Spruce Goose is a sight to see: LAPC

Last month, we took a trip to see the Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. This museum is in McMinnville, about 50 miles southwest of Portland, Oregon. Its star attraction is the airplane associated with Howard Hughes, Jr.

In 1942, steel magnate Henry Kaiser approached Hughes about creating a massive flying boat. Hughes was well known for breaking records as a pilot, including a 1935 landplane airspeed record of 352 miles per hour. In 1938, Hughes flew around the world in 3 days 19 hours 17 minutes, beating the previous record by almost four days. He was also a brilliant engineer.

After Kaiser withdrew from the flying boat project in 1944, Howard Hughes renamed the plane H-4 Hercules. It’s also called the Hughes Flying Boat and the Spruce Goose. Hughes become obsessed with the project. Though the original intention was for the aircraft to help with war efforts, by the time they completed the project, the war was over.

Hughes flew the plane on November 2, 1947. He wanted to prove it was airworthy and not just a flight of fancy. In its first and only flight, he flew it at an altitude of 70 feet for 26 seconds. The aircraft flew for about one mile at a speed of 135 miles per hour.

Exterior of the Spruce Goose

I knew the Spruce Goose was large, but I had no idea how enormous it was. I’m including several exterior photos to show the scale of this massive aircraft. The first picture shows a view from the second-story balcony.

Spruce Goose

The next two show aircraft on display under one wing and then the other. They look so small in comparison.

Under wing view

There’s a diorama showing the construction in progress on the left side of the photo below. Helpful volunteers are stationed nearby.

Under wing view

This view is of the huge nose section. Vintage airline seats are set up under the nose for those seeking a brush with greatness.

Spruce Goose nose

There are informational displays in and around the Spruce Goose. A photo of Howard Hughes, Jr. is in the lower right on the display board below and you can also see him speaking with congress. This display shows several pictures of parts of the plane being transported.

Howard Hughes

The next display shows construction photos and a construction breakdown drawing.

Spruce Goose construction

The original plans included clamshell opening nose gear to make the plane easier to unload. This diorama shows how Hughes envisioned the Spruce Goose doing its job.

Proposed docking facility

After the flight

After its flight, Hughes paid around one million dollars a year to retain a crew and maintain the aircraft. He passed away in 1976, but he always hoped it would fly again. Initially, plans were made to part out the Spruce Goose to eight museums.

After aviation officials and the public expressed concern, the Spruce Goose was gifted to the Aero Club of Southern California and put on display in Long Beach. When Disney took over ownership of the location, they displayed it for two more years but decided it no longer fit with their plans. In 1992, the plane was put up for auction and Michael King Smith and Delford M. Smith, founders of the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, had the winning bid.

Moving and reassembling the Spruce Goose was a big undertaking. After many hours of painstaking work by volunteers and staff, the aircraft was open to the public in its new home on June 6, 2001. On November 5, 2022, the museum will host the Spruce Goose’s 75th Anniversary Gala.

This 9-minute video from the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum about the Spruce Goose shows its flight, temporary home in California, long trip to Oregon, and its current home in McMinnville.

There are carefully preserved artifacts near the aircraft, including Hughes’ original log book.

Artifacts from Flying Boat

Do you know what’s pictured below and why it’s important to the path Howard Hughes, Jr. chose? The answer is at the end of this post.

Hughes' drill bit

Interior of the Spruce Goose

The inside of the aircraft can be seen by climbing a stairway or taking an elevator. For an additional $30, visitors get a 15-minute guided tour of the cockpit.

This view shows the fire suppressing canisters.

Interior flying boat

Here’s a more distant view. What are those colorful objects on the right side of the picture?

Spruce Goose interior

If you guessed beach balls, you’re right! Howard Hughes was worried the Flying Boat may not float, so he had these inflatable balls put in the lower hull and wing floats.

wing floats

A few more Spruce Goose facts for you:

  • The plane is actually made from birch, not spruce.
  • Wingspan 320 feet 11 inches; length 218 feet 8 inches; height 79 feet 4 inches; weight empty 300,000 pounds.
  • Still the record holder for largest wooden aircraft, largest seaplane, and largest propeller plane ever built.

Did you guess what the odd object pictured above the first interior shot was? That’s a drill bit that made Howard’s father, Howard Hughes, Sr., a rich man. He disliked the bits used to drill for oil and bought the rights to a bit created by Granville A. Humanson for $150. He improved the design significantly and applied for several patents. The bit, with its 166 cutting edges, became the industry standard. Howard, Sr. created the Hughes Tool Company and leased the bits to drillers.

