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A 1940 Journey Across Oregon: An Oregon State Archives Exhibit

Biggs to The Dalles

 

 

 


A grain barge passes through Celilo Canal (5572).


A grain barge passes through Celilo Canal (5572). Enlarge image


Section map

At BIGGS, 80.4 m., is a junction (L) with US 97.

MILLER, 84.4 m. (168 alt., 11 pop.), is a grain shipping station. US 30 crosses the Deschutes River, 85.3 m., on the CHIEF DUC-SAC-HI BRIDGE, an arched concrete structure named for a chief of the Wasco tribe, who operated the first ferry across the river. The Deschutes, often designated on old maps as Falls River, has been an important fishing stream for both Indians and whites. Lewis and Clark found that the river, "which is called by the Indians Towahnahiooks," was "divided by numbers of large rocks, and Small Islands covered by a low growth of timber."

CELILO, 88.2 m. (158 alt., 47 pop.), at Celilo Falls, is a canoe portage as old as the fishing stations still held by the Indians under a treaty granting exclusive and perpetual fishing rights to them. Long before Lewis and Clark passed here, fishing stands on these rocks were handed down by the Indians from father to son. Robert Stuart of the Astorians writes in his journal: "Here is one of the first rate Salmon fisheries on the river. . . . the fish come this far by the middle of May, but the two following months are the prime of the season during this time the operator hardly ever dips his net without taking one and sometimes two Salmon, so that I call it speaking within bounds when I say that an experienced hand would by assuidity catch at least 500 daily--"

When Lewis and Clark visited the falls they found ". . . great numbers of Stacks of pounded Salmon neatly preserved in the following manner, i.e. after suffi(ci)ently Dried it is pounded between two Stones fine, and put into a speces of basket neatly made of grass and rushes better than two feet long and one foot Diameter, which basket is lined with the Skin of Salmon Stretched and dried for the purpose, in this it is pressed down as hard as possible, when full they Secure the open part with the fish Skins across which they fasten th(r)o the loops of the basket that part very securely, and then on a Dry Situation they Set those baskets ... thus preserved those fish may be kept Sound and sweet Several years." Here at Celilo the Indians still spear or net the fish in the traditional manner, protected by treaty from infringement on their ancient rights. Near the north end of the falls is the old village of WISHRAM, described by Lewis and Clark in their Journals and by Washington Irving in Astoria. This village furnished many fine studies of Indian life to Edward Curates in preparing his North American Indians.

Indian dip netting salmon at Celilo Falls (189).

Indian dip netting salmon at Celilo Falls (189). Enlarge image

 

 

 

Lewis and Clark, finding seventeen Indian lodges along here, "landed and walked down accompanied by an old man to view the falls.... we arrived at 5 Large Lod(g)es of natives drying and preparing fish for market, they gave us Philburts, and berries to eate." A portage railroad, 14 miles long, was opened in 1863. The canals and locks here were constructed by the Federal Government in 1905 to accommodate wheat shipments. Below the falls the OREGON TRUNK RAILROAD BRIDGE spans the river, its piers resting on solid rock above the water.

SEUFERT, 97.4 m. (138 alt., 10 pop.), was named for the Seufert family, who established a large salmon and fruit packing plant at this point. Many Indian petroglyphs and pictographs are on the bluffs facing the Columbia; prehistoric as well as historic aborigines of the region came here to fish for salmon, and while some of the pictures of fishes, beavers, elks, water dogs, and men were doubtless made as primitive art expression, others were carved and painted to carry messages.

At 97.8 m. is a junction with State 23.

Left on State 23 along gorge-enclosed watercourses to the plateau ran the Barlow road, first road over the Cascades from The Dalles region to the Willamette Valley. The route crosses Wasco County, once an empire in itself. With boundaries that reached from the Columbia River to the California Nevada Line, and from the Cascades to the Rockies, it was the parent of 17 Oregon counties, the greater part of Idaho, and portions of Wyoming and Montana. The name, meaning a cup, or small bowl of horn, was derived from a local Indian tribe, known for its art of carving small bowls from the horns of wild sheep.

 

 

 

Indian women drying fish at Celilo Falls (1431).Indian women drying fish at Celilo Falls (1431).

