Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kid-powered carnival raises money for library

And in the heartwarming, feel-good category, this story of children making the most of summer break for themselves, their friends and a worthy cause:

A group of children in the Sherwood Heights neighborhood in Pendleton proved in August 1964 that not all their leisure time during the summer is spent in idleness and looking for trouble. The children set up a three-day carnival on Southwest Nye Avenue, complete with games, pony rides and prizes, with all proceeds benefiting the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library and CARE.

The idea was the brainchild of Robby Collins and Sally Cook, both 13. They started several days ahead of the carnival canvassing the neighborhood for castoff toys and playthings to use as prizes, repairing them as needed. Once the prizes were in order, they selected the Cook home at 3110 S.W. Nye Ave. as the site for their carnival. It was an ideal location, with a large empty lot for the pony rides and next door to Sherwood Heights School, where many of the neighborhood children played.

The group, which included Sally Hobbs, 13; Sandy Cook, 11; Kim Collins, 8; Sharon Cook, 9; Carol Crump, 11; Michelle Magnuson, 7; Mike Collins, 10; and a pony named Sam, used old packing crates for booths and a blanket tent for the fortune teller.

The popularity of the event was obvious, as Roy Cook’s lawn was covered in bicycles for three days. The promoters took in $5 each of the first two days, and were going to continue on the third until the prizes ran out. Most youngsters came away from the carnival smiling and clutching prizes, a testament to the ingenuity and generosity of their peers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mammoth find not the first for Eastern Oregon

Ken Smouse of Ione was just hunting for rocks in a creek bed in the spring of 2001 when he came across what looked like a big piece of wood. When he looked closer, he realized he’d found something much more exciting: a fossilized woolly mammoth tusk. A state archaeologist, after looking at the soil strata surrounding the find, estimated the age at between 500,000 and 1 million years old. But the tusk was not the first found in the area. Woolly mammoth remains also have been excavated from sites near Lexington, Heppner, Prineville and on the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

Heppner’s Bob Jepsen found a large molar in a canyon on the ranch of Noel Dobyn in 1976. “I can pretty near always find teeth, bones or other small pieces in pretty near any canyon,” Jepsen said in a July 1, 2001, article in the East Oregonian. “I’m a great one to keep my eyes open.”

Stan Prowant was the geology instructor at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton when Smouse’s find was made. He already had a three-foot tusk portion in his lab from an earlier excavation in Lexington in the winter of 2000. The tusk was awaiting a resin-type plastic coating that would allow Prowant and his students to study the fossil without it falling apart. Smouse’s tusk was encased in cement where it was found until Prowant could remove it without damage.

Woolly mammoths roamed Eastern Oregon during the Pleistocene Epoch, one of the Ice Ages, when the climate here was much colder. One of four types of mammoth (which also included ancestral, Columbian and mastodont), the woolly mammoth was the smallest and fed on low tundra vegetation, up to 200 pounds a day. There are several theories as to why the mammoths died out, but one reason may have been climate change — as the Earth warmed up and the ice melted, the mammoths could no longer find their preferred food.

A fossilized palm leaf sits on the front porch of the Heppner Ranger District office, a 50-million-year-old fossil of a time when Eastern Oregon had a climate more like Hawaii. The fossil was found on Coal Mine Hill, just outside of Cutsforth Park, in the Blue Mountains near Heppner. Steve Carlson, a geology instructor at Portland State University at the time, said it’s only a matter of time before a dinosaur is found in the area, “because there are rocks that go back to the Jurassic age. With erosion, we’ll eventually find one.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mountain getaway burns to the ground

Lehman Springs Hotel, a popular getaway in the Blue Mountains near Ukiah, Ore., since 1873, burned to the ground Aug. 8, 1957, along with 13 resort cabins built nearby. Charlie Nagele, general manager of Harris Pine Mills, was flying near the resort about 9:25 a.m. and saw the flames “shooting way up in the air — about 100 feet.” Nagele said the fire couldn’t have started more than 15 or 20 minutes prior to his arrival. There were no reported injuries, and the cause of the fire was unknown.

Approximately 20 firefighters from the Ukiah national forest station, Ukiah ranger station and Harris Pine Mills’ crews were rushed to the scene and were able to contain the fire by 11 a.m., saving the surrounding valuable timber from the flames. But the lodge and cabins were a total loss. Also lost in the fire were numerous early-day photos that showed the resort in its heyday. The photos had lined the walls of the lodge, recalling memories of another era.

The sulphur-rich hot springs that give the resort its name were discovered by Dr. John Teel, a pioneer doctor, in the early 1870s and named for John Lehman, a pioneer settler of the area. In pioneer times Lehman Springs and nearby Hidaway Springs served summer campers and vacationers from Umatilla County, and hundreds of people annually made the long trip from Pendleton by horse and wagon or stage line. Lehman Springs also served as headquarters for local hunters for more than 70 years.

