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Bridal Veil, timber industry both on their last breath

by: Jim Clark The Bridal Veil post office is still popular for mailing wedding invitations.

Like the lumber industry that created it, the community of Bridal Veil is but a faint remnant of its former self - and getting fainter all the time.

The community, east of Corbett along the Historic Columbia River Highway, has been disappearing - board by board and building by building - since the middle of the last century. Most of the property within it is now owned by the Trust for Public Land, which seems intent on dismantling the remainder of the historic village.

The latest news, reported in today's Outlook, is that the 70-year-old Bridal Veil Community Church will be torn down, starting this week. That leaves only the town's cemetery and its tiny post office as the surviving pieces of a community that once was home to one of the longest-running mills west of the Mississippi.

Bridal Veil at its peak was a company town with houses, a school and store. Today, nature is reclaiming it, and the post office stubbornly persists in part because it is such a popular place to get postmarks placed on wedding invitations.

Eventually, the Trust for Public Land may succeed in removing all structures from its Bridal Veil property and deeding it to the U.S. Forest Service, where the land, if not the human history, will continue to be protected as part of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. When that happens, the community will complete the long transformation from timber town to natural playground. As such, it is emblematic of what's happened with most of Oregon's lumbering past - an inescapable decline for this state's timber-related industries and a rise in the value given to nature's preservation.

It's not all bad, of course. But neither is it all good.