Vaqueros – Tools of the trade: Monochrome Monday

Tools of the trade vaqueros Oregon April 2019

Vaqueros, otherwise known as buckaroos, worked the range in eastern Oregon for many years. The spurs and ring bit pictured were handcrafted by a silversmith in Mexico, circa 1750.

Pete French Round Barn Sept 2017

These pieces are on display in the small museum located at the Pete French Round Barn. It’s a great place to visit from an historic and architectural perspective. The barn is one of my favorite local attractions.

Pete French Round Barn Sept 2017

Monochrome Monday

Plateau Indian Beaded Moccasins: LAPC

I’m featuring pictures of Plateau Indian beaded moccasins for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. The challenge this week is “A labor of love.”

After so much was taken away from Native Americans, creating beadwork became a labor of love. They preserved parts of their culture by decorating everyday items.

Plateau Indian beaded moccasins, High Desert Museum, Oregon August 2020

Prior to the European invasion of North America, Native Americans decorated their clothing with shells, porcupine quills, and bones.

Beaded footwear, High Desert Museum, Oregon August 2020

In the early years of European settlement, pony beads were often offered in trade. Seed beads became available in the late 1800s. Seed beads are smaller and come in a wider variety of colors compared to pony beads.

Beaded footwear, High Desert Museum, Oregon August 2020

Many of the designs used in the early years of beading were geometric. They generally included symbols important to specific tribes and regions.

Plateau Indian beaded moccasins, High Desert Museum, Oregon August 2020

Techniques for applying the beads varied. One technique involved threading several beads onto a thread. Thread on a second needle tacked these lines of beads onto the material.

Plateau Indian beaded moccasins, High Desert Museum, Oregon August 2020

By the late 1800s, realistic designs became more common. For example, patterns often included local flowers and wildlife.

Footwear, High Desert Museum, Oregon August 2020

In the early 1900s, more types of beads were available and designs became more elaborate. Interest in buying beadwork increased. As a result, designs changed to include marketable patterns, including American flags.

Children's footwear, High Desert Museum, Oregon August 2020

These Plateau Indian beaded moccasins, displayed at the High Desert Museum like works of art, showcase the skills of their makers.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Labor of Love

Brothers Stage Stop: Monochrome Monday

Brothers Stage Stop in Oregon July 2020

The Brothers Stage Stop, in Brothers, Oregon, is a little oasis in the high desert an hour east of Bend.

Monochrome Monday

Wolfe Ranch root cellar: Monochrome Monday

Wolfe Ranch root cellar, Arches National Park, Utah 2May2017

Wolfe Ranch root cellar at Arches National Park, Utah. This ranch was settled in 1888 by John Wolfe and his oldest son.

Monochrome Monday

Vista House: Views of the Columbia

Vista House in Corbett, Oregon October 2019

A unique landmark

Vista House is a unique landmark sitting high above the Columbia River about a half hour east of Portland, Oregon. Perched atop Crown Point, 733 feet above the Columbia River, this site serves as a rest stop and observatory for people traveling the Historic Columbia River Highway. 

Assistant Highway Engineer Samuel Lancaster was the supervisor of the Columbia River Highway project in 1913. It was his idea to offer a place that would make the natural wonders of the Columbia River Gorge more accessible to visitors. Lancaster thought Crown Point would be an ideal site for “an observatory from which the view both up and down the Columbia could be viewed in silent communion with the infinite.” 

Sandstone & stained glass, Corbett, Oregon October 2019
Sandstone exterior

Architect Edgar M. Lazarus designed the structure in a modern German style that incorporated aspects of Art Nouveau. Multnomah County road master John B. Yeon supervised Vista House’s construction. Construction started in 1916 and was completed in 1918.

State funds were not available for its construction, so it was funded by Multnomah County and from private sources. Local schoolchildren were among the contributors. Because of its high costs, the public dubbed it the “million dollar outhouse.” It was original budgeted at $12,000 but ultimate costs were closer to $100,000, nearly $2 million in today’s dollars.

Ceiling with faux painting, Corbett, Oregon October 2019
Faux-painted ceiling

Construction details

The exterior of the eight-sided building is constructed from gray sandstone. Vista House is 55 feet high and 44 feet in diameter. Inside, light cream and pink Kasota limestone covers most of the interior. They used Tokeen Alaskan marble in the rotunda’s floors and stairs. It was also used in the wainscotting in the basement. Original plans for Vista House called for the dome ceiling to be constructed of marble supported by ribs of bronze. Costs were high, so they painted the ceiling to simulate the look of marble and bronze. The upper windows have greenish opalized glass. The tall rotunda windows are green at the tops and clear below, allowing visitors to take in the 360-degree view. Green tiles covered the original roof.

Marble lined hallway, Corbett, Oregon October 2019
Marble wainscotting

There are poems posted on the pillars within the rotunda. Here is my favorite one:

We call upon the mountains,
the Cascades and the Olympics,
the high green valleys
and meadows filled with wildflowers,
the snows that never melt,
the summits of intense silence,
and we ask that they

Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the forests,
the great trees reaching
strongly to the sky
with earth in their roots
and the heaven in their branches,
the fir and the pine and the cedar,
and we ask them to

Teach us, and show us the Way.

-Chinook Invocation—Quoted in Edward Goldsmith, The Way, 1992

More to see

In the basement, you’ll find a small museum and gift shop. There are also several interpretive displays in the hallways. A million visitors visit this site each year.

Vista House went through extensive renovations in 2000-2005. A copper roof, installed over the tiles for 50 years, was removed and they installed green roof tiles similar to the originals. Upgrades included installing an energy efficient geothermal heat pump system.