The money Howard, Jr. inherited at the age of 19 helped him tremendously when pursuing his aviation interests. He increased his personal wealth with forays into entertainment and real estate businesses. Later in life, his eccentric behaviors affected him personally and financially.

When you have a lot of time one day, read the long entry about Howard Hughes, Jr.’s fascinating history on Wikipedia. Wow, what a life!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Flights of Fancy

Barn beside the road: Monochrome Monday

A barn beside the road near Redmond, Oregon shown in black and white.

Barn beside the road

Monochrome Monday

Amazing airplanes in Hood River: LAPC

If you’d like to see a large collection of amazing airplanes, be sure to visit the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) in Hood River, Oregon. The indoor hangar space is more than 3.5 acres in size.

All of the aircraft have been restored to working condition. This process takes a long time and the Museum restores an average of two per year. Our family donated a Fly Baby homebuilt plane, but it’s not yet on display.

The planes are generally arranged by type within the buildings.

Biplanes

Amazing airplanes

Biplanes have interesting designs and they’re a great subject for photographs. I featured one of them in a black and white photograph in a previous post.

Mike and Linda Strong, friends of the family, donated the two 1929 WACOs pictured below. Mike worked as an airline pilot for many years and liked to fly smaller planes in his spare time. He gave me a ride in one of the WACOs years ago and it was a memorable experience.

The first WACO is a taper wing. At high speeds, tapered wings decrease drag and increase lift. They also make the plane lighter and more maneuverable.

1929 WACO
1929 WACO CTO
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Imagine a World Exhibition

     The Imagine a World exhibition at the High Desert Museum focuses on past and present efforts to create utopian communities. Participants joined for assorted reasons, including religious persecution, environmental concerns, and anti-war sentiments.

     The communities featured are in the Western United States. Founding members often thought of the West as an idyllic, “empty” place to settle. However, they did not always consider who was already living in these environments.

Imagine a World

Indigenous Futurism

     As you enter the gallery, two life-sized astronauts suspended in front of a bold painting of bison catch your eye. Two bright paintings adorn the walls next to this display. These works represent Indigenous futurism. They highlight how important cosmology, science, and futurism have been to Native peoples. Grace Dilon, Ph.D. (Anishinaabe) states that Indigenous futurism is part of the process of “returning to ourselves.” The goal is to recover “ancestral traditions in order to adapt in our post-Native Apocalypse world.”

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Sheepherder’s wagon Haiku: HPC

sheepherder’s wagon
rolling across windswept plains
steady sentinel

Sheepherders wagon

Haiku Prompt Challenge – Rolling and Steady

Historic Short Bridge: Wordless Wednesday

Short Bridge
Short Bridge, South Santiam River, Oregon

Short Bridge
View of bridge from the side

Historic Short Bridge, built in 1945.

Wordless Wednesday

Memorable moments from home: LAPC

Trying to choose only three of my favorite photos for this challenge was very difficult. I decided to focus on memorable moments from home.

The first shows a glorious fall sunset behind my juniper tree muse. I like the combination of color, lightness and darkness, and texture in this photo. The branches of the western juniper tree seem to be directing a symphony of clouds.

best photos dusk desert sky

The second is a close up view of a different juniper tree’s bark. Though some see western junipers as an unwelcome invader in sagebrush habitats, I’m impressed by their beauty. Their rough bark varies in color, as does their wood. Wrinkles add to their character as they age. The birds in my yard are grateful for the shelter and food these trees provide.

memorable moments with juniper bark

The third picture is of my “pet” Cooper’s Hawk. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of her. On this day, she took an extended bath and spent a long time preening her feathers. Her fluffed up feathers, piercing gaze, and stance are not the typical view you get of these raptors. It was one of those memorable moments!

Cooper's hawk visited me

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Picking favorites

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’: Monochrome Monday

Rollin’ wooden wheels from the past presented in monochromatic tones.

Rollin wooden wheels

Monochrome Monday

Doors of Shaniko: LAPC & TD

Today I’m sharing pictures of the doors of Shaniko, Oregon. Once a bustling town known as “The Wool Capital of the World”, it later became a ghost town. Its current population is somewhere between 12 and 32, depending on the source.

The doors and doorways of abandoned and occupied buildings in Shaniko have a lot of personality.

