Pendleton without the Roundup – Day 1

Photo Slideshow Here

So, I’m sure every Oregonian has spent at least one weekend of their lives at the Pendleton Roundup, it’s just part of growing up in the Beaver state (or Duck state, depending on what side of the Civil War you’re on).

Waaaay back in the 1990’s, we stopped here with Don and Tammy Hoxie on an Eastern Oregon Road trip, hung out downtown and did the Cozy Girls tour.

Nearly 20 years later, I thought it might be time for a revisit, especially now that we’re more interested in history and have a longer attention span (but shorter memory!).

Adding to the attraction would be a stop in Heppner to visit the museum which is never open when we’re riding through – not that they’re never open, we just ride through at weird times!

Heppner had a major defining moment in their history back in 1903 a flood raced through town on a lazy Sunday evening, decimating all the low lying areas and killing 247 people. The cemetery on the hill pays mute witness to this event, with many stones showing the same date of death, June 14, 1903.

I was looking forward to seeing the museum’s photos history of this event, along with everything else showing the history of the area.

The ride through Fossil to Heppner is one of my favorites in Oregon. From spring-swollen rivers to wide-open dry wheat fields, it climbs into heavily forested mountains and then dips back down to steep twisty canyons, then follows straight sections through windswept and lonesome plateaus. Really some of the most varied landscape and riding I’ve experienced. But shhhhhh, don’t tell everyone, or it’ll get all crowded and nasty!

We arrived in town about a half hour before the museum was set to open, so we searched around for a restaurant with salads. The gal at the gas station said “the bowling alley has great food!”, uh, oooookay. We rode around a bit more and didn’t find anything else promising, so to the bowling alley we went. The decor doesn’t inspire dining confidence:

Mikey likes the "custom" upholstry

But if you don’t sit in the ripped areas and are careful about leaning back too far on the loose backrest, you’ll be treated to a great meal by a friendly staff. Proves again that looks aren’t everything!

The museum looks tiny from the outside, sharing half a municipal building with the library, but inside you find rooms heading off in three different directions, and multitudes of well documented and well-presented neat old stuff!

Can you spot the USPO letters in this pic?

Mike's biggest nightmare - finding a cool vintage motorcycle toy in a Museum instead of an Antique Store!

Second half of the museum - includes all the farm implements and old cars and trucks

After a short stop for a photo op in front of the beautiful Heppner Court House, we were back on the road towards Pendleton

Court House in Heppner

Grasslands and swooping rock formations on the Heppner Highway

We actually rode through a few sprinkles near Vinson, but by Pendleton it had cleared up and was a beautiful evening.

Walking around Pendleton, we found plenty of neat old buildings to gawk at. Unfortunately, it looks like many of them were renovated about 10 years ago, but have deteriorated since, with no money for good upkeep. There’s such a variety of building styles here, it really makes the neighborhoods fun to walk through. Stucco next to Victorian next to brick homestead next to Tudor. Who needs a rodeo when there’s old buildings to see!

Pendleton First Methodist Episcopal Church

Carnegie-Funded Arts Center Building

Amazing what a comma can do for meaning. But maybe they meant what they said?

It started getting too dark to take pictures, so we headed back to the room for a good night’s sleep

Moonrise over Knight's Inn


Crazy Inventions from the Way-Back-Moto-Machine

The year is 1963, the magazine is Modern Cyclist. The times they will soon be a-changing but not yet, because in 1963 it’s still hip to be square, even on a motorcycle.

Poorly designed hat, or dangerously stuipd helmet? You decide.

Yes, the Helmet Hat from Buco allows you to look like an encephalitic on the road or in the office by covering your noggin with a massively oversized fedora that’s supposed to do double duty as a helmet. I am at least assuming they had some intellect behind this and there’s a strap hidden somewhere underneath, or this would be even more insane.

How many of these do you think they actually sold?

I guess at least one went to those natty dressers at Popular Science.

Stories from ghosts long gone

“Father made a great deal of money out of the mines and started a grocery store in partnership with Poindexter. The store was known as the Poindexter & Clark Mercantile Store. My father started in this business with a great deal of money and no experience. Mr. Poindexter started in with no money and a great deal of experience. The partnership ended with Poindexter having the money and my father the experience.”

