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The Willamette Valley's Heritage through its Barns and Structures

A history of the people of the Willamette Valley as revealed through their structures.

The Dams which make the valley possible PT.3

Part 2 is here

There are over 170 crops currently being harvested for profit in the valley. Field crops such as grain, hay, peppermint, potatoes, and many more. Seed crops ranging from Alfalfa to ryegrass. Fruits and nuts, vegetables and much more can be found growing in what was once the flood plains of the Willamette. Livestock, from cattle to goats can be found grazing there, and there is commerce, small and large-scale transpiring there, and many, many areas of the valley may be just as beautiful as when the Kalapuyan’s were thriving there. It can be said that, with over 250 thriving vertebrate species and a populuation of over 2,000,000 people, life is abundant. Our footprint is much larger than the native’s were, to be sure; the Kalapuyan’s left next to nothing in their wake. Sustainability, though, is still well within reach of the valley residents., and because it is private owners who claim up 96% of the valley’s land, it is up to the private owners to rally their efforts toward rebuilding a habitat conducive to the native species’ needs.

Rickreal’s Mark Knaupp is just such a person. In 1996, Knaupp restored 320 acres of his grass seed acreage to its natural, marshy state, attracting wildlife rarely before seen in the Willamette Valley. Since its allocation, the Mud Slough area has drawn many different rare plant and animal species such as sedges, cattails, willows, and shorebirds, waterfowl, and the black-necked stilt, the yellow-hooded blackbird and so much more.

The conservation effort on the part of Knaupp was extremely successful and in 2005 he partnered with The Wetlands Concervancy (TWC), creating a conservation easement (right to use the land) as well as an endowment to keep the wetland permanently funded. Identified as one of Oregon’s greatest wetlands (a wetland with the most biological significance),¹ The Mud Slough is attracting more and more wildlife every year and has captured the attraction of other landowners who may soon be developing wetlands of their own.²

Interspersed all up and down the valley are organic farms which are keeping pesticides and herbicides out of the water and, therefore; the ecosystem. Farmers such as David Brown of Mustard See Farms in St. Paul, Glen Mills of Newberg, and Matt Cook of Dever-Conner, are using non-toxic measures to prevent weeds and pests. Usually these nontoxic methods have the positive side effect of creating an ideal growing environment with amazing results. Whatever the motivation a farmer has for farming organically, i.e. toxin-free food for humans, or to keep from poisoning certain insects while getting rid of another, keeping toxins out of the watershed is vital to creating a sustainable environment for native plants and animals of the region.

The three National Wildlife Refuge Complexes in the Willamette Valley are either a home or a wintering ground to Bobcats, Elk, Blue Heron, turtles, frogs, Cedar Waxwing, Fender’s Blue Butterfly, Dusky Canada Geese, Acorn Woodpeckers, and to many endangered plant and wildlife species. The William L. Finley, 10 miles south of Corvallis on HWY 99, Baskett Slough, 10 miles west of Salem on HWY 22, and Ankeny, 10 miles north of Albany off I-5 (exit 243), are all thriving Eco-regions teeming with the native plants and animals whose numbers were plummeting after The Willamette Valley Project’s dams dried up quite a bit of the wetlands.

¹ “Oregon’s Greatest Wetlands,” Oregon Explorer, Natural Resources Digital Library, available online at http://oregonexplorer.info/content/oregons-greatest-wetlands?topic=4138&ptopic=98 (accessed 10/16/2016)

² “Willamette Valley Wetland Restoration,” USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, available online at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/or/home/?cid=nrcs142p2_046065 (accessed 10/16/2016)

In recent years, the Army Corps of Engineers began working with other agencies for the implementation and operations of fish hatcheries, and they have also been instrumental in creating wildlife havens of all kinds. Wetlands, wildlife preserves, and wildlife areas are all seriously considered and are constantly being newly developed all over Oregon, but especially along the Willamette River and its tributaries.

The Fern Ridge wildlife area which surrounds Fern Ridge Reservoir, boasts of over 250 waterfowl which can be found utilizing the area throughout the year. Cottage Grove lake manages its location with the express purpose of inviting waterfowl, deer, game birds, song birds, bald eagles, and osprey. Big Cliff Dam and Detroit Lake are located in the forested foothills of Mt. Jefferson where

nature is left natural and does not needs much help from humans at this point.

Dorena Lake is home to black tailed deer, song birds, and waterfowl. Below Hills Creek Dam the Army Corps of Engineers developed a 130 acre wildlife and wetland area with open fields, riverside habitat, turtle ponds and beaver dams. The Corps has been restoring degraded uplands, wetlands and streams along the Green Peter Dam and Reservoir. They have replaced invasive plants with native trees and shrubs, and are fostering habitats that will support the native wildlife.

Downriver from Green Peter is Foster Dam, which is home to the Northern Spotted Owl, Steelhead and Cutthroat Trout, Chinook Salmon, the Western Pond Turtle, and several amphibians. Dexter Dam and Lookout Point Dam are home to winter elk, game birds, water fowl, song birds, bald eagles and such. The Blue River Dam and Cougar Dam are nestled into the Willamette National Forest where native species of flora and fauna are thriving. Fall Creek Dam provides over 3,500 acres of natural habitat for waterfowl, game birds, song birds, bald eagles, black-tailed deer, salmon, red-legged frogs, and western pond turtles.

Being that the 13 dams of the Willamette Valley are instrumental for so much of the commerce, recreation, and natural ecosystems thriving in the valley, and in turn; Oregon, it is imperative that the people of Oregon work to maintain them.

One of the benefits of the Willamette tributarial dams seems obvious in that the flood plains are now farm land and the dams provide water to farmers during the dry months. It is unfortunate that the Willamette is still a very polluted river and not likely to be completely cleansed for 50 – 100 years. Being that the industrial wastes have been curbed, there has been no non-treated water pumped into the river for quite some time. The dams along the Willamette’s tributaries help to flush out some of the pollutants found in the Willamette when, in late summer, water is released from the dams to replenish the low river, but this is not enough to wash away all the toxins that run into the rivers during the rainy season as farm, yard, garden, household, livestock, auto, and street toxins all contribute to an even greater level of toxicity¹ than all the mills and factories combined ever did.

With an attitude of good stewardship and concentrated, continued efforts, it is certainly possible to reclaim a livable ecosystem for flora, fauna and humans of the valley. The Willamette’s original flood plain now has a population of over 2,000,000² people which is expected to double by 2050³. Given that 2050 coincides roughly with the 100 year flood scenario of the Willamette Rivers tendency to flow free from its banks, it goes without saying that it would be wise to foster a concentrated effort toward both dam maintenance and valley floor conservation.

¹ Lori Pillsbury, “Monitoring Toxic Pollutants in the Willamette River,” January, 2012 available online at http://www.deq.state.or.us/lab/wqm/docs/12-LAB-001.pdf (accessed 10/16/2016)

² Oregon Explorer Natural Resources Digital Library, “Willamette” available online at

http://oregonexplorer.info/places/basins/willamette (accessed 10/17/2016)

³ The Nature Conservancy, “Conservation in the Willamette Valley,” available online at http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/oregon/placesweprotect/wv-fact-sheet.pdf (accessed 10/17/2016)

The second bathtub in Yamhill County

This house in Yamhill is among eighty-four structures in Yamhill County listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s a grand house located at 285 W. 3rd street. Not only is the house famous for it’s beautiful architecture following the Second Empire Baroque Style and hailing bragging rights to the second bathtub in the county, it’s also where Beverly Cleary, beloved children’s author, spent the first 6 years of her life.

Hazel Hall House and Memorial Park

These are photos taken by Robert H. of Yelp. Also, this house and memorial park are not in the Willamette Valley – BUT Hazel Hall was an amazing Portland Oregon woman. You can read about her on my history blog.

The Dams which make the valley’s success possible pt.2

PT.1 is here. I finally broke it up in order to fit on the internet! LOL.

(I first wrote this in 2016, so the data may be outmoded. Also, I left the references at the bottom of each document page, which may be irritating)

1969 brought the completion of the final dam of The Willamette Valley Project, first set to planning over thirty years previous. Blue River Dam is located approximately 38 miles east of Eugene on the Blue River, a tributary of the McKenzie River. The reservoir is a popular spot for fishing, swimming, and water-skiing, and camping.

The culmination of the Willamette Valley Project so far seems to have accomplished what it set out to. There has been no wide-spread, devastating flooding in the Willamette Valley since their completion, and the hydropower generates enough electricity to power 300,000 homes. Though the effect of the damming of the the Willamette’s tributaries has been less than epic in terms of pollution control and has necessitated the building of fish hatcheries because so much of the Salmon run is unable to pass through the dams, many of the valley’s homes, farms, and businesses exist solely because the dams prevent the flooding of the Willamette. Much of Oregon’s population lives, grows, and does business on the flood plain of the Willamette, the population set to double by 2050.

96% of the land in the Willamette Valley is privately owned and 50% of that land is used for agriculture (including land used to raise livestock).¹ All manner of produce is grown in the valley as can be seen at any local farmer’s market, where farmers proudly display everything from sweet, juicy,

¹ Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Willamette Valley Ecoregion,” Oregon Conservation Strategy, January 2006, available online at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/docs/document_pdf/b-eco_wv.pdf (last accessed 10/17/2016), p.2

strawberries in the early summer to perfect, firm and flavorful squash in late summer and into autumn.

