Capstone Outlining and Planning


– Why are waterfalls important?

– What constitutes a waterfall? How are they formed? In what range of landscapes do they occur?  – defining a waterfall, explanation of geological formation and distribution. Cite: Brian J. Hudson Waterfall – Birth, Life and Death.

– Geologic significance/transience: A falls will gradually migrate up the stream channel as it erodes, sculpting watershed morphology and impacting a variety of riparian ecosystems. Rates of propagation are a result of rock layering, type, and strength (Cite: Michael P. Lamb).

– Cultural significance/waterfalls as resources for tourism- Why do people visit waterfalls?                                                                                                                                                – Interest in visiting waterfalls has stemmed from the urge to experience the “sublime” and “picturesque.”                                                                                                                                  – Waterfalls have picturesque appeal because of their sublime qualities – their untamed or overwhelming aspects contribute to scenes of exceptional beauty.                             –  Role of photography – to preserve a desired view or experience – relation to the “picturesque” and “sublime”                                                                                                                       – Waterfalls act as key resources for outdoor tourism. Longtime interest in waterfalls has led to the development of tourist infrastructure at several waterfalls, aimed at making these places more accessible to the masses. (Cite: Lofgren On Holiday and Hudson – The Experience of Waterfalls) 

– Importance of “the waterfall experience” – waterfall experiences can have a major impact on how a visitor comprehends the natural world. Understanding the experience with consideration of accessibility, human development, and visitor motivation can lead to key insight on the effectiveness of preservation and land management. (Cite: Hudson – Waterfalls, Tourism and Landscape also portions of Burns – Columbia River Gorge Vital Signs Indicators Resident and Visitor Study).

Framing Question

–  What is the allure of waterfalls?

Thesis Statement

–  The waterfall experience as a “feedback loop” – photography and literature seen beforehand construct idealistic notions of experience that can distort the reality of firsthand experience.                                                                                                                             -Photos taken by visitors preserve their “ideal” experience and continue the cycle as others see their photography through various photo sharing platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Google Images, etc.)                                                                                                              – According to survey responses and visitation data, people seek a wide variety of experiences at waterfalls ranging from witnessing sublimity to spending time with dear friends or lovers in a picturesque location. People’s experiences are generally being fulfilled but are primarily diminished by limited accessibility from fire damage, lower than expected waterfall discharge, and crowding.

Situated Context

–  The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area – Oregon

– Contains one of the highest concentrations of permanent waterfalls in the world and the presence of waterfalls here is a large driver of tourism                                                         -General explanation of the area’s geologic and human history. Description of major geographic actors (Historic Highway, I-84, Multnomah Falls etc.)                                                   –Area managed by The Columbia River Gorge Commission in partnership with USFS       –My focus is guided towards visitor experience at Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s most famous waterfall, and draw comparisons to experiences at Latourell Falls, a slightly lesser known waterfall.                                                                                                                         -Explanation of waterfall accessibility in the gorge and how access aligns with goals stated in the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area Act (Cite: Scenic Area Act and Columbia River Gorge Management Plan)                                                                                                          -Impacts of the Eagle Creek Fire on waterfall accessibility and visitor experience (Cite: USFS) 

Focus Question & Methodology

What experiences do people seek at waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge and to what extent are these experiences being fulfilled?

– Methods:

Photography and literature analysis (precursors to the waterfall experience) – How are these waterfalls depicted in the media? Looking at photos on instagram, google images, and guidebooks. (Cite: Martin, Legacy of English Picturesque in Tourist Photography on Instagram).                                                                                                                                               -Focus on depictions of the “sublime” and “picturesque”                                                              Survey – interviewing people at Multnomah and Latourell Falls – description of survey and questions asked. Will also include aspects of the SBE Method (Scenic Beauty Estimation Method) and criteria for numerical scenic beauty ratings. (Cite: Daniel T. Boster: Measuring Landscape Aesthetics)                                                                                         –Results – run transcriptions through Voyant Tools and graph numerical responses

Preliminary Results

– Description of major themes that arose in responses (picturesque, experiencing the sublime, impact of accessibility, perspectives on crowding, seasonality, impacts of waterfall discharge, partial concealment, etc.)

– Display graphs of numerical responses for visitors at Multnomah and Latourell Falls – interpret graphs – what aspects of the waterfall experience shaped these results? How do Multnomah and Latourell differ with regards to crowding, accessibility, and scenic beauty?


Nov. 19 – Outline and timeline due

Nov. 26 – Research methods of descriptive and inferential statistics. Also, find more sources on relevant aspects of the waterfall experience.

Nov. 27 – Data sorting and graphing

Nov. 29 – Work on poster

Dec. 1 – Conduct 4th round of surveillance with a goal of  20-22 new responses (leave early!)

Dec. 3 – Draft poster due

Dec. 4 – Work on poster revisions, incorporate new data from recent round of surveys

Dec. 6 –  Continue data sorting and graphing

Dec. 10 – Revised poster due

Dec. 12- Poster presentation?

Dec. 14 – Work on draft of 5-pager

Dec. 15 – Continue work on 5-pager – construct a complete draft

Dec. 16 – Edit 5 pager

Dec. 17/18 – 5 pager due?




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