HOW JOE BECAME CURIOUS ABOUT
THE COLUMBIA RIVER JETTY SYSTEM
STORIES FROM THE MOUTH OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER
Although the Columbia River is not the largest river in the world, it remains the world's most dangerous for vessels sailing in and out..............it bears the name the "Graveyard of the Pacific".
The Columbia River drainage basin includes seven US states and British Columbia yet the entire river flows through a narrow three mile wide mouth at the jettys. By comparison the Mississippi River's mouth is 87 miles wide. This restricted flow of the Columbia River at its mouth presents huge navigational challenges for shipping and commerce.
Due to the treacherous bar where the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean meet, shipwrecks were a more common occurence until the jettys were constructed. Since 1792 these challenging conditions have caused close to two thousand shipwrecks in and around the mouth of the Columbia River. These disasters included the loss of over 700 lives as well as massive losses of cargo.
The original construction of the jettys and using bar pilots allowed for commerce to grow. Now each day ten ships safely transit the Bar accounting for over 24 billion dollars worth of commerce each year. This is safely accomplished by the teamwork of the ship Captains, Bar and River Pilots, Coast Guard, and others.
We are Joe Foss, Jeff Holt, and Gary Kobes who currently make up the "Taming the Mouth" project team created to promote the production of a feature length documentary telling the story of the Columbia River Jetty system, its history, its construction, and its critical role in our region and America's commerce. This is a story that most Americans and even most Washingtonians and Oregonians know little about. We are lifelong Pacific Northwest residents and fascinated by our unique and interesting regional history. We are amateur historians, videographers, video editors, who believe that our combined passion and perseverance will lead to this important story being told.
The Taming the Mouth team’s Objective is to tell the story of the building of the Columbia River Jetty System. This story will span the period of 1880 through the present and will cover the initial motivation and planning, the fifty-year initial construction period, the enormous task of ongoing maintenance, and today’s economic activities that are supported by the jetty system. We will tell the story in a video format, in a manner that is both entertaining as well as educational. We will investigate a range of actions covering self-production through finding an established producer. Choosing a particular production method will determine other critical aspects of the project like financing and distribution.
As we continue our research we are realizing that many additional elements come into play that may need to be included in this story. So far these additional elements could include the following:
Which elements to include or not to include will ultimately be determined by the direction our various resources lead us.
We are excited about this immense undertaking and expect that others may also be inspired by this project. Our ultimate goal is to create a feature length documentary specifically to share this story with America. Whether you are a major production house, have videography or editing skills, scriptwriting capability, etc. please make contact with us.
The story about the jetty system and the Columbia River is fascinating for sure, but the real success of this project will depend greatly upon finding personal stories to include in a documentary that will add character and personality. This could include you or your relatives personal stories about crossing the Bar, fishing, or even involvement in original jetty construction work. Our ability to discover and document these personal stories related to this topic will be crucial to this being more than just another documentary. Can you help us?
Our thanks to John Raichl our pilot and tour guide. Thanks as well to Cameron Harry for supplying his recent drone video footage of the South Jetty reconstruction site.