Lehman Springs has led a troubled life since its heyday, however. The lodge, with 15 rooms, a large lobby, kitchen and dining room, and property were purchased in 1925 by Fancho Stubblefield; his family sold the resort in 1943, then repurchased it again a few years later. Lehman Springs was purchased in May 1956 by Mr. and Mrs. Bill Phillips from Jack Vanderlaar, who had taken over from Stubblefield and made many improvements to the property. The Stubblefield family regained it again in the 1970s, then offered it for sale in 1975 due to lack of funds. A restoration effort was launched in 1982. The resort was bought in 1988 by John Patrick Lucas and subsequently closed in mid-2009 for wastewater violations and sanitation issues. Fancho Stubblefield’s grandson, Fancho “Fee” Stubblefield, regained the deed to the property in 2012 and has since been trying to correct the problems. The resort still sits empty.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Thousands pay homage to Liberty Bell during pilgrimage

In 1915, the Liberty Bell was making a pilgrimage across the United States, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to San Francisco, California, by train. It stopped in Pendleton on July 12 as part of the tour.

The special train arrived in Pendleton at 6:30 p.m., and by then between 6,000 and 8,000 people had converged on the O.-W.R. & N. railroad yard along what is now Frazer Avenue in Pendleton. Bells rang all over the city and a band played patriotic tunes when the train finally arrived, an hour later than promised. Members of the common and select councils of Philadelphia who were shepherding their charge across the U.S. were on hand to give out cards, booklets, badges and other souvenirs to the crowd, and four large policemen stood guard on the bell itself.

Forty-three Pendleton men were deputized to serve as special police during the stop, to ensure the crowd kept moving “in orderly procession.” Hundreds scaled to the top of box cars parked in the rail yard for an unobstructed view of the relic of Revolutionary times. While the special train was scheduled for only a 15-minute stop in Pendleton, it stayed for almost an hour and a half, and everyone who gathered was able to see the bell up close — some from both sides, and those who lingered until the end were able to inspect it from underneath. The bell’s inscription, “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the LAND unto all the Inhabitants thereof,” was clearly readable and the famous crack was visible even from a distance.

The delay of the bell’s arrival in Pendleton was partly due to a stop on the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The train stopped at Cayuse, where a celebration was going on, and the Philadelphia contingent filmed a war dance put on in their honor. The train also stopped in Mission so children at the agency school could view the bell.

Officials accompanying the bell said declared the Pendleton crowd one of the largest to greet them from a small city. Residents from all corners of the county, and almost the entire population of Pendleton, turned out for the historic event.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

War sets Umatilla County residents on edge

Tensions were running high in the summer of 1917. World War One was raging and suspicions were running rampant that the United States was in danger of sabotage from Germany and its allies. The U.S. government encouraged every citizen to support the war effort by buying Liberty bonds, to the tune of $2 billion, or $7 for each man, woman and child; if the money couldn’t be raised, the threat was that the war would cross the Atlantic and we would be fighting on our home turf. Shirkers were jailed in some towns. Men were joining the armed forces in droves and everything from food to coal was rationed.

Umatilla County was not exempt from the paranoia. Several story lines in June 1917 underlined the fear that the U.S. was in danger from enemy agents:

•National Guardsmen from Company M were stationed at railroad tunnels and bridges in case enemy agents tried to blow them up. In early June guardsmen at the O.W.R. & N.’s tunnel at Campbell Station were shot at by unknown assailants. The shooter jumped on a passing train and escaped. Other shooting incidents within the same week had the guardsmen on high alert. A special agent for the railroad investigating the situation said the same man had been spotted trying to cause trouble in other areas.

•A former Pendleton resident who returned for a visit brought the story of a mine fire at Butte, Montana, where more than 200 men lost their lives after a high-voltage line ignited tar 2,400 feet underground. Subsequent news coverage fingered a German and an Austrian, both workers in the mine, as suspects in the blaze.

•Fearing the loss of its extensive grain fields, many farmers in the Inland Northwest were taking a closer look at their hired help as stories began to circulate about agents from the Industrial Workers of the World infiltrating farm crews with an eye to burning the fields just as harvest was about to start. Fifty special secret deputies were stationed in the area to guard against potential sabotage.

The I.W.W., an industrial socialist group, was accused of conspiring to hinder and discourage enlistment in the U.S. armed forces during WWI and generally to obstruct the progress of the war with Germany. Its leaders were convicted in Chicago in 1919 of more than 17,000 crimes.

•An irrigation dam in the mountains 22 miles west of Baker burst the morning of June 28, and a raging torrent inundated the town of Rock Creek, just west of Haines, wiping out the entire town. While the townspeople were able to escape the flood, fields and animals were destroyed and the remaining crops were destined for drought conditions. Early speculation was that someone had blown up the dam.