US Coins

Clubs sponsor bus trip to proposed site of U.S. branch mint

On March 8, the Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association and the Willamette Coin Club is hosting a bus trip from Portland to the site of the United States-proposed mint at the The Dalles, Oregon.

Participants will gather at the Double Tree Inn at Lloyd Center. The bus will depart at 8:30 am.

The first stop, weather permitting, will be at the Vista House, built in 1917, along the historic Columbia River Highway. It was a place for travelers to rest and refresh themselves as they made their way down the Columbia River Gorge.

The focus of the stop will be to learn about Vista House, a stone structure that towers 733 feet above the Columbia River, as well as about the Historic Columbia River Highway, the Columbia River Gorge, local history, the geology, flora, and fauna of the region, and other attractions along the highway and throughout the gorge.

Next stop will be at the stone building once proposed by the U.S. Mint to be the site of a branch mint in The Dalles, Oregon in Wasco County. Once the largest county in the nation, Wasco County extended to the border of Yellowstone National Park and included western Montana and southern Idaho. It was the gateway to the interior of western North America. The region played a role in significant themes in American history, including early missionaries, frontier cavalry posts, Indian wars, the gold rush, settlement, agriculture, shipping, commerce, and the last competition of the railroad barons.

Oregon politicos of the time wanted the proposed mint to be located in Portland; however, on July 4, 1864, Congress established a branch mint at Dalles City. This was partially due to Oregon becoming a state less than 2,000 days earlier, on Feb 14, 1859. Congress wanted Fort Dalles, a well-established federal location with trusted federal officials that was established in 1850. This location was accessible to the gold miners in Washington to the north, Idaho to the east, Oregon and Utah to the south.

Participants will eat lunch in The Dalles.

Following lunch, on the way back to Portland, the bus will stop by Bonneville Lock near Cascade Locks, Ore.

The project’s first powerhouse, spillway and original navigation lock were completed in 1938 to improve navigation on the Columbia River and provide hydropower to the Pacific Northwest.

A second powerhouse was completed in 1981, and a larger navigation lock in 1993. A Works Progress Administration project during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s tenure, portions of Bonneville Lock and Dam Project were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The bus will return to the Double Tree Inn at 6 p.m. 

Cost of the bus trip is $100. For more details and to register, visit the PNNA website at

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