Tallest Totem Pole


On Saturday, 7 March, I trekked south to the Portland area to visit my parents and do some sales-tax-free shopping. As I drove south on the I-5 freeway past the town of Kalama, I glanced to my right at a towering totem pole near the Columbia River waterfront. That pole has been there for years, but I have never stopped to have a closer look and I determined to investigate on my return trip.

Kalama map

I exited the freeway where a sign pointed to the Port of Kalama. Then it was simply a matter winding my way through a small industrial area. My objective was a 140-foot tall totem pole, so it was easy to keep that in sight as I made my way closer.

Located in Kalama's Marine Park, these totem poles can be seen from the I-5 freeway. The tallest pole is carved from a 700-year-old Western Red Cedar, and, according to the Cowlitz County Dept. of Tourism website, at 140-feet, this totem is the largest one-piece single-tree totem in the world.
Located in Kalama’s Marine Park, these totem poles can be seen from the I-5 freeway. The tallest pole is carved from a 700-year-old Western Red Cedar, and, according to the Cowlitz County Dept. of Tourism website, at 140-feet, this totem is the largest one-piece single-tree totem in the world.

As you can see on the map above, the Port of Kalama is not far from the Pacific Ocean – only about 65 miles. The Columbia River is plenty wide enough for freighters to turn around and tie up to any of the five docks here.

One of five docks at the Port of Kalama, Washington.  http://portofkalama.com/marine_terminal
One of five docks at the Port of Kalama, Washington. http://portofkalama.com/marine_terminal

Barges are a common means of bringing commodities from inland areas to ports on the Columbia. As it was moving up stream, I suspect the containers on this barge were empty.

Tug boat pushing 6 Georgia Pacific barges up the Columbia River at Kalama, possibly bound for Portland.
Tug boat pushing 6 Georgia Pacific barges up the Columbia River at Kalama, possibly bound for Portland.

The weather here in the Pacific Northwest has been so unseasonably warm and dry for the past month or so that trees are bursting into flower far earlier than usual and people feel compelled to get out and enjoy the balmy spring weather. On this Saturday afternoon, the breeze was gentle and the temperature was a comfortable 66°F/19°C.

People were strolling about in this riverfront park but my eyes – and camera – were drawn to this young family and the somersault lesson in progress.

On a beautiful early spring day, these young parents had fun teaching their small children how to turn somersaults on the grass at Kalama's Marine Park.
On a beautiful early spring day, these young parents had fun teaching their small children how to turn somersaults on the grass at Kalama’s Marine Park.

Life doesn’t get any better than this, does it?

 

 

 

For more information and closer views of the totem pole, check out  http://columbiariverimages.com/Regions/Places/kalama_totem.html

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9 thoughts on “Tallest Totem Pole

  1. Hi Linda,
    I popped back in for a re-read, and found Ken’s link – such an amusing read. Who’d have thought Totem Poles would be so emotive.

    Like

    1. Thanks for asking! As a matter of fact, I went to the Washington coast on Sunday, April 26, and tried out my new camera. I just finished sorting through the pics yesterday and am starting to gather some thoughts for a blog, which is long overdue.

      An how is Chapter 9 coming along?

      Like

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