November: Public Land in Oregon


January   February   March   April   May   June   July   August

Want to learn about Oregon History every day? Like The OE Facebook and Twitter pages to see our daily history posts. 
fb   twitter


U.S. Bureau of Land Management
by Jeff LaLande

The Bureau of Land Management administers 15.7 million acres of federal land in Oregon, over one-quarter of the state's land base. About 13.5 million acres are in the public domain, while about 2 million acres are the densely forested Oregon & California lands of western Oregon (railroad-grant land that was returned to the government by a 1913 federal court decision). The diverse domain of the BLM in Oregon extends westward from the Idaho state line, to the sagebrush-dominated rangelands of eastern and central Oregon, to productive timberlands in the west, to the scenic rocky stretches of the Pacific coast. As the landlord of this large area, the BLM plays a substantial role in Oregon’s economy and in its management of natural resources. 

Established in 1946 in the U.S. Department of the Interior, the BLM had its beginnings in laws passed over a century earlier. The Land Ordinance of 1785 established the nation's public domain from the acquired lands west of the original thirteen states, and the General Land Office was created in 1812 to dispose of the public domain by facilitating its conversion into private landholdings through sale, grant, and homestead claim.

In addition to grazing permits and leases totaling over 800,000 AUMs (animal unit months), the BLM now administers a dozen congressionally designated wild and scenic rivers, eight wilderness areas, fourteen Back-country Byways, and seventeen wild-horse herd-management areas, as well as such places as the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area.

U.S. General Land Office in Oregon
by Champ Clark Vaughan

With the acquisition of the Oregon Country in 1846, the United States was faced with an enormous challenge, to administer a significant part of the nation’s federally owned public domain. American Indian title, preemption settlement, existing land claims, and the great westward migration were urgent matters to be addressed. The responsibility rested with Congress, but the United States General Land Office would be summoned to administer, survey, and initiate disposition of the public domain lands. In 1946, the GLO merged with the U.S. Grazing Service and the Oregon & California Administration to create the Bureau of Land Management. The GLO’s mission continues under the umbrella of the BLM.

The Oregon Territorial Act of 1848 contained no provision to grant or sell lands and was silent regarding preemption settlement, but the Donation Land Act of 1850 came to the rescue to create the Office of Surveyor-General of Oregon, provide for the public land surveys, and make donations of public lands to the settlers. Among its major achievements were the legitimization of land claims made by settlers prior to 1850 and the reward and inducement for additional immigration to Oregon. The act also initiated the GLO’s direct involvement in the Oregon Territory.



Willamette Stone and Willamette Meridian
by Champ Clark Vaughan

Land surveys accomplished under the U.S. government's Rectangular Survey System are the basis for the establishment of land titles and boundaries in Oregon. The initial point for the land surveys is referred to as the Willamette Stone; and the principle survey meridian, running north and south, is named the Willamette Meridian.

In 1850, two years after Oregon had attained territorial status and become part of the public domain, Congress passed the Donation Land Act to resolve the problems caused by escalating immigration, preemption settlement, and land claims. The primary purposes of the act were to create the Office of Surveyor-General of Oregon, to provide for the survey of public lands, and to make donations of public lands to settlers. The act also set into motion the direct involvement in the Oregon Territory by the U.S. General Land Office, which was charged with the administration, survey, and disposition of public domain lands. Land surveys, also known as cadastral surveys, were necessary before the public domain could be conveyed out of federal ownership.

Oregon Donation Land Act
by William G. Robbins


When Congress passed the Oregon Donation Land Law in 1850, the legislation set in motion procedures for the disposal of public lands that left a permanent imprint on the Oregon landscape. The grid-square pattern of property ownerships imposed on rural lands in the Willamette, Umpqua, and Rogue valleys is visible to the present day. Arguably the most generous federal land sale to the public in American history, the law legitimized the 640-acre claims provided in 1843 under the Oregon Provisional Government, with the proviso that white male citizens were entitled to 320 acres and their wives were eligible for 320 acres. For citizens arriving after 1850, the acreage limitation was halved, so a married couple could receive a total of 320 acres. To gain legal title to property, claimants had to reside and make improvements on the land for four years.

