Wednesday, July 29, 2009

History or Junk

Last week while greeting visitors at the maritime museum, I had one gentleman ask me why the government doesn't require the removal of the old piling from the river. My first thought went something like this, "why don't people ask questions for which I have a ready answer!" After pausing for a few seconds, I explained that many of these pilings were driven down to a depth of at least twenty feet through the river's sand in order reach bed rock. I went on further to explain that given the presence of endangered salmon species in the river, the work period for such a project would be so restrict and thus quickly become cost prohibitive. He was unimpressed and returned to his original question.

As our conversation continued, I told him that as a thirty-plus year resident of coastal Oregon,
I hardly even noticed them. To me, the old pilings are as much a part of the river as the water and the rocks. I could tell that he was still unimpressed.

Finally, I explained that many of these piling date back to the 1870 and once supported one of the thirty-nine canneries that once lined the lower Columbia River. I further explained that in large measure, they were a large part of the local history and surely he was not advocating the removal of local history. At this point, he smiled and thanked me for my time.

My photo depicts how the"bones" of the Samuel Elmore Cannery appeared on a warm and hazy morning in July of 2009. The concrete structure that dominates the image once housed the oil storage tank which kept the cannery's massive boiler operating. Is it history or junk, you decide.


Earl said...

Personally, I'd say it's history and I agree it's as much a part of the landscape as the river or rocks.

But then I watch the history channel all the time too. ;-)

Paul said...

I'd have to say history, as well. I guess that guy just needed an answer that suited him. :-) I think that you gave him some fine answers!