We only went 30 miles today but the scenery and weather changed dramatically, and for the better. We are now cycling among tall pines and aspen.
We had a few sprinkles so that's why Marie's in her rain suit. It didn't last long.
We followed the Powder River upstream all 30 miles. Boy are we glad we planned a short day. The last two days in the inferno really took it out of both of us. 30 was plenty. We hit the road at 10:30 am and I hope to be in bed by 8 pm. We did take in the Sumpter museum and the Dredge.
Nice lunch spot, eh? It also had a facility.
Why 1862? Well, gold was discovered here in 1861 and the next 80 years were spent wrecking and poisoning the land in an effort to extract it. The entire River valley (about 5 miles long and wide) was dredged- the topsoil discarded and the valley was turned into piles of rocks.
They have turned on dredge that was in use in the 1930's and 1940's into a state park where they honor the state's mining heritage.
This dredge floats in a pond that it takes with itself. It hollows out the earth, and blows it out the back. Pretty amazing.
Last night Marie cracked the code of distinguishing between a junkyard, a collection and a museum. Quick, which is this?
Obviously, a museum. A museum has a sign.
Sumpter had a big fire in 1917 which leveled most of the central business district, and it has never recovered from that disaster. No lives were lost.
Lot of vacant lots, and lots of businesses are for sale. Both open and closed businesses.
In the general store, we saw the ubiquitous "we reserve the right" sign plus this:
So of course I inquired of the hard-faced unsmiling woman running the store what this was about. She said it was local politics. She didn't give much detail even when pressed. I asked about the "we reserve..." sign. She claimed it was required by law, and that without it she would have to serve drunk and disorderly patrons. Didn't I hear about the Portland lawsuit where a baker refused to bake a wedding cake to be served at a same-sex wedding? It's because they didn't have this sign.
The other night I mentioned that there can be a bit of an edge. This was a very hard, sharp and nasty edge.
The coolest thing happening in this town was the taking down of a huge pine tree that presumably threatened a group of cabins at its base.
There is a guy with a chainsaw up in the tree. This went on for several hours.
After dinner we visited the town's only open bar to try out a Portland beer. I sat next to a guy who was 98 years old, still smoking and drinking whiskey. His doctor told him "Harvey, at your age I wouldn't dream of quitting smoking." Then the topic turned to the fact that there had been 4 deaths in the town in the month of July (population was 201 in 2013). It went downhill from there, as each one had to be discussed and debated. Here we are in a maimed and crippled landscape, surrounded by decaying buildings, shuttered and struggling businesses, for sale signs on vacant homes and commercial buildings, and they can only talk about who had died lately.
Tomorrow we head for John Day, 58 miles from here. I'm looking forward to finding out how that town got its name.