Back in the “Good Old Days” of the soul-crushing Great Depression, the government thought up all sorts of make-work projects. I’m certain many folks thought it was just a waste of money, but instead of just dropping money into a big pit like we seem to these days, they made people earn their wages. The projects created some beautiful public buildings and managed to preserve the history of the “average American” in a way that had never been attempted before.

The quote above is from a Mrs. Ford of Portland, telling the story of growing up in Canyon City Oregon. The WPA American Life Histories Project collected hundreds of interviews across the nation, and it’s now all available online

Another incredible site for history buffs is the Oregon Digital Library, which houses a searchable database of collections from all over the state So many really neat photos and stories here, do a search for Oregon Shakespeare Festival and see photos dating back to the 1930’s.

Why is that man in a swimsuit?

Or what about the Salem Cherry Festival? There’s photos from the early 1900’s.

Getting ready for the 1913 Cherry Festival Parade with the old Capitol building in the background.

I could spend days wandering through these sites! How great is it to have all this at our fingertips and not just mouldering away in some library where only a few historians view it every year?

Columbia River Gorge Vintage Postcards

Ralph and Sibyl Ungrodt at the Oregon Coast, 1940-ish

In the summer of 1923, my great aunt Sibyl Ungrodt, traveled west from Illinois with her new husband Ralph. On their way to the great city of Portland Oregon, they traveled over the “terrible mountains” and along the amazing Columbia River Highway. There, they stopped and purchased some postcards from a nice man at Crown Point.

Castle Rock, now known as Beacon Rock

She kept those cards throughout her life, even after selling their home and furnishings and living the lives of vagabonds in the 1960’s, becoming snowbirds in Mexico and Arizona. Ralph had a massive heart attack on a beach in Mexico while fishing in the surf. Sibyl flew back to Oregon, buried her too-young husband, and began life as a widow.

Biskops Cap

She found good friends and began following the PGA tour, becoming one of “Arnie’s Army” a devout fan base that followed Arnold Palmer around the country. She also was a big fan of collegiate basketball and had season tickets for OSU, I remember being impressed that one of the star players jumped to get a loose ball and landed in her lap.

Bridal Veil Falls

A smoker all her life, it was no surprise to anyone but herself when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in the 1970’s. I remember my Mom repeating what Sibyl said when the doctor told her the news, “but I quit smoking a month ago”. I don’t know why, but I find this plaintive and so sad.

Wah-Kee-na Falls

Without children, and my Mother being her only relative nearby, she ended up moving in with us for her last few months of life. We were stupid teenagers and felt it was an intrusion. I’m sure I felt little sympathy for her. Not that we treated her badly, just that we sort of ignored her presence. I feel guilty about that now, especially knowing how much it must have hurt this immensely independent woman to need our assistance at all.

Latourell Falls

A strong and athletic woman with a gravely smoker’s voice and a true zest for life, living in a time of wasp-waists and perfect 2-child families, she was an amazing lady and I’m sorry I didn’t get to know her better.

So, here I am with these postcards by Cross and Dimmitt. They certainly aren’t a rarity, as nearly everyone who traveled through the area in the early 1900’s purchased a pack, and many survive. They still have meaning to me and I’m happy to share them here.

Multnomah Falls

A little history on Mister’s Cross and Dimmitt:

Arthur B. Cross partnered with Edward L. Dimmitt to sell real photo post cards of the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood and Portland. Cross opened his Electric Studio in Portland in 1909. Dimmitt was born in 1881 in Columbia, Missouri. In 1909, Dimmitt was first listed in the Portland City Directory as a waiter. In 1914, he began working for Cross at the Electric Studio. In 1916, they became partners and named their business “Cross & Dimmitt”.

Oneonta Gorge

Cross & Dimmitt sold post cards off the running boards of their Model T at Crown Point as the Columbia River Highway was under construction. A set of 20 views, which are fairly common today, sold for $1.

