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Old Posted Nov 17, 2007, 9:49 PM
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Walkway Through History: Land bridge links admirers

Saturday, November 17, 2007
BY DEAN BAKER, Columbian staff writer

In a grand splash of umbrellas, 300 ebullient, rain-soaked walkers got their first look Friday at the Confluence Project's Vancouver masterpiece: a 1,500-foot-long walkway through history.



The bridge over state Highway 14, now scheduled for completion next summer, links the reconstructed Fort Vancouver with the Columbia River at the site of a wharf used by pioneers 170 years ago. It was opened Friday for 90 minutes for a sneak preview, then closed again so finishing work can continue.

"It's just wonderful," said Roger Wendlick, a history buff who has spent the past decade studying Lewis and Clark's adventures and Pacific Northwest history full time. "It's the best Confluence Project I've seen, and I've seen several."

The crowd agreed, stopping to shake hands, chat and register approval as they strolled over the bridge, trying to catch views of Mount Hood through the rain, and taking a fresh look from a new angle at the river, the replica fort, Pearson Field and Vancouver's resurgent downtown.

"This is just the beginning," said Superintendent Tracy Fortmann of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. "There's a lot more to come." On the waterfront, partners plan to re-create the salmon-packing warehouse, boat works and hospital located there in the 1830s. The site will be just east of the existing restaurants.

On Friday, however, the $12.25 million bridge was the whole show.

"This bridge is an icon in our community," Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard told the crowd. He said it blazes a trail for the future tourism and connection among civic groups.

"We yanked the land up and pulled it over the bridge like a blanket," said Seattle architect Johnpaul Jones, who designed the bridge in concert with his associate René Senos and artist Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The earth-covered pedestrian bridge is 40 feet wide and festooned with native plants such as Oregon white oak and red alder, Western red cedar, camas, evergreen huckleberry, serviceberry and Nootka rose.

"The new plantings are saying 'thank you' for this rain. In the spring, we'll come back when they are in bloom," said Jane Jacobsen, executive director of the Confluence Project. A dedication of the bridge is expected then.

The bridge, pale gold in color and winding in an arc, stands at the confluence of the Columbia River and the Klickitat Trail, a trade corridor that for centuries connected American Indian tribes from both sides of the Cascades. For as many as 35 Indian and European cultures, this was the most significant area in the Pacific Northwest. Fort Vancouver was built on the site 20 years after Lewis and Clark passed it. It was operated by the Hudson's Bay Company, a British firm that made fortunes in the fur trade.

The bridge is one of seven Columbia River art installations included in the Confluence Project, which commemorates the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's exploration of the West. Each features Lin's work. Other sites are at the Port of Ridgefield; Cape Disappointment at the mouth of the Columbia River; the Sandy River delta at Troutdale, Ore.; Celilo Park near The Dalles, Ore.; Sacajawea State Park in Pasco, and Chief Timothy Park near Clarkston.

Among the guests Friday were Lillian Pitt, a Warm Springs-Wasco Yakama artist who made a welcoming gate for the bridge, and Peter Attila Andrusko, a master artisan in stone, glass, metal and wood who created works for the site.

The river entrance is decorated with crossed paddles and an Indian woman's face. Indian basket-weave designs deck the bridge.

Benches, drawings, photographs and petroglyph-style sculptures are on the bridge along with reminders of the area's later history: the Hudson's Bay Company, a World War I spruce mill, and the Kaiser Shipyard.

Construction of the project is a partnership of Confluence Project members, the National Park Service, the city of Vancouver and the Washington State Department of Transportation. It was funded by donations and state and federal grants.

(PuyoPiyo's speaking: You can find pictures and videos clicking on this article's link)

http://www.columbian.com/news/localN...s-admirers.cfm
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