Celebrating the King of Roads

In 2016, the nation celebrated the 100th birthday of the “King of Roads”—the Historic Columbia River Highway here in Oregon–America’s first scenic highway.

Our gift to Historic Route 30 was a year-long pro bono PR commitment and a Facebook video that reached over 377,710 people (350,119 organically), has been shared 2,452 times, and viewed 68,000 times and counting.

In our mobile, digital world, creating social-friendly, shareable videos should be a tactical consideration in your communication strategies.

How the Columbia River Highway video came about: First, our friend Sara gave us a beautiful 1918 leather-bound book that contained hand-painted photos of the highway. Then a Hood River, OR resident brought in sheet music from 1916 of “The Columbia High-Way Waltz” (which no one had heard in 100 years). We asked our pianist friend Jill to play the Waltz, which she did on a 100-year-old piano (listen to the texture). People loved it—and more than 2,300 shared it.

The highway also got its own rededication celebration, featuring Pink Martini founder Thomas Lauderdale at a grand piano with Multnomah Falls as a backdrop, two former Oregon governors, a bicycle-and-antique-car cavalcade, a biplane flyover and more. Severson Events and Weinstein PR provided strategic counsel and coordination, a communications plan, key messages and speeches, social media support and stakeholder outreach. A great many other organizations, individuals and sponsors helped make this year-long celebration a success.

We were honored to receive the Outstanding Oregon PR Initiative Award at Travel Oregon’s 2016 Travel & Tourism Industry Achievement Awards for our work on the Historic Columbia River Highway celebration.

We invite you to come bike, drive or walk the Historic Columbia River Highway & State Trail, and visit the communities along its path. Make a loop of it and do your return trip on the Washington side of the Gorge on State Route 14, the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway and Area.