Monday, February 11, 2013

Journey Through Time & Eastern Oregon

There is an Oregon Scenic Byway called Journey Through Time that stretches 286 miles through north central to eastern Oregon. It winds through five Oregon counties, beginning in the community of Biggs and ends in Baker City.   Uncommonly rich in history, this route tells stories of fortunes made and lost, of Chinese laborers, of towns boomed and busted, of timber, agriculture, and pioneer settlers. It also tells a special story of the earth's history; of sea beds which have long been dry and of extinct creatures.  In a future post, I will highlight the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument which looks back through time in geologic history, extinction of the dinosaurs and beginning of the Ice Age.  We have all of this (and more) in this "back yard" section of Grant County.

A portion of this route is on Highway 26 and passes through my familiar country and communities of  Dayville, Mt. Vernon, John Day, Canyon City and Prairie City.   Each community has it's own flavor in history and unique setting within the landscape in Eastern Oregon.

The photo to the right is of a large replica of a covered wagon or prairie schooner that was the mode of transportation heading west in pioneer days.  This over sized Covered Wagon was built on a viewpoint about 5 miles east of Prairie City on Highway 26.  It commemorates the arduous journey of more than 150,000 pioneers who traveled in covered wagons in the mid-1800s on the Oregon Trail.

They pursued a dream and a purpose for a better tomorrow, enduring struggles, hardships and adversity.  In those days, there were no paved roads, no motels with neon lights, no McDonalds for a quick meal, no smart phones, no Les Swab for a tire change, no GPS, no hot and cold tap water, no toilet paper!  And that is just to name a few of the modern conveniences which we enjoy today that was unheard of in their day.  Often, the pioneer traveler would walk along side the wagon train if there was no horse to ride or if the wagon itself was loaded with supplies having no room for a passenger.  What these pioneers did have was a common goal to forge a trail into a new land and a new life.  They had a persevering spirit and inventive minds to handle obstacles and unforeseen circumstances. They had a passion to reach a destination they had never seen based on a hope which existed in their hearts.  They left family and friends behind knowing that in all probability, they would never see or hear from them again.  The name "pioneer" in itself speaks of a trailblazer in discovery, independence and change.  Their passion was so strong and the promise so great,  they were willing to take the risk of  a journey into an unfamiliar and uncharted land with its hidden dangers and its ultimate reward.  Part of the reward was to arrive at a place that they could ultimately homestead and make it their own in the new frontier.

The viewpoint of the Covered Wagon Commemoration Site takes in a panoramic scene of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness area and the John Day Valley.   These photos were taken last  June with the mountain snow still visible, gradually melting off with the continuing heat of summer.
Strawberry Mountain Wilderness & John Day Valley

The photo below is a reminder of a mode of travel and history out of yesterday's memory.  A circular piece of wooden wheel, of hub and spokes and iron; a relic from the past!  A wheel was as essential to the wagon as the horse, mule or oxen which pulled it to transport people and supplies from coast to coast, from border to border.   As it is, it chronicles the human spirit.... resilient and resolute to complete their journey's end, often with a Bible in their hands, faith in their hearts and a vision of a better life for themselves and their descendents.

"Yesterday's Journey"

See you next Monday at The Turn-Up Patch......until then,  Happy Trails!

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