The Willamette Valley is the nation’s largest grower of hazelnuts and grass seed, is home to more than 500 wineries producing highly acclaimed wines, and is the second largest hop producing region in the United States. As of 2009 there are over 1000 Willamette Valley families enrolled in the Century Program, a program which celebrates family farms of 100 years or more. It is not a stretch to say that the valleys economy is driven by the tractor.

The Willamette Valley produces almost 2/3 of the nation’s grass seed. Mild, wet winters and dry summers are an ideal climate for grass seed, an agribusiness that has grown to being produced on more than half of the total cropland in the valley. There are over 950 varieties of 8 different species of grass grown on 347,000 acres of the valley. “Oregon growers produce essentially all of the U.S. production of annual ryegrass, perennial ryegrass, bentgrass, and fine fescue. Smaller amounts, but significant portions of the USA production of Kentucky bluegrass , orchardgrass , and tall fescue, are also grown in Oregon. “¹ According to the Oregon Seed Council, “grass seed farming drives more than $1 billion in annual economic activity, ”² employs up to 10,000 Oregonians.

99% of the nation’s hazelnuts are grown in the Willamette Valley,³ a fact which is attributed to the unique combination of the valley’s rich soil, ample rainfall, and gentle climate. It is said that this unique combination contributes to the growth of the best tasting and most abundant hazelnuts possible anywhere. In recent years the region’s hazelnut trees have been suffering from the Eastern Filbert

¹ Oregon State University, “Willamette Valley Grass Seed Production,” 2010, available online at http://oregonstate.edu/valleyfieldcrops/book/export/html/41 (accessed 10/12/2016).

² Oregon Seed Council, “FAQ’s,” 2016, available online at http://www.oregonseedcouncil.org/faqs/ (accessed 10/13/2016)

³ Oregon Hazelnuts, “About Oregon Hazelnuts,” available online at http://oregonhazelnuts.org/about/(accessed 10/14/2016)

Blight, which has had the regions approximately 700 filbert farmers not only scrambling to solve the blight by treatments and pruning, but also has them planting new trees in order to keep up with the demand for the nut.¹ Hazelnut growers produced 38,000 tons in 2016², generating well over $90,000,000 for the Oregon economy. Despite the struggle to keep ahead of the eastern filbert blight and the purchasing, planning, planting, and tending of new disease-free orchard stock, the hazelnut farmers remain optimistic that they will overcome this blight and that they will continue to produce nearly all of the hazelnuts grown in the United States. Currently the only way to beat the blight is to continue to prune the blight off the diseased trees.

Once pruned to nothing, there will be no tree left, and hopefully the newly planted trees will begin producing nuts by that time. This must take place for each tree which has contracted the blight on any of the 30,000 hazelnut-producing acres of the Willamette Valley. Hazelnut trees will usually begin producing nuts when they are two to three years old, but are not considered to be commercially productive until they are 4 years old, giving an overall appearance to the layperson such as myself of a race against time as the blight is taking the trees limb by limb and the farmers are propagating new trees nut by nut.

Oregon State University’s extension service has been developing a disease-resistant hazelnut tree, having identified 20 such strains from around the world, they are looking to find which will grow best in the Valley’s soil and climate. OSU is working in close partnership with Oregon Hazelnut Growers, as they adjust and conquer the plight of the blight, as can be viewed in an OSU video.³

¹ Jay W. Pscheidt, John Pinkerton, Ken B. Johnson, “What is your risk from Eastern Filbert Blight?” OSU Eastern Filbert Blight Help Page, available online at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/botany/epp/EFB/risk.htm (accessed 10/14/2016)

² USDA, “Crop Production,” Oct. 2016, p.28 available online at http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/CropProd/CropProd-10-12-2016.pdf (accessed 10/14/2016)

³ OSU Extension, “Research in a Nutshell,” 2014, available online at https://youtu.be/zEjKkzM_ZMk (viewed 10/15/2016)

Combining all the diverse soil types found in the Willamette Valley with the climate of the region made it ideal to become Oregon’s largest American Viticulture Area, or AVA. Wineries hang like clusters on the hillsides along the coastal mountain ranges of the Northern Willamette Valley and like seeds sprouting hearty starts along the alluvial valley floor from Portland to Eugene. Pinot Noir is a favorite among the Valley’s viticulture because Pinot Noir is a variety that thrives in this cool climate.

According to the most current statistics available, the vintners of the Willamette Valley produce 82% of the Pinot Noir made in Oregon, 73% of Oregon’s wine in general, and lays claim to 71% of Oregon’s wine-grape producing acreage.¹ Though the climate is cool all up and down the valley, there are variants in temperatures as vineyards climb hillsides or lay upon the valley floor and there are different soils ranging from marine sedimentary, to volcanic to windblown loess, each attributing to its own distinct and sought-after flavor. It is reported that the wine industry in Oregon contributed either directly or indirectly $3.35 billion in 2013² (the latest available data) to the Oregon economy, a majority of that wine-making and grape growing taking place in the valley, home to more than 500 wineries, most of which are located in the northern Willamette Valley region.

The unique growing conditions of the Willamette Valley, perhaps the most diverse in the world, can be attributed to not only to the ample rains and cyclic vegetation, but also the past floods of the Willamette River combined with the extensive burning practices of the Kalapuya, who were great stewards of the land long before the arrival of the Euro-American settlers. These natives of the Valley were expert farmers of the land. Numbering around 15,000 members at the time of the arrival of the first white settlers, the Kalapuya used pyroculture to form the distinct areas where camas, hazelnuts,

¹ Willamette Valley Wineries Association, “Willamette Valley Facts and Figures,” 2015, available online at file:///C:/Users/Tami/Desktop/Willamette%20Valley%20Facts%20&%20Figures%20-%20Willamette%20Valley%20Wineries.htm (accessed 10/14/2016)

² Full Glass Research, “Economic Impact of Oregon State Wine,” January 2015, available online at http://industry.oregonwine.org/wp-content/uploads/OR-EconReport-2014-FINALnetrev2.pdf (accessed 10/2016)

acorns, wapato, and berries were harvested for their sustenance. In the vast meadows formed by the flash-burning practices, deer and elk grazed where the Kalapuyan’s could now hunt with relative ease, and in the streams nearby swam a bounty of Chinook, Silver, and Chum Salmon. Being so adept at managing such a diverse and abundant Eco-system, the Kalapuya’s systems and practices seem worth mimicking, at least in purpose and scope if not with out-and-out controlled burning.

Hull-Oakes Lumber Company

What is very likely the last commercial steam powered lumber mill in the United States is along the eastern side of the coast range, six miles from Monroe, Oregon. Though the mill was converted to electrical power in the 1950’s, it still operates on steam power a few times a year, and is able to cut some of the broadest, longest pieces of lumber of any mill in the United States, up to 9 feet in diameter and 85 feet long. The mill’s giant timbers are in demand for such projects as bridge stringers (supports), beams for gold dredges, support beams for the USS constitution, and other projects where a strong, single beam are needed. These giant timber projects make up about 50 percent of the 20 million board feet of lumber produced at Hull-Oakes Lumber Company during recent years. One of the most recent specialty orders fulfilled by Hulles-Oakes was for the Ark Encounter, a historical attraction in Williamstown Kentucky featuring the largest timber frame structure in the United States, a 510-ft. long replica of Noah’s Ark.

Hull-Oakes Lumber Company was started in 1937 after Wes Miller’s (Ralph Hull’s uncle) lumber mill on the site burned down and Ralph Hull subsequently leased the site and built the mill still standing today. It is registered with the Historic American Engineering Record, the U.S. Park Service, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Photos, drawing, and Ralph Hull’s biography can be found in the Library of Congress.

A great article about the company can be found on the TimberWest Magazine website and this is a wonderful blog post with fun heartwarming comments.

From LOC
From LOC

The Joel Palmer House

Joel Palmer was born in Canada in 1810 to parents who’d emigrated from the United States in 1803. Following the war of 1812, his parents brought the family back to the United States and settled in New York. With very little formal education, at the age of 12 Joel was endentured out to a family in LaRay, New York, where he lived for the next four years.

In 1836, at the age of 26. Palmer had lost his first wife and married Sarah Ann Derbyshire. They moved from the Philadelphia area, where Palmer took up after leaving New York, to Laurel Indiana where he began to work as a contractor in canal projects and also became involved in politics, serving two terms in the legislature.

In 1845 Palmer led a group of approximately 3,000 people over the Oregon Trail. He climbed upon Mt. Hood and scouted out the Barlow Road route around Mt.Hood. Palmer returned to Indiana in 1846, packed up his wife and five children and in 1847 captained a large wagon train to Oregon where they settled on his brother-in-laws claim about six miles south of Dayton. He later purchased and settled his family in the area we now know as Dayton Oregon.