Vista House view, Corbett, Oregon October 2019
View to the east
View of Vista House from Chanticleer Point, Oregon October 2019
View of Vista House from Chanticleer Point

Here’s a photo sphere view of the inside. Drag the image around to get the full picture. Vista House 360-degree view.

More info

Crown Point was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971 and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

This Oregon State Parks brochure includes a map that shows Vista House and many other scenic treasures worth visiting along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The Choctaw’s simple act of kindness: LAPC

A simple act of kindness, Kindred Spirits Sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5March2020

In 1847, the worst year of Ireland’s Great Famine, people of the Choctaw Nation of the southeastern United States sent a gift of $170 to Ireland. The money, worth thousands in today’s dollars, was collected to help the starving people of Ireland. Over a million Irish people died from starvation and disease in the period from 1845 to 1849.

Honoring a small act of kindness

Cork-based sculptor, Alex Pentek, created the Kindred Spirits sculpture to help honor that simple act of kindness. The Making of Kindred Spirits shows the artist discussing its creation. The 20-foot tall sculpture, in Midleton, County Cork, was unveiled to the public in 2017. It stands in Ballie Park beside a popular walking trail.

Ballie Park, Midleton, Ireland 5 March 2020

But why would the Choctaw have sent such a gift when many of their people were struggling to survive? In 1831, the Choctaw were the first tribe to be forcibly removed from their native lands because of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. People of the Seminole, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Muscogee (Creek) nations, and many non-natives and people of African descent who lived with the tribes, were also forced to move. Between 1830 to 1850, they forced tens of thousands of people from nine states to move to what is now Oklahoma. The perilous journey would become known as the Trail of Tears. Thousands died from exposure, disease, starvation, and harassment by local frontiersmen.

A simple act of kindness, Kindred Spirits Sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5March2020

In 1847, the Choctaw were still recovering from the injustice they had experienced. They shared what little they had to help the starving Irish people.

The nine curved eagle feathers of this sculpture, arranged in a circular shape, symbolize an empty bowl. Each feather is different and they represent the Choctaw Nation’s strength, kindness, and humanity.

Close up of Kindred Spirits sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5 March 2020

A bond between nations

The simplicity of this sculpture and the simple act of kindness it symbolizes, touched my heart. At the unveiling ceremony, a Cork County official said:

They bestowed a blessing not only on the starving Irish men, women and children, but also on humanity. The gift from the Choctaw people was a demonstration of love and this monument acknowledges that and hopefully will encourage the Irish people to act as the Choctaw did.

Joe McCarthy, East Cork municipal officer
Kindred Spirits sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5 March 2020

Members of the Choctaw Nation attended the opening ceremony. They felt humbled by the recognition they received 170 years later. At the ceremony, the Choctaw Nation’s chief said:

Your story is our story. We didn’t have any income. This was money pulled from our pockets. We had gone through the biggest tragedy that we could endure, and saw what was happening in Ireland and just felt compelled to help…

The bond between our nations has strengthened over the years. We are blessed to have the opportunity to share our cultures, and meet the generous people who have continued to honour a gift from the heart.

Chief Gary Batton, Choctaw Nation
Close up of Kindred Spirits sculpture, Midleton, Ireland 5 March 2020

Update: The kindness continues…

A couple of days ago I read an article in The Irish Times about people in Ireland participating in a fundraiser to help Native Americans suffering from the coronavirus. Native people have been especially hard hit by this virus. A GoFundMe page was set up for the Navajo & Hopi Families Covid-19 Relief Fund on 15 March 2020. Their goal was to raise $1.5 million but as of today, 7 May 2020, they have raised $3,019,390.00.

Donations have come from all over the world, but many of the donors have Irish surnames. They remember the kindness the people of the Choctaw Nation showed them in the past.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Simplicity

Photo Bloopers 4: More photo fun

It’s time once again for fun with photos. Welcome to Photo Bloopers 4! This is what I do with pictures that don’t quite fit in or turned out weird looking. They needed a few words to make them more interesting. Hope they entertain you!

Photo bloopers Ground squirrel at Lava Butte, Oregon July 2018
Painted Hills in Oregon with funny caption October 2018
Western juniper tree burdened with cones (berries) August 2019
Photo blooper of pronghorn surrounded by rainbow colors April 2018
Collared lizard at High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon October 2019
Shelves in the General Store in Fort Rock Museum, Oregon May 2019
Rock formation at Arches National Park May 2017
Photo bloopers , dog in front of DNA kits July 2019

Do you want to see more of my Photo Bloopers? See:

WPC – Fun!: Bird Bloopers

Photo Bloopers 2

Fun photos: Photo Bloopers 3

Glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland

She unfurled her gossamer wings and searched for a far away land, greener than green. After a journey of many miles, she caught glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland. When she landed in a lush green pasture, a part of her remembered…

Glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland, Newgrange Monument, 29February2020
Newgrange Monument, County Meath, Ireland

Though I usually keep my travels within driving distance, I just returned from a 10-day trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland with my daughter. After losing my brother and father within months of each other, I felt an urge to visit the land of my ancestors.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, County Antrim, United Kingdom
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, County Antrim, United Kingdom

We drove about 1,600 miles and I took lots of photos. I will be sprinkling glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland into my blog occasionally. Enjoy the scenery!

Glimpses of Ireland & Northern Ireland, the Dark Hedges, United Kingdom
The Dark Hedges featured in Game of Thrones, County Antrim, United Kingdom

Cave Spring Trail in Utah: LAPC

Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah May2017

If you decide to walk the short Cave Spring Trail in Canyonlands National Park, you will be rewarded with unique encounters with history and nature.