By the time the law expired in 1855, approximately 30,000 white immigrants had entered Oregon Territory, and some 7,000 individuals had made claims to 2.5 million acres of land. The overwhelming majority of the claims were west of the Cascade Mountains. Oregon’s population increased from 11,873 in 1850 to some 60,000 by 1860.

  land tax


Oregon and California Lands Act
by William G. Robbins

The Oregon and California Lands Act, heralded as a forward-looking conservation measure when it became law in 1937, has been mired in controversy for most of its existence. The origins of the O&C lands are rooted in the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 and its successors, measures that empowered Congress to provide subsidies in land and low-cost loans for railroad construction across the American West. In 1866, Congress bequeathed 3.7 million acres from the public domain to build a railroad from Portland to the California state line. Empowered by Congress, the Oregon legislature selected Benjamin Holladay’s Oregon and California Railroad Company to build the line under specific federal stipulations, including a restriction to sell land only to “actual settlers” in 160-acre tracts.


Oregon Land Fraud Trials
by Oliver Tatom

During the summer of 1905, while visitors enjoyed the amusements of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, one of the most sensational trials in Oregon's history was taking place at the Pioneer Courthouse in downtown Portland. The defendant was John H. Mitchell, serving his fourth term in the U.S. Senate and arguably the most powerful politician in the state. His conviction in federal district court on July 3 marked the climax of what became known as the Oregon Land Fraud Trials. 

The frauds in Oregon and California centered on the homestead laws, which provided for the sale of public land to proven settlers. Speculators filed fraudulent claims and bribed General Land Office officials to approve them. In some cases, the names of the homesteaders were entirely fictitious. Once the patents had been approved, they were sold to lumber and livestock companies for a profit. In 1905, Congress amended the land laws and transferred control of the nation's forests from the General Land Office to the U.S. Forest Service.

  land fraud trial

forest park  

Forest Park
by Libby Provost

Forest Park is a unique and impressive recreational and scenic area established in Portland in 1948. The park covers 5,170 forested acres within the city limits, is roughly one mile wide and eight miles long, and provides a majestic green backdrop for the city’s west side.

To promote the establishment of Forest Park, members from City Club and the Mazamas, along with local politicians, called for the formation of the Forest Park Committee of Fifty. Headed by retired U.S. Forest Service silviculturalist Thornton Munger, the group was comprised of representatives from forty local civic organizations as well as ten at-large members, representing organizations that ranged from the Oregon Roadside Council and the Izaak Walton League to the Camp Fire Girls, Woman’s Forum, and Portland Chamber of Commerce.

William L. Finley
by Oliver Tatom 

Oregon's birds have had few better friends than William Lovell Finley. As a biologist, photographer, writer, filmmaker, and public official, Finley spent his life tirelessly advocating for the protection of wildlife, especially birds. His efforts led to the creation of three National Wildlife Refuges in Oregon, and a fourth was named in his honor.

Moved by the photographs Finley and Bohlman had taken of nesting grounds on a tiny archipelago off the Oregon coast near Oceanside, President Theodore Roosevelt created the Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge on October 14, 1907. The next year, at Finley's urging, the president declared additional refuges in Klamath and Harney Counties.

Finley joined the administration of Governor Oswald West in 1911 and spent the next eight years as a state official, serving as Fish and Game commissioner, state game warden, and state biologist. He expanded the state's force of game wardens, replenished the depleted elk population in the Wallowa Mountains with a herd transplanted from Yellowstone National Park, and stocked previously barren lakes with trout.

Thanks to his passionate vision, Finley's legacy lies in the millions of puffins, pelicans, eagles, trout, seals, elk, and other animals who continue to thrive in Oregon.



