Bradford Island Visitor Center at Bonneville Lock and Dam

A sidewalk leads up to a large turbine on display used for hydroelectric power.

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Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums

Visitor Centers (shown in orange), High Potential Historic Sites (shown in black), and Pivotal Places (shown in green) along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

The Bonneville dam was completed in 1943 and was the first dam built on the Columbia River. The dam takes its name from Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville (1796-1878), a French officer who pioneered parts of the Oregon Trail. Roughly forty miles from Portland, the lock and dam system provided a 48-mile navigable channel for large vessels and eliminated the obstacle of the Cascades of the Columbia. The Bradford Island Visitor Center, located adjacent to the dam on the Oregon side of the river, displays exhibits on local history, hydropower, and fish life cycles. The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped on Bradford Island on April 9, 1806 upon their return journey. 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff and volunteers provides tours of the powerhouse to see working turbines and generators of the hydroelectric dam. A viewing platform allows visitors to watch salmon and lamprey using the fish ladders, making their way upstream. Sea lions can even be found nearby, feeding on the vast quantities of fish. The area provides many other activities including Geocaches at the Bonneville Lock and Dam, the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, and the Bradford Island Recreation Area which offers a spectacular view of the Columbia River Gorge. 

For more information visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website at:

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Last updated: January 26, 2021