Known as a friend to the natives, Palmer spent 1853-1856 as Oregon’s superintendent of Indian affairs, negotiating no less than 9 treaties before his dismissal in 1856 for being too sympathetic to the Native’s plight. Palmer never resigned his steadfast defense of the rights of the Indian people even as he became an agent for the Siletz reservation, grew frustrated with the political quagmire, and quit his post. Palmer did, however remain in politics as first of Speaker of the House in 1862, then as a State Senator from 1846 to 1866. In 1881 he passed away and was buried in the Brookside cemetery in Dayton, Oregon.

Dayton Oregon Walking Tour of Historic Homes with map.

BOOK: Some Dayton Chapters In The Oregon Story

Dayton Centennial 1880-1980

The front of the Joel Palmer house.

The Joel Palmer House was built in 1857 and is now a very trendy, upscale restaurant.

The rear of the Joel Palmer house which is the entrance to the restaurant.

The journal of Joel Palmer’s initial trek to Oregon, Early Western Travels 1748-1846, Volume XXX, by Joel Palmer, Edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, can be read at project Gutenberg.

The town of Willamette (AKA West Linn Oregon)

This past weekend my granddaughter and I took a short stroll through a long history. West Linn Oregon, across the river from Oregon City, was originally graced with the moniker of Willamette, but eventually came to be known as West Linn. Much of the original section of town has been maintained or restored and makes for a fun trek through history. We will be going back, as we didn’t even cover main street this time around, but below are a few pictures from the one block we did walk around.

1910 Victorian cottage.
1925 Arts and Crafts Aesthetic-period Craftsman
Front of 1925 Arts and Crafts Aesthetic-period Craftsman
Offices occupy this 1894 Elligsen House, also known as the Johnson residence.

Next time I’ll take a gander at main street and take pictures to show the beautiful job the people of West Linn have done in maintaining those historic structures.

Willamette Falls

The only dam on the Willamette River’s main route is located in Oregon City, where it harnesses power from the natural falls known as Willamette Falls, which, as you can read from the sign below, is the site of the first long distance commercial transmission of electricity in the United States in 1867.

The dam was built in 1943 and is still providing hydroelectric power today.

The Dam complex.

The 50 or so industrial buildings surrounding the complex, many mills no longer in production, are slated to become part of the Willamette falls legacy project or deconstructed in the near future.

A boater fishing near the fish ladder.

Back in1849, In Oregon City, the gold miners were coming up from CA and having their dust minted into gold coins. Those coins minted in Oregon City proudly featured a beaver. Although Oregon was not yet a member of the union, the US government frowned on folks minting their own currency and when a mint was built in San Francisco in 1854, required all private coinage be handed in for melting and official minting.. It is rumored that the Oregon City minting works were tossed into the falls, though they were actually found in a building some years later.

The Willamette Falls River Walk, when completed, will be a thrilling walk through history.

Industry first harnessed the power of the falls, then the dam.
Kayakers paddling near the dam.

Windmill at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

Last weekend was the final days of the the Wooden Shoe Tulip farm’s annual Tulip Fest. As you can see from the photo below, the tulips were all done-in by then. It’s my first time attending the world renowned event and I couldn’t believe how much there was to do there.

Aside from buying cut flowers, ordering tulip bulbs for the fall, perusing booths sponsored by local vendors, there was also carnival rides for the kids, wine tasting for the adults, and even an area for people of all ages to watch a craftsman construct wooden shoes from logs.

Amidst all that excitement, there was a tulip tour train, or we could through the tulip fields, there was a demonstration of a fully functioning steam train, and so much more to see and do.

I know a train isn’t a building so doesn’t belong on a blog about buildings, but hey – neither is this tractor! There’s a lovely barn in the background of the tractor, though.

A Beautiful Memorial

Willamette Valley Heritage; barns and structures

This is a memorial resting on the grounds of the Oregon State Hospital. Housed within this revamped BLDG 60 are over 3,000 copper urns which were moved around for many years on the Hospital grounds until finally resting within the walls of this building. At one time, building 40 was used to quarantine the terminally ill patients.

memorial

Three sides of the memorial are surrounded by a wall which holds newer urns. Names and dates of birth and death, if known, are engraved on the caps of the urns. When a family claims the cremains, a copper tube is placed in the space to commemorate the homecoming.

memorial2

Below is a closer view of the copper canisters which stored the cremations prior to their being placed in the ceramic urns, then in the wall.

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This is some of the wire artwork that surrounds the structure. Copper tubes replace the ceramic canisters when a family member…

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St. Louis Church

Willamette Valley Heritage; barns and structures

Just a hop skip and jump west over I-5 from Gervais OR stands a church marking what was once known as St. Louis, one of the oldest Euro-American communities in Oregon. Named for the king of France, St. Louis consisted of a post office, a store, a school, a cemetery, and of course a church. The current church standing near the corner of Manning Rd. and St. Louis Rd was built in 1880 to replace the original log building constructed in 1845; the original church having burnt down in 1880.

An interesting thing about that original log structure church is the fact that Madam Marie Dorion was buried in it and with its loss also came the loss of the grave marker of one of the bravest pioneer women to trek the Oregon trail. She was a Native American woman of Iowan Indian and French-Canadian descent.

In 1811 Marie Dorion’s husband, the interpreter Pierre Dorion, was…

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The Dams which make the valley’s success possible Pt.1

 

(I first wrote this in 2016, so the data may be outmoded. Also, I left the references at the bottom of each document page, which may be irritating)

The Beautiful Willamette

                         Samuel L. Simpson (1845-1899)
From the Cascades' frozen gorges, 
Leaping like a child at play,
Winding, winding through the valley,
Bright Willamette glides away;

Onward ever, Lovely river,
Softly calling to the sea,
Time, that scars us,
Leaves no track or trench on thee.

What is this mighty Willamette River so often mentioned in conjunction with Oregon’s history and the valley of endless agriculture? This river that quietly makes us aware of its presence during so many day trips and Sunday drives. We have allocated it it’s own space, and we are mindful that it stays within it’s given bounds. We live in harmony with it, but the Willamette River has not always been the relatively tame and peaceful flat-water stream that we know and love today.

In the 19th century it was not unusual for the valley floor to become flooded with water, especially between December and February. Sometimes snow would come to the Cascade mountains, a warm spell would hit the mountains, and snow melt would runoff into the Willamette River’s tributaries and cause flooding that would send all the riverside inhabitants scurrying to higher land. Of course, earliest Euro-American settlers had no way of knowing about this habit of the mighty river but it wasn’t long before they found out about the Willamette’s tendency to flood once every 100 years.

On December 6, 1861 the Willamette flooded the town of Champoeg¹ as well as other towns along its course. This flood was so great that the course of the river was altered greatly, causing people to move away in order to stay close to the river which was in high use as a transportation network. These Euro-American Willamette Valley inhabitants relied heavily on the Willamette River for their

¹ Friends of Historic Champoeg, “1861 Willamette Flood,” 2010, available online at http://www.champoeg.org/learn-more/1861-willamette-flood.html (accessed July 10, 2016).

livelihood; farmers needing to transport their wheat to Portland and Vancouver for distribution to

California and Russia, a water-powered grist mill was operated on the river, and steam boat landings for passengers and goods were also maintained.

Unlike the Kalapuya, who were stewards of the valley long before the settlers arrived¹, the Euro-Americans were intent on building a permanent residence. Champoeg was one of the first towns settled along the Willamette and was the site of the monumental 1843 vote of 52 for, 50 against, which created an Oregon government, making Oregon a provisional territory of the United States, breaking the Oregon Territory off from England and ending the British Oregon empire. In 1861 Champoeg was a bustling center for commerce with a steady population of 200 people working in stores, as blacksmiths, running livery stables, saloons, a hotel, churches, a school and other services such as doctoring and carpentry. Very little of anything was salvaged from the area after the flood rescinded. The Willamette River had introduced itself to the settlers with a colossal force.

30 miles further South of Champoeg sat a town near Salem called Eola that was forever lost to the great flood. Eola was a bustling, thriving river town until the Great Flood changed the course of the Willamette. Eola was settled by Joshua Shaw and his son, A.C.R, shepherds who were the first to bring sheep overland to the Oregon Country along the Oregon Trail (1844). Upon arriving, they called the town Cincinnati, for it so resembled the town where Joshua had once lived. When Abigail J. Scott arrived in Cincinatti, she became the town’s first school teacher though she had very little education herself, having gained much of her knowledge from books she had read along the trail to Oregon. It is this very same Abigail J. Scott who later became Abigail Scott Duniway, Oregon’s leading suffragist.²

¹ Janice Weide and Jane Kirby, “Kalapuya of the Willamette Valley,” Salem (Oregon) Online History, 2005, available online at http://www.salemhistory.net/people/native_americans.htm (accessed Oct. 2016)

² Ruth Barnes Moynihan, Rebel for Rights, Abigail Scott Duniway,(New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1983) 50, 216

Tales of heartache and failure abound all along the Willamette River concerning it’s first Euro-American settlers, but those settlers hung in there and learned to adapt to the river’s ever-changing water levels. The 20th century brought developers who built the cure for the low-plain flooding of the Willamette Valley; the dams which would greatly curb the flooding caused by more runoff per acre than any other large river in the United States. Though not all flooding of the river has resulted in such drastic loss as complete towns or entire herds of livestock, the Willamette River has a long, well- documented history of flooding the valley. Just a few such floods were:

1861 is the largest flood of the Willamette River on record.

