This picture shows an old farm truck parked along a rural road in Bend, Oregon. It’s parked along one of the 51 farm-to-market roads built in Deschutes County during the early 1900s.
This is a display of tail dresses at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. They’re called tail dresses because the deer’s tail is left on the cured skin. You can see them near the neckline on these dresses.
This picture shows an old farmhouse and windmill at a ranch in Central Oregon. To give this a more aged appearance, I used a filter that muted the reds.
Best Art Pictures
This is a close-up view of a bison sculpture by Greg Congleton, one of my favorite local artists. The name of this sculpture is Wooly Bully.
This is a sculpture of Sacagawea that’s located at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West museum in Cody, Wyoming. I admired how the artist portrayed her as a calm yet powerful presence.
This is a close-up view of a mural located outside a computer repair store in Bend, Oregon. Born Again Babylan represents mysteries of the past and technology of the future. See the whole mural here.
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.
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.
The Observatory is constructed of local lava rock. The triangular-shaped rail supports look like rock cairns.
But what can you observe from here? You get excellent views of some of our local volcanoes, including North and Middle Sister, pictured below.
You’ll see panoramic views of lava beds bordered by volcanic mountains. On the left you can see the top of Mt Washington. Mt Jefferson is in the middle of the picture, shrouded by clouds. On the right you get a partial view of Black Butte.
Here’s a closer view. See Mt Jefferson hiding under the clouds?
An observatory of the past – Geology
This sign highlights part of the geological history. The lava flows that covered this landscape are young, in geological terms. If you have time, walk the 0.50 mile interpretive trail at the site.
From the inside of the structure, you can peek out of square and rectangular windows to see the peaks. Labels are below each window.
On top of the building you’ll find a peak finder.
Here’s a closer view.
Old Wagon Road
This area served as a route for wagons to get across the Cascade Mountains in the late 1800s. It must have been an incredibly rough ride.
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.
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.
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.
This old barn is located on Innes Market Road near where it intersects with Gerking Market Road. Roads were often named after nearby landowners. Though this building may look past its prime, it’s mostly intact.
An interesting thing about this barn is that berms of earth provide part of the structure. We have temperature extremes in this area, including the possibility of nighttime freezing throughout the year. The insulation provided by the soil helps keep livestock and stored produce at optimal temperatures.
You can see a peek of the Sisters volcanic peaks on the left side of this photo. Excellent views from this old barn!
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.
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.
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.
History of beavers
In the center of the room, displays of articulated skeletons, fossils, and beaver-chewed trees draw your attention. One skeleton shows a North American beaver, while the other shows a giant beaver, Castoroides. As its name implies, the giant beaver was much larger than present day beavers. The extinct giant beaver weighed 198 to 276 pounds, while modern beavers weigh 24 to 71 pounds. Dramatic changes in the landscape after the Ice Age may have led to this large mammal’s demise during the Pleistocene era.
In the more recent past, beavers have played an important part in Native American culture. The Blackfeet Nation considers beaver to be one of the three original animals. They played a key role in the distribution of water and land. Beavers also taught people how to be moral. Though many tribes traded skins with settlers, Blackfeet chose not to because of beaver’s cultural importance. They celebrated beavers in a ceremony called the “Beaver Bundle”, an event passed down through generations.
In the late 1800s, things changed for North American beavers when European demand for their skins skyrocketed. They used beaver skins in creating hats and other products. The mercurous nitrate used in curing felt for hats led to the term “mad as a hatter” because of the chemical’s toxic side effects.
Because of high demand, beavers were overtrapped and prime habitat was destroyed. Beaver populations plummeted. One of the contributing factors was the Hudson Bay Company’s (HBC) decision to destroy beaver populations “as fast as possible” to discourage westward migration from American competitors. In the period from 1823 to 1841, HBC intended to make the Snake River territory a “fur desert.”
Changing perceptions of beavers
By the end of the 19th century, perceptions of beavers changed and conservation efforts began. In the 1920s, they moved beavers to areas where they lived in the past. Scientists recognized the value of the beaver in wetland habitat management.