Oneonta Tunnel

Their business grew and they built a post card stand at Crown Point. In the 1920s, they set up a studio at 72nd and Sandy Boulevard in Portland. Cross died August 6, 1940 and Dimmitt died on April 26, 1963 at the age of 82. He had managed the Vista House for 40 years.   (from

Columbia River Highway overlook

Steelhead Falls – Crooked River Ranch

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Spent a few hours this afternoon hiking to Steelhead Falls on the Deschutes River. This little falls isn’t really worth the mile hike, but the fantastic canyon, sandstone cliffs and golden eagles definitely make for a great excursion!

The old retaining wall and what looked to be a semi-natural fish ladder on the left of the photo above really intrigued us, so after returning home, I fired up my trusty Google search and found this great Bend Bulletin article from a few years ago Steelhead Falls.

Before Portland General Electric built the Pelton-Round Butte Dam complex downriver in 1959, slamming the door shut on anadromous fish, steelhead, spring chinook and sockeye salmon battled their way up and over the imposing falls each season. There’s a crude and battered rock wall on the near side of Steelhead Falls that once served as a fish ladder to help the returning fish over the hump. Built in 1922, the ladder offered the steelhead and salmon a boost during low water months, particularly after irrigators began taking more water out of the Deschutes in the 1930s.

Beacon Rock and Historic Columbia River Highway

A few weeks ago we were talking to Lorrin and Sue about fun places to visit in their stomping grounds (Wasco County), and Lorrin mentioned Beacon Rock.

This 850-foot-tall monolith is the core of an ancient volcano, the softer outer material washed away by the Missoula Floods of the last ice age.

What is left is a rock that many claim to be the second largest in the world – depending on your definition! What is certain is that the Army Corps of Engineers planned to make rubble out of the entire thing back in the early 1900’s. Henry Biddle purchased the property to preserve this piece of geologic and American history (Lewis and Clark named the rock during their journey of discovery), he then proceeded to create a trail to the top.

Beacon Rock – Wikipedia

Mr. Biddle was a fascinating man, and should probably have a more prominent place in Oregon/Washington history. I was hoping to find a book on him, but if anyone did put his life’s story on paper, it’s no longer in print. WSU does house his photography collection – sure would be neat to get a peek at these!

I was a little concerned about hiking a mile straight up, then back down again, but for some reason, it seemed like a breeze (actually, it was a breeze – the wind on the East side was really whipping!). My fear of heights didn’t even kick in here, the walkways and railings make for a very safe and secure place to view the panorama of our gorgeous gorge. We saw kids as young as 4 walking this on their own, so it’s a very family-friendly adventure.

The views are amazing! It’s hard to take your eyes off the horizon and focus on the trail. My favorite thing was getting a good view of the original Bridge of the Gods. This is the cataclysmic landslide which the current bridge is named for. Between 500 and 1,000 years ago, a huge section of Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak tumbling into the Columbia River, actually damming the water and creating a huge lake that drowned trees nearly 35 miles upriver.

The debris field, and the mountains that let all that rock loose are clearly visible from our vantage point 800+ feet above.

Remnants of the landslide

Lewis and Clark saw clues to this event, and the Native Americans told them of this “Bridge of the Gods”.

Anyway, I’d always wondered why they named that tiny little steel bridge such an imposing name – now I know!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Photos from the first half of our day

After wandering downhill, we got back on the bikes and headed to the Oregon side of the gorge and Highway 30 – The Historic Columbia River Highway.

About the same time Mr. Biddle was building his “rock” trail, the Columbia River highway was being developed as the first specifically designated Scenic Highway in America by Sam Hill (check out Maryhill Museum and Maryhill Loops for more info on this fascinating fellow). Sam and his gang did a pretty good job, with the gorgeous rock retaining walls and delicately soaring concrete bridges showing off the wet, mossy, and rocky beauty to its best advantage.

Mike didn’t remember ever visiting this place. I do vaguely recall spending a little time here with Don and Tammy Hoxie back about 20 years ago – anyway, it’s been awhile!

The road was busy, and parking was at a premium – not a big deal on a bike, we just snuggle in wherever there’s a little space.

