ODOT uses massive snow blower to clear Hwy 30 near Horsetail Falls


Several snow slides on the Historic Columbia River Highway forced the Oregon Department of Transportation to shut down a stretch of the road Tuesday morning near Multnomah Falls and bring down a large snow blower from Government Camp to clear the way.

A 30-yard drift covered the road near Horsetail Falls. Jim Ferrell of Cougar, Washington, drove up to the snow slide Tuesday morning during a trip through the gorge to check out the powder and take pictures.

“It’s amazing to me how much snow drifts out of the trees like this,” he said.

The giant pile of snow is also a snapshot of what ODOT has been dealing with this winter in the gorge:

The department hasn’t had to bring down the snow-blower to the area for several years. Normally, crews use regular snowplows to clear the highway.

“This is actually a rotary snow blower that we’ve had shipped down from Government Camp,” Transportation Manager Ken Kalsch said. “It’s unsafe for us to come in with the smaller plows and remove (the snow)”

Kalsch said crews had been monitoring the slide as it slowly made its way onto the road, adding that it’s not the fast avalanche that people typically think.

“It just keeps rolling and flowing, and it gets to the point where we can’t safely and effectively remove it," Kalsch said. “It just slowly flows in, little by little. You can watch it progress down the hill.”

Crews had several other slides to remove along the highway, but they hope to reopen Highway 30 by Tuesday night.

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