We know beavers as one of nature’s engineers. The ponds and channels they create support diverse flora and fauna. As the effects of climate change increase, these sites serve as important refuges from wildfire, and they also help reduce flooding.
The exhibit highlights the stream channels beavers help create around rivers in two large-scale images. One features an enhanced image taken near Sunriver. The many abandoned braided channels around the Little Deschutes River stand out in this picture.
The other picture, of the Willamette River, uses LiDAR imagery to show the stream channels that existed over the last 12,000 years.
This exhibition features several examples of current work involving beavers. In 2016, in Birch Creek, Idaho, five beavers released near the creek enhanced the habitat. Rare Bonneville cutthroat trout populations increased after the introduction. The Tulalip Tribes, in Washington State, relocated beaver to streams on treaty lands as part of their watershed management program. Other tribes plan to follow their lead. In Oregon, biologists created Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAs) on East Fork Beech Creek and Bridge Creek. These artificial dams established habitat for beavers and fish populations have rebounded.
Back to the box suspended from a parachute mentioned earlier in this article. Why is this box featured in the exhibit? In the 1940s, wildlife agencies dropped beavers from planes in crates designed to open on impact. This method helped re-establish beaver populations in remote areas.
There is one more item of interest to mention in this exhibit. Did you notice the bottles of alcohol in the display case on the left side of the photo above? Those bottles contain Eau de Musc whiskey. Tamworth Distilling flavors this whiskey with castoreum, an oily substance from castor sacs located under a beaver’s tail. The distillery notes its “bright and fruit qualities (raspberry) and rich leathery notes along with creamy vanilla aroma.” Would you care to make a toast to beavers with a glass of this? I’ll leave that decision up to you, but we should celebrate this engaging exhibit for teaching us more about our remarkable state animal.
This exhibit is on display at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon through October 3, 2021.
I thought this windmill at Fort Rock would make a good candidate for showing three ways to process a photograph. I used the photographic effects in Corel PaintShop Pro 2021. This picture was taken at the Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum in Central Oregon.
Prior to trying other effects, I decreased the brightness by 4 and increased the contrast by 10.
The first two show the original and a platinum processed image. This processing was popular from 1873 to 1920 but was discontinued due to the high costs of platinum. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Time Machine>Platinum. I tried black and white processing but liked the slightly warmer tones of this effect.
The second two show the original and a cross process image. This process resulted from mismatching the film and development chemicals on purpose. For this image I went to Effects>Photo Effects>Time Machine>Cross Process. This effect oversaturates the colors and they really pop.
The last two show the windmill at Fort Rock original image and the same picture with a glowing edges effect. For this image I went to Effects>Artistic Effects>Glowing Edges. This is a more artsy effect. I bet it would look good under black light! 😉
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.
Today I’m sharing kingfisher art. I drew the following images several years ago. In studies such as these you attempt to capture the essence of the subject. You’re not going for detail in this type of drawing.
John James Audubon
I’m also sharing images of belted kingfishers from a couple wildlife artists. The first painting is by John James Audubon. It’s featured in The Birds of America,published in 1827. I was fortunate to see a volume of this book in a library at a university.
At present, there are only 120 complete sets of The Birds of America known to exist. The 435 engraved plates used to create the original books measure 39″ x 26.” These enormous illustrations helped educate the public about the importance of birds. Interest in The Birds of America persists to this day. In 2018, a full set sold for $9.65 million dollars.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes
This second illustration, by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, features a Black-billed Cuckoo, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and a pair of Belted Kingfishers. This plate was in Birds of Massachusetts and other New England States, published in 1925. This three-volume set was written by ornithologist Edward Howe Forbush and illustrated by Fuertes.
You may not recognize Fuertes’ name, but he was a gifted artist and ornithologist. In fact in 1891, at the age of 17, he became the youngest member of the American Ornithologists’ Union. He admired the work of Audubon but had his own style of painting.