National Reclamation Act of 1902
by William G. Robbins

When Congress passed the National Reclamation Act in 1902, the measure set in motion the dramatic transformation of arid sections of the American West in order to reclaim land for agricultural use. President Theodore Roosevelt, who signed the bill into law, believed that reclaiming arid lands would promote the agrarian ideals of Thomas Jefferson. Sometimes referred to as the Newlands Reclamation Act, the legislation authorized the Secretary of the Interior to designate irrigation sites and establish a reclamation fund from the sale of public lands to finance the projects. Oregon's Klamath Project is the second oldest reclamation project in the nation.

Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness
by William L. Lang

One of Oregon’s forty-seven federally established wilderness areas, the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness Area is approximately fifty miles southeast of Portland, making it one of the closest wilderness regions to a major urban area in the nation. It was one of twenty-three new wilderness designations included in the 1984 Oregon Wilderness Act, the largest addition to the state’s protected wilderness acreage since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964.

Originally set at 44,600 but later expanded to 61,340 acres, the Salmon-Huckleberry features three important fish-bearing streams: Eagle Creek, which drains westward to the Clackamas River; Cheeney Creek, which empties into the Salmon River; and the Salmon River, which bisects the wilderness. The protected area includes more than seventy miles of hiking trails, some rising more than 3,000 feet to high ridgelines, and several small lakes.

  salmon huckleberry




Richard L. Kohnstamm
by Sarah Munro

After Richard Kohnstamm died in 2006, Congress designated a 126-acre parcel of land above the Palmer ski lift as the Richard L. Kohnstamm Memorial Wilderness Area, to recognize the balance between wild and developed areas in the national public lands system and to create a tribute to "the man who saved Timberline Lodge." Kohnstamm was the president and area operator of the Timberline Lodge and Ski Area from 1955 until 1992, when he turned the position over to his son Jeff. He was "a visionary leader,” said U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, “who conceived and then for half a century led the Kohnstamm family crusade to restore the jewel that is Timberline Lodge."

William A. Langille
by Stephen R. Mark

William A. Langille arrived in Hood River in 1880 with his family. At the beginning of 1891, the family opened Cloud Cap Inn on Mount Hood. The previous September, Langille and two other climbers had been the first to reach the summit of Mount Hood from that location. He was elected first vice president of the Mazamas shortly after that mountaineering group formed on Mount Hood in July 1894. 

Langille’s first brush with forestry came in 1896, when he and his brother guided members of a federal commission around Mount Hood. Among the members of the commission, which had been appointed by President Grover Cleveland to study newly created forest reserves from public lands in the West, was forester Gifford Pinchot, who would found the U.S. Forest Service.  Langille supported keeping the reserves (later renamed national forests) and staffing them with rangers, especially after a fire set by an itinerant sheepherder very nearly destroyed the Cloud Cap Inn.

Langille is probably best known for writing historical vignettes on state parks in Oregon as part of his planning work, providing baseline information on those areas for the first time. Publicists would draw from his work to capitalize on the boom in recreation after World War II, which quickly made Oregon’s state park system one of the most heavily used in the nation.




Siskiyou Regional Education Project
by Kindi Fahrnkopf

The Siskiyou Regional Education Project, founded in 1983 in Takilma, began as a grassroots environmental group organized around the Bald Mountain Road blockade on the boundary of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Pedro Tama, a forestry worker from the Forks of Salmon in California, and Lou Gold, a former University of Illinois professor, were drawn together to save what was left of Oregon’s old-growth forests. Tama and Gold met in 1983 during the first blockades of Bald Mountain Road, which was being cut into the roadless area next to the wilderness. That action led to six consecutive human blockades of the bulldozers used to build the road, forty-four arrests, and a legal victory that halted the construction. Gold, who would remain on Bald Mountain for several more summers, began telling stories and carving walking sticks, which he gave as gifts to the occasional visitors.

steel   crater lake

William G. Steele
by Stephen R. Mark

By 1885, when William Steel was employed in Portland's post office, he decided to see Crater Lake for the first time. The trip inspired him to lead a campaign for the lake to receive National Park status, but it expanded to include promoting the idea of retaining Oregon's Cascade Range in federal ownership. Steele joined forces with John B. Waldo, a former chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, to persuade President Grover Cleveland to proclaim the first federal forest reserves in the state by 1893. Those early reserves formed the basis for national forests in the Cascade Range, but also roused opposition from speculators and sheep interests who wanted to retain free pasture on public land. Led by Steel and Waldo, supporters of the reserves prevailed in 1896, and legislation passed by Congress the following year led to hiring the first forest rangers.