Indian women drying fish at Celilo Falls (1431). Enlarge image


In 1905 a very large apple orchard was planted on the plateau but it is now an expanse of wheat fields with but an occasional scraggy apple tree. The promoters proposed to sell individual investors separate lots on the basis of perpetual care, the owners to reap continuous dividends after the mature trees began producing. The soil was ideal for grain, but the moisture, though sufficient to produce large crops of wheat by dry farming methods, was inadequate for fruit. After the owners had lost the opportunity of making large profits, during the World War, when high wheat prices were enriching their neighbors, they belatedly grubbed up thousands of trees to return the land to grain.

On the edge of DUFUR 17 m. (1,319 alt., 382 pop.), is the BARLOW DISTRICT RANGER STATION of the Mount Hood National Forest. (Camp fire permits for restricted areas and information.) One of the earliest settlements in this region, Dufur overlooks undulating wheat fields and diversified farmlands, with the rugged contours of Mount Hood on the western horizon (R).

Right from Dufur on a gravel road that runs southwest to meet various forest roads entering recreational areas in the eastern sections of MOUNT HOOD NATIONAL FOREST.

From TYGH RIDGE on State 23, 26.9 m. (2,697 alt.), the former long Tygh grade, for many years notoriously steep and difficult, the highway skirts a canyon (L) hundreds of feet in depth. Paralleling the present highway, are three other gashes on the hillside, made by early road builders, the winding trail like thoroughfares of the Indians and emigrant wagon trains, the stage road, and a rutty passage for horse drawn vehicles and early Model T's that hazardously ventured into this part of Oregon 20 years ago.

Celilo Canal and Mt. Hood. (2233).

Celilo Canal and Mt. Hood. (2233). Enlarge image

 

 

 

At 34.3 m. is a junction with State 216.

Left on State 216, 7.9 m. to SHERAR'S BRIDGE, at the falls of the Deschutes River. It was here, in 1826, that Peter Skene Ogden, chief fur trader for the Hudson's Bay Company, found a camp of 20 native families. An Indian trail, later used by the fur traders, crossed the river at this point by a slender wooden bridge. During the salmon runs, descendants of these early tribesmen, who held fishing privileges under a Federal treaty, still gather annually to spear salmon or catch them with dipnets below the falls.

Joseph Sherar collected exorbitant tolls from travelers and stockmen for use of his bridge, near which he established a stage station and pretentious inn. Stephen Meek's exhausted wagon train of 1845 camped at this place, and the old ruts made by the 200 wagons are still visible on the ranch of E. L. Webb north of the bridge.

TYGH VALLEY, 34.7 in. (1,111 alt., 60 pop.), is in the valley of Tygh Creek, which took its name from the Tygh Indian tribe. Fremont called the place Taih Prairie. North of the town are the race track and the exhibit buildings of the Wasco County Fair Association, which holds its annual fairs in early September.

Right from Tygh Valley, 6 m. on a dirt road to WAMIC (1,664 alt., 106 pop.), in a stock raising country. This road is along the route of the old Barlow rail that led westward parallel to White River and crossed the Cascade divide at Barlow Pass. Above Smock Prairie, southwest of Wamic, the ruts of ox drawn wagons remain on the hillsides.

WHITE RIVER, 35.8 m., a tributary of the Deschutes, is noted for excellent fishing.

 

 

 

Indians fish at Celilo Falls (g211).

Indians fish at Celilo Falls (g211). Enlarge image


At 39.3 m. is a junction with a county road; (L) here 2 m. to the OAK SPRINGS STATE TROUT HATCHERY, in the Deschutes River Canyon. Millions of rainbow trout are propagated annually for restocking the Deschutes and other popular fishing streams of the region. The young fish, held in feeding pools until almost a legal size, are distributed in tank trucks, equipped with compressor machines to keep the water aerated. Former methods of distribution, when no provision was made for supplying oxygen, resulted in considerable loss of fingerlings. A chemical quality of the Oak Springs water keeps the young trout from fungus growths that destroy the fish in many hatcheries.

State 23 joins State 50 at 42.3 m.

THE DALLES, (fr. flagstones) 100.8 m. (95 alt., 5,885 pop.).

Points of Interest: Federal Building, City Hall, Wasco County Court House, The Horn, Fort Rock, St. Mary's Academy, and others.

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