“From Source to Sea”

Photographer Peter Marbach Shares His Journey a Decade in the Making

Marbach straddles the headwaters of the Columbia River in Canada.

He summited Mount Hood nine months after open-heart surgery. He traveled from the Columbia River headwaters to the Pacific to show us the bigger picture. Meet Gorge-based photographer Peter Marbach, who honored his return to health by capturing the stories told by Nch'i-Wána—The Big River.

The Columbia’s headwaters inspired Peter’s 10-year, critically acclaimed photography project, “From Source to Sea.” He drove 14 hours to the Columbia’s headwaters, a small spring bubbling out of the ground in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia.

“It’s a very emotional experience to find it and stand there and get a sense of how humble the river begins, and up there, the first two-hundred miles or so are wild and free and looks as it has since the beginning of time,” Peter said.

Since then, as time allows, Peter has traveled along the Columbia’s 1,243 miles, photographing riverscapes, wildlife, and the people who live and work along the river. Lecturing and sharing his photos creates a space for dialogue about pressing Columbia River issues, including the Columbia River Treaty renegotiation and tribal efforts to restore salmon to the upper Columbia.

“This project is really a labor of love; it is something I felt compelled to do,” said Peter, adding that the arts provide an opportunity to educate stakeholders.

His advice to fellow Riverkeeper members: “Everyone who is passionate about the Columbia River should put it on their bucket list to someday go to the headwaters. When you go there, it puts the Gorge and everything else in perspective. We’re all in this together, and what happens upstream affects what happens downstream and vice a versa.”

What’s next?

Peter hopes to share “From Source to Sea” as a coffee table book. To find out more about his Columbia River project, follow him on Facebook or contact Peter via email.


This feature was originally published in River Currents 2017 Issue 2 Newsletter – Read it Now

In this Issue: From Source to Sea, Oil-by-Rail: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Breath, People's Climate March Hits the Water, and more.