Crater Lake National Park
by Stephen R. Mark

As a focal point in the Cascade Range for almost a half million visitors each year, Crater Lake National Park is a place where beauty arose from cataclysmic events. Over seven millennia ago, the eruption and collapse of Mount Mazama generated such quantities of ash that it formed a distinct layer over several thousand square miles. The ash signifies North America's largest volcanic event of the Holocene epoch (10,000 years ago to present) and constitutes what is likely the most recognizable time marker in the stratigraphy of the Pacific Northwest.

Crater Lake is clear to a depth of 40 meters (about 130 feet), making it one of the world's clearest lakes. It is essentially a closed basin, with no visible inlets or outlets. The collapsed caldera left by Mount Mazama is roughly 6 by 9 km (3.7 by 5.5 miles), but what sets Crater Lake apart from every other lake in the United States is its depth. At 594 meters (about 1,949 feet), it is the second deepest lake in North America.

Crater Lake National Park exceeds the entire Oregon state park system in size by some 30,000 hectares (about 74,130 acres). Most people, however, visit only that tiny portion of the park that gives them a view of the blue waters.  

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
by Courtney Cloyd

Created by Congress in 1972, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area provides federal management for the largest expanse of sand dunes on the West Coast. Located between Coos Bay-North Bend on the south and Florence on the north, the dunes cover an area approximately forty miles long and one and a half miles wide. The U.S. Forest Service manages the 31,566-acre ODNRA, which includes 27,232 acres of federal land and 4,334 acres under other ownership.

In 1959, Senator Richard Neuberger co-sponsored a bill to make the Oregon Dunes part of the National Park System, with the ultimate goal of creating an Oregon Dunes-Sea Lion Caves National Recreation Area. The bill failed to gain support in Congress, and Neuberger subsequently sponsored a bill to create three new shoreline parks, including the Oregon Dunes, at the discretion of Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. Udall’s larger goal—the conservation of America’s special natural areas—was met with skepticism by some in Congress, who saw it as an effort to prevent access to natural resources. Neuberger’s second bill, and subsequent versions of legislation involving shoreline protection, also failed because of disagreements about access to public lands. In 1972, Presisdent Richard Nixon signed a bill creating the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area under U.S. Forest Service management.



Mount Hood
by Jon Bell

Mount Hood is a stratovolcano in northwest Oregon located about fifty miles east of Portland and thirty-five miles south of the Columbia River. At 11,244 feet, it is the highest point in Oregon and the fourth highest peak in the Cascade Range. Mount Hood has played a central role in the geology, history, natural environment, and culture that have helped shape northwest Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest.

Modern-day issues facing Mount Hood and its surrounding environment include new residential and resort development, traffic congestion, the increased use of recreational areas, and greater demand on natural resources such as water and timber. The mountain sits within and is partially surrounded by federally protected wilderness. In 2009, Congress passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which added nearly 127,000 acres of wilderness to the Mount Hood National Forest, including Elk Cove high up on the mountain and the canyons along White River.

John Yeon
by Randy Gragg

Few architects have influenced the state of Oregon as broadly as John Yeon. A planner, conservationist, historic preservationist, art collector, and urban activist, as well as one of the state's most gifted residential designers, Yeon was a founder of the Northwest Regional Style of architecture and one of the earliest visionaries in the realization of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. Yeon's 1937 report on the Columbia Gorge is arguably the Northwest's first comprehensive environmental impact statement. It outlines the future effects of and mitigations for the future Bonneville Dam, proposing new highway standards, power rates, and public land acquisitions. In 1938, he wrote "Freeways for Oregon," proposing a series of beautification measures for roads, which the state adopted. He personally and successfully lobbied the chief of the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads to build new highways through the Columbia River Gorge and around Neahkahnie Mountain, with picturesque curves in defiance of the era's fad for geometric highway building.



