Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Old Wooden Barrel

            History is all around us; you just need to take the time to find out what is there.  I went on a hike with a group to the Cascadia Indian Caves with an Oregon archeologist, Tony Farque as our guide.  Tony has spent years studying the Indians of the area and knows the history of many places in the Cascade Mountains.  As we began our hike, we left a parking lot and walked through a grassy meadow and before long, he had stopped us and explained that once right over by a stand of trees to our left was one of the first hotels in the area.  He told of its builders, dealings and the sad fact that it burned to the ground while still in business.  Then he said something that caught my attention, “So as you can see, there is history everywhere you go.”
            There really are things that happened years ago everywhere around where we live each day, we just need to know where to look in order to find them.  My husband and I run on an old railroad grade almost every day – we call it the Hinterland.  It is a beautiful trail that other people use as well and the magnificence of this spot simply takes you in as you gradually ascend the wide, flatten trail up to the top of the hill.  The Hinterland is a diverse spot, filled with golden autumn leaves in the fall, white trillium in the spring and deer fern in the summer.  Many people enjoy this ever-changing scene but most miss something that is also there – the history of the trail.
            The sides of this path are filled with trees, ferns, blackberries and flowers and if you know where to look, part of the way up the long hill is a partially covered old barrel made of wooden slats.  It isn’t much to look at and is more visible in the autumn as the leaves fall from the trees and the blackberries recede a bit.  You have to know where to look to find it but it is a reminder to me that there is history all around us each day.  This trail did not begin simply as a nice place to walk and enjoy nature, it started as a train track for a steam engine that was loaded with logs each day bringing them from the Dollar Station Logging Camp, along the Calapooia River.  The slatted barrel is near some natural springs in the area so it would easily fill, making it a good location for the tired steam engine to stop, refill its water supply and head back up the slow incline to the top of the mountain.  Each time I run by this barrel I make an effort to glance at it because it reminds me that there were people and events that happened here long before I came around and that they are part of this landscape, just as I am part of it now.

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