Both of these artists worked from specimens they collected in the field to create their kingfisher art. Audubon is known for positioning freshly-killed subjects with wire armature, a revolutionary technique at the time. However, Fuertes put more time into studying birds in their natural habitats. Some think this knowledge gives his paintings an added “sense of vitality“.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? If so, include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
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.
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.
In June 1812, Day accompanied Stuart on a trip back east, but he was left on the Lower Columbia when he appeared to experience an emotional breakdown. He returned to Fort Astoria and hunted and trapped in the Willamette Valley.
John Day in Idaho
When the Pacific Fur Company was sold to the North West Company in 1813, Day became a free trapper working under contract with them. Though exact information on his travels is limited, Day made plans to work in parts of southern Idaho and northern Utah.
In 1820, he was at the Company’s winter camp near Little Lost River, Idaho, with Donald McKenzie. John Day passed away there on February 16, 1820. The winter camp is thought to be near Fallert Springs, Idaho. That’s about 19 miles north of this abandoned building on a corner in Howe.
John Day’s name is associated with:
John Day River, Oregon
The cities of John Day and Dayville in Grant County, Oregon
John Day River and unincorporated community in Clatsop County, Oregon
John Day Dam on the Columbia River
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
John Day Formation strata
Day’s Defile, Butte County, Idaho (Historical place name near where he is supposedly buried)
For more on John Day, see this article on Oregon Encyclopedia or this one, on the city of John Day’s website.
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.
I took this photo of the Miller cabin in the morning at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. I used the platinum process for this image. This method, popular from 1873-1920, was discontinued due to the high cost of platinum.
Here’s a sepia tone view of Fort Rock Homestead Village Museum in the Oregon Outback. Twelve buildings built in the early 1900s were moved to this site. It’s one of my favorite roadside attractions in Central Oregon.
This photo of the sun-dappled Mayors Square Mural reflects past times in Troutdale, Oregon. Muralists Dwayne Harty and Tammy Callens created a depiction of what the town looked like in the early 1900s. Completed in the fall of 2016, this work shows every type of ground transportation available in the beginning of the 20th century. The mural includes a train, horse & buggy, automobiles, bicycle, freight truck, and freight wagon.
The items of various shapes and sizes in the kitchen of Kam Wah Chung stand out in black and white. I visited the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, Oregon a couple years ago. As I described in my post about that experience, it was like stepping back in time. This small building served as a general store, apothecary, doctor’s office, boarding house, religious center, and meeting spot for the Chinese people of the community in the late 1800s. Most worked in mines or on railroad line construction.
The co-owners of this business were Lung On, aka “Leon”, and Ing Hay, aka “Doc Hay.” As a result of their hard work, the business thrived for many years. Lung On passed away in 1940. Ing Hay moved to a nursing home in Portland, Oregon in 1948. The building stood vacant until it was opened in 1967. It contained a treasure trove of artifacts–over 30,000 have been cataloged so far.
Visitors can visit this site with a guide to learn more. It is a fascinating tour, made more interesting by the fact that the owners of this business were directly affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. It is a part of history many of us never learned. Seeing a site such as this makes overlooked parts of our history come alive.
For information on tours, visit the Oregon State Parks site. Note Kam Wah Chung is only open seasonally and may be affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These beaded bags are some of my favorite works of art. The bags are part of a display at The Museum at Warm Springs. In this region, work with beads began in earnest in the early 1800s. The beads, created in the glass shops of Venice, Italy, were transported across oceans, mountains, and plains. Settlers, trappers, and explorers used them in trade.
When you look at these photos, you will notice something becoming more clear in the background. Right across from this display, there is a modern-day image showing members of the three tribes that live on the Warm Springs Reservation. You can see their reflections in my photos of the bags. It was almost as if they were looking over my shoulder making sure I noticed their presence.
This museum features parts of their history you probably didn’t learn about in school. It also shows their resilience and celebrates their heritage. These beaded bags are a part of their culture that preserve moments worth remembering.