and posing with tools.