Cave Spring Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah May2017

The 0.6 mile loop trail takes you past a narrow cowboy camp tucked under a rock ledge. Camps like these were in use from the late 1800s to 1975. The Scorup-Sommerville Cattle Company managed as many as 10,000 cattle in this region. Cowboys lived a life on the range and artifacts from their outdoor camp remain at this site.

Cowboy camp at trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah May2017

This site was prized due to the fact that a spring existed here. Rainwater percolated through the sandstone over this site and carved out alcoves.

Sites such as these hosted cowboys in the recent past, but Native Americans lived here thousands of years before them. Their rock art can be seen in parts of the cave. The spring is considered a sacred place to descendants of these people.

Cave Spring in Canyonlands National Park, Utah May2017

If you follow the trail farther, you’ll come to two narrow ladders that take you up to a slickrock sandstone plateau.

Ladder on Cave Spring Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah May2017

Follow the rock cairns marking the trail…

Rock cairns marking the trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah May2017

to get stunning 360-degree views of the Canyonlands.

Scenic view from Cave Spring Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah May2017
Scenic view from Cave Spring Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah May2017

The trail drops down into another narrow alcove and continues to the parking area. Cave Spring Trail isn’t long, but it packs a lot into a short distance.

Cave Spring Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah May2017

I was especially impressed by the many interesting formations in the rock along this trail. Cave Spring Trail, and the nearby AMAZING petroglyphs of Newspaper Rock, made this one of our favorite stops on our trip to Utah’s National Parks.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Narrow

Favorite Pictures 2019: LAPC

It’s that time of year when you share some of your favorite pictures. As usual, I have a hard time narrowing it down. Please enjoy this selection of wild places, wildlife, history, and a pinch of art at the end.

A brilliant desert morning
A brilliant desert morning on my October birthday in Bend, Oregon
Magic in the wind, Nevada 29August2019
Magic in the wind in northern Nevada
Kiger Gorge, Oregon 28August2019
Kiger Gorge on Steens Mountain, Oregon
A rosy outlook
Roses in bloom in Hood River, Oregon
A swirling clematis growing in Culver, Oregon 20July2019
A swirling clematis growing in Culver, Oregon
Bird not for sale, robin nest in grape plant, Bend, Oregon 21July2019
Robin nesting in a grape plant at plant nursery in Bend, Oregon
furry & feathered, killdeer at Yellowstone National Park
Killdeer at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Close up of elk in velvet, Wyoming 2June2018
Close up of elk in velvet in Wyoming
Stepping back in time. Horse gear at the High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon October 2019
Harnesses, bridles, a wagon, and other gear on display at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon
Close up of the apothecary at Kam Wah Chung John Day, OR 26October2018
Close up of the apothecary at Kam Wah Chung in John Day, Oregon
Sod House Ranch, Malheur NWR, Oregon 9April2016
Sod House Ranch at Malheur NWR, Oregon
Pocket Barn Owl 31January2019
Pocket Barn Owl painted on a rock by Siobhan Sullivan

May the new year bring you wisdom, patience, and peace.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Favorite Photos of 2019

Do you get the point?: Monochrome Monday

Do you get the point?

A collection of different types of barbed wire on display at Fort Rock, Oregon.

Monochrome Monday

Sunflowers & Stagecoaches at the Steens

Sunflowers & stagecoaches? You may be wondering how those two things go together.

Last August we explored the Steens Mountain area by car. Did you know you can drive all the way around this 50-mile long mountain and to its 9,700-foot peak at certain times of the year? The views from up there are breathtaking!

Common sunflower

The following pictures are from the dirt road on the east side of Steens Mountain. Common sunflowers, Helianthus annus L., were in full bloom along the road.

Sunflowers & stagecoaches at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

As their name implies, common sunflowers are common throughout the conterminous United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. Sunflowers have been introduced in other parts of North America and throughout the world. They occur in a wide variety of habitats including prairies, roadsides, near railroad right-of-ways, savannas, and forest edges.

Sunflowers at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

These leggy plants grow 1.5 to 8+ feet tall and bloom from July through October. Their iconic flowers actually have two kinds of flowers. The yellow “ray” flowers look like petals but each is an individual flower. The “disc” flowers, at the center of the brown head, are usually small. If you magnified your view of the center of the flower, you would see that each of these disc flowers had five petals. The alternate leaves, and the main stem are covered in coarse hair.

Common sunflowers at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

The value of sunflowers

Sunflowers are valuable to both wildlife and people. The seeds are sought out by many species of birds. Do you have sunflower seeds from the cultivated variety of sunflower in your bird feeder? If you do, you know how much birds and other wildlife enjoy eating them.

Now on to how this plant is used by humans. Wow! Where do I start?

You have probably munched on sunflower seeds, but did you know the yellow flowers are also edible? They make a colorful addition to a salad.

Historical uses

In July of 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled along the Missouri River in Montana and recorded these observations on sunflowers.

The sunflower is in bloom [NB: Copy for Dr. Barton ] and abundant in the river bottoms. The Indians of the Missouri particularly those who do not cultivate maze make great uce of the seed of this plant for bread, or use it in thickening their soope.    they most commonly first parch the seed and then pound them between two smooth stones untill they reduce it to a fine meal.    to this they sometimes mearly add a portion of water and drink it in that state, or add a sufficient quantity of marrow grease to reduce it to the consistency of common dough and eate it in that manner.    the last composition I think much best and have eat it in that state heartily and think it a pallateable dish.