Guy Cordon
by Jeff LaLande

Guy Cordon, a self-effacing Republican tax attorney from Roseburg, long guided the economic fortunes of western Oregon as founder and head of the Association of O&C Counties. His diligence and effectiveness as a lobbyist helped reward the counties with a half-century-long bounty of federal dollars from harvesting timber on public lands that had once been part of the Oregon and California Railroad land grant. From his appointment to the U.S. Senate in 1944 until his defeat in a 1954 cliffhanger election, Cordon was what many consider to be the last dependably rock-solid conservative to represent the people of Oregon.

Senator Cordon saw no irony in Oregon receiving large amounts of federal taxpayer-generated funds. Among his favorite projects were McNary Dam on the Columbia River and the construction of thousands of miles of mountain roads in western Oregon to facilitate harvest on O&C and national forest lands.

In 1954, Democratic challenger Richard Neuberger's aggressive campaign against what he called a Republican "giveaway" of the public's rights resonated at the same time that Democratic voter registration in Oregon was increasing. In a campaign that was further compounded by the effects of a bitter 1954 strike by millworkers in northwestern Oregon, Cordon suffered a narrow defeat.

National Forests in Oregon, 1892-1933
by Gerald Williams

The first forest reserves in the state were established in 1892-1893, although management of the federal forests did not begin until the summer of 1898. The origin of the Cascade Range Forest Reserve dates from the summer of 1885, after William G. Steel visited Crater Lake near the southern end of the 300-mile Cascade Range. Steel stopped in Salem to meet with Judge John B. Waldo, who suggested that federal protection for the entire Cascade Range was needed. Steel began with the effort to make Crater Lake into a national park.

On February 1, 1886, President Grover Cleveland, by executive order, suspended homesteading in ten townships around Crater Lake and northward to encompass the Diamond Lake area. It was the first withdrawal of public land in Oregon for scenic or forestry purposes. Congress would establish Crater Lake National Park in 1902.

By the time of the Great Depression, USFS management of Oregon's federal forestland had established a regimen that protected forest resources, encouraged industrial forestry, and created special preserves. Demand for timber remained depressed in Oregon through the 1930s. The era of increased timber harvest off federal forests in Oregon would not begin until the early years of World War II, when a new phase in the history of the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon began.


waldo lake  

Waldo Lake
by Tom McAllister

Located astride the backbone of the Cascade Mountains in the Willamette National Forest, Waldo Lake is a child of the sky, nourished wholly by rain and snow. The 6,700-acre lake is the second largest in the Cascades, after Crater Lake, and is the headwaters of the North Fork of the Willamette River. The lake, at 5,414 feet elevation just west of the Cascade crest, took form through a combination of volcanism and glaciation.

Waldo Lake is one of the purest freshwater bodies in the world, better than distilled water. In periods of flat calm, it can be startling to look into the depths. This clarity gives Waldo its indigo hue, since all except the blue sunrays are absorbed. The lake serves as a baseline for worldwide limnological studies, and researchers have used a Secchi disk with black-and-white quadrants for visibility readings at depths of 90 feet or more. The deepest bottom sounding is 420 feet.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument
by William Cornett

Newberry Crater, as it is commonly known, is a large shield volcano east of the Cascade Range in central Oregon. The area was named for Dr. John Strong Newberry, a naturalist with a U.S. Army expedition in 1857-1858 whose purpose was to survey railroad routes through the region. The over 50,000-acre area was designated a monument in 1990 and features a visitor's center showcasing and explaining the unique active lava lands. Over sixty miles of hiking trails wind through the monument, ranging from short roadside interpretive trails to the 21-mile Crater Rim trail.

