13-042 McNary Dam offers up-close look at “tall ships”

Published June 14, 2013

UMATILLA, Ore.  – McNary Lock and Dam staff will allow access to the north side of the navigation lock Tuesday afternoon to allow visitors an up-close look at two “tall ships” as they lock past the dam on their way to Umatilla, Oregon, Walla Walla District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, officials announced today.

The Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain are anticipated to pass McNary Dam via its navigation lock between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., Tuesday, June 18. The ships cannot guarantee an arrival time.

Dam officials will allow viewing access between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.  Those wishing to see the ships locking through should arrive early at the north shore entrance to the dam (Washington side of the Columbia River) to allow time for security checkpoint processing, parking and walking to the navigation lock wall.  Photo identification is required at the security checkpoint – only U.S. citizens will be allowed inside secure areas of the dam.  Visitors should be sure to wear closed-toed, sturdy shoes while at the dam.

“It’s really unusual to see these types of sailing ships this far up the Columbia River; the last time they came through our navigation lock was in 2009,” said Dave Coleman, operations project manager at McNary.  “We thought it would be nice to create an opportunity for the public to get a really close look at them as they pass by.”

Cameras will be allowed, however visitors will not be allowed to bring in camera cases, purses, bags, briefcases or similar items into secure areas of the dam. These items cannot be checked in with the security guards and should be left in visitors’ vehicles. Visitor access at the dams is subject to change without notice.

The Lady Washington, a full-scale reproduction of the original Lady Washington built in the British Colony of Massachusetts in the 1750s, is the official ship of the State of Washington. The original vessel carried freight between colonial ports until the American Revolutionary War, when she became an American privateer. In 1787, after the war, she was given a major refit to prepare her for an unprecedented trading voyage around Cape Horn. In 1788, she became the first American vessel to make landfall on the west coast of North America.

The Hawaiian Chieftain, a replica of a typical European merchant trader of the turn of the nineteenth century, accompanies her on her voyages and goodwill missions.  Her hull shape and rigging are similar to those of Spanish explorer's ships used in the expeditions of the late 18th century along the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts.

To get there from Highway 82, take Exit-131 and travel 2 miles east on the dam access road.  The dam entrance is located at Columbia River Mile 292, on the north (Washington) riverbank.

For more information about this event or other recreation opportunities at McNary Dam, call 541-922-2268. 

For more information about these ships, go online to www.historicalseaport.org.


Public Affairs Office

Release no. 13-042