Friday, August 18, 2017

The Password Is ...

Coming from Texas, we don't think about buildings having basements or downtowns having underground passages. But we learned that Pendleton, Oregon offers "World Famous Underground Tours" and thought that we'd better check it out!

It seems that the idea of featuring Pendleton's Underground was not without controversy, as it sheltered many illegal businesses like gambling, bootlegging and prostitution. There is also much history there regarding the Chinese who were brought in as workers and treated rather badly.

The tour requires reservations and the group size is kept small, which we appreciated. Our tour guide was from the area and had led tours during her college days. She is back leading them once again and was very good. She led us out onto the sidewalk and then down a set of stairs into The Underground.

Our first stop was a Saloon. For much of  history Saloons were legal. But during prohibition they were illegal and underground was the place to be!

There were several Speakeasies located throughout the Underground, and this is the actual door from one of them. It had an additional "hatch" to cover the screened portion. Our guide told us that the secret password to enter this speakeasy was "Enter". Not too clever, but easy to remember!

Next was a Chinese Laundry. Chinese immigrants began coming into Oregon in the early 1850's. Most were miners but others came and opened various businesses. With the passage of the first Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 it became dangerous to be a Chinese businessmen. Many Chinese moved both their business and residence underground, where there was more security and strength in numbers.

This is the text from a laundry advertisement in 1885. The proprietor's name was Hop Sing (really!!) and he promised the cheapest prices with satisfaction guaranteed.

The Chinese kept largely to themselves during this period, and even had their own justice system and jail. Better to avoid the above-ground legal system whenever possible!

Underground lighting was by prism glass panels set into the sidewalk. Chemicals in the glass determined the color of the light, and the prism glass in this area took on a purple hue. Apparently you can find different colors in other parts of the country.

Originally there were hundreds of large panels set into the wooden sidewalk. As time passed most were removed, but some still exist. Proper young ladies were taught never to walk over the prism glass, lest someone below look up their skirt!!

Businesses occupied the underground for a variety of reasons. A large meat market was located there as it was cooler in the summer and their large freezers operated best below the surface. This business had one of the first ammonia freezers in the area and sold surplus ice in addition to meat.

During WWII a game room was set up to provide "wholesome" entertainment for soldiers and others. There were several Duckpin bowling alleys (smaller to save space) along with other games.

Both pins and balls are much smaller, but the game is the same. Teenage boys competed fiercely for the job of Pin-Setter, as it paid 1 cent per pin!

Below the floor of the Underground we were able to look down into a water well. The water table was only a few feet below us, and in wet years parts of the Underground flood.

I turns out that not all of the illegal businesses were located below ground. Stayed tuned for a visit to the Cozy Rooms, next!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Look Who We Have Hanging Around

We have a mesh sunscreen that pulls down over the large back window of our RV. It is very handy when we're in a sunny place, like La Grande, Oregon.

Yesterday we noticed that a new visitor had taken up residence between the sunscreen and the window.

This little bat seems right at home. The only problem is that unless you look really closely, it appears to be inside of the trailer. Kind of gets your attention!!


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Men Love Peppy Girls

Union, Oregon is a small town a little ways down the road from us.  In searching for things to do in the area we discovered there is a museum in Union called the Union County Museum.  We enjoy visiting museums and headed out to do some exploring.

Union County has a rich history that begins with Native Americans and continues through the passage of pioneers during the early days of the Historic Oregon Trail migration.  People began settling in the area when gold was discovered in the Blue Mountains in 1862.

The museum is staffed by very nice volunteers.  One of the women working the day we visited was very good at being helpful with interesting facts and tidbits.  She knew when to leave us to explore on our own and wasn’t overwhelming with too much information.   That is a sign of a very good guide and is really hard for most people to accomplish.  We appreciated her enthusiasm and knowledge and also her willingness to let us discover all the museum had to offer on our own.

After paying a small entry fee - I got the senior discount - we were immediately engrossed in this very well maintained museum.  It turned out to be much larger than it looked from the outside as there were more buildings in the back.

For a while I didn’t think we were ever going to get past the front door!  There was so much to see. 

