On a past visit to the area I had tried to find this mill building, I missed it by mere yards, a few trees away. This time I was going to succeed.
The Mother Lode Mine is a mercury mine in the Ochoco Mountians of central Oregon. Here cinnabar ore was crushed and roasted to release quicksilver that would have been used in the region’s gold mines.
First claimed as a gold mine in 1899, mercury was discovered in 1900, mining continued off and on under various mining companies until 1968. Total production was likely around 352 flasks, or about 2,900 pounds of mercury.
By the time this is posted, by the time you read this, the eclipse will be long over. You will have been flooded by images and descriptions of this event from thousands of sources. However, this blog is a personal diary, I will put down my thoughts and memories before they grow dim, post my photos, and preserve the experience for myself.
Our plan was simple, camp out well ahead of time in a site that had been carefully selected and scouted. Jody and Larry camped along side this little pretty meadow earlier in the summer, noting that it would serve quite well. They also arrived first, five days before the eclipse, and minutes ahead of others that sought this same place.
The plan worked, and worked well. In the days leading up to the eclipse dozens of vehicles came past, each looking with envy at those who had arrived early to claim the best spots. The stream of vehicles continued late into Sunday eve, no matter, this forest offers room for all.
We stopped by to see the petroglyphs. The Horsethief petroglyphs are something special to me, wrapped in childhood memories. This is also where I proposed to Deborah, in front of the magnificent Tsagaglalal, or She-Who-Watches. Traveling to eastern Oregon to visit family we had made a point to stop by and see this place again.
As we were getting out of the vehicle a lady was walking by, she called out to us…
“Are you here to see the steam engine?”
“Uhh? What steam engine?”
This is a bit of a surprise. The petroglyphs are located just above the riverside tracks. When visiting you park in a small gravel lot just beside a train crossing that leads down to the river and a boat launch.
Not having any clue we had to ask… She let us know that a steam engine is about half an hour out and headed this way. Looking about again I realize we are amongst a group of train spotters… Cameras, tripods set up by the tracks, VHF radios… OK. I can be a train spotter today. Putting petroglyph viewing aside for the moment we join the group by the crossing waiting for a train.
There is something going on in Portland… For some reason the leaves on many of the trees are turning yellow or red and dropping from the trees. Fallen leaves litter the streets and lawns of the cities neighborhoods. Some trees already appear to be dead, skeletal and leafless.
Local residents seem to take little notice of this ongoing environmental disaster, going about their business. They even stop and take photos of the fallen leaves. The effect is admittedly quite pretty, with striking colors.
Another pick from the slides I am busily digitizing. After basic training and tech school with the USAF and before deployment to England, I took a month’s leave. Much of this was spent visiting favorite places around Portland in the late fall of 1986…