From the curious…

doors of Shaniko

To the grand.

Old Hotel

From the rustic…

Blacksmith
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Santiam Wagon Road 2 hike: LAPC

Santiam Wagon Road
Santiam Wagon Road

In late May, I went on a hike on part of the Santiam Wagon Road near Sisters, Oregon (see trail map at end of post). Carol Wall, of the Deschutes Land Trust, led this hike. We traveled along an out and back two-mile section of the road. This 400-mile route was used to move livestock and freight between 1865-1939. In the first 15 years of its operation, around 5,000 wagons passed over this route.

Santiam Wagon Road map
Santiam Wagon Road map


As I mentioned in a previous post, most travelers on this road traveled from the west side of the mountains to the east. My Santiam Wagon Road post gives details about a 2-mile hike on a different section of this route.


We gathered around the kiosk in the parking area and Carol had us imagine what this road must have looked like in the 1860s. The ponderosa pine and western juniper trees you’ll see at the trailhead likely didn’t exist at that time. Junipers expanded their range due to fire suppression and overgrazing.

Sagebrush-steppe
Sagebrush-steppe field

Glimpses of nature along the trail

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Buffalo Bill sculpture in Cody: Saturday Sculpture

This large Buffalo Bill sculpture is on a major street near the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.

History of the Buffalo Bill sculpture

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney created Buffalo Bill – The Scout to honor the town’s most famous resident. The dedication took place on July 4th in 1924.

Buffalo Bill Cody sculpture

Buffalo Bill Cody’s niece, Mary Jester Allen, was determined to honor his legacy after he died in 1917. She dreamed of opening a museum recognizing his accomplishments, despite the challenges. With her connections with the Eastern establishment, she convinced Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney to create a statue of Buffalo Bill.

Whitney agreed to create the sculpture, but didn’t like the proposed sites for its placement. She bought 40 adjoining acres. Whitney also ended up paying the entire $50,000 cost of the sculpture. The small town of Cody, evidently, could not raise enough to pay her.

Buffalo Bill Cody sculpture

A dream of a museum becomes a reality

In 1925, the International Cody Family Association formed. They proposed creating a Buffalo Bill Historical Museum. The town constructed a full-size replica of Buffalo Bill’s ranch home and opened it to the public in 1927. By 1949, the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association made plans to expand the facility. Western history and art, Native American culture, and natural history would be highlighted. A $250,000 donation in 1955 finally made expansion possible. Sonny Whitney, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s son, made that donation. In 1958, The Whitney Gallery of Western Art would become the first part of the world-class Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Buffalo Bill ca 1875. George Eastman House Collection.

Sometimes when you research one thing – a statue – you plunge down a rabbit hole and learn much more. I did not know the Vanderbilts, once considered to be the wealthiest family in America, had this connection with William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and his legacy.

Mary Jester Allen would serve the museum in multiple roles from 1927 to 1960. Because of her actions and perseverance, the center now attracts millions of visitors from around over the world.

Saturday Sculpture

Cars from the Golden Age: LAPC

The Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum in Hood River, Oregon has a large collection of cars from the “Golden Age of Transportation” – the period from the early 1920s through the 1940s. The Museum has a collection of over 130 vehicles from the 1900s to the 1960s. You can get more information on vehicles in the collection by year or manufacturer here.

Cars from the Golden Age and beyond

Artifacts from the time period are on display near many of the cars. Here’s a camping scene.

Cars from the Golden Age

Storefronts around the perimeter of the building add visual interest to the collection.

Antique autos

The color and design of the cars make them great subjects for photographs.

Colorful old cars
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Deadwood Stagecoach: Wordless Wednesday

Deadwood Stagecoach

Deadwood Stagecoach, 1867. Buffalo Bill Cody Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming

Wordless Wednesday

Terry’s Hanger Shop: Monochrome Monday

Terrys Hanger Shop

Terry’s Hanger Shop is part of one of the displays at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum located in Hood River, Oregon. This large museum features airplanes, automobiles, and other artifacts. This shop is one of the many storefronts featured around the perimeter of the building.

Did you notice the sign showing the hours they are open? “Gone Yesterday Today and Tomorrow.” Someone has a good sense of humor. 😉

Monochrome Monday

The Guinness Harp at Guinness Storehouse in Ireland

Today I’m sharing photos and a short video related to the Guinness harp. The emblem is based on a 14th century Irish harp known as “O’Neill” or “Brian Boru.” Guinness has featured a harp image on its beer labels since 1862 and trademarked it in 1876. The logo consists of the harp, the GUINNESS® word, and Arthur Guinness’ signature.