1890 was a very significant flood.

1964, the “Christmas Flood,” was rated by FEMA as a 100 year flood. $157 million in damage and 20 people lost their lives.

1996 flooding occurred despite the use of the dams along the tributaries because of the extreme weather occurrences: rapid, deep snow in the cascades/mountain ranges the last two weeks of January, sudden torrential freezing rain for a few days, then tropical rain came through melting the snow pack and flooding areas where it pummeled frozen ground.

The fertile lands of the flood plain led the valley to become more and more populous, but the threat of flooding was never far from thought. In 1936, Congress passed the Flood Control Act, which asserted that the federal government would aid in flood control on navigable waters.¹ what would become known as the Willamette Valley Project, which over the next 35 years would construct the 13 Willamette tributary dams we have today. This large-scale project, with engineers surveying and planning a system of dams that not only would prevent major wide-spread flooding but with the installation of treatment plants would aid in cleansing the river of the pollutants it suffered from the chemical wastes of the valley mills and production plants. The whole project was put on hold during

¹ William F. Willingham, Ph.D, Army Engineers and the Development of Oregon, (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1983) 106.

WW ll, but all thirteen dams, primary and secondary sewage treatment facilities, and all other aspects of the Willamette Valley Project were completed by the early 1970’s.

On the heals of the damming of the tributaries came the regulation of industrial waste in an effort to keep the river clean, heralding applause from all across the country with its great success. Sadly, the 1997 Willamette River Basin Task Force reported that the water running off the valley floor into the river is polluting it nearly as much as anything else ever had. At least the dams are preventing wide-spread flooding; the pollution problem may have been a bit of an overreach for its time; dilution is not a good treatment for pollution. The Willamette Restoration Initiative was established by executive order based on the Willamette River Basin Task Force’s 1997 report.¹

In 1941 the first of the Willamette tributary dams was completed. Along the Long Tom River, Approximately 12 miles west of Eugene, the Fern Ridge Dam and Lake is known to be an excellent spot for birding and for viewing other wildlife. It is operated primarily for recreation in the summer; swimming, picnicking, boating, sailing, water-skiing, sail-boarding, fishing and other activities, as well as for flood control in the winter, while also being a part of a major wildlife management area.

Lane County runs five parks along the shores of Fern Ridge Lake, the Army Corps of engineers and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife operate a wildlife area as well as a park, and Fern Ridge Lake is home to the Eugene Yacht Club. All this can be found in this lake with a summertime area of 4.5 miles, 9000 ac, all masterfully contained by a 6,330 ft. long, 44 ft. high earth-fill dam with a concrete spillway.² Fern Ridge Lake is one of the most popular recreational spots in the region.³

¹ Jennifer Allen, Autumn Salamack, Peter Shoonmaker, “Restoring the Willamette Basin, Issues and Challenges,” Willamette Restoration Initiative, Sept. 1999, available online at http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/51/?sequence=1 (access Oct. 13 2016)

² U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, “Fern Ridge Lake, Oregon,” Public Information, 2009, available online at http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Portals/24/docs/pubs/pamphlets/FernRidge.pdf (accessed July 10, 2016)

³ William F. Willingham, Ph.D, Army Engineers and the Development of Oregon, 1983, 115.

Cottage Grove Dam was built in 1942 on the Coast Fork Willamette River approximately 5

miles south of Cottage Grove. The lake is a popular area for boating, water-skiing, camping, and fishing. Analyses of fish tissue has shown disconcerting levels of mercury in the fish. This is likely due to Black Butte mine, just two miles away, which was once one of the largest producers of mercury in Oregon. Arsenic has also been reported in the area downstream from the dam at London Springs.

Dorena Dam was completed in 1949 along the Row River, about six miles east of Cottage

Grove. It is a popular boating lake, lending itself more to sailing ventures than to the water skiers of nearby Cottage Grove Lake. The city of Cottage Grove rests where the Coast Fork of the Willamette River meets the Row River, and Silk Creek runs through the west side of Cottage Grove, all of which make Cottage Grove a prime target for flooding. Before Dorena Dam was built, flooding was nearly as frequent as rainfall in Cottage Grove, but thanks to the Cottage Grove and Dorena Dams, it is less a worry to the townspeople than it used to be.

These first three dams are all constructed of earth-fill and concrete and none of them are built to generate any hydroelectric power. Although provisions in the original designs of the reservoirs were made for installation of power generation equipment in the future, as of yet, there have been no major adaptations to the original dams for that purpose.

At 463 ft., Detroit Dam, 1953, is the largest of all the Willamette River tributary dams and the first constructed with hydro-power in mind, hosting two power generators.¹ The first of the Willamette Valley Projects dams to be built after WW11, the 110 MW producing² dam is Located on the North Santiam River approximately 45 miles southeast of Salem. Detroit Dam was intended primarily for

¹ Tom Kline, Karen Bahus, “The Willamette Basin Reservoir Study, planning today for tomorrows water,” available online at https://www.oregon.gov/owrd/docs/1998_04_Willamette_Brochure.pdf (accessed Oct. 14, 2016)

² Hydroworld, “U.S. Seeks Turbine Bearing Refurbishment at 110-MW Detroit Dam,” 5/02/2014 available online at http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/05/u-s-seeks-turbine-bearing-refurbishment-at-110-mw-detroit-dam.html (accessed 10/16)

flood control and the generation of power, but the reservoir has become one the most popular recreation sites in western Oregon as well. Measuring in at 9 miles, Detroit’s lake is nearly twice as large as Fern Ridge’s, yet its 735.000 yearly recreational visits only come close to the 768,000 visitors to Fern Ridge. All things boating, swimming, camping, and fishing are undertaken at Detroit Lake. The U.S. Forest Service operates four campgrounds, and the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation manage two parks on the Lake.

Big Cliff Dam was built in 1953 as a re-regulator of the water released from Detroit Dam just 3 miles upstream. The purpose of the Big Cliff Dam is to aid in providing uniform stream flow into the North Santiam River. With Detroit Lake so close and easily accessible, Big Cliff Lake is not a recreational facility that is often visited because it is difficult to reach due to its high cliffs, and it lacks recreational options due to its small size.

Lookout Point Dam, built in 1954, is located about 22 miles southeast of Eugene on the Middle Fork Willamette River. Lookout Point Lake is a very large reservoir extending for more than 14 miles along the Middle Fork of the Willamette River to the Calapooya Mountains S.E. of Eugene. Not only has this Dam, coupled with Dexter as its re-regulator, prevented hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, it is also an important dam for the production of hydroelectric power. The lake is a poor fishing area, but popular for other water and boating sports and is home to many species of wildlife and flora. The 3,381 ft. long embankment structure contains a 274 ft. long concrete spillway with 5 gates. Controlled releases aid in water level control, power generation, and pollution control.

Dexter Dam was built in 1954 2.8 miles downstream from Lookout Point Dam as a re-regulator. Because of its ease of access, water-skiers sailboaters, and anglers, make Dexter Dam a popular day use recreation area; more so than Lookout Point. Together, Lookout Point and Dexter Dams have prevented

more than $5.3 billion in potential flood damage. Combined, they utilize four power generators

responsible for generating more than 370 MWHs of electricity.¹

In 1961 Hills Creek Dam was completed on the Middle Fork Willamette River about 45 miles southeast of Eugene. Hills Creek is operated in conjunction with Lookout Point downstream to meet the flow needs on the Willamette River during the summer. Windsurfers, water-skiers, sailors, swimmers, canoers, kayakers, and anglers, all enjoy recreating on this reservoir’s 44 mile water surface. The shoreline is managed as a wildlife habitat, with a 130-acre wetland area below the dam exhibiting fields, ponds, fowl, and beaver dams.

Cougar Dam, 1963-64, built on the south fork of the McKenzie River, is the highest embankment dam ever built by the corps,² reaching 452 ft. above the streambed. A rockfill structure with a concrete spillway, It houses 2 popwer generators Cougar Dam has a temperature control tower which takes water from the reservoir and spills it into the river at a controlled temperature in order to facilitate the spawning of salmon. Near Cougar Dam is a national forest for hiking and the Cougar hot springs for relaxing.

Fall Creek Dam was built in 1966 on, of course, Fall Creek; a tributary of the Middle Fork Willamette River, approximately 22 miles southeast of Eugene. The dam is a rockfill structure with a concrete spillway. The lake is a popular spot for all manner of water recreation such a boating, fishing, swimming, water-skiing, and the shores a favorite for hiking and wildlife viewing.

Green Peter Dam, built in 1968 on the Middle Santiam River, is a 380-foot concrete structure which has a gated spillway and two power generators. This dam is in a key location, resulting in the prevention of millions of dollars in damage since its completion. The reservoir is popular for boating

¹ ¹ Tom Kline, Karen Bahus, “The Willamette Basin Reservoir Study, planning today for tomorrows water,” available online at https://www.oregon.gov/owrd/docs/1998_04_Willamette_Brochure.pdf (accessed Oct. 14, 2016)

² Ibid

and fishing, being known as western Oregon’s premier Kokanee fishing lake.