There’s so many beautiful waterfalls here – Multnomah Falls is of course the most popular, but each one is just so cool – I wish we had more time!

Multnomah Falls

The last falls before the road climbs towards Crown Point is Latourelle Falls. We still had a few minutes to spare, so I pulled in here and we started walking towards the falls – who do we bump into? My good friend from High School Debbie Miller! We knew we’d all be somewhere in the Gorge today, but with no real plans to meet, it was quite a coincidence.

Our poor families had to stand around while Debbie and I talked a mile a minute and had a great time catching up. Soon it was past 4pm and time to really hit the road.

We stopped at Crown Point for a few quick photos, then headed back towards home. Unfortunately we took the slow route – sometimes the shortest distance isn’t the quickest way, especially when there’s multitudes of traffic lights involved. Fortunately we finally spied our Hwy 26 signs in Gresham and we were back in gear. We didn’t pull into the driveway until dusk – way too late for safeties sake, but fortunately the well traveled (but boring!) Highway 97 kept the deer from being an issue.

So much fun packed into one day – not nearly enough time to enjoy it all, for sure!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Photos from the second half of our day

Want to take a hike on a big rock? Here’s the info:

And the best maps and info for Highway 30 can be found here:

Historic Columbia River Highway

Oregon official Highway Website

Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum

Vodpod videos no longer available.

So, last weekend when we were having lunch in Maupin, Mike picked up a flier for an air museum in Hood River. We looked at each other and said, “Air museum in Hood River? Never heard of it. Lets go!”

By Friday it looked like the weather would cooperate, and I found a cheap room at a mom & pop hotel in Rufus, so off we went.

Leaving Saturday morning at a little after 9am, the bank clock in Madras showed 40 degrees, but the sun was shining down and we were warm and feeling good.

I was worried the highway would still be covered in gravel, but it was clean and smooth sailing until we turned off of 26 on to 35. Swerving to miss yet another pothole, I was getting flashbacks to riding in Alaska. Fortunately, after the last snowpark it got much better and was smooth sailing in to Hood River.

Other than the small flier and a basic website, we didn’t really know what to expect when we pulled up to “Waaamu“. From the outside the building presented a basic no-nonsense metal front, inside we paid our $12 (adult) and $10 (veteran) and walked through to the main area. We were presented with a huge hangar full of dozens of beautiful vintage planes – all built prior to 1940. First and foremost was a Curtiss Jenny, which one of the founder’s sons told us is nearly 100% original – much better than anything the Smithsonian has. This plane is still flown – to the chagrin of the Smithsonian!

Many of these planes are one of the last, or the last remaining of a model. So many beautiful machines, but Mike’s eye was taken by another old machine – of the two-wheeled kind. A gorgeous un-restored Indian! Although the main focus here is on the airplanes, the museum also includes some great old cars, motorcycles and very detailed flying scale plane models.

We had a great time talking to members of the founding family of the museum, and learned so much about early-era flight.

After hours touring the first hangar, we moved to the second, which is made up of vehicles from 1940 and later. Including more planes, many military vehicles, cars, bicycles and some harley stuff. We enjoyed this section as well, although it’s not as cohesive as the selection in the first hangar, there’s many neat pieces of equipment here too.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

5pm was coming quick, so it was time to get back on the bikes and head to Rufus and some dinner. We were both starved, I’d eaten breakfast but Mike only had a few cups of coffee in his belly, we were both ready for some grub at Bob’s Texas T-Bone.

We got to the motel, dropped all the stuff in the room and headed for salad and fresh salmon dinner! Now our bellies are full and we’re watching a little tv before we turn in.

Tomorrow we’ll ride home on 74, then on to 207 and a stop at Hardman (my favorite Oregon ghost-town), then catch 26 at Mitchell and back home again.

2010-02-28 Ride through Condon Oregon

Started at our regular gas station in Terrebonne, just Bill and us. Through Madras, then onto 293 towards Antelope, the sagebrush looks like grizzled old men, bowing their heads in sleep just waiting for the warmth of summer. We swoop through canyons of red rock, some sharp as shale, other sections looking like pillars of silly sand raised up by a giant hand and now set and weathering the eons.