The museum starts with all kinds of medical equipment and information about the area around the late 1800’s.  I always find old medical equipment fascinating and somewhat creepy.
Early syringe - this looks painful! 
 Amputation kit - it didn't look like it had ever been used.
I wonder how well these worked!

Did you like the title to the blog?  Well, you can be a peppy girl too!

We moved on to life in town with the general store, post office and bank. 
The General Store display was loaded with interesting items. 
 Original General Store ledger from October 8, 1884.
Post Office.
Bank vault.

It seems like I always find the hand crafts the most interesting part of any museum we visit (I wonder why?).

The Union County Museum has some wonderful displays of hand crafts, clothing and decorating.

Beautiful stitch work!

 Button Hooks.

Button collection.
My mother had a button box.  I remember pushing my hands through all the buttons, dumping them on the floor and sorting by size.  It was a lot of fun.  I wish I had them now.  If I had room, I would collect buttons.

All the rooms in a typical house were full of interesting things to view.

After seeing all there was to see inside the museum, our wonderful volunteer told us there was more to see in the buildings out back.

There was a lot more to see!  Wagons, black smith shop, etc.
 Blacksmith shop
 Wagon displays
I had no idea there was a wagon odometer!

We had a great time wandering through this delightful museum.  If you’re ever in the area, it’s a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The "Wildlife" at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Teri and I have taken the opportunity to explore various parts of the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. While most of the habitat is marsh (duh...) there are also plenty of grasslands and even some higher elevation forest. Over the month we've been here we've seen a nice variety of birds and animals.

The most common large animal has been White-tailed Deer. There are also Mule Deer and Elk in the area, but we've not seen either. We did see this doe with her twin fawns.

Speaking of families, we got here in time to see some waterfowl still with young. This Northern Pintail hen is leading a nice brood.

A Northern Shoveler had a brood that looked younger than the Pintails. 

This little Kildeer chick was running around on a paved road. Not the best way to make it to adulthood!

There are a lot of coyotes here at Ladd Marsh. They are a major predator of the young birds. 

We enjoy seeing Cliff Swallows in their unique mud nests.

With plenty of insects to eat, various swallows zoom around our site in the evenings. They make a very challenging photography subject.
Barn Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Stay tuned for more bird, animals, and insects from Oregon.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Making Progress

It has been a while since we blogged. We got sort of burned out after all of the Alaska blogs, but we're still at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in NE Oregon and doing fine.

You might recall from a previous blog that our main task is to get the Volunteer RV site cleaned up and ready for future volunteers. The biggest part of that job was to get the workshop/storage building fixed up. When we arrived the building had holes in the walls, mice inside, and was looking tired.

The first job was basic clean-up. I tackled the outside with a heavy-duty weedeater, while Teri took on the interior with a dust mask and shop-vac. Oh, and plenty of wasp spray!!

Next came replacing the siding on the south side of the building. The weather had taken it's toll and there was no way to salvage this side. So we stripped it off. Notice the holes in the side. Woodpeckers and/or rodents!!

With the old siding stripped off we thought that attaching new siding would be quick and easy. What we hadn't realized was how crooked this building is. Not a square corner or vertical line to be found! Placing the first sheet of siding up revealed that the building was out-of-plumb by about 4" top to bottom. Look at how the edges of the sheet (don't) line up with the corner or the studs. 

With the old horizontal strip siding the alignment hadn't made much difference, but with 4' x 8' sheets you need something vertical to nail to. So we found ourselves adding addition studs to make these new sheets work. Once we got that finished we put on fresh tar paper and started attaching the new siding. 

With the new studs we got the rest of the sheets up and primed in no time. 

The final steps on the outside were to paint and trim. The refuge had a brand-new paint sprayer still in the box that made quick work of the painting. The color? Why Barn Red of course!!

With the terrible tilt on the building trimming the corners to look decent was a challenge. We wanted the trim on the new side to look vertical to match the lines in the siding, but needed it to be flush with the other wall. If you look close you'll see that the trim boards are tapered from bottom to top. Custom trim, by Mark & Teri!!  Once painted it looks pretty good. 

We'll tackle the inside next time.