In 1968 Foster Dam on the South Santiam River was completed just east of Sweet Home. It is a re-regulator of the water spilled from Green Peter Dam, providing a uniform stream flow. Foster Dam also plays an important role in storing water for flood control, irrigation, and power production. The reservoir is the most popular water-spot in the county, offering swimming, boating, fishing, camping, hiking and picnicking.

Part 2

Fisher School Covered Bridge

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This Fisher School Covered Bridge is approximately 45 minutes southwest of Alsea, OR, in the Coastal Range – not far from Mary’s Peak, the highest peak of the Oregon Coastal range. This is, technically, not in the Willamette Valley, according to this map I copied from the “Travel Oregon Visitor Guide,” but if you ever drive out of the valley on hwy 34 from corvallis, there are many sites such as this historic covered bridge for you to find.

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On this lovely drive near Mary’s Peak, we took a slight detour from HWY 34 W because we saw an arrow pointing us to a “covered bridge,” and we turned down the road to find it.

All along 34 W we saw some of the most beautiful stands of trees I’ve ever seen. Conifers and hardwoods both, all different ages, and sizes, broken up by quaint farms and even a pie restaurant. Yes, you read that right, way out on HWY 34 W there is a pie restaurant. I have not found it on the internet since our return home.

After turning back onto our original road, the remainder of the drive over the mountain was beautiful. Highway 34 guided us into Waldport amidst a steadily widening influx of tidewater.

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Deepwood Museum

The 1894 Deepwood estate on Mission St. in Salem is owned by the city of Salem and maintained as a museum by the Friends of Deepwood.

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The lush gardens are a step back in time with topiaries, gazebos, ivy bedecked trellis’, and hundreds of different varieties of flowers along stone, gravel, and brick walkways. One favorite garden area for weddings is surrounded by a lovely iron fence.

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This is a lovely place to visit, if it is not on your “to do” list, I recommend adding it.

Rocky Top Bridge And Weddle Covered Bridge

I wanted to drive over this bridge, or even walk over it, but the thought did not occur to me until the opportunity was behind me. It was one of those moments where I kicked myself and wondered if there are brain cells enough in my brain to even function, sheesh already!

Rocky Top Bridge is right before Quartzville Recreational Mining Corridor, just east of Green Peter Dam, Sweet Home OR. It is a beautifully majestic bridge joining two mountains and spanning what is sometimes a trickle of a creek and sometimes a roaring river.

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There is a bridge in Sweet Home which I did manage to stop and walk over. Perhaps because it was closer to the ground, perhaps because the lower elevation afforded me better circulation and more oxygen was making its way to my brain.

Weddle Bridge is located at Sanky Park. It was moved there from Scio OR, DSC_0884.JPG in 1989 due in part to the Oregon Covered Bridge Program.

St. Louis, OR

Just a hop skip and jump westward over I-5 from Gervais OR stands a church which marks what was once known as St. Louis, one of the oldest Euro-American communities in Oregon. Named for the king of France, St. Louis consisted of a post office, a store, a school, a cemetery, and of course a church. The current church standing near the corner of Manning Rd. and St. Louis Rd was built in 1880 to replace the original log building constructed in 1845; the original church having burnt down in 1880.

An interesting thing about that original log structure church is the fact that Madame Marie Dorion was buried in it and with its loss also came the loss of the grave marker of one of the bravest pioneer women to trek the Oregon trail.  Madame Dorion was a Native American woman of Iowan Indian and French-Canadian descent whose commitment to sticktoitiveness is legendary.

In 1811 Marie Dorion’s husband, the interpreter Pierre Dorion, was commissioned to join the Astor group on its western journey in an attempt to find an overland route to Oregon from the east. With vigor and might, Marie convinced the powers that be that she should join the group as well, her main argument being that their two sons needed their father.

Through many hardships, skirmishes, and even with an attempt to save the life of one of the members of the party within minutes of discovering her own husband’s lifeless body, Dorion stuck to her commitment to her children. By 1845 she was living in the area known as St. Louis OR, where she was buried upon her death.

This is the church built in 1880 to replace the log structure. The metal marker on the front of the church refers to the original building.

 

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Niagara Park

Nearly 40 miles east of Salem along Highway 22,  there is a county park that in the 1890’s was known as the town of Niagara Oregon. The locals there began to build a dam for the purpose of harnessing the powerful flow of the Santiam river to power a mill to make paper from straw. As the river eroded the attempts at dam making, by 1912 the project was abandoned and the people moved on to other ventures. The area is now Marion County’s most popular park.

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The Oregon City Municipal Elevator

The Oregon City Municipal elevator is the only outdoor municipal elevator in the United States, and there are only four such elevators in the world. It has been argued that this elevator is also the only vertical street in the United States because it carries people 130 feet up or down to the higher or lower street..

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As Oregon City quickly outgrew the available land fronting the Willamette River, the people began to build more town up above the cliffs, building steps that they had to trudge along in order to get there. The steps were laborious and muddy and quite an ordeal, especially with animals and wagons, so the people got the idea to build the elevator, which came off smashingly.

Fairview Training Center becomes Pringle Creek Community

Perhaps one of the most interesting endeavors I’ve seen local businesses and residents merge to accomplish is the Pringle Creek Community. It is as green a thing as a thing can get, as far as I can tell. It is an area with green streets, green buildings, green trees.

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This community is currently 32 acres, but slated to become larger as the old Fairview buildings are removed. The streets are named after some of the better known nature advocates; John Muir, Jane Goodall, Jacques Cousteau, John Audobon, and are paved by green street methods which include porous asphalt, gravel shoulders, bioswales, drainage courses, and rain gardens at each intersection, all aiding in filtering rainwater runoff.

My small, personal experience with Fairview Training Center:

The driveway was an uphill excursion in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. At the top of the driveway sat a two story building painted a green or grayish green. Whatever the color was called, I’m sure that it was probably supposed to be gentle and friendly but was so unusual a color for a home or business in my small experiences that it gave me the heebie-jeebies. Tall trees surrounded the area, the kinds of trees with oddly placed limbs all akimbo which caused them to resemble black and white monsters from a scary movie. Looking back, I would say that many of the trees were oak trees. Wherever mom parked her car, though, it invariably sat in the shade of one of these great giants and the dark shadows chilled me to trembling despite the heat of summer.

I was always terrified of that place. I remember being a young girl, maybe eight years old or so, and driving up the long, swerving drive with my mom when she went to visit her cousin. I remember waiting in the car, but I don’t remember why I didn’t go in with her; just that it was her idea that I stay in the car, alone with a series of large unmatched buildings and crooked, towering, oaks looming over me. Perhaps children have a sense of things, or maybe they have too much imagination, or it could be both of those combined which caused my fear as I waited for my mother to finish visiting her cousin at the Fairview Training Center, the home for the mentally disadvantaged in Salem, Oregon.

The large windows were almost as big as the walls themselves and were sectioned into panes of smaller windows, equaling hundreds of dark eyes watching everything that goes on both outside and inside the building. In stark contrast, the four stately columns adorning the front of the building conveyed a sense of calm to my young imagination as I waited for my ever graceful mother to emerge and glide between the two middle pillars like Cleopatra; beautiful, regal, and…victorious?

Aside from my mother’s entrance through the double wooden doors, no one entered or exited that building while I sat in the car, so I get the impression she wasn’t gone long, but every time we made that trip I encountered the same feelings of fear of the dark shadows, fear of the unknown.

My Mom once told me the story of how her cousin was sent to live at Fairview many years ago when he was four years old because he was deaf and his parents did not know how to care for him. I always asked my mother what she did while she was inside there, and she always told me she was putting money on his books. Long before Fairview Hospital and Training Center was closed down for good in February of 2000, Mom’s cousin was deemed able to care for himself and he moved to Portland to be near his brothers and sisters.

We often fear the unknown. I’m sure much of the trepidation I felt while waiting in the car for my mother to complete her errand inside the facility was due more to my imagination than the trees, the buildings, or the people that I actually never saw, and only fancied to be scary. A kid has creative thinking if nothing else, I suppose. And I imagined all I knew about the mentally disadvantaged while I sat in that old beige Rambler of my mom’s. I knew of such a kid at my grade school who never talked to anyone. He was not in my class but I saw him on the playground every day, walking around without connection, without problem, without engagement. And I think that therein lies the cause of my fear – lack of engagement, lack of him realizing my personhood – perhaps his own personhood he did not even understand, but if that were the case, why would he cry out when he fell down on the playground, or when angered? Pure imagination and no knowledge is a scary thing.

At one time, Fairview Hospital and Training Center was largely self-sustaining. It was built on nearly 800 acres and produced much of its own food and energy for all the residents at Fairview as well as the 80 buildings located on the property. Over time, as Salem expanded, it grew closer to the area, making it more convenient to get goods and services from town. The self-sustainability of Fairview fell by the wayside and eventually the property utilized by the facility was shaved down to 275 acres. In the 1990’s unrest at the training center grew amid allegations of mistreatment of the people who lived there and In February of 2000 it was closed down for good, the ex-residents now living within the community and hopefully closer to their loved ones. (After closing down its second such care facility, Oregon became the only state in the nation with 100% in-home care for persons with mental disadvantages).

