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The thing under the Trail bridge

I’ve long been puzzled by a square stone and mortar structure on the northeast side of the Columbia River directly below Trail’s Victoria Street bridge. I finally took photos of it and, as one does when one has a mystery on their hands, posted them on Facebook and asked the hive mind what the heck it is.

One person suggested it’s related to the ferry that ran across the river before the bridge. Unlikely, as the ferry, which operated until 1912, was not at that location.

Others thought it had something to do with the bridge itself, which opened in 1961.

• “Possibly form anchors during construction of the bridge.”

• “Original foundation stones for the bridge.”

• “Piling footing.”

• “It was a barbecue and heater for the crews that worked on building the bridge.”

But others offered a different theory that I think is closer to the mark.

• “Sewer outfall. My brother and his pal would stand on it and fish.”

• “In the good old days raw sewage was dumped into the Columbia. This is a sewer outfall box. There were several of these on both sides of the river. Fish feasted near these.”

• “Yep, I remember those in various locations. They were exposed when the river was low.”

• “Not sure about that one, but about 100 meters upstream, there is another one where the raw sewage used to dump straight into the river.”

Trail’s sewage treatment system was built in 1972, but I suspect the structure predates the bridge and that its sheltered location, though coincidental, is the reason it has survived when other such outfall boxes have disappeared.

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Reginald Garnett
Reginald Garnett
Nov 21, 2022

Re: The the stone block concrete structures near the bridge, they are the remains of former raw sewage outlets. Me and my pals used fish from it catching coarse fish: white fish and suckers. That was in the 1940s

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