The Pillars of Hercules

You probably have never noticed them, as your hurtle along I84. Just as Vista House marks the start of the gorge journey using the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway, The Pillars of Hercules were the same for the river level passage using the railroad (back when passenger trains used these tracks).

They are located between Crown Point and Bridal Veil and today the best view of them can be seen from the upper trail at Bridal Veil as you look towards Portland, or if you know where to look when traveling along the freeway. You may still have trouble recognizing them as they are covered in brush, trees and basically feeling quite ignored these days. Gone is the original romance associated with them. Gone is the tree we see growing on the top of it in all of the old photographs.

When the O. R. & N. Railroad was first constructed in the 1880’s, the tracks actually went between the main two columns, but by 1913 the tracks had been moved to the outside, where they basically run today. Note the two smaller pillars that I have ringed. You can see those two right by the side of the curent freeway. This also gives you an idea of how the gorge has been transformed.

The main Pillars are two large basalt columns 120 foot tall plus a lot of little children, many of which no longer exist as they were destroyed when I84 was built. The main pillars were also used for practicing mountain climbing. I am not sure if there are any legal ways to get down to them as they would all seem to require passing across some private land – but my camera was attached to a spy plane

Brought to you by Brian Bailey

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2 thoughts on “The Pillars of Hercules

  • December 23, 2021 at 4:08 PM

    I have these on a stereoscope and had to check them out.

  • January 19, 2020 at 3:36 PM

    Thanks for the history. I just saw the original picture at a museum and thought “where in the hell are these rocks?” Not much info out there.


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