Harps outside the Storehouse

Here’s a harp on a sign outside the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland.

Street sign in Dublin

Here’s another harp outside the entrance where visitors can take horse-drawn carriage tours.

Guinness harp

Harps inside the Storehouse

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Plains Indian Museum, Wyoming: LAPC

Today I’m sharing pictures taken at the Plains Indian Museum section of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This world-class museum has five sections focused on western history, culture, and the environment. It’s in Cody, Wyoming, a half an hour drive from the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

The theme this week for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is “low light.” Museums and galleries often have challenging lighting for taking photographs. I used my Samsung phone to take most of these photos since it does well in low light conditions. I’ll share some of my tips for taking and editing photos.

The first image shows a war lodge. Warriors made these temporary structures in wooded areas to hide their presence in enemy territory.

There was a reflection of a large blue screen on the right side of the image that I eliminated with my editing program, Corel PaintShop Pro 2021. I also used a vignette effect to direct viewers to the most interesting parts of this structure.

Stick tee pee in Cody museum
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On distant trails: LAPC, WWP, & SS

I saunter along distant trails, not knowing what wonders nature will share with me.


Will falling water sing between rocky cliffs?

Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls, Oregon


Will earth show its origins in the soil?

Distant trails Painted Hills
Painted Hills, Oregon


Will wind turn wheels of history over parched plains?

Fort Rock
Fort Rock, Oregon


And when I return home from distant trails, will fireworks light the skies?

Sunrise over Bend
Bend, Oregon

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Travel has taught me

Weekend Writing Prompt – Saunter (51 words)

Sunday Stills – The power of the elements: Earth, air/wind, fire, & water

Special somethings around the house: LAPC

This post includes photos of smaller-sized special somethings collected over the years.

Special somethings discovered

The first photo shows a radiator cap from a 1928 Pontiac. We found it buried in the forest where we used to live. The Indian brave sculpture is so detailed!

Special somethings radiator cap

The next photo shows a picture of my favorite salt & pepper shakers. This pair was found in an antique store in Snohomish, Washington. I’m not sure what year these were made, but they look like Depression-era glassware.

Depression glass S & P

Things from the earth

The next photo shows a piece of black obsidian. I found this piece at Glass Buttes, about an hour east of Bend, Oregon. This rock has radiating curves that developed as it cooled thousands of years ago.

Special somethings black obsidian
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Some of my best photos from 2021: LAPC, SS

It’s time to share special photos from the past year. Please enjoy this selection of nature, history, and art photos from Bend Branches.

Best Nature Pictures

The first photo shows a scene at the Portland Japanese Garden. We visited in October, when fall colors were at their peak.

best photos Portland Japanese Garden

This picture shows a pronghorn buck at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. My following pronghorn post includes several pictures of these icons of the West.

Grazing pronghorn buck in Yellowstone

We get spectacular sunsets and sunrises in our High Desert yard in Bend, Oregon. I wrote a two-line essence poem to go along with this image.

best photos dusk desert sky
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Beaded buckskin Powwow outfit: Wordless Wednesday

Beaded buckskin Powwow outfit
Beaded buckskin Powwow outfit, High Desert Museum, OR

Wordless Wednesday

Knowth-Fiction & Facts: LAPC & TTC

Walking towards the burial mounds of Knowth, in County Meath, Ireland, it’s easy to imagine they must have many stories to tell. The largest mound was likely created circa 3200 BC. This is part of the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne. I featured another passage tomb nearby in The façade of Newgrange.

Each image tells a story on its own, but I created a Tale of Knowth to go along with the photos.

Tale of Knowth

Knowth, County Meath, Ireland

“Go to the mounded land on the day fall begins.” Maimeó said to me weeks before her passing.

Once I found the 18 mounds, I didn’t know where to turn. I followed the curving trail around the largest mound. A cool gust from the north made the emerald grass covering the mound dance in the wind.

“Find the sunburst kerbstone. It will show you the way.” I remembered Maimeó’s words.

The sunburst kerbstone? I thought. Spirals, crescent, and other patterns covered the boulders encircling the mound. I wondered how I would find the right one.

I trudged around the perimeter of the mound, pulling my cloak close. Light snowfall drifted by me and settled in the characters carved into stone.

