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Ice Age Tonquin Trail deemed name of route

The bicycle and walking trail will stretch for 22 miles


The Tualatin Historical Society has been notified by Metro that the official name of the planned 22-mile long bicycle/walking Tonquin Trail, has been changed to the Ice Age Tonquin Trail. The society requested the change to better identify the area historically, culturally and economically as part of the Ice Age Floods National Geological Trail and to show citizens and visitors the evidence of the ice age floods that remain today.

An Ice Age Visitor’s Plan was proposed by an economic “branding” consultant for the Tualatin area as a result of the floods and by several separate discoveries of many bones of ice age animals such as the mastodon, mammoths, ground sloth and bison which became extinct near the end of the Ice Age.

At least 40 to 90 times between 15,000-18,000 years ago, a huge ice dam broke which held back Glacial Lake Missoula near the Montana/Canadian border. Each time it broke, it sent an estimated 250 cubic miles of water, icebergs, glacial ice and debris, cascading at speeds up to 60 miles per hour through Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.

The waters and debris were constricted at the Kalama Gap on the Columbia River and backed into the Willamette River Valley and its tributaries as far south as Eugene, into the Tualatin and Chehalem Valleys as far west as Gaston and Sheridan. The periodic floods dramatically sculpted 16,000 square miles of the northwesterly United States and as much of the Pacific Ocean floor.

Evidence of the floods can still be seen locally by scoured scablands in the Tonquin area near Wilsonville, Sherwood, Tualatin and rich wetlands and kolk ponds such as Oswego Lake and Cipole Lake.

The Willamette Meteorite was transported by an iceberg and was found on the high banks of the Tualatin River near the community of Willamette in West Linn. A replica can be seen as well as Tualatin granite flood erratics at Fields Park in West Linn.

Giant erratic rocks from melting icebergs were left on hillsides such as the Bellevue erratic near Sheridan and as far as Gaston and Eugene. Huge flood boulders can be seen in local neighborhoods. Rich deposits of soils left by the flood waters still support the agriculturally rich Willamette Valley.

It is suggested that many other historical, cultural, educational, environmental and economic benefits can result from identifying the trail as the Ice Age Tonquin Trail in the near future.




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  • 19 Dec 2014

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