Shield volcanoes tend to be massive mounds comprised primarily of basalt, in contrast to the steep peaks of Oregon volcanoes such as Mount Hood or the Three Sisters. The Newberry Crater—more accurately, a caldera—was formed 500,000 years ago by the gradual collapse of the central portion of the 25-mile in diameter, 9,000-foot high mountain.

  lava cast

John C. Merriam
by Stephen R. Mark

Born in Iowa in 1869, John C. Merriam was a geologist, zoologist, and premier taxonomist who trained under such luminaries as Joseph Le Conte and Karl von Zitell. He achieved scientific prominence at the University of California at Berkeley, but away from the laboratory, he led expeditions to fossil localities in California, Nevada, and the Pacific Northwest. Merriam's first university-sponsored field study in 1899 took him and several colleagues to eastern Oregon to what are known today as the John Day Fossil Beds. He was the first to John Day Fossil Beds. Merriam took the first steps to have the John Day Fossil Beds set aside as a state park by persuading the highway commission to purchase land there in 1931. This effort put him in contact with State Parks Superintendent Sam Boardman, who thereafter consulted Merriam while making key acquisitions for what became the core of a state park system.



C.B. Watson
by Darren Borgias

Chandler Bruer Watson—attorney, journalist, public servant, prospector, and historian—was southern Oregon's first conservationist. As U.S. deputy surveyor, Chandler Watson set the original section corners and recorded conditions for remote lands from the Cascades to Steens Mountain. He admired the forests and bunchgrass prairies, and in 1873 he climbed to his "first thrill" at the sight of Crater Lake. As an advocate for the protection of the Oregon Caves, Watson organized a visit by poet Joaquin Miller and Oregon Senator Jefferson Myers in 1907 and wrote an article for Sunset magazine. In turn, Miller named the entry grotto at the Caves for Watson. Appointed to the Oregon Conservation Commission in 1908, Watson lobbied for national monument status for the Oregon Caves, achieved in 1909.


In Ashland, Watson catalyzed his fellow citizens with his vision of a grand natural park from the city plaza to the summit of Ashland Butte (present-day Mount Ashland), orchestrating a voter initiative to establish Lithia Park. As president of the Commercial Club, he wrote letters and used his political connections to halt timber sales in the Ashland Creek watershed. He was honored as the Siskiyou Club's Chief Mountaineer.

Rogue River National Forest
by Jeff Lalande

For over a century, the Rogue River National Forest has filled an important role in the economic development, watershed management, and recreational uses of southwestern Oregon. The forest, which in 2003 consisted of about 632,000 acres, embraces most of the higher-elevation lands of the upper Rogue River watershed. With World War II and the postwar housing boom, nearly three thousand miles of logging roads were constructed in the Rogue River National Forest. Timber harvests increased dramatically: 24 million board feet in 1940; 99 million board feet in 1950; and 166 million board feet in 1960. Steep mountain slopes that once had been considered inaccessible were logged using skyline-cable systems and helicopters. By 1980, the annual allowable cut for the Rogue River National Forest had risen to over 220 million board feet.

  rogue river

bowman dam   klamath map

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
by Jeff LaLande

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in the Department of the Interior, has been an important force in Oregon since soon after the agency's founding with the 1902 Reclamation Act. Twenty-nine Reclamation dams, most of them in the arid parts of the state, have impounded reservoirs for irrigation purposes—some of them, like Lake Owyhee, quite large.

The rationale for calling the agency the Bureau of Reclamation was that irrigation would "reclaim" otherwise fertile land from the "stingy, unproductive" thralldom of aridity. The fruition of westerners' long-held dream to "make the desert bloom as a rose."

The agency owes its creation to the federal government's entry during the Progressive Era into natural resource management. Unlike the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service, however, the Bureau of Reclamation represented a continuation of traditional federal land policy: settling the public domain with hard-working farmers who, upon meeting federal requirements, gained ownership to 160-acre parcels of government land.


