The Deschutes is a river
in West-central Washington State
. The river is generally calm, but becomes very rapid in its last few mile
s to its estuary
in southern Puget Sound
. These falls
are the sight of the first settlement in Washington, the town of Newmarket
). The settlers hopped to use the falls as a source of power for development. The state capital of Olympia
was built directly North of Tumwater. Tumwater has not grown a whole lot over the years, but helped make the river and its falls famous with the Olympia beer
brewery that used the water of the Deschutes in its beverages. The brewery, however, has been closed recently. The river has no natural salmon
run because the falls block passage up the river. A salmon hatchery above the falls, however, creates a weak articifial run.
Hydrologically, the Deschutes is a unique river. It services a watershed that stretches from the Snoqualmie National Forest to the southern end of Puget Sound, the drainage basin averaging 10 to 20 km across. It is a relatively minor river when compared to other even moderate-sized rivers of the region. The Deschutes, however, has unique geology created by the same processes as the Olympic Mountains. The river starts out rapid at the headwaters and flattens out in an alluvial plain that stretches almost to the Sound. However, a large mass of basalt, formed by volcanic activity and forced against the continent with the subduction of the Juan de Fuca Plate, prevents additional undercutting by the current. The result is an atypical increase of water velocity as it approaches the Sound. Recently, there have been problems with the Deschutes back-cutting dirt banks lining the alluvial plain, forcing the destruction of some houses overlooking the river.