There are many medicinal uses of this annual plant. Flowers were used for heart problems and in treating burns. Roots were used in treating blisters and snakebites. Native Americans made a leaf tea to treat lung ailments and high fevers. A poultice was applied to snake and spider bites. Seeds were used as diuretics and to help heal coughing.

Some current uses

In addition to the historical usages, sunflowers are used in creating dyes, soap, cattle and chicken feed, and a fine silky fiber, similar to hemp. Sunflower oil is widely consumed in both North America and Europe.

Fun Fact: Some Native Americans believed sunflowers were a symbol of courage. Warriors would carry sunflowers cakes with them into battle. Hunters would sprinkle themselves with sunflower powder to keep their spirits up.

Sunflowers & stagecoach stop

So now you know more about sunflowers, but why is this post called Sunflowers & Stagecoaches? While taking pictures of the sunflowers, I remembered to look for an old stagecoach stop I had seen on a Circling Steens Mountain birding field trip. Ah ha! Found it. See the dark spots in the middle of this photo? Those are the remnants of a stagecoach stop.

Sunflowers & stagecoaches at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

Here’s a closer look. The crumbling rock walls are all that’s left of this stop.

Stagecoach stop at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

Stagecoach travel

In the late 1800s to early 1900s, stagecoach routes crisscrossed the West. On the more heavily traveled routes there were stops every 25 miles or so. Why that distance? That’s about how far a team of horses pulling wagons full of goods and passengers could travel. Their progress was slow due to difficult terrain and weather that could quickly change from scorching heat to bone-chilling cold.

Some of these stations were just for changing horse teams while others had accommodations available for travelers. The stops in Fields and Frenchglen offered more options for weary travelers. One stop near the one pictured above charged 25 cents for overnight lodging and meals. The charge for the care of each horse was an additional 25 cents.

Travel along these stagecoach routes was not fast. For example, the east-west route from Ontario, Oregon to Burns, Oregon took approximately 40 hours. Today that 130-mile route takes 2 hours 12 minutes. But imagine all the sights those early travelers must have seen on those slow journeys…

Teepee made from tules: Monchrome Monday

This teepee made from tules is a re-creation of what Native Americans of Central Oregon once used as a home.

Teepee made from tules, Bend, Oregon October 2019

Tule bulrushes (pictured below at Hosmer Lake) grow along the shores of lakes, ponds, and waterways.

This plant was used to make teepees, baskets, mats, bedding, footwear, and clothing. Tules were also used medicinally, as a source of food, and in making boats.

A black & white world – 4 haikus: LAPC

In a black & white world, everything is laid bare for all to see.

A lack of color
Highlights drama in the skies
In brilliant detail

A black & white world, A storm brewing near Sisters, Oregon August 2019
A storm brewing near Sisters, Oregon

A lack of color
Gives expression to patterns
Often unobserved

California quail near prickly poppy, Bend, Oregon May 2017
California quail near prickly poppy

A lack of color
Reminds us of distant times
Dimming yet dazzling

A black & white world, Shaniko, Oregon May 2018
A side street in Shaniko, Oregon

A lack of color
Brings fading autumn blossoms
Back to vivid life

Autumn hops blossoms, Bend, Oregon October 2019
Autumn hops blossoms

In a black & white world, the loss of color can often lead to seeing things in a new light.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Monotone

Arrowhead Art at Fort Rock: Monochrome Monday

This interesting collection of framed arrowhead art is on display at the Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum. The obsidian used to make much of this art exists throughout parts of Central Oregon. It is abundant at Glass Buttes . Big Obsidian Flow, (shown here) at Newberry National Volcanic Monument, contains 380 million cubic yards of obsidian. Native peoples had a lot of material to work with close by.

Arrowhead art at Fort Rock, Oregon 30May2019
Framed arrowheads at Fort Rock, Oregon 30May2019
Arrowhead art at Fort Rock, Oregon 30May2019

Monochrome Monday

Scene from a museum: Monochrome Monday

A scene from a museum, Baker City, Oregon

This is a scene from a museum in Baker City, Oregon. I thought the rustic details came out much more clearly in black and white.

Monochrome Monday

Camp Hart Mountain: Monochrome Monday

Camp Hart Mountain, Oregon 27 September 2019

Camp Hart Mountain was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and operated from 1937 to 1941. Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge , established in December of 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, helped protect pronghorn antelope.

The CCC crew stationed at Camp Hart Mountain helped with many projects such as building roads, stringing telephone lines, and building new structures. After their work was completed, most of the buildings at the camp were taken down. The building in the distance was the infirmary and it’s the only historical building remaining at this site. There is currently an RV campground located here.

By the way, I worked at Hart Mountain years ago and saw pronghorn regularly. Here’s a story of one such encounter.

Magic in the Wind Haiku: LAPC

Magic in the wind, Nevada 29August2019
Magic in the wind. Windmill in Fort Rock, Oregon 30May2019
Windmill in Fort Rock, Oregon 9June2016

Magic in the wind
Pushes whirling windmill blades
Creating power

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Magical

Oregon Trail – Baker City: Visiting History

Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Baker City, Oregon 24October2018
Covered wagon encampment

On the Oregon Trail

     “We’re almost there,” Pa said. He pointed towards a low sagebrush-covered hill. “It’s just over that rise.”

     “How many times have you said that, Pa?” I said to myself. I shaded my eyes and looked at the dismal landscape. Dusty sagebrush and clumps of dry grass for as far as I could see.

