However, here are ten little-known facts about the Columbia River:
1. The Columbia River is the largest hydropower river in the entire North American continent. Along its length there are fourteen different hydropower plants that stretch across the width of the river and generate electricity that can be used from both inside and outside the area.
2. In 1836 the first steamship entered the Columbia River when the British ship ‘Beaver’ set out on the voyage.
3. An area of the Columbia River called Hanford Reach, south of the Priest Rapids Dam and before the river reaches the Tri-Cities, is the last stretch of the Columbia River in the United States that flows freely and is not obstructed by dams. Reservoirs or the effects of the ocean tides.
4. The Columbia River begins in Canada and flows south into and through Washington State before flowing into the Pacific. Even so, the river actually flows northwest for the first 200 miles of its journey.
5. The first European explorer to travel the entire length of the Columbia River from the headwaters to the Pacific was the Canadian explorer David Thompson, who did so in 1811.
6. More than 40 percent of the wheat exported from the US is barge down the Columbia River.
7. Only three rivers actually flow completely through the Cascade Mountains. the Columbia River along the Washington-Oregon border, the Klamath River in Oregon, and the Pit River in California.
8. Cape Disappointment is the name for the landmark on the northern edge of the mouth of the Columbia River. It was named as such by British captain John Meares, who had looked for the legendary river but could not find it.
9. Vanport City was a parish near Portland that was completely destroyed in 1948 due to a massive flood resulting from a failed levee. At the time of its destruction, it was the second largest city in Oregon.
10. An 18th century landslide near what is now Cascade Locks, Oregon, formed a land bridge that crossed the Columbia River, making it easier for Native American tribes on both sides to trade with one another. The name for this bridge was the bridge of the gods. There is now a bridge near the slide, also known as the Bridge of the Gods.
The Columbia River will continue to be one of the most widely used and needed resources in the Pacific Northwest. The electricity generated on the river benefits residents well outside the Washington and Oregon borders and has played an important role in the development of industry as well as war production. The Columbia River offers a number of options for both visitors to the area and locals in the area. From water skiing to fishing, boating, swimming, trading, transportation, and more, the Columbia River has something for almost anyone traveling nearby.