Our Willamette

Dear Liza,

You and I were talking the other day about the big river here in Portland. It is called the Willamette, and people sometimes get the pronunciation wrong.

They want to say “will-a-MET”, to rhyme with “make a BET”, but this is incorrect. It is actually “will-A-met”. My dad taught me how to remember it properly when I was about your age. He said, ”It’s will-A-met, dammit!”

The Willamette is unusual. Like the Nile River in Egypt, it flows from its headwaters in southern Oregon, north to the join with the Columbia River. For years, it was the easiest and safest way to travel from the university cities of Eugene and Corvallis, and the state capital of Salem, to Portland, and beyond that to the Pacific Ocean.

Even today, hundreds of ships bring cargo and people to the city. But our river is also a playground! Tour boats, jet skis, kayaks, fishermen and amateur sailors are out whenever the weather is good, making the most of this gift.

Just within the city of Portland, TWELVE bridges cross this mighty river, connecting the Westside, where the city began in the 1800s, to the Eastside, where we live. They are all useful in their own way, though some are more beautiful than others.

My favorite is the Tilikum Crossing, the newest bridge. It is only for public transit and pedestrians, so is the quietest. It is also very pretty, looking like a harp stretching across the river.

I hope that when you visit we can take a walk across some of these wonderful bridges.


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

2 thoughts on “Our Willamette”

  1. Yes, when I did visit Portland we did walk across a bridge. That would be VERY difficult lately as I rely heavily on my walker.


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