Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Drifting slowly west

Some Oregon history from a few different sources:

In the 1700's, British fur traders in northern regions between the Pacific Coast and the Rockies came into conflict with Russian fur traders arriving from the north and Spanish fur traders from the south. Remnants of Spain's presence along the Canadian coast can still be seen in the names of many of the communities and inlets in Washington, such as Juan de Fuca Strait, Anacortes, and Lopez Island. Americans began appearing in the mix in the early 1800's, following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
By the time the Americans arrived, England and Spain had already negotiated a boundary agreement but not with Russia. In order to try and shut Russia out, the Americans and British agreed to joint-sovereignty over the area which was then called the Oregon Country. It encompassed what today is Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Idaho and parts of Alberta, Wyoming and Montana.
The southern border of Oregon Country, and eventually the state of Oregon, was the result of the earlier British and Spanish negotiations; the 42nd parallel. Why the 42nd parallel? Rivers were the roads of commerce. North of 42*, virtually all of the waterways flow north into the Columbia River which then flows west into the Pacific Ocean near Portland; traditionally British areas. Below 42*, virtually all waterways flow south to the San Francisco Bay area; very heavily Spanish areas. The flow of the waterways facilitated commerce.
The northern border, of what was called the new Oregon Territory, is simply the extension of the 49th parallel already established as the US/Canada border in the east. This was the northern border of the Oregon Territory and not the final northern border of the eventual state of Oregon.
In 1853, the Congress divided the Oregon Territory to create the Washington Territory. The northern border of the Oregon Territory, and the southern of the Washington Territory, became the Columbia River to the point where the river first crosses the 46th parallel. The boundary then followed the 46th parallel east to the Continental Divide.
When Oregon became a state in 1859, it's eastern border was modified in order to conform with the intent of Congress to create, as best possible, states of similar size. The new border became the Snake River, south to where it joined the Owyhee River then due south to where it intersects the 42nd parallel.

Our camping neighbors showed up. They are a couple somewhat older then us from Ontario, OR. They have a cabin nearby and are having a new driveway put in so they are camping here until the work is done and they can drive the 5th wheel to the cabin. The woman is a rock collector. She gave us a piece of opalized wood and two pieces of limb cast she collected from this area.

We're camped right on a beautiful marsh with several cattail surrounded ponds. We've been identifying as many birds as we can. Nothing unusual so far.
Red Wing and Tri-Color Blackbirds, several pairs of Mallards, a Red Tail Hawk, one Eagle, Blue Herons flying on their way to the reservoir, and a swallow of some sort. Identifying swallows or swifts is difficult because they fly very fast and rarely land for very long. The blackbirds have established a No-Fly Zone over the marsh where they nest. Whenever the hawk flew over, one or two blackbirds would take off to intercept, and chase away, the hawk.
Earlier I was sitting outside wearing a red shirt. A hummingbird hovered a foot or so, in front of me for a few seconds. Perhaps I looked like a big, red flower?? I think it was a black-chinned hummingbird.

After lunch we decided it was time to continue west. We were on the lookout for more boondocking sites. There were a number of National Forest roads where we could have stayed but nothing looked that great. Tonight we're in the Depot Park campground in Prairie City ($16/night for a full hookup, cable TV included, site). We needed a place to dump the tanks and take on water before visiting with Jim and this works very well. The park has a very nice museum that was the train depot until the last train in 1939. 

There was a very interesting looking fellow camped across from us so I went over to chat. His name is Paul and his dog is Terry. Terry, a miniature pincer, came from the pound in Yuma, AZ. Paul's life revolves around Terry, and vice versa. Paul, widowed for a number of years, and a group of his buddies, winter in Yuma at the Imperial Dam LTVA. We had a great talk about AZ. Paul will be 89 “in three months and a few days”. He's in super health and hopes to continue traveling for years to come. 
We can only hope!!

Tomorrow, we're going to explore some promising looking BLM disbursed camping areas along the South Fork of the John Day River.

1 comment:

Jimbo said...

I love hearing about people like Paul and his best friend Terry. That is soooo cool!

Locking forward to your visit here at Ochoco Divide.