Why is it snowing on autumn’s eve? I thought to myself. I tried to keep warm by rubbing my arms and stamping my feet. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something.

Kerbstones
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Observatory of the Past: LAPC

This observatory of the past is on McKenzie Pass near Sisters, Oregon. Dee Wright Observatory was built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps to showcase the human and geological history of this location. The round tower sits atop a small hill.

Observatory of the past

Here’s what it looks like when you approach it from the west. It’s one of the odder roadside attractions in Oregon but one that should not be missed.

Observatory of the past

The Observatory is constructed of local lava rock. The triangular-shaped rail supports look like rock cairns.

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An old bench at Sahalie Falls: Pull up a Seat Challenge

This old bench at Sahalie Falls, Oregon stands in stark contrast to the new fences bordering the trail. It’s nice they preserved a piece of the past here.

Old bench at Sahalie Falls

It’s a short walk from the parking area to view the falls. Aren’t they spectacular?

Pull Up a Seat Photo Challenge 2021 – Week 42

Past their prime: LAPC

Here in the High Desert, things tend to last well past their prime. Though this old truck shows signs of wear and tear, chances are it still runs.

Past their prime truck

This truck is located on rural property along Deschutes Market Road. This is one of 51 “market” roads in and around Deschutes County. These farm-to-market roads were built following passage of the Oregon Market Road Act of 1919. Prior to their construction, farmers navigated many miles of bumpy, rutted dirt roads to deliver their goods.

old truck

A label on the truck’s door reads S & M, Land & Livestock. I’m not sure if this was a local company. There were many ranching operations in Central Oregon, large and small, in the 1870-1920 pre-Industrial period.

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Dam It! Beavers and Us: One Word Sunday

I’m always on the lookout for beavers when walking the river trails in the Old Mill District of Bend. I listen for the sound of a tail slapping the water and search for the silhouette of a rounded head breaking the water’s surface. Why look for beavers next to a shopping area? Because these industrious creatures found an ideal spot to build a lodge there. I’ve always wanted to know more about beavers, so I visited the Museum’s Dam It! Beavers and Us exhibition.

Beavers exhibit in Bend

This multimedia interactive exhibit offers visitors the opportunity to learn all about the North American beaver, Castor canadensis. Tall, cutout panels representing forest trees divide the room. Dappled light shines onto the imaginary forest floor. A re-creation of a beaver dam is tucked into a corner for kids to explore.

Beavers exhibit in Bend

In another corner, a large box suspended from a parachute drifts towards the ground—more on that later. An Oregon flag, featuring a beaver, flutters against a wall near the entrance. Video featuring the important connection of beavers with Native Americans plays in another section. A colorful animation featuring the life cycle of beavers plays on a large screen on the back wall.

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Diablo Dam in black & white: Monochrome Monday

At one time, the Diablo Dam in Washington state was the world’s tallest dam. This 389-foot tall dam is located on the Skagit River. Construction began in Diablo Canyon in 1927. Though completed in 1930, the Great Depression delayed generation of electricity until 1936. The 1920s architecture stands out in this black and white photograph.

Diablo Lake Dam

Monochrome Monday

On a corner in Howe – John Day history: MM

I saw this abandoned building on a corner in Howe, Idaho. Though I could not learn the history of this specific building, I learned a well-known historical figure spent part of his life nearby.

in Howe, Idaho

The Little Lost River, located north and east of this site, was once known as “John Day’s River” or “Day’s River.” In 1810, the John Jacob Astor Pacific Fur Company set out to establish a base of operations at the mouth of the Columbia River. They made many discoveries along the way while searching for the easiest routes of travel. John Day, an experienced hunter and trapper, was a member of the party.

John Day’s travels

The group, led by Wilson Price Hunt, divided into four parties when food became scarce. John Day became ill and was left behind with Ramsay Crooks on the shores of the Snake River. The two men eventually made their way to the mouth of the Mah-Mah River, where it joins the Columbia. At that site, the two were robbed of all their belongings and stripped naked by Natives. Because of this incident, the river was renamed the John Day River. Crooks and Day were rescued days later by Robert Stuart, of the Pacific Fur Company, and taken to Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River.

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Trapper’s cabin re-creation: Monochrome Monday

I saw this life-sized trapper’s cabin re-creation at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. The details in the log walls, elk’s head, and snowshoes stand out in sepia tones. This is one of many amazing exhibits inside the museum.

trapper's cabin re-creation in Cody

Monochrome Monday