South toward Las Vegas — September 4-14, 2017

We were joined in our trip from Hood River southward by Bill and Colleen, and later for a time by Tom and Leslie.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

We spent a number of days in the vicinity of the National Monument, which has three separate units, two of which we visited.  Our first was to Painted Hills, where besides enjoying the colorful hills we were surprised to encounter a couple that were carrying the bottom portion of a mannequin.

Painted Hills Unit

Sheep Rock Unit

The second unit was Sheep Rock, where we made a number of stops.  We visited the impressive  Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, visited the Cant Ranch complex, an interpretive site showing an early 20th-century livestock ranch, and took a number of hikes.

Kam Wah Chung

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum, also known as Kam Wah Chung Company Building, is a state park and a National Historic Landmark that preserves early Chinese culture in the city of John Day in Oregon. Built in the 1870s, possibly as a trading post, along a wagon road later known as The Dalles Military Road, it later became the center of the Chinese community in John Day as a store and apothecary run by Ing Hay (known also as “Doc Hay”) and Lung On, Chinese immigrants from Guangdong.

The building remained abandoned after Ing Hay died in 1952. He asked that the building be deeded to the city of John Day with the provision it be turned into a museum. His wish, and the ownership of the building, were forgotten until 1967. While surveying for a new park the city discovered its ownership of the building and began to restore it as it was in the 1940s.

Today the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum contains one of the most extensive collections of materials from the century-long influx of Chinese immigrants in the American West. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior in 2005.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge located roughly 30 miles (48 km) south of the city of Burns in Oregon’s Harney Basin. Administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the refuge was created in 1908 by order of President Theodore Roosevelt to protect habitat for diverse waterfowl and migratory birds, and grew to encompass 187,757 acres of public lands. A popular site for birding, fishing, hunting and hiking, the refuge gained widespread attention in early 2016 after its headquarters complex was occupied by armed anti-government protesters.

Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain is in the southeastern part of Oregon, and is a large fault-block mountain. It stretches some 50 miles north to south, and rises from alongside the Alvord Desert at elevation of about 4,200 feet to a summit elevation of 9,733 feet. It is sometimes confused with a mountain range but is properly a single mountain.

Steens Mountain is the largest fault-block mountain in North America. Pressure under the Earth’s surface thrust the block upward approximately 20 million years ago, resulting in a steep eastern face with a more gentle slope on the western side of the mountain. During the Ice Age, glaciers carved several deep U-shaped gorges into the peak and created depressions where Lily, Fish, and Wildhorse lakes now stand.

Diamond Craters

Diamond Craters is a 27-square-mile volcanic field in SE Oregon, 40 miles southeast of the town of Burns. It consists of cinder cones, maars (explosion craters) and lava flows.  Diamond Craters were named after the Diamond Ranch.  In 1982, the area was designated an Outstanding Natural Area.

 California Trail Interpretive Center

Located off I-80 near Elko, Nevada, the California Trail Interpretive Center tells the story of the 250,000 people who, between 1841 and 1869, sold their belongings, packed wagons, and set out for California on a 2,000 mile trek; some seeking land, some gold, others seeking adventure, and some for unknown reasons.

This extensive and impressive center should not be missed.  We took no photos inside, but snapped a few of the external (but temporary) exhibit.

Nevada Northern Railway Museum

In Ely, Nevada, we found the Nevada Northern Railway Museum is a railroad museum operated by a historic foundation dedicated to the preservation of the Nevada Northern Railway.

Museum activities include restoration and operation of historic railroad equipment, steam-powered excursions throughout the year, winter photo shoots, locomotive rentals, hand car races, lectures, an annual railroad history symposium, changing exhibits, and other events and activities.

Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park

The charcoal ovens are associated with the silver mining ghost town of Ward, Nevada, established in 1876. The charcoal ovens are two miles to the south of the townsite. Six large ovens remain in excellent repair, 30 feet high, 27 feet in diameter, with walls 2 feet thick at the base. The ovens were in operation from 1876 through 1879. They were built of quartz latite welded tuff by itinerant Italian masons who specialized in the ovens, who were known as carbonari. The charcoal ovens prepared charcoal from locally harvested timber for use in the smelters at Ward, using 30 to 60 bushels of charcoal per ton of ore, for 16,000 bushels a day. The Ward ovens are the best-preserved of their kind in Nevada. They were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

We arrived in Las Vegas on September 15. But this post is already too long, so we’ll talk about Las Vegas on our next post.