I’m left to my thoughts until the road gets tight and the corners demand my full attention. Focusing completely on corner signs, reading the entrance and exits and adjusting speed and lean, watching for evil gravel and powering on at just the perfect moment to get that sweet feeling of lean and compression that tells you you’re doing it just right. What a joy to have something forcing me to focus so wholly that I forget everything except what is happening right here, right now.

An “Entering Fossil” and a speed limit sign bring me back to the “real world” and we’ve arrived at our lunch stop. Fossil’s Big Timber restaurant is a favorite for lunch.

Afterward, we take a few photos of the courthouse and other neat local edifices and then head north on 19 towards the open rolling fields and wind generating monoliths of the plains.

At Condon we take 206, then spend awhile wandering the backroads near Moro, trying to find the little canyon cut road that Lorrin, Sue, and Tom took us on a few years ago. Every time we think we have it, the road turns to gravel, and we turn around for another try. We finally make it to Kent by guess and by golly, and after spending some time looking at the old buildings in town and chatting with the locals we hurry home before deer-thirty.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

2010-02-27 Exploring Wapinitia and Simnasho

Wapinitia is a tiny ranch community about 15 miles from Simnasho and a few miles from Hwy 216. We’ve ridden through here so many times, and always been intrigued by glimpses of old buildings through the trees. After our ride through here last weekend, I told Mike I wanted a closer look, so we gathered our buddy Steve and headed out.

First stop was the beautiful old church at Simnasho.

This Presbyterian Mission has not been in use since the mid-1960’s. After walking around and trying to avoid the standing water, I realized what I thought was an old downed fence line was actually an ancient boardwalk. Seeing how muddy and swampy the ground is right now, that boardwalk probably came in pretty handy!

Next stop is 15 miles down the road, Wapinitia. We asked a local, and found out we’ve been saying it wrong all along, it’s Wapa-nee-t-siha.

This town was founded in the mid 1800’s, with a post office opening on March 21, 1878 (closed on Feb 8, 1935). The Wapinitia post office was established as the southern terminal for The Dalles to Wapinitia stage line, 47 miles southeast of The Dalles on Wapinitia or Juniper Flat. The original location was about 1 mile west of where Wapinitia stands now. It was moved to its present location at some point before the 1880, to the junction with the Warm Springs Indian Reservation road so as to better serve the people from both localities.

At this time, the creek running through town (see map below) was the divide between the reservation and the flats (the reservation property now stops much closer to Simnasho) which may have been another reason for the location of the town.

Earlier in the week, I found a 1920’s map of this town, showing the location of buildings and a cemetery. I printed it off and we had it with us. Below is the map, colored in with green for the sites we found, red for the buildings the locals said were definitely no longer standing. The rest we are unsure of.

wapinitia map - colored

The first building we visit (#32 on the map) is what we thought was a grange hall when we were riding through before, but it’s actually the “new” school’s gymnasium. It’s currently called Wapinitia Hall, and is sometimes used by a theater group, the Town and Country Players.

In front of this is the cement foundation for the “new” school, which had burned down sometime after 1930.

And, unfortunately, what it looks like today:

Next, we wanted to try and find the old cemetery. The map showed it pretty much directly behind the school at #34, and sure enough, there is was.

This tiny cemetery held few graves, but they are in remarkable shape. I took photos of most, but forgot to note the engravings on some.

Dau of
HT and CE Corum
Nov 25 1886
Nye Hill
Son of
JA and EJ Noble
Oct 27 1888
Aged 4 years, 5 mos & 4 ds
Lorine Hollamon
Died Nov. 27, 1916
Age 7 Mos.
Darling We Love Thee
Susan E.
Wife of
J.M. McClure
Dec 23, 1890
Aged 21 Y’s, 9 mo’s, ? Da’s
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh
Tomas or Thomas T. Woodruff
?? 12, 1889
Gone but not forgotten
Eliza H. Davis
Dec ??, 1844
?? 19, 1904
59 Years
?? Mo.s 7 Days
??  Davis
Aug 28, 1843
Apr. 12, 1909
Joseph Buck
Jan. 4, 1895
50 Years


Mike is not a big fan of cemeteries, so I was happy he was willing to pause here for a few minutes. I love anything that gives me perspective on how short our time here is, and old cemeteries certainly do that. To see even marble begin to crumble and fail after 100 years, and know how little of who we were will be around in 500 or 1,000 years, makes me wonder if anything but love and family are really worth spending time on.