In 2005 some very forward-thinking individuals purchased 32 acres of the Fairview property and began to build a community unlike anything ever seen. They named this development Pringle Creek Community, after the stream that runs through the middle of the property. I knew nothing of the changes going on at the property until 2016 when my granddaughter, who was 15 at the time, asked to borrow my camera so she could take pictures of the doomed Fairview buildings. We all knew the fate of those buildings, that it was only a matter of time, and apparently my granddaughter was more aware of how close that time was. I applauded her social awareness and sent her off with my camera and my blessing.

Among the pictures she took were the familiar old buildings from long ago peeling with neglect and crumbling with misuse. Graffiti in large, balloonish, cartoon-like pink letters outlined first in black then in red proclaimed one blue wall a MUTANT, while high above, shocks of light poured in through a wall of many windows, some broken out of the frames, some cracked, and some standing defiant and magnifying the sun in occasional spots of MUTANT into a whitish yellow.

In another photo a pair of black painted crosses looked like paper cutouts as they were painted on the wall a few feet from each other, one a solid black while the other a thick outline, both the same size. Both hanging at the same catawampus angle. The windows in this photo were much lower, about halfway up the wall. Some glass still clung to the frames, some was cracked through with wide splinters splaying long fingers of frost across the pane, yet most of the windows were broken out and the bushes from outside were climbing in. Within the interiors of these buildings were cabinets, inner rooms with tall windows, winding ramps, undisturbed tables, tipped cabinets, a rail system I am assuming was used for industrial sized laundry carts, an ever-present person drawn in silhouette in all manner of poses and looking like a shadow of someone actually there, and the continual graffiti.

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Looking at those photos, I waxed nostalgic, though I don’t know exactly for what. I imagine it was the windows, and those rails. My granddaughter’s pictures haunted me in the way that only the unknown does. The long arm of the past seemed to be wrapping around my shoulders, pulling me in.

The next spring I decided to go see for myself what was going on at the Fairview site. I brought along my oldest son, and two of my granddaughters (one had taken the pictures a few months before). Driving onto the narrow road off of the main street fronting the property, I didn’t even recognize the drieveway from long ago.. It seemed narrower, though just as winding as I remembered it, and was the blacktop all new? As we drove in farther, I noted something was very different. The greenhouses on the left looked brand new and the building on the right at the mini-intersection (a new intersection built on property in a state of deconstruct?). Of course, we were in a hurry to see the old buildings before they were torn down so I parked my car at the bottom of a winding hill and we hiked up past an old red-brick chimney that extended from the ground to what seemed like four stories into the air.

We walked to what I think was the old laundry building of the property, poked around for a few minutes, then a security guard came and asked us to leave. Yeah, we were trespassing. I admit I hadn’t actually thought of that and I was a bit embarrassed to be getting my grand kids in trouble for trespassing. Well, we left without incident, no harm no foul they say, and the kids do not hold it against me.

On the way back to the car, rambling down the paved curving hill, laughing together in the warm spring sunshine, I looked over the area sprawling below us and I realized that what we were looking at was not just the old Fairview property, but something new as well. There were new houses, and a park, solar panels on a refurbished building, and markers in front of many of the buildings as if we were visiting a museum.

“What is going on here?” I asked no one and everyone.

“It looks like they’re building new houses,” said my oldest granddaughter.

“Let’s take a look around,” I said, puzzled, curious, and so confused to see some of the old Fairview buildings all cleaned up with fresh paint sitting right alongside a cluster of new homes.

That is how I found out about the 12 acre parcel of ex-Fairview that is being built into the new Pringle Creek Community. The group of people who planned and were developing the area into one of the most eco-conscious communities in the United States have worked hard to not only build the new homes using high green standards, but also have incorporated the original buildings into the mix, not only by recycling the old buildings when torn down, but also by using the original buildings either as they are or with improvements.

What I discovered on this first visit to the site was the pump house. Inside the pump house were pipes and pressure tanks which access the original 400 foot industrial well that was once utilized by Fairview Training Center, pumping 300 gallons a minute. The water from this well stays 56 degrees no matter the weather because it comes from so far beneath the ground. The pressure tanks send the water to up to 77 homes and businesses throughout the area, each with a small individual compressor which extracts or repels heat to reach the desired temperature; a geothermal-loop for heating and cooling.

Somehow, I could not stay away. I was haunted by this place and I was obsessed with the ingenuity and creativity of Pringle Creek Community. One could say God was nudging me toward healing the fears of my past.

I went back on at least four different occasions, usually to show someone the innovation in the area, but mostly as an attempt to come to terms with the place myself. The responses were mixed as people digested the looming steel remains of a shed the size of a small parking garage, ponder a home-sized root cellar being used as a gathering place of sorts and also as a wine cooler, or as they stare confusedly at a rusted hatch attached to a five-foot tree trunk standing hollow and erect.

On my fourth trip out, I was able to see beyond the trepetitious haze that colored my first few visits and begin to understand the place in a new light. Perhaps it was something I knew all along so I kept coming back as a way to swipe away the fog that my cynicism had drawn by a faceless fear. It was my childhood fear of the unknown staring into the face of the can-be-known 45 years later. And it was a beautiful place with a human face.

Community is not a word taken lightly here, as all the homes are built to facilitate not only visiting with neighbors on the way to check the mail or out to water the yard, but all of the the houses are near a small park ideal for picnics and Frisbee. The community center serves as an events venue, gathering place, snack bar, and is the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certified community building in the United States. In fact, all of the homes in this particular 12 acre neighborhood are ranked high on the LEEDs certification scale, the remaining acreage penciled in to follow suit. The walking tour guide available at the kiosk located at the intersection of Thoreau Avenue and Village Center Drive will guide visitors around on a 1.3 mile walking tour to see how recycling and re-using cement slabs and original buildings, creating green roofs, designating mixed-use sites, building tallhouses, a roundhouse, and developing green streets, are leading the way to not only building a friendlier community but a greener one.

Many of the recycled buildings are absolutely beautiful, heralding not only the present environmental consciousness, but also the sustainability the original builders had in mind. From the 1930’s is a pair of Lord and Burnham greenhouses totaling over 6,000 sq. ft. of solar-heated year-round gardening space. These redwood and steel Victorian glass house conservatories were restored in 2009 and supply year-round produce, winter lettuce, herbs, starts, and flowers. Just beyond these structures is a ½ acre outdoor garden.

Painters Hall is also from the 1930’s and is a building at Pringle Creek that is used by the community for social events, dinner, workshops, guest speakers, group meetings, art shows, concerts, and classes. It is not only a restored building from the original Fairview Training Center, it is also Leeds platinum certified, the highest ranking available. One of the key sufficiency attributes of Painters Hall is its solar panels on the roof which power the entire building as well as the geothermal-loop which can heat and cool 70 residential buildings and 7 businesses. This building is a shining example of the dual purpose of being sustainable and connecting a community.

There is a lot to see on this walk. Neighborhood gardens and orchards, bioswales, streets that absorb rain water (this is fantastic for the Willamette Valley which receives approximately 40 inches of rain a year), a net-zero neighborhood, a (humongous) fuel shed once used to store sawdust and bark chips that was formerly utilized by Fairview’s heating and hot water system. The burning wood converted well water to steam, and the hot water was used for laundry, bathing, etc. This community even maintains a guest cottage. All of these neighborhood attractions are well identified with white markers.

I do need to go back to Pringle Creek Community at least once more, though; there was something I could not during any of my previous visits. There are supposed to be two 1,000 year old Pacific Yew Trees right near Painters Hall, but for the life of me I could not find them. You would think that trees that old would just stand right out. Somehow, I missed them. I did find the Fir Grove, the Sequoia Grove, and the blueberry bushes with no problem at all. Fortunately, I dearly love visiting and exploring the site, maybe next time I will bring along a picnic basket.

A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village

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Photo by M.O. Stevens – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7824319

 

The A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village in Salem is an exciting place for both young and old to visit. As the name implies, there are a lot of areas to explore within the confines of the “village,” and there are many experiments and projects to entertain and educate all. From building sandcastles, pretending to be a veterinarian, building a fort or playing on a life-size erector set, this place can keep people enthralled for hours on end.

 

Now, as for who A.C. Gilbert was, please read this wonderful piece posted at Offbeat Oregon:

“When Salem native Alfred Carlton Gilbert, inventor of the Erector Set, learned that government officials were going to cancel Christmas with their “Buy Bonds, Not Toys” campaign, he went to Washington to change their minds.”

http://offbeatoregon.com/1702d.ac-gilbert-man-who-saved-christmas-432.html

Sam Brown House

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A couple of years ago I took a picture of the barn, (“The Willows”) on the Sam Brown House property and posted it in one of the “Oregon” groups I enjoy on FB. One of the commenters mentioned that she had just photographed the house on that property and that she didn’t even notice there was a barn near it.

I hadn’t even noticed there was a house!

I finally made it back over there yesterday and found that, yes indeed there is a house. It is the Sam Brown House which is waiting urgently (not patiently as can seen from the above photo) for restoration.

Also, you can see in the above photo that there is indeed a barn on that property as well.

Information about the upcoming restoration and how to donate to the restoration can be found here.