Covered wagon, Baker City 24October2018
Covered wagon and rabbitbrush in bloom

     The year is 1853 and my name is Lizzie. My family is heading west along the Oregon Trail. It’s not a trail so I don’t know why they call it that. Some people call it Emigrant Road, but I don’t think that’s right either. It’s a rough meandering pathway to a new life, that’s what it is. That’s why so many of us are making this journey, no matter what the cost.

     We have traveled nearly 1,600 miles so far. On a good day we make 20 miles but on most days we travel 10-15. It’s been five months since we left Missouri.

     We came here because of the promise of free land. If Pa was a single man, he could claim 320 acres; since he’s married, he and Ma can claim 640 acres. Was it worth it? I sure hope so. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think this is “The Land of Milk and Honey” that everyone said it was.

Oregon Trail map by Ezra Meeker
The Old Oregon Trail map by Ezra Meeker 1907

History of Trail

     Many of the nearly half a million emigrants that migrated to the Oregon Country in the years 1840-1870 could have written this account. In the nineteenth century, Great Britain, France, Russia, and Spain claimed parts of this region. Each country eventually gave up its claims. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 ended the joint occupancy with the British and set new boundaries for Oregon. As a result of this action, the U.S. government encouraged settlement of the newly acquired land.

Sensationalized accounts of the “Promised Land” caused the single largest voluntary migration in America. Artists such as Albert Bierstadt presented glamorized versions of the journey along the Trail.

Painting by Albert Bierstadt of the Oregon Trail
Oregon Trail by Albert Bierstadt 1869

For many of the settlers, the Willamette Valley was the final destination. To read about another wagon route, located near Sisters, Oregon, see my post Santiam Wagon Road.

Display on settlers early years in Oregon, Baker City, Oregon 24October2018
Display on settlers’ early years in Oregon

     In 1861, they discovered gold in the Blue Mountains in northeastern Oregon. The gold rush brought even more people to the state. Miners established mining camps in several locations. In 1894, gold was discovered on Flagstaff Hill and a mine was built there. By 1897, three quarters of Oregon’s gold—worth millions in today’s dollars—came from Baker County. One nugget weighed seven pounds!

National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

     The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, located atop Flagstaff Hill east of Baker City, introduces visitors to this fascinating era in American history. Exhibits at the Interpretive Center focus on different aspects of the journey west, including the experiences of pioneers and native peoples.

Part of the Oregon Trail, Oregon Trail Interpretive Center 24October2018
Part of the Oregon Trail

     Approximately 300 miles of the Oregon Trail still exist. Much of the 2,170 mile trail has disappeared because of erosion and development. When traveling on a dirt road, motorized vehicles create two distinct ruts. In contrast to that, wagons pulled by teams of animals create a trench-like swale, or wide depression. Hooves pack down the middle of the road. At the Interpretive Center, you can hike or drive to areas where you can view actual remnants of the trail.

Display on wagons and teams, Baker City, Oregon 24October2018
Display on wagons and teams

Covered wagons – Inside and Out

     Covered wagons are a prominent part of the Interpretive Center, both inside and outside. Teams of oxen, mules, or horses pulled the wagons. Mule teams cost the most to buy. Though mules could be stubborn, they had remarkable endurance and surefootedness.

Mule team pulling a wagon, Oregon Trail Interpretive Center 24October2018
Mule team pulling a wagon

     Wagon makers often painted wagons blue, with red wheels and undercarriage.  The wheels shrank and separated in the heat so the wagon trains went through creeks and rivers to soak them back to size. The emigrants sometimes painted the canvas covers with oil paint for waterproofing.

     Every inch of space was used in the wagons. For example, false floors and pockets sewn into the canvases held extra supplies in the interior. They strapped other supplies to the outside or carried them in saddle bags. However, many of the supplies were abandoned along the way because of excess weight. Many wagons went without brakes since this too would add weight. They slowed wagons going downhill with rough locks, wheel shoes, or a tree tied to the wheels.

     Emigrants used the wagons for sick rooms, birthing rooms, and shelter from storms.  Most did not travel inside the wagons on the trail. The rough roads led to a bone-wrenching ride, so the emigrants walked alongside their wagons. When the landscape allowed it, wagons traveled abreast to avoid each other’s dust.

A typical camp along the Trail, Baker City, Oregon 24October2018
A typical camp along the Trail

Life and Death on the Trail

     If several wagons were traveling together, they often formed a circle at the end of the day’s travel. The area inside the wagon circle served as a corral for livestock. Exhausted travelers slept in tents and bedrolls outside of the circle. The day started when the sun rose. After breakfast and gathering of the livestock, the caravan would travel for five to six hours. The travelers had limited food supplies so meals might include such delicacies as Velvet Tail Rattlesnake, Blue Beaver Tail Soup, and Cricket Mush.

     Sometimes the wagon trains camped at noontime resting spots, but most of the time they pressed onward for several more hours.  Women and children collected firewood and men hunted for game along the way. As evening approached, they would encircle the wagons again. Evenings were a time for chores, such as repairing wagons and mending clothing, but also a time to tell stories, sing, and dance.

     Quarrels along the trail were common due to events like wagons getting stuck in the mud or runaway livestock. They took thousands of livestock animals on the trail for the settlers. The emigrants lost many because of predators, disease, and accidents.

     Many emigrants died on this perilous journey. Some called the trail a “two thousand mile long graveyard.” One estimate suggests there were 10-15 graves per mile from Missouri to Oregon.  Provisions gave out and hired hands abandoned their employers. The weak and the sick gave up hope. Cholera caused death within hours and it took the lives of many on the trail. Crossing rivers was one of the most dangerous parts of the journey. Records show that ten percent of the travelers perished.

