Last Friday Ruth & I visited the Johnnie and William Koller Wetland Park for the 1st time. I wrote about its significance on May 4, 2017. William Koller was Ruth’s father. When he bought several acres after moving west many years ago, he surely didn’t know how geologically significant they were. Creating a wetland park where people can experience nature and learn about Ice Age floods was a truly great Koller idea, and we look forward to its development.
Ruth was thrilled to see the street named after her father and insisted that I take several photos of this sign. While on his property, she consistently walked ahead of me, which is unusual, and had a big grin on her face even though the property won’t be park-like for some time. For now it’s mostly a water-lily choked lake where bullfrogs croak. The trail alongside it is far from developed. Paul Hennon accompanied us to the property and spoke of his vision for the park that will include interpretive info and stairs up to the top of the cliff created by cataclysmic floods that swept down the Columbia River and inundated the valley where Bill’s house and land were centuries later.
Paul recommended a book that I immediately went to Powell’s City of Books and bought. Powell’s is a Portland landmark and tourist attraction that you’ve probably heard about. The book is called Cataclysms on the Columbia. Its 3 authors are turning me into an amateur geologist. In Chapter 23 they wrote about the floods that filled the Willamette Valley when ice dams broke and unbelievable cascades of water flowed down the Columbia River to inundate this valley as far south as present-day Eugene. They formed a 2nd great lake called Allison. Now gone, Allison was once 111 miles long and averaged 200 feet deep. It eventually flowed out, leaving sedimentary soils that were prized when people arrived. They turned them into gravel quarries. According to Cataclysms, “…water filled the southern divide between Tualatin and Sherwood through numerous channels which are now the best examples of scablands to be found in western Oregon.” Ruth is thrilled that Bill’s wife’s vision will one day be a groomed park available to the public when enough money is collected to develop it properly.
In Cataclysms on the Columbia I learned about the Willamette meteorite. I decided to include it, not because it’s on Bill’s land, but because I found the details fascinating and am glad that I wasn’t around before it was discovered in 1902 atop a spur in the Tualatin Valley 2 miles from the town of West Linn. This meteorite is the 6th largest in the world and the largest ever found in the United States. Its more than 31,000-pound mass fell on an ice sheet in Canada and slowly moved south via an iceberg during one of the Bretz floods.
Many partial mammoth skeletons have been found in the Willamette Valley. These huge animals, according to the 3 scholars who wrote Cataclysms, were once as abundant in the area “as the elephant used to be in Africa”. Ruth & I are hoping for a mammoth mammoth find at the KOLLER wetland park.