Troutdale to get spotlight on European TV

Travel channel crews film in Troutdale

Troutdale and parts of East County are well on their way to international renown - or at least TV exposure - when a Travel Channel Europe filming project is completed.

A crew filming for Travel Channel Europe passed through Troutdale this week to capture footage for a 15-part series, 'Oregon Uncovered,' slated for broadcast launch in January 2009. The crew was said to be filming around Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood before heading toward Bend and Central Oregon, said Teresa O'Neill of Travel Oregon, a state tourism-promotion agency sponsoring seven of the Travel Channel Europe episodes.

Filming for the series started in Portland last fall and is expected to wrap up in southern Oregon in September.

The West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Travel Oregon on the seven vignettes, featuring sights, panoramas and people from East County and throughout Oregon. The chamber is channeling money from a tourism fund, partially generated from an increased hotel-motel tax, to the filming project. Eight other Oregon entities are sponsoring the remaining episodes.

'It's a very big opportunity for us,' said Diane McKeel, chairwoman of the West Columbia chamber. 'This opens a whole door for us to showcase our area in the European market.'

Terry Smoke, owner of Troutdale General Store in downtown Troutdale, said he noticed something going on early in the morning Wednesday, March 19. When several people entered his store around lunchtime with British and German accents, he discovered the film crew and what they were up to.

'One lady said something about inundating us all at once,' Smoke said, adding he didn't mind the deluge of business at all.

The camera crews moved up and down both sides of Historic Columbia River Highway in downtown Troutdale.

'They were really getting a feel for the whole town itself,' Smoke said.

Based on his own viewing of the Travel Channel, he is impressed with the project's potential.

'When you look at the Travel Channel here and know how many people watch it, to know that Europeans will be watching - it's exciting in that part of it,' he said, noting he encounters international tourists in and around Troutdale all the time. 'Any kind of exposure you get, especially to an international crowd, is a good thing.'

The crew will return for two more shoots in June and July, O'Neill said. When the series is completed, it will run twice a week for three years on prime time European television.

'The entire state will be covered,' she said, adding that Portland International Airport adding direct flights to European cities has a notable impact on Oregon tourism. 'We want to promote the entire state, and the entire state is very promotable.'