Sharing the Trail

     Emigrants shared the Oregon Trail with trappers, traders, and native people. The Umatilla, Walla Walla, Cayuse, Nez Perce, and other tribes lived in the area near the Interpretive Center. As emigrants displaced local people, conflicts such as the Cayuse War of 1847 arose. The old ways of living off the land and using it for hunting and vision quests had passed. It forced Native Americans to deal with sweeping changes.

Oxen team pulling a wagon
Oxen team pulling a wagon

     Both emigrants and natives learned to engage in the business of trading. Native people traded horses, local game, and salmon for cattle, beads, clothing, powder, and lead. Emigrants learned to differentiate the tribes by their clothing, hairstyles, beadwork, and basketry. Communication often consisted of hand signals and a few common words.

Visiting the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

     After decades of planning, the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center opened in 1992 to commemorate this period of history. The 23,000-square foot building sits atop Flagstaff Hill where visitors get a panoramic view of the surrounding territory. The Interpretive Center includes exhibits, a theater, a café, and a gift store. There are living history interpretive talks, lectures, and special events throughout the year. Regular demonstrations include topics such as flint knapping, Dutch oven cooking, blacksmithing, and black powder firearms. For more information see this brochure.

Exhibit inside the Interpretive Center, Baker City 24October2018
Exhibit inside the Interpretive Center

     A network of trails leads you to living history encampments and to ruts left by wagons passing along the trail. You may catch glimpses of eagles flying overhead or pronghorn browsing in the sagebrush. In the spring and summer, wildflowers such as lupine, Indian paintbrush, and buttercups splash the desert with color. Visitors can take part in regular guided nature hikes. 

The white arrow points to the Trail location, Baker City, Oregon 24October2018
The white arrow points to the Trail location
A closer view of the Trail, Baker City, Oregon 24October2018
A closer view of the Trail

     Flagstaff Hill marked where the Great American Desert ended on the journey west. For the emigrants that made it this far, the lush vegetation and abundant game near the hill amazed them. This site symbolized all they had worked so hard for and many returned to the site years later. The Interpretive Center presents the tragedies encountered along the trail, and the joy many felt when they reached their destination.

Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Baker City, Oregon 24October2018
Entrance sign

Catlow Cave Artifacts: Monochrome Monday

Catlow Cave artifacts, including sagebrush bark sandals, grass & bark baskets, and arrowheads & spearpoints, are displayed at the Harney County Historical Society Museum in Burns, Oregon. There are a couple pointed sticks that may be “knitting needles”, used to knit the sagebrush bark together.

These cave artifacts are between 9,000 to 10,000 years old. The Northern Paiute people lived in this region. There are several caves in the Catlow Valley cliffs. Petroglyphs adorn some of the rock faces.

Cave artifacts, Catlow Cave, Oregon 12April2019
Cave artifacts, Catlow Cave, Oregon 12April2019

Do you want to learn more about the native peoples who lived in this area thousands of years ago? Consider taking a guided tour to the Fort Rock Cave hosted by Oregon Parks and Recreation. Be sure to visit the nearby Fort Rock Valley Historical Society Homestead Museum. This small museum has more examples of cave artifacts from this region. The woven items were practical but also works of art with distinctive patterns.

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum

We stumbled upon the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in northern Oregon one autumn day . The Center opened in 1997 but we had never been there.

Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Wouldn’t you like to have a river winding across your floor like this one in the entry hall?

Gorge Discovery Center dugout canoe, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

How about a cedar dugout canoe? Some were up to 50 feet in length.

Map of Discovery Center area, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum is in The Dalles along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Built in the 1900s, this road was the first scenic highway in the U.S. The highway winds through areas with forests, rocky cliffs, and dramatic waterfalls. We were planning to visit Multnomah Falls that day, but it was inaccessible due to a fire.

Columbia Mammoth, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Creatures from the Ice Age

So we ended up here and a Columbian mammoth trumpeted with joy when he saw us. We stayed out of the way of his 16-foot long tusks. We found another interesting critter close by.

Dire wolf display, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Did you know that there were once dire wolves in Oregon? Me neither. They were the largest canid to have lived, weighing as much as 150 pounds. Sometimes creatures portrayed in stories, such as Game of Thrones, actually existed.

From cultures that date back >10,000 years ago

Next we walked into a gallery of Native American artifacts. This center features artifacts from Wasco, Northern Paiute, and Warm Springs tribes.

Beadwork and basketry always impresses me. It would take so much patience to create something like that, something I don’t always have.

Native Americans fishing in the Columbia River, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

In another part of the center, the practice of fishing the Columbia River off of wooden platforms is highlighted. Native Americans fished this river for thousands of years but the runs of salmon have decreased dramatically due to dams and warming water temperatures.

Lewis & Clark’s travels

Several displays referred to the explorations of Lewis and Clark.

Lewis & Clark display, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

They passed through the Gorge traveling west in October of 1805 and on their way back home in April of 1806.

Lewis & Clark display, Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Members of the Lewis and Clark party traded with the natives for needed supplies and information on routes. See those strings of beads hanging from the display? Beads had great value as an item to trade at the time.

Butterfly collection, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Naturalists were eager to explore this new land and this display shows some of the winged wonders they encountered. That’s a lot of butterflies!

As the United States expanded its territories in the 1840s and 1850s, more settlers moved toward the West. Lt. John C. Frémont explored the Oregon Trail, camping at The Dalles in 1843. The Army helped map potential wagon routes through Oregon.

Settling into Wasco County

Mock up a pioneer town, Gorge Discovery Center,The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Thousands of settlers soon made their way to Oregon and towns sprung up to support them.