 

 

A Beautiful Memorial

This is a memorial resting on the grounds of the Oregon State Hospital. Housed within this revamped BLDG 60 are over 3,000 copper urns which were moved around for many years on the Hospital grounds until finally resting within the walls of this building. At one time, building 40 was used to quarantine the terminally ill patients.

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Three sides of the memorial are surrounded by a wall which holds newer urns. Names and dates of birth and death, if known, are engraved on the caps of the urns. When a family claims the cremains, a copper tube is placed in the space to commemorate the homecoming.

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Below is a closer view of the copper canisters which stored the cremations prior to their being placed in the ceramic urns, then in the wall.

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This is some of the wire artwork that surrounds the structure. Copper tubes replace the ceramic canisters when a family member is claimed.

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Preventing Valley Floods (mostly)

 

There are thirteen dams which make up what is known as the Willamette Valley Project; a series of dams built and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. It is these dams which prevent (most years) the flooding of the Willamette River we knew in the past. From Cottage Grove to Detroit, these dams are:

Cottage Grove

Dorena

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Hills Creek

Lookout Point

Dexter

Fall Creek

Fern Ridge

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Cougar

Blue River

Foster

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Green Peter

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Detroit

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and Big Cliff

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Thanks to the work of these magnificent regulators of the currents which run into the Willamette River, the Valley floor has seen a lot less flooding than it used to.

If you are so inclined, enjoy this article expounding on the benefits of the dams. dams on the willamette’s tributaries.

She Celebrated Nature’s Cathedral

Perhaps some of the most majestic structures of the Willamette Valley are those that are home to nature’s creatures and plants. In the early 20th Century it was a precocious 5 year old in the Cottage Grove area who began to put such ideas to paper, but it wasn’t until Benjamin Hoff, of Tao of Pooh fame, explored and delivered an engaging biography of this girl genius that we could truly appreciate Opal Whiteley’s acumen.

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Benjamin Hoff’s biography of fellow Oregonian and nature lover, Opal Whiteley, has aided in dispelling many myths concerning Whiteley’s mental stability while, adding credence to many of her early fanciful claims. Web sites, memorials, parks, and books about Whiteley have become popular in recent years and she is becoming one of the more intriguing literary figures of the 20th century. So many, many, questions spring from her writings and lectures. Was she schizophrenic?  Adopted? A genius? Did she talk to fairies among the fir forests surrounding her home near Cottage Grove? It is entirely possible that a more interesting, multi-layered individual may not have ever graced the natural cathedrals of the Willamette Valley.

Steve McQuiddy has written a nice piece about Whiteley which can be downloaded here, and the University of Oregon maintains a fantastic web site which contains Whiteley’s complete diary here. Cottage Grove maintains  The Opal Center, a venue operating within the strictures of Whiteley’s philosophy of art/nature/knowledge accessibility to all. The Cottage Grove Historical Society has a concise yet excellent bio of Whiteley on their websiteopal_whiteley

The Story of Opal can be read by clicking on the title, thanks to Project Gutenberg.

Walking Tour of Willamette, Oregon

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It doesn’t look as if  West Linn Oregon is technically in the Willamette Valley. Because West Linn and Oregon City are sooo very close to the Willamette Valley, I am going to include them on this WV blog just this once. There is a historical section of that area which used to be the town of Willamette Falls, a name that was shortened to Willamette at some point. There are many historic buildings to see, as well as a historic meteorite  (replica).

Just take a look at the brochure linked below and see if Willamette doesn’t make it’s way onto your bucket list.

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Poems From Old Champoeg

Having just renewed my library card (I have a fee based card on account of living outside the city limits), I went wild over at the shelving area known as the Hugh Morrow section. Okay, it was a toned-down wild, as I was in the library for goodness sakes.

I brought home a lot of books. Some with maps, some with newspaper clippings, some with old photographs, etc. All those kinds of books that history buffs like to read.

I found something that surprised me while I was handling every book I could on those book shelves. I found a book of poetry. Poems about Oregon. Poems about History. Poems about…the history of the Willamette Valley!!!

I have read this book, and plan to read it again before I return it. I would actually like to buy a copy, but can’t find it anywhere. I don’t know how many were printed, and all I can find out about it is that it was self published by Clinton Frederick Blake in 1925, but I believe the author used a pen name. I will surely search the records, if at all possible, of the sources that the author mentions, but so far I have come up with no leads about this book or the author. I wonder why the poets were not named, because in the one edition of “The Lariat (1927, volumes 9-10)” that I found online, the poets were indeed mentioned. Of course, the poems from “The Poems from Old Champoeg” were not in that particular volume of the “The Lariat;” they are from a previous edition.

This book is a curiosity indeed!

Please, read and enjoy this book.

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The Willamette Basin

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This year I intended to chronicle the 13 dams that make up The Willamette Valley Project. I made it to two, which means that I have eleven to go and only two months to do it (Not counting the Scoggins dam which is part the Tualitin River reclamation project).

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Cottage Grove Dam, 1945cottage-grove-dam-1945salemhistory.net

 

Detroit – date unknown.1950-60-detroitsalemhistory.net

Glen Mills

Here is a short article about Glen Mills, an inspiration to countless people, who has inspired  This kickstarter.

 

 

 

Boston and Shedd

About fifteen miles south of Albany along HWY 99 E is the town of Shedd. Shedd is a town which used to be located about a mile and a half due east of its current location and was called Boston. Now, when the railroad was coming up through the area the tracks weren’t due to lie down in Boston, so the good folks of Boston picked up their town, buildings and all, and headed west where today, sure enough, the railroad tracks run right through the middle of town. The town of Boston is a State Park which is open for tours nearly every day of the year. During these tours, people can see some of the buildings that stayed put for one reason or another and also tour the mill and watch the water-power produce flour.

 

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Early Agriculture from West Salem to Dayton

 

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The Kalapuya tribes were the first to cultivate crops in the Willamette Valley. Because they were a semi-nomadic people, they did not build any permanent structures which will attest to either their ingenuity or their conservation-minded agricultural practices, but it is known that the Kalapuya tribes maintained a practice of flash-burning, or controlled field burning, which made pastureland conducive to the growing of camas, tarweed, berries, and hazelnuts.

Not only were the Kalapuya astute at manipulating their environment for growing produce, but all of the fresh vegetation in turn attracted deer, elk, and other wild game which they hunted for food and clothing.

The Oregon trail brought thousands of settlers into Oregon City between 1840—1850, but it was the Willamette Valley that drew the farmers.

Being within such close proximity to the Willamette River, the area NW of
Salem is a region which exploded with farms whose wheat and produce was so abundant that much of it was often shipped down to the California gold miners during the Gold Rush. The city of Lincoln (named for Abraham Lincoln, and also known as Doak’s Ferry) was a town that shipped out more wheat than any other Willamette River City other than Portland.

Much of the farmland of this area is now blushing with vineyards, nurseries, fruit trees, and berries. According to the Hazelnut Growers of Oregon, the Willamette Valley is where 99% of all hazelnuts grown in the United States come from. The Willamette Valley’s rich soil coupled with the gentle climate and abundant rainfall all work together to make the region ideal for agriculture.

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A barn between W.Salem and Dayton

Robert Stuart Wallace

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Robert Stuart Wallace (1851-1891)

 

Just north of the hub of West Salem is a development of homes known as “Salem Towne.” This area was not always known as home to hundreds of people, for it was these 330 acres which Robert Stuart Wallace once developed into a thriving pear farm with its own packaging plant.

In the short time that Wallace lived in Salem, in fact in his short life of merely 41 years, Wallace was successful in many things both in Salem and before his arrival in Salem.

While living in Chicago, Wallace did quite well for himself as a seed merchant, then he became an accomplished grain merchant, shipping flax as far as France and Germany. When told by his doctor that his ailing health would improve if he would leave his stressful work, Wallace moved to Salem Oregon.

Mr. Wallace spent the last six years of his life in Salem Oregon, though it does not seem that he slowed down much. As the 847 word obituary published in the Oct. 31 1891 Oregon Statesman Newspaper can attest, Mr. Wallace had quite a busy life in Salem.

Besides planting and maintaining fruit orchards, Mr. Wallace was also a key figure in getting the Willamette Bridge built in Salem, he helped start a local cannery as well as a fruit evaporator (drier).

Along with the growing of fruit and processing it in Salem’s first cannery, Mr. Wallace was also the founder and president of the Capital National Bank in Salem, instrumental in the development of Salem’s water supply and was also involved in the generation of electricity for Salem residents via a water wheel generating system near Jefferon, Oregon (Sydney Power Company) which operated a flour mill while running a river powered electric generator.

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Capital National Bank (Pioneer Trust)

“What we seek, at the deepest level, is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically to possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty.”

—- Alain de Botton, “The Architecture of Happiness.

 

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Modern-day barn just north of Salem Towne.

State HWY 221

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The 21-mile long stretch of road known as the Salem-Dayton Highway is a relatively flat-road bike ride. There are just a few moderate hills, and these are nearer to  W. Salem than to Dayton. The traffic is heavy at times, and the shoulder seems narrow when all those large trucks begin passing, but as the rider gets nearer to Dayton there is a nice, wide bike path, which is a lot less terrifying for those of us who are amateur bicyclists. A LOT.

