Preservation efforts in the Columbia River Gorge began long before the 1986 National Scenic Area Act. During the early 1900s, advocates for a scenic highway recognized that the beauty of the Gorge should be preserved for future generations. Upon completion of the Historic Columbia River Highway in 1915, generous landowners donated property to create scenc retreats along the route. Many of the highway's most spectacular features -- Chanicleer Point, CroWn Point, Shepperds Dell, Latourell, Wahkeena, and Multnomah Falls -- were donated by philanthropists or civic groups.
In the spirit of scenic preservation, the Secretary of Agriculture created the nation's first "recreation reserve" in the Gorge on July 27, 1915 -- 14,000 acres encompassing cliffs, waterfalls and portions of the Historic Highway. In the same year, the U.S. Forest Service opended Eagle Creek Campground in response to the influx of motorists.