|Coalca's Pillar, about 1915|
Lesser creations too had their partisans. One of those was the basalt oddity called Coalca Pillar, or Coalca's Pillar, about three miles south of Oregon City. As a child, when we drove along Highway 99E toward grandma's house, I always watched for this "balancing rock," perched on a bluff overlooking the Willamette River. (It is not, of course, a balancing rock, but an eroded basalt plug.) Over the years, trees and shrubs have grown up to gradually hide it from easy view, but if you look sharply upward just south of the chainsaw art shop, you can still get a glimpse of it.
|Actually, looking downstream|
toward Oregon City
And of course a century ago, you could see it easily from the Southern Pacific passenger trains, just opposite the railroad station sign that read, COALCA, 751 miles north of San Francisco. The Southern Pacific's widely-read magazine, Sunset, published a short piece about Coalca's Pillar in its issue of March 1900. It says nothing about the geological formation itself, but instead relates a tale of romance and war revolving about a Chief Coalca of the Molalla Indians and his desire for Nawalla, the daughter of Chief Chelko of the Clackamas Indians. I have been unable to locate any information about the genesis of this legend, and no other references to Coalca or Nawalla or Chelko. If you know anything of them, please do get in touch with me!
|The Needles, ca. 1885|
Oregon Historical Society
For more on Coalca, and the original article from Sunset Magazine, see the blog entry for Coalca Redux.