Trail of Confluence art continues to fill in

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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Vancouver's Land Bridge is one segment in a series of landscape-art installations that eventually will stretch from the mouth of the Columbia River to the eastern edge of the state near Clarkston.

"It's 470 miles from Cape Disappointment all the way to Chief Timothy Park in Asotin County. And believe me, I have driven it," said Jane Jacobsen, executive director of the Confluence Project.

The Vancouver-based nonprofit is undertaking the challenge of interpreting thousands of years of history and heritage of people who have lived along the Columbia River and its tributaries.

The installations also include the perspectives of the first white explorers to follow that route to the West, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.

The Vancouver Land Bridge, which celebrated its fifth anniversary Saturday, is one of four completed installations. The others are:

• "Story Circles" at Sacajawea State Park in Pasco, where the Columbia and Snake rivers meet. Artist Maya Lin designed seven basalt circles with themes that reflect regional tribal cultures, including images of salmon and trade goods, and representations of tribal beliefs.

• "Fish-Cleaning Table" at Cape Disappointment State Park, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean near Ilwaco. It features a single polished block of native basalt.

• "Bird Blind" at the Sandy River Delta, near Troutdale, Ore.; a 1.2-mile trail leads to a 150-foot ramp and a bird blind. The wooden slats of the blind list the 134 bird species Lewis and Clark noted during their expedition.

Two other installations are on the timetable, Jacobsen said.

The "Listening Circle" amphitheater is scheduled to be the next installation completed, at Chief Timothy Park on the Snake River near Clarkston, Jacobsen said."We did receive funding to finish the site," she said. If things go according to plan, work will begin this fall and the site will be dedicated in the spring.

The last scheduled art site will be on the Oregon side of the Columbia River at Celilo Falls, near The Dalles.

"It's been 66 years since The Dalles Dam inundated the falls," Jacobsen said. "Maya has designed beautiful artwork and an interpretive plaza. We hope to build it in 2015 and dedicate it in 2016."

Another Clark County project had been part of the long-range plan, at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

"When the economy took a dive, we had to stop talking," Jacobsen said.

The concept includes a facility that would be used by several universities and agencies.


Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://twitter.com/col_history; tom.vogt@columbian.com.