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Vista House is a museum/observatory at Crown Point in Multnomah County, Oregon, 733 feet (223 m) above the Columbia river on the south side of the Columbia River Gorge. From its top one can view Portland and Vancouver, Washington, to the west, and Beacon Rock, on the Washington side of the gorge, to the east. Designed by Edgar M. Lazarus and completed in 1918, it was derided as a "$100,000 Outhouse" because of its marble interior and brass fixtures. The original idea for it was by the consulting engineer for the Columbia River Highway, Samuel Lancaster, who proposed "an observatory from which the view both up and down the Columbia could be viewed in silent communion with the infinite" and also suggested its name, and construction was supervised by John B. Yeon, an Ontario-born timber magnate who was one of the principal financiers of the Columbia River Highway, the first major paved road in the Pacific Northwest. Lazarus' design incorporated elements of the Jugendstil, the German interpretation of Art Nouveau which had been popular in Europe in the late 19th century. The building is essentially a domed rotunda 44 feet (13 m) in diameter with an octagonal plan on a 64-foot (20 m) diameter base; the rotunda is 55 feet (17 m) high, and stairs lead from it to an elevated viewing platform at the base of the dome. The dome interior has bronze lining. The clerestory windows feature opalescent glass in a simple tracery pattern, with similar colored glass at the tops of the windows at the main level. The exterior is gray sandstone, with a green tile roof. The Columbia river gorge is a canyon up to 4,000 feet (1,200 m) deep, stretching over 80 miles (130 km) through the Cascade range, the only navigable route through the Cascades and the only water connection between the Columbia river plateau and the Pacific ocean; the Columbia, Klamath, and Fraser are the only three rivers connecting the east-side Cascade watersheds to the ocean.
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