History

High-water mark of Oregon’s postwar-timber-era culture

Pixie kitchen

 

 

 

 

By Finn J.D. John
It goes without saying that Oregon has changed in the 50 years that have gone by since the Tom McCall era.
People who remember Oregon in 1967 look back on a sort of Edenic place, comfortably conservative in some ways and progressive in others; a place with plentiful good-paying jobs and high levels of public services and low taxes and excellent roads, all paid for by a booming timber industry.
It went away, of course, when the mills started mechanizing and the available logging projects dwindled, starting in the mid-1970s. But while it lasted, it was a real and distinctive regional culture.
To get a sense of that culture (or, for those of us who have been here long enough, to remember it), there’s really no better refresher than Pixieland.

“Young adventurers” laid groundwork for tourism

Hand up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIDA: “About 1914 something kind of magical happened,” according to Randy Dersham, president of the McKenzie River Drift Boat Museum. The magic came about when log trucks replaced river drives as the most economical way of getting timber to sawmills combined with the creation of a graded road that drew recreationists up from Eugene who wanted to fish a pristine river.
“The young men that were log drivers in the homesteads around here at the time started to guide around 1920,” Randy told the gathering at last Saturday’s Eugene Symphony fundraiser.
The young entrepreneurs soon found the “Old Scow” design used to corral heavy logs wasn’t all that maneuverable when it came to avoiding rocks and rapids in fast water.
Credited with the first major advance in boat design was John West who opted for a wider craft that could seat two people side-by-side. Built out of fairly thick 3/4 inch boards and weighing around 500 lbs. It wasn’t a lightweight, except in comparison to the “Old Scows.”

mona bell-snake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Finn J.D. John
In the summer of 1936, when Edith Mona Bell Hill moved into her cozy hunting cabin on the shore of Dunbar Lake in north-central Minnesota, the neighbors didn’t really know what to make of her.
In fact, they didn’t really know who she was — although she’d owned and occasionally visited the cabin off and on for a decade or so. It was said that she was a distant relative of railroad baron James J. Hill. She certainly had money; although she dressed very simply, she drove a great expensive beast of a luxury car.

Travel tips from the Willamette Valley led to 1853 tragedy

S Meek & ElliottRAINBOW: Emigrants  who’d been sent for help were themselves rescued in the Eastern McKenzie Valley over 150 years ago. What they endured and the ground they traveled over were brought to life last Friday at the Upper McKenzie Community Center.
Telling their story was Daniel Owen, great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin Owen. As part of the eight-man advance party from the Lost Wagon Train of 1853, Owens crossed the Cascades, passed through the Three Sisters Wilderness and eventually became among the first Euro-Americans to, “Get lost in your neighborhood,” Owen noted.

By Finn J.D. John

White Eagle

Low on the east bank of the river, in the shadow of the Fremont Bridge, stands a narrow brick building that looks like it’s right out of the 19th Century.
It’s not — almost, but not quite. The White Eagle Saloon was actually built in 1905. But it’s one of a tiny handful of watering holes still open today that people were almost certainly shanghaied out of back in the age of sail.
Now owned by the McMenamins brew-pub-and-restaurant chain, it also regularly tops the lists of “most haunted places in Portland” which occasionally appear in the popular press.
“At the White Eagle, the line between this world and the other — and between fact and fiction — seems to have been thoroughly and wonderfully blurred,” writes the author of McMenamins’ official history of the place. “There is more than just good storytelling going on here, though.”

4th annual program will highlight tourist industry’s base

Log Cabin Guides
EUGENE: This year’s McKenzie Memories event will celebrate the history of the River with storytelling, rare historic photos, artifacts, and more. This year’s program ranges from a picture view of historic McKenzie River lodges like the Log Cabin Inn and the lodge at Foley Hot Springs to local storytellers Steve Schaefers, Don Wouda, and Dana Burwell from the McKenzie River Guides Association, founded in 1931.
People attending the event can expect to hear stories about what life was like as a guide in the early 1900s and the guides’ key role in conservation and stewardship of the McKenzie River.

Proposed McKenzie River Interpretive Center

Info Center entrance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New book about Camp Creek community to print soon

Small log truck

CAMP CREEK: Compiling a hundred years of local history has been a task Susan Thomas hopes to wrap up soon. “This whole project,” she recalls, “goes back to 1999 when I was teaching at Camp Creek Elementary, preparing for the school’s 50th anniversary. I started talking to a lot of people and visited with community member Betty Miller.”
Miller, Susan learned, had always wanted to put together some kind of community book that would include some of the photos and facts she’d already compiled. Struck by Susan’s enthusiasm, she passed it on to her.

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.