After 100 years, our Rotary Wheel has returned to it’s original home.
On Saturday, June 24, 2017, Rotarians gathered at the picnic area near Wahkeena Falls in the Columbia River Gorge to celebrate the Rotary Club of Portland’s history with the Historic Scenic Highway.
In 1916, The Rotary Club of Portland dedicated a Rotary Wheel fountain to the new highway. A ceremony was held, which was attended by Portland elite Simon Benson, Governor James
Withycombe, Rotary Club of Portland President Nelson Pike, Samuel C. Lancaster, an engineer and landscape architect who supervised the highway build, and young Jean Keeney, daughter of Homer I. Keeney, who was a member of the club.
A rededication was held in 1985 when the wheel was installed at Horsetail Falls. The wheel had been in storage prior to that for many years after a landslide had damaged the original fountain.
Alas, the wheel was not to remain at Horsetail Falls.
In 2007 it was ripped from the ground and hauled away in a stolen truck. Luckily, the wheel was quickly recovered and returned to the U.S. Forest Service.
Two years ago, during the complete renovation of the Wahkeena Falls area, the wheel was placed securely in the ground at the picnic area.
Club members and U.S. Forest Service staff rededicated the wheel on June 24.
An interpretive sign detailing the rich history of the wheel has been erected and Rotarians planted ferns around the wheel. Stella Cianflone, daughter of the current recreation planner for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area helped recreate the iconic photo from 1916.
Thanks to U.S. Forest Archeologist Marge Dryden for sharing the history of the wheel with the group and Steve Watts, Rotary Club of Portland President for sharing thoughtful words about Rotary and its continued contribution to our community.
And of course, thank you to everyone who joined the special event.
We hope to have a link soon to the original news story from 2007.