Wallace RD NW leads from W.Salem to the Willamette Valley Cheese Company where you can sample an array of farmstead cheeses, to the Wheatland Ferry which carries all manner of vehicles across the Willamette River, and to the Maud Williamson State Park which is home to the historic farmhouse of the acreage’s original donor (Maud Williamson), then onto some Dayton Oregon Wineries which proffer numerous wine tastings. It is hard to believe that all this can be found on that short stretch of road sometimes known as Oregon State HWY 221. Seeing some of the most beautiful scenery in the upper Willamette Valley is a certain bonus while traveling through here.

According to their website, Willamette Valley Cheese Company is one of the first cow’s milk farmstead cheese makers in Oregon, defining “farmstead” to mean that they milk their own cows and make it into cheese that same day. The family at Willamette Valley Cheese Company has been in the dairy business in the United States since 1962,
having for many generations been dairy farmers in Holland.

Among the award-winning cheeses made at Willamette Valley Cheese Company such as Havarti, Eola Jack, Farmstead Fontina and Gouda, are their much sought after specialty cheeses such as French Prairie Brie and Aged Asiago. While visiting and sampling cheese, perhaps you will notice the heritage barn which sits on the farm.

The Wheatland Ferry has been ferrying people across the Willamette River between Marion and Yamhill counties for over 150 years. The first ferry was a wooden raft powered by men who controlled the ferry with wooden poles. Daniel Matheny started the ferry and each new boat is named after him.

Across HWY 221, just west of the Ferry landing is Maud Williamson State Park, which is home to a sprawling family of second growth Douglas Fir and a historic farm house, and in the spring, trillium grow abundantly (please don’t pick the trillium. They can die and take years to recover, if at all).

According to a recent map of wine makers, there are 7 wineries in Dayton Oregon, so it may not be possible to tour all of them in one stint. Touring at least one would be a wonderful way to cap off visiting all the other highlights along this route. After noting the beautiful scenery along with all those charming barns during this tour, a glass of wine just might hit the spot.

 

 

Note: The route I took when I first traveled this area and took photos was from River RD N. to Wheatland RD, across the ferry and S. back to Salem along 221. I did not make it to Dayton during this trek. I did, however, stop to buy some amazing jalapeno jack  cheese at the Willamette Cheese Factory and was captivated by Daum’s big red barn pictured here.

This is Blew, my Bike

I have been riding all over the Willamette Valley on Blew Smoke:

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Looking for these:

Stayto-Scio HWY

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Riding: Silverton and Cordon

Silverton RD and Cordon RD
Silverton RD and Cordon. The weather was just turning bad here, but there were still a few blue patches in the sky. I like the tall grass and in the photos that are clearer, the grass is amazing.

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Indigo AVE, Salem OR. 2015.  I was 5 miles into my bike ride when I ran across this beaut of a barn. When I got off my bike to photograph it, I almost couldn’t catch my breath because of having fought all the wind and rain for the past 15 minutes. I did attempt an HDR shot here, but it is not crisp and clear for I was not holding as still as I should have.

A few fruitless rides

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I have found that not all country roads lead to barns. Imagine my disappointment, living here in the abundant valley of the Willamette, to find that I can’t just randomly choose a road that points toward agriculture and magically come across a picturesque structure.

Having spent a few hours searching for “that picture,” has provided me with much needed exercise, helped me clear stress from my mind, and has been all-around good for me despite coming up empty-handed, photographically speaking. So, the searching is really not a waste of time.

My last ride was out Highway 22, toward Dallas. It is an ideal bike ride; the bike path is wide, there is an ample sidewalk from W.Salem to the Oak Knoll Golf Course, and the inclines are merely fun – not truly exhausting. There is one conveniently located barn between Salem and the pedestrian bridge near Rickreal RD, and I failed to get a good shot at it. I had the wrong lens, the angle through the trees was wrong, I needed to be on the other side of the street, etc. Honestly, though, I am not going to run across a busy freeway, thanks, but no thanks. I will try again soon for that one.

As I am committed to short rides right now, due to the fall weather, I did not go any further than the pedestrian bridge by the golf course and back. I did find that the pedestrian bridge was actually a rest stop for bicyclists that was dedicated to a decorated naval aviator who was also a bicycle enthusiast.

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So, what’s with the barn photo at the beginning of this post? Well, it’s one that I got a couple of excursions ago out on State Street near 63rd.

The Challenge

On Friday I took a quick ride from Aurora to Canby, then on Sunday I rode from St. Paul to Champoeg Park. Each ride was around 10 miles, which is not a long ride, but I am trying to tour the French Prairie of the Willamette Valley as quickly as possible.

I have found that it is so very hard to stand still and shoot photos while breathing hard from the bicycle pedaling. This is a challenge I am working with when I ride, then shoot, then ride. At first I tried to figure out how to bring a tripod with me, because the lens I use is fairly heavy; a Nikkor 55-300, and I would love to get some HDR shots.

I liken the challenge to that of the Olympic cross-county skier who must shoot a bulls-eye while out of breath.

 

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100 Miles Long, 30 Miles Wide

Oregon touts over 900 miles of scenic bikeways. We also placed 6th in the 2015 LEAGUE OF AMERICAN BICYCLISTS bicycle friendliness ranking. In short, coupling beauty with safety, Oregon is a bicyclist’s dream. It should come as no surprise, then, that one of the nation’s first scenic bikeways can be found nestled between Oregon’s two  mountain ranges.

The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway is a 120 mile long ride from Champoeg State Park to Armitage County Park in Eugene. This guides the rider through some of the most beautiful scenery in Oregon. There are campsites on the route, bed and breakfasts, and inns. There are also  two Ferry rides available along the route; both the Buena Vista and the Wheatland Ferry charge only $1 to take bike and rider across the Willamette.

For the curious at heart, this route lends itself to exploration, and though it is proclaimed to be a “moderate” ride by the Ride Oregon Ride  website, I am sure that the distinction is purely relative to several factors. One such factor would be the fitness of the rider, another would be if the rider has a proper bike and a proper fit to the bike. Also, another important aspect to taking on a long ride is the experience of the rider. For instance, how comfortable is the rider on roads with no bike lane and that sort of thing.

Being new to bicycling as exercise, I decided to ride the Willamette Valley  Scenic Bikeway in legs, or sections. Very small sections when compared to how   many  miles a  day the   more experienced bicyclist rides.

Also, I flub quite a bit, or take creative liberties with  the route map, but  all in all,  if  I keep at it, I will  one  day complete the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. Some of the reasons for my deterrence:

  1. I thought of somewhere else I wanted to see besides what is expressly on the route map. (Seeking historic structures while pedaling can become an obsession).
  2. I have Limited time for biking.
  3. Colds, minor injuries, and others of those rather unfortunate reality things.
  4. Stopping to take photos slows me down quite a bit.

How much of the route have I ridden so far? With the handy-dandy cue sheet downloaded from the Ride Oregon Ride website, I have calculated that…I have a lot of riding left! The barn below was taken when I was on the Wheatland Ferry leg of the bikeway. I even came across a greenway. Willamette Greenway? Something new to ponder, but I think it is a collection of properties working together to promote a sustainable environment. This ride brought me South on 221 from Wheatland Ferry onto Wallace RD. Pretty much my first time on a highway and I will say that it was an eye opener. Huge trucks were zooming by within inches of me, in some places there was no shoulder, and it dawned on me that perhaps I shouldn’t be wearing all black! Well, I lived. I learned. I’m still learning.

Since I took up bicycling, I have ventured out  on  many    Willamette  Valley  roads in  search  of historic barns and structures.  The structures that I’ve photographed have inspired me to dig deeper into the Valley’s history and I have discovered a treasure trove of fascinating tidbits. All of these great discoveries have lead  me to  believe  that the  bikeway  is  THE ideal heritage tour for our region.

 

 

Headwinds and the Clock Tower

Yesterday I rode Blew out to Corban University. I have been meaning to run/walk/bike up their hills for a long time and yesterday, well yesterday was the day.

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(Blew)

When Blew and I arrived on campus I took a few shots of the hills, and looking at them now, I can tell  you that the photos are almost lying – the hills are MUCH steeper than they look! This is at the sports entrance, just a bit North of the main entrance.

Did I ride up the hill? Run? No. I simply walked up it. This hill, the next hill and a long, long flight of stairs. After the bike ride to get to Corban, against occasional bursts of wind, my legs really enjoyed the speed walking up the hills and the stairs. SONY DSC

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After a workout that I felt really good about, I got back on Blew and began to hunt for a cool structure on campus. The Willamette Valley is home to many great institutions of higher learning, i.e. OSU, U of O, WOU, Willamette University, just to list a few, and each of these institutions is sure to be home to unique structures. There were a lot of impressive buildings on campus at Corban, but yesterday I only took pictures of one. The reason being I want to motivate myself to go back, so saving “shots to get” in my notebook should keep me exercising!

In theory, of course.

This clock tower is awe-inspiring and I would like to park in the parking lot some night to see what it looks like all lit up against a dark sky.

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Falling for Barns

There are groups for barn enthusiasts on FB and I have joined them because, because…I understand.

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