Sobered and quiet, we headed down the road a bit, towards what was the Barzee hotel (#19). The building is now for sale, and has had some extensive (and relatively odd) renovations over the years.

I can’t find any information about the Barzee family, other than knowing they owned the hotel we were currently touring!

Inside we found our very own Mystery House. With the lack of level surfaces, a walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night could be quite the “trippy” experience here.

Oh rats, back to normal.

So, our question was why there were two hotels in this town so far away from the railway? From online research, I found that there was a Dalles to Wapinitia Concord Stage Coach line which was started sometime in the 1880’s, and continued at least to 1897. Mr. Ortley owned many of the town’s stores and one hotel (I don’t know if this was the Barzee or the Harphram). Ortley took on a Mr. Davis as partner of the store and hotel in 1882. In 1885 Mr. Davis acquired ownership of The Dalles to Wapinitia stage line which he operated, with the help of his sons William and Edward until his death in 1897.

Our next stop is a church on the hill (#21). Still standing, but in pretty sorry shape. I’m glad we took the time to walk up hill and see this gem hidden in the juniper trees.

After a quick stop to say hello to some friendly locals of the hoofed variety,

We head down the road towards a road marked “Road” on the map (descriptive, ain’t it?). Every time we ride through here, I love seeing this little old shed with its bowed out sides – looks like someone has completely overstuffed the thing until it’s ready to burst.

Walking down the road towards what we think are #8 and #9 on the map, we are greeted by a dad, mom, and their three kids.

This family is living on the same property where the husband’s granparents grew up. This sweet little homestead is still healthy and liveable. We especially appreciate the gingerbread and three-sided window at the back of the house.

A few more minutes goofing around with some signs laying on the ground,

it’s time to get back on the bikes and find some grub in Maupin.

More history on this area is available through the wonderful Wasco County history website.

Here’s some information condensed from that site:

First school was opened sometime in the early 1880’s

Hiram Cormn had a store in the early 1880’s

The very early post offices was one mile west of Wapinitia.  A plot was donated by the Corums,early storekeepers at Wapinitia There 3 infant daughters was buried there,the 1st in nov.of 1885.

Two hotels, a livery stable, a blacksmith shop, and the ever present saloon or “gallon house”  all existed in the 1800’s.

E.M. Hartman and son Earnest. built a general merchandise store of approximately 10,000 square feet of space in 1900, including groceries, apparel, household items, school supplies and machinery.

In1912-13 a modern two room school was built that provided education for grades 1-10.

In about 1910 a church was built through community effort;There was a resident minister and a active congregation.

By 1915 there were two general stores, a blacksmith shop, a post office located within one of the stores, a pool hall, and still one gallon house.

In 1915 there was a three year high school and still grade school. 1918-19 the high school was standardized and had 4 grades.

In addition to the Wapinitia school on the flat were Pine Grove, Oak Grove, Victor, Batty, Derthick,and Fairview which had grade schools only, so they attended the Wapinitia high school.

The Commercial Club was very active, with a good brass band.

Water was scarce, there were few wells; majority of households had to haul water in long wagons, storing it in cisterns. People who had seep wells were very fortunate. Irrigation was still a dream, as it had been since the 1800’s. Water from the mountains for irrigation came to Juniper Flat around 1920.

Roads were unimproved, inches deep in dust in summer and hub deep in mud in winter. The first improvement in roads was when the market road from Wapinitia to the lower end of the Flat was built in 1922 or 23. That was gravel, not paved. Pavement started in 1927.

The 1930’s saw the gradual change from horses to tractors for farming.

REA brought a welcome change in the lives of all in 1927 — electicity.

History, maps, and other information gratefully gleaned from the following sites:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


more about “2010-02-27 Exploring Wapinitia “, posted with vodpod