Baker City, Pendleton
August 11-17, 1993
Planning for this trip began in Oct., 1992. It had to for the purpose of having rooms at the proper time. The time was the annual Oregon-California Trails Association convention, whose purpose is to locate, mark, and identify any connection with the Oregon Trail (which began about 1840). Being a member, I knew about this convention long before our Nov. Bus Committee planning meeting. The convention lasted about 10 days, but there were three days pertinent to our effort to inform our members of the significance of the Trail and connection with our State.
Three days was time to visit the Flagstaff Commemorative Center 8 miles east of Baker City, right on the Trail. The next two, Friday and Saturday, were all-day tides with a step-on guide, in a five-bus caravan; they took us to all of the important points of the trail, and described the history. They provided lunches and “coffee breaks” (included in the registration fee). Time was available for anyone to go hear some of the talks on the work being done. We had an excellent motel — The Oregon Motel — at the foot of the “old town”, with our air-conditioned bus to take us to the various activities, including a finger food festivity in the Community Hall the night of arrival.
After a fascinating trip north over the Blue Mountains on Saturday, we arrived in Pendleton for three nights. We came down the old Hwy. 30, bypassing the freeway, and the views were spectacular, as well as the switchbacks! At the top, they took us to a sight not yet open to the public, that had a new, small interpretive center near tracks of the trail that had only recently been found! Took pictures of people, including Frances Newsom, standing in the Trail, with windfalls behind.
Activities in Pendleton were special. We had never been on a seven-day trip before, so we left Sunday morning open for people to attend church, many of which old ones were downtown. (Lots of the city’s activities have moved up the hill to the new freeway.) Sunday afternoon, visited the Fair Grounds to see the Indian displays in hot tents, and Trail displays in a large building. Part of the latter was a magnificent slide/sound show of the Trail. Needs to be duplicated. Say the wagons just in off the Trail with one or two people to talk to.
Monday morning was heavy rain, but we walked three blocks to the “Pendleton Underground”, which was quite conveniently across from a nice bakery coffee shop which was excellent to get in out of the rain from a late opening, and a good place to order lunches for the last day Tuesday, retun home. Walked to the Historical Museum in the old Depot, which though small was excellent: a labor of love. Monday afternoon, a visit to the Pendleton Woolen Mills, at which there are no plant tours. The idea was to visit the store, which is always open, naturally! Some purchases were made, but in the process members discovered there were quickie tours, which was partly bad. We went through it in two groups of 15. But it held us up from the late designed plan to visit the City of Echo, 25 miles west of Pendleton. We were an hour late than I planned but they did well by us. The way down was not by freeway, but by the old Hwy. 30 which goes down the gorge of the Umatilla River; spectacular sight and views. Diane Barry is the “Administrator” of Echo. Though we were an hour late she received us well, with a tall young man with a black hat she was training to be a tour guide, and needed to see how to handle Bus Tours. She took us about five miles west to a side gravel road where she could show us the Trail, rather overgrown with grass. She had made a small sign and placed it on a fence post. We would never have found it if we had tried ourselves! Showed us another sight of a small fight, explained how the trail crossed the Umatilla River at Echo, which is a very old historic town (and they will give you a tour).
Leaving Echo the next morning, we took the freeway to Arlington and south to where the Trail crosses the road at the intersection to the Columbia Ridge Waste Disposal site. We had made plans earlier to stop in for a short tour. Turns out we had been told that Lillian Johnson’s 84th birthday was that day. We ordered a cake at the bakery; we went into their small conference room, and Ewart brought the cake in — quite a surprise. Sang the song, and heard the young engineer explain the operation. He was surprised to get excellent questions from such a large group of ladies, not surprising for the Obsidians. A ride in our bus up on to the top to show the mounds completed, and one being built. There is a constant stream of trucks coming in from Portland; driver unloads his trailer, picks up an empty one and goes back. Then a plant man picks up a trailer from a long row of full ones and drives out to the dump. There will be only one or two trucks at a time at the dump site, and the material is immediately covered up: no seagulls or other birds. Home via Condon, Fossil, with lunch near the John Day Fossil Beds, and home by 5:45. A great trip.
Riders were: John & Willa Alvord, Richard & Mary Bentsen, Ingrid Carmichael, Bernie Claypool, Clair Cooley, Amy Clugston, Frances Cooley, Phyllis Earley, Rufus Franz, Herman Hendershott, Evelyn Hile, Miki Hutchison, Lillian Johnson, Beatrice LeFevre, Dodie Leppman, Fred & Dorothy Munz, Frances Newsom, Virginia Prouty, Liz Reanier, Kathleen Schlankar, Lois Schreiner, Ethel Steussy, John Thompson, Louise Thurber, Mildred Weatherby, Hawke & Ruth Williams, and co-leaders Bill Eaton and Ewart Baldwin.