The right saddle

Saddles from the George Lawrence Co., The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Businesses catering to the settler’s needs prospered. Those are some nice saddles!

The Chinese in mid- to late-1800s Oregon

The railroad expanded into Oregon. Chinese immigrants helped construct railways and worked in the gold mines. They brought elements of their culture with them.

Mock up of Chew Kee & Co. store, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Though some of their customs and products, such as fireworks, were appreciated by the largely European American residents, Chinese often encountered prejudice.

Chinatown excavation project, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

This exhibit detailed archaeological work on the Chinatown site that once existed in The Dalles. After the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, it was more difficult for them to stay in the United States. Most moved away from The Dalles by the late 1920s.

For some history about Chinese in John Day, Oregon, about 200 miles to the south, read Kam Wah Chung: A Step Back in Time.

Chinatown excavation project artifacts, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

Excavations at Chinatown have uncovered many artifacts and evidence of past floods and fires. In 2013, this site was listed among Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places.

Gorge Discovery Center. Etc…

There were a couple things we didn’t see on this visit.

  • The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center put a lot of time into restoring native habitat on the 54-acre campus. There is a short nature walk with interpretive markers around the buildings.
  • They have a Raptor Interpretive Program that uses live falcons, hawks, eagles, and owls. They have presentations for visitors on days that vary with the season.
Outside the Gorge Discovery Center, The Dalles, Oregon 16October2017

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center was a nice place for an unplanned stop.  Lots to see and do there. We were there in October and there weren’t many other visitors. The fall leaves outside the building greeted us in bright shades of gold.

There’s a great fountain just outside the front door. I leave you with the calming sounds of its waters.

Kam Wah Chung: A Step Back in Time

The store inside Kam Wah Chung, John Day, OR 26October2018
The store inside Kam Wah Chung

Have you ever stepped inside a time capsule and discovered a place frozen in time? You have the opportunity to visit such a place if you stop at the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon. The small building, located two blocks north of Highway 26, was, at one time, bustling with activity. Kam Wah Chung, which translates to the “Golden Flower of Prosperity,” served as a dry goods store, herbalist shop, import business, house of worship, and boarding house. It also housed an informal library and post office.

Exterior of the building, John Day, OR 26October2018
Exterior of the building

A Tour Inside

     As you step into the dimly lit interior of the building, you get a feel for what life was like decades ago.

Products in the store John Day, OR 26October2018
Products in the store

Boxes and tins of everyday products line the shelves. Merchandise stocked at Kam Wah Chung appealed to both Chinese and American customers.

More products in the store John Day, OR 26October2018
More in the store

In the backroom, larger boxes of supplies fill the room.

The storage room and a small altar John Day, OR 26October2018
The storage room and a small altar

The apothecary is amazing!  Stacks of small neatly labeled boxes reach to the ceiling.

The apothecary at Kam Wah Chung John Day, OR 26October2018
The apothecary at Kam Wah Chung

They used many herbs in the practice of Chinese medicine, but also more exotic things like lizard feet, bat wings, and bear parts.  A small room across from the apothecary served as a place to treat patients.

Close up of the apothecary at Kam Wah Chung John Day, OR 26October2018
Close up of the apothecary at Kam Wah Chung

You step through a low doorway to get into the kitchen. The table and wood stove look ready to serve a hot meal.

The kitchen at Kam Wah Chung John Day, OR 26October2018
The kitchen
Close up of the kitchen at Kam Wah Chung John Day, OR 26October2018
Close up of the kitchen at Kam Wah Chung

An early version of a refrigerator cabinet sits in a corner.

Refrigerator cabinet John Day, Oregon 26October2018
Refrigerator cabinet

Religion was an important part of everyday life and small altars, with dried oranges and incense stick offerings, are tucked into various nooks.

Altar in the kitchen John Day, OR 26October2018
Altar in the kitchen
Visitor center display about importance of religion John Day, OR 26October2018
Visitor center display about importance of religion

Two sets of bunk beds are in the same room as the kitchen. Advertisements line the walls and undersides of the bunks, in case you might need to purchase a suit while staying there.

Advertisements lining the bunk beds John Day, OR 26October2018
Advertisements lining the bunk beds

As you pass through another door, you’ll enter a private bedroom. You can’t go upstairs, but additional boarding and living quarters are located there.

History of Kam Wah Chung

     The building was constructed in the 1860s as a trading post, and it was put under lease to the Kam Wah Chung Company in 1878. Ing Hay and Lung On, both originally from the Guangdong Province of China, formed a partnership and purchased the business in 1887. It served as a gathering place for Chinese immigrants who traveled to Oregon to work on railroad lines and in gold mines. In 1862, prospectors discovered gold in Canyon City, two miles south of John Day. In 1880, John Day was home to over 2,000 Chinese, the second largest Chinese community in Oregon and one of the largest in the U.S.

Front of the building John Day, OR 26October2018
Front of the building

Partners in business – Ing Hay and Lung On

Ing Hay, also known as “Doc Hay,” practiced herbal medicine and pulsology. Doc Hay lost his sight, but he claimed he could use his sensitive hands to identify ailments based on a patient’s pulse. Western medicine was in its infancy at that time and anyone could claim to be a doctor. Nearly half of patients treated by “quack” doctors died from infection. Ing Hay served both Chinese and non-Chinese patients and was a well-respected healer throughout the region. He was considered a “municipal treasure” after he used his herbal remedies to prevent the spread of illness during the Influenza Epidemic of 1918.

