Throughout our history, efforts to create a safe navigation channel for the cost-effective movement of goods from Portland to the Pacific Ocean have shaped our region and economy.

Now 43 feet deep and providing passage for deeper draft, bulk and container vessels, the benefits are apparent to ports and shippers along the entire Columbia Snake river system. Exporters throughout the region are taking advantage of growing Asia markets for grain and other exported products, enhancing the Northwest's role as an international trade gateway.

Navigation Channel

The Columbia River channel begins at the Columbia River bar and continues five miles upriver at a depth of 55 feet and a width of 2,640 feet. After which, it maintains a depth of 43 feet and a width of 600 feet for 100 miles to the Portland Harbor. The channel passes under the Astoria Bridge, with a vertical clearance of 208 feet and a horizontal clearance of 1070 feet, and the Longview Bridge, with vertical and horizontal clearance of 198 feet and 1085 feet, respectively.

US Rail Map

Working on the river

The story of the men, women and machines that shaped the region's trade routes and economic vitality.

The Dredge Oregon

The Dredge Oregon

The Dredge Oregon has been the Port's workhorse since it was built by Bauer Dredging Company in 1965. The average age of a dredging vessel in the United States is 25 years.
In 2014, the Port replaced three engines in the Dredge Oregon, which reduces diesel particulate emissions by more than 85 percent.

Forty-two Port employees serve as crew on the Dredge Oregon – including those who work on the river and on the shore. During the season – late spring to late fall – the dredge operates 24 hours a day, six days a week. At the end of each dredge season, crew members are either laid off or return to the yard in Portland to work on necessary maintenance and repairs.

Maintaining Our River

Without dredging for the shipping channel, we would be a very different, much smaller city.

The Dredge Oregon

As a trade dependent state, our marine highways are critical to our region's continued success. A big part of the success as a trade gateway is attributed to what you might call the most important vessel that nobody sees – the Dredge Oregon.

Dredging is not without controversy due to potential impacts to fish and river ecology. Dredging and placement of dredge material is highly regulated by federal and state agencies.

The Dredge Oregon crew members

History Of Dredging

Have a peek at the 150-year history of maintaining a safe navigation channel from Portland to the Sea.

The Dredge Oregon

Early city and state leaders, recognizing the importance of transportation infrastructure in the Portland Harbor, established the Port of Portland in 1891 for the express purpose of dredging the navigation channel from Portland to the sea. They also made investments in roads, railways and runways that positioned the city as an international trade hub. By the mid-1920s Portland had become the region's gateway for the export of wheat, lumber, wool and manufactured goods.

Over the years, the dredging activity that shaped the river bottom to accommodate increasingly larger ships also shaped the region's geography, playing an active role in the physical development of places like Swan Island and Guild's Lake, Oaks Amusement Park, a parking lot at Multnomah Falls, the Columbia River Highway, Portland International Airport and even the Nike campus in Beaverton all sit on fill from dredging activity.

The Dredge Oregon crew members

1940: Portland - Columbia Airport

Dredge Material was used to help shape Portland - Columbia Airport which is now Portland International Airport

The Dredge Oregon

Mt. St Helens erupted in 1980, debris filled the Columbia River navigation channel, reducing its depth to 14 feet in some areas and stopping maritime trade in its tracks. The Dredge Oregon and several other dredges worked day and night to clear the channel. When it was removed – enough to cover a football field to a height of nearly 7 miles.

Dredging Through the Years

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