10 Mar 2009
I watched a special on Oregon Public Broadcasting the other night about the history of the Columbia River Gorge. It showcased the history of the gorge through the photography available from various people.
It is amazing to see the history and how it has changed over time, and somewhat sad to see what happened to the river after the Bonneville Damn was put in. Much of the rivers history was lost.
Anyways it was interesting to see how different industries thrived along the river at different times and how they declined because of changes.
The river used to host a thriving industry of steamboats that would haul people and supplies up the river. There were several falls along the river that the steamboats could not traverse. So at each falls there were a series of rails systems that would haul people and supplies around the falls, and then load back on steamboats for the next leg of the journey.
On the Oregon side mule teams would pull rail cars and made a thriving industry because of it. Soon on the less rocky Washington side better rail systems got put in place allowing larger steam engines to run. This competition soon beat out the smaller, less efficient mule teams.
Pretty soon the Army Corps of Engineers started work on a locks system to allows steamboats to travel around the falls. This endeavor took so long it was soon trumped by a non-stop rail system on the washington side. By the time is was complete it was almost useless. They seriously underestimated the time it would take as well as the adoption of the competition.
Then when Bonneville damn was put in it completely flooded all the falls making the river completely open to river boat traffic.
Throughout all of this many industries thrived and got seriously rich, and many either withered away completely or still exist in a much smaller capacity.
Anyways, all of this reminds me of the current financial and Internet age in which we live in....there is so much changing. Many perspectives, many new ways of doing business. Many dying business who complain they are dying.
Think of if the Government had provided a bailout to the mule team owners, or steamboat operations.
Times change, industry evolves, it just depends on where you are at in the mix.