Ing Hay AKA 'Doc Hay' John Day, OR 26October2018
Ing Hay AKA ‘Doc Hay’

Lung On, also known as “Leon,” was a well-educated man fluent in both English and Chinese. He used his charisma and many skills in his work as a merchant, labor contractor, mediator, and translator. After the gold rush, he turned to other endeavors. Lung On started a mail-order clothing company and also had one of the first car dealerships and service stations east of the Cascades. He also dabbled in real estate and horse racing. Lung On was a successful businessman and he willed his $90,000 estate to Ing Hay. Both men continued living in the Kam Wah Chung building for nearly 60 years and were considered valued members of the community.

Lung On AKA 'Leon' John Day, OR 26October2018
Lung On AKA ‘Leon’
Visitor center display about how important Ing Hay and Lung On were to the community, John Day, OR 26October2018
Visitor center display about how important Ing Hay and Lung On were to the community

The Chinese Exclusion Act

     Though both had family in China, they never returned to their native country. One reason for this was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Increasing tensions between Chinese and resident laborers in a struggling economy led to a series of laws. The Act stated that Chinese could not become U.S. citizens or own land. Teachers, students, diplomats, and merchants were given limited rights, but weren’t always allowed back into the U.S. if they left the country. In John Day, Chinese could only live in a small neighborhood near Kam Wah Chung and it served as a refuge for them. More moved to John Day in 1885 when the Chinese neighborhood in Canyon City burned to the ground and they were not allowed to rebuild. It was a challenging environment for people of Chinese heritage and they felt safer living near each other.

Note the meat cleavers. Visitor center display about the isolation of Chinese in John Day, OR 26October2018
Note the meat cleavers – Visitor center display about the isolation of Chinese in Oregon

     Chinese could not own guns in Grant County so Ing Hay and Lung Ho kept meat cleavers at the ready to defend themselves. You can see evidence of how they were harassed by observing bullet holes in their metal-clad front door. The thin layer of metal didn’t stop any bullets, but it prevented fire from destroying the building.

Opening the Time Capsule

     Lung On passed away in 1940 and Ing Hay moved to a Portland nursing home in 1948. He passed away in 1952 and his nephew sold the building to the city of John Day. Ing Hay wanted the building to serve as a Chinese history museum, but that request was forgotten. The Kam Wah Chung building remained locked until 1967. When the doors were opened, everything inside was largely intact. Over 30,000 artifacts have been cataloged. The apothecary contained hundreds of herbs, some of which no longer exist in the wild. One of Doc Hay’s medical books may have been compiled 300-500 years ago by one of the founders of Chinese medicine. If the book is an original, it would be one of the few copies known to still exist.

The storage room at Kam Wah Chung, John Day, OR 26October2018
The storage room at Kam Wah Chung

Visiting Kam Wah Chung

       Kam Wah Chung was deeded to Oregon State Parks and Recreation in 1975 and leased to the city of John Day. It opened to the public in 1977. The state took over management of the site in 2004. The Friends of Kam Wah Chung help manage a small visitor center and store housed in a separate building.

Gift shop in the visitor center John Day, OR 26October2018
Gift shop in the visitor center

     Oregon State Parks and Recreation offers free 45-minute tours of the Kam Wah Chung site from May 1 to October 31. A guide must accompany visitors. The guides offer visitors a wealth of information and they obviously enjoy sharing their knowledge. Their talks are enhanced by informative recordings. The tours fill up fast so this year they are experimenting with making reservations in advance.

There are several exciting updates related to Kam Wah Chung. Plans are in the works for a larger visitor center that may include a “virtual reality” room that would simulate the interior of the building. Recent archaeological research at the site has revealed where the temple and other buildings may have once stood. In July, students can participate in an archaeology field school on the site as part of the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project. Malheur National Forest, Southern Oregon Laboratory of Anthropology, and Kam Wah Chung are among those working on this project. The Discovery Channel is working on a documentary about Chinese traditional medicine and they have shot footage at Kam Wah Chung and several other locations. The program is expected to air in North America in the fall of 2019.

Visitors from around the world

    This site is an important destination for those interested in history. It is the best known example of an historical Chinese mercantile and herb store in the United States. Chinese scholars have expressed great interest in Kam Wah Chung and they visit the site regularly. As news stories related to discoveries at the site have spread throughout China, it has become a destination for Chinese tourists. People from all over the world visit Kam Wah Chung.

There has been a significant increase in the number of visitors from the Netherlands. Locations near Kam Wah Chung were featured in the highly popular Dutch reality program “Wie is de Mol?” which translates as “Who is the Mole?”

The dining table John Day, OR 26October2018
The dining table

  I am fortunate that this site is only about two hours away from Bend, Oregon, where I live. It’s a trip well worth taking.

Interesting facts…

Here are a few interesting facts about Kam Wah Chung:

  • More than 90 unopened bottles of bourbon whiskey were found under the floorboards and in the walls, stashed there during the Prohibition. Today they are valued at around $10,000 each. Several bottles mysteriously disappeared during various renovations.
  • Ing Hay’s great-grandnephew, Robert M. Wah, MD, served as president of the American Medical Association in 2015.  The call to work as a healer continues in this family.
  • $23,000 worth of uncashed checks were found under Ing Hay’s bed. They would be worth about $250,000 in today’s dollars. Some think he never cashed them because he knew his patients couldn’t afford to pay the bills.

To view a 2015 Emmy nominated documentary about Kam Wah Chung produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting, see Oregon Experience – Kam Wah Chung. The personal stories recounted by people who knew Ing Hay and Lung On helps to bring the history of this remarkable place to life.

This is a reprint of a June 2019 article in High Desert Voices, a newsletter by and for volunteers and staff at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. To see more issues of the newsletter, go here.

The Daily Spur – Tour