Saturday, September 1, 2012

2012-29 Hermiston, Pendleton and Echo Oregon


Hermiston Oregon, Continued

Campground:  Hat Rock Campground, continued.

Campground:  Fort Henrietta Park National Historic Oregon Trail Site 10 W. Main Street
Echo, Oregon Info: (541) 571-3597.  $18 pull-thu sites water/elect.  On Umatilla River, next to Fort Henrietta and museums.  The back-in sites up front are doable though some are pretty narrow and the trees need trimming.

After reviewing all the visitor center brochures and pamphlets, wouldn’t you know, my National Geographic Road Atlas “adventure addition” highlighted everything I was interested in right from the start. So I headed on over to Pendleton Oregon taking a back road to get there, just to experience more of the rugged countryside.  Huge rounded hills covered with drying grass lands and irrigated farms.  Farms many miles apart from each other.  Winding roads, a lone abandoned school house and grain elevator so tall it looked to be at least 10 stories high sitting on the edge of the road.

My National Geographic map showed, highlighted in red, the Woolen Mills, Pendleton Underground Tours and Tamastslikt Cultural Museum.  The Underground tour was booked up for the morning tour so I headed on over to the Pendleton Woolen Mills first.  Arrived just in time for their tour which was most informative and educational.  Learning where all the wool comes from.  After it’s processed, dyed and made into spun yarn. Where clothing is sent to Mexico for assembly and their only cotton goods go to china for manufacturing.  All the wool items especially the blankets are manufactured here in Pendleton and they have a series of National Park inspired blankets.  Mainly with Native Indian themed patterns with rich saturated colors.  I must admit I wanted to buy one of everything.  Blankets ran in the $225 to $700 range.  Shirts and clothing started at the $75 range.  But they have an outlet area that has all those wonderful blankets for half price with only the slightest imperfections.  So if your in the area, this is a must stop.

After a quick lunch I headed back to the Underground tour at 1pm.  What a most educational and interesting way to learn about a towns history.  Tunnels were first constructed connecting much of the downtown area so that suppliers could bring their shipments to each store without needing to go above ground.  Eventually prohibition speak easies and bars were underground.  A Chinese laundry.  Even a social club with bowling alley and pool tables.  Even an opium den.  And of course many alley ways and underground storage areas.  The most interesting area is where the Chinese lived and often worked out of site.  It was illegal for a China man to be above ground after dark and anyone could shoot one if found above ground.  Now if you shot a Chinese man, you wouldn’t go to jail, though you would be fined for firing a gun in town, as that was illegal.  Mostly men, as Chinese women were banned from entering the U.S. back then.  And we think the blacks and Indians were treated badly.  The Chinese were of course brought here to do all the hard labor that other immigrants wouldn’t do.  From building the railroads to blasting the tunnels.  In Pendleton they were used to quarry rock and to build those rock foundations of the buildings and the tunnels that connected all those stores underground.  So much history.  Learning about it literally from the foundations up.  We even went through a brothel that had been closed up for years after it was closed down in the 60’s.  Yes, 1960’s.  The owner of the building was so embarrassed that he had the entrance to the second story “apartments” bricked off.  It had been closed up for over 40 years and was only recently uncovered.  Learning about the Madam and her girls as pieces of their lives came to life by a most adept guide and story teller.

Back in the town of Hermiston I’m able to use the local Wal-Mart and a few restaurants.  It’s mainly a farming community though I did note they have a big Wal-Mart distribution center here as well as a large food processing plant.  Before the dam was built and irrigation was brought to the area, I take it, it was a pretty desolate area.  Along the Columbia river near here is one of those lock and dams with an elaborate fish ladder and visitors center.  Only small salmon were going down stream before reaching the ocean.  The salmon runs upstream had not yet begun.  They tell me over 16 million salmon once swam these waters, today it’s less than 3 million.

The price of fuel has skyrocketed which I’m sure you’ve noticed.  I just paid $4.35 a gallon for diesel.  With only a half a tank to fill up, it cost over $55.  Only a few weeks ago I was paying $3.75.

Having a bit of time on my hands, I washed the front end cap of the camper and washed the truck as well.  If it’s going to cost all that money to put fuel in the truck, it may as well look its best.

Distance traveled:  16 miles.

Yup, a whole 16 miles to Echo, where I’m staying through the Labor day weekend.  They said they had pull-thru sites and when I got here, I discovered they had two spots that one pulls up too…. On the side of the road running through the small park.  Well, it will do for  a few nights and of course I’ve put out my orange cones even though they assured me the road through the park is hardly ever used.  A little while later a big ole garbage truck came barreling through.  Ft Henrietta is on the edge of the very small town of Echo.  With one restaurant that doesn’t know how to cook fries until they are done, a very nice looking wine tasting shop and a couple of thrift/antique stores and a beat up tire/repair shop.  The rest of the buildings pretty much look empty, though they are in the process of beautifying main street with new sidewalks and lamp posts.  Ft Henrietta has a re-creation of one corner of the old fort, a wagon similar to the ones used on the Oregon trail with a nice voice narration to go with it.  Did you know the wagons were usually painted a light blue, yellow or green?  And they were much smaller than the Conestoga wagons we are used to seeing in the movies.  

That's about it on the eastern front of Oregon before I head to the Columbia Gorge for hopefully a super fun touring of what they tell me is a most beautiful part of the country.  I'll let you know next week what I find.

and of course more photo on my PICASA site. 

1 comment:

Mary gay Hutcherson said...

You always find such interesting things wherever you go...the Pendleton photo is an is so beautiful with the colors and lines. Pendleton was the thing when I was had to have Pendleton!

Rving friends of mine just did the factory tour tour of the midwest. We are still at The Bluffs in NH. What a special place to spend the summer. We have all rebooked for next year and are bringing friends! Safe and interesting travel, Doug. You are enjoying your retirement like nobody I know...except maybe me. All my friends love your very helpful blog for rv ers!