Klamath Basin Project
by Stephen Most

The National Reclamation Act, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902, made extensive agriculture in the Upper Klamath Basin possible by authorizing the reclamation of swamps and lakes to increase irrigable acreage. In 1906, the Reclamation Service initiated the Klamath Project to drain lakes and wetlands for cultivation. The Klamath Project included a network of dams, canals, ditches, and other facilities to drain, move, and store Upper Basin water. Tule Lake became a sump one quarter of its former size. To carry out this large-scale experiment in hydrological engineering, California and Oregon had to cede their rights and title to Tule Lake, Lower Klamath Lake, and the surrounding land.

During World War II, the U.S. War Relocation Authority built 10 concentration camps for 18,000 Japanese Americans on project lands. After the war, the Bureau of Reclamation opened 86 Klamath Project farm units of 160 acres or less to homesteading. More than 2,000 veterans applied to take part in the lottery that determined who would live and work there. In addition to a record of military service, applicants had to have farming experience and to be in good health. The new homesteaders formed a potluck social club, and they received support from the surrounding community. By the end of the twentieth century, 1,400 farms were operating on the Klamath Project, cultivating up to 210,000 acres of wheat, barley, alfalfa, potatoes, onions, horseradish, sugar beets, and other crops. 


oregon caves  

Oregon Caves National Monument
by Stephen R. Mark

Only a few places in the Beaver State are named in reference to California, and Oregon Caves is one of them. Its earlier moniker, the Josephine County Caves, gradually faded from use after exploring parties sponsored by the San Francisco Examiner in 1891 and 1894 publicized their experiences at the site, just seven miles north of the California-Oregon state line. The Examiner referred to the "Oregon Caves" to distinguish it from caverns located in northern California. The name became official on July 12, 1909, when President William Howard Taft proclaimed 480 acres as Oregon Caves National Monument, one of the first of twenty tracts of federal land protected under the Antiquities Act passed by Congress three years earlier.

 What makes the cave system unusual in comparison to others in western North America is the prevalence of marble (a more crystallized type of limestone). In addition to marble and limestone, igneous and sedimentary types are found both inside and outside the cave.

Public investment aimed at Oregon Caves is crucial to how the monument is experienced. Trails existed before the road opened in 1922, and some were rebuilt and extended by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1934 to 1941. The trail system not only makes it possible to walk the cave tour as a loop, but also provides a way to find some of the more than 400 plant species that grow within monument boundaries. Such diversity in a small area is remarkable, particularly when compared with places such as Crater Lake (fewer than 700 species thrive in Crater Lake National Park, which is more than a hundred times the size of Oregon Caves).


Cascade Mountain Range
by David Sherrod

The Cascade mountain system extends from northern California to central British Columbia. In Oregon, it comprises the Cascade Range, which is 260 miles long and, at greatest breadth, 90 miles wide. Oregon’s Cascade Range covers roughly 17,000 square miles, or about 17 percent of the state, an area larger than each of the smallest nine of the fifty United States. The range is bounded on the east by U.S. Highways 97 and 197. On the west it reaches nearly to Interstate 5, forming the eastern margin of the Willamette Valley and, farther south, abutting the Coast Ranges. 

Along its Oregon segment, the Cascade Range is almost entirely volcanic in origin. The volcanoes and their eroded remnants are the visible magmatic expression of the Cascadia subduction zone, where the offshore Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is subducted beneath North America. Cascade Range volcanoes are part of the Ring of Fire, a popular term for the numerous volcanic arcs that encircle the Pacific Ocean.

Watersheds in the Cascade Range produce high-quality drinking water. Famous among them is the Bull Run watershed on Mount Hood, which once supplied all of Portland’s water needs (the Columbia well field now augments Portland’s water supply in low-flow months). The quality of water from Bull Run is so high that the city does not filter the water but disinfects it to remove naturally occurring microorganisms.


Owyhee Canyonlands
by Alan St. John

Situated in the far southeastern corner of Oregon, the Owyhee Canyonlands is one of the wildest regions in the contiguous United States. This scenically stunning stone labyrinth of chasms and furrowed badlands was created over eons by the erosive actions of the Owyhee River. The waters flow northward in Oregon through remote canyons, hard against the Idaho state line, emptying into the Snake River south of Ontario.