R2R Travelogue 16: The Blue Mountains and the Palouse

roleerob @roleerobFebruary 2019 · 9 min read · #photography

Day Twenty One: What a day of "adventure" in the snow! Definitely would have been a good day to just stay inside and not venture out at all, but ... Things to do, places to go and all of that.

So ... I ventured out into the "cold, cruel world" anyway ... 😉

Image Source: Pixabay

Today, I went through part of one of the most productive agricultural regions of the United States. Where the various streams and rivers come down out of the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon and flow into the Palouse Region of eastern Washington.

Let's take a closer look!

Blue Mountains of Oregon and Palouse Region of Washington

Once getting another layer of snow off of my truck, I was ready to leave Pendleton, Oregon. I was pretty happy with the purchase made at the Pendleton Woolen Mills for my sweetheart. I would have to wait a few days before finding out if she liked it.

This town is at the western edge of the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon. There are a number of rivers which flow down out of these beautiful mountains. The small agricultural towns along these rivers was my focus for today's trip.

Photo: Umatilla River flowing out of Blue Mountains into Pendleton

As an example, before leaving town, I captured these shots above of the beautiful Umatilla River flowing down into Pendleton.

Here is a listing of the rivers / streams crossed on my trip today:

  • The Walla Walla River flows down into the towns of Milton-Freewater, Oregon and Walla Walla, Washington.

  • The Dry and Mud Creeks converge in the town of Dixie, Washington.

  • The Touchet river flows down into the towns of Dayton and Waitsburg, Washington.

  • The Pataha Creek flows down into the town of Pomeroy, Washington.

  • Numerous other streams, like the Tucannon River, flow down from the north slope of the Blue Mountains into Washington.

Photo: Milton-Freewater, Oregon. City Hall Built in 1910.

Continuing north, I enjoyed seeing a little bit of the small farming community of Milton-Freewater, Oregon.
Note the reference to the Oregon Trail, in front of their City Hall.

The Oregon Trail was one of the great emigration routes of the first century in America. It is estimated 400,000 Americans packed up everything they owned and headed out West on this route between 1846 and 1869 - when the first intercontinental railroad was built.

Their primary goal was to reach the famous Willamette River Valley in central Oregon. But along the way, many would branch off in other directions and one of these branches would have been along the Columbia River valley and up into the Palouse Region of eastern Washington.

Photo: Farm at Edge of Blue Mountains on the Palouse

The farm shown above was one of the few times the cloud cover lifted enough for me to capture an image of what is common all over this country. A farm setting in the middle of huge fields surrounding it.

America is blessed in the amount of agricultural production generated by a very small percentage of its population. The secret? Well, a big part of the answer is the enormous equipment you see parked in front of the farm house.

The capital requirements of buying and maintaining equipment like this can only be justified by having huge fields to apply them to and the Palouse region has plenty of those!

Photo: City Park in Walla Walla, Washington

Along the highway, on this cold, dreary winter day, "making lemonade out of lemons," I noticed these people having a good time sledding on the gentle hills of this city park.

Photo: Traffic Slows - Accident on US Hwy 12

The direct opposite of "making lemonade out of lemons," was the poor road conditions for pretty much the whole trip. Above, traffic came to a screeching halt here on U.S. Highway 12 for about 20 minutes, while waiting for the road to be sufficiently cleared for cars to pass single file.

In driving past, one could see a big tanker truck had lost control and was badly damaged, with the cab and the tank trailer separated. There was no indication of the fate of the driver, but I did notice the tanker had no chains on its tires, now sticking up in the air, as it was upside down ...

Photo: Dayton, Washington

First settled in the 1850s, likely from those branching off from the Oregon Trail as mentioned above, Dayton is a very nice little town. Although it may be a little difficult to discern that from these pictures on a cold winter day ...

Image Source: Scenic Washington 365

Dayton's courthouse, built in 1887 when Washington was still a territory, is distinguished by being the oldest working courthouse in the State of Washington.

Photo: Garfield County Courthouse in Pomeroy, Washington

Here on the southern fringe of the Palouse is the little town of Pomeroy. This courthouse was erected in 1901, after the original wooden courthouse was lost in a fire. From this link, we find this bit of information:

"After bids for the project were taken in March 1901, August Ilse of Spokane won the contract with a bid of $18,783. The specification called for brick and stone construction; the stone was quarried locally from the Valentine Ridge area near the Snake River. The brick was from a local kiln; the shakes were from the Blue Mountains."

Wow. The value of the U. S. dollar obviously was a little bit higher in those days!

The day was completed following U.S. Highway 12 into Clarkston, Washington. As one follows this highway, references are made to the Lewis and Clark trail. I will be talking more about this famous exploration expedition in future posts.

I hope, dear reader, in spite of a cold, dreary winter day, you have enjoyed learning a little bit about this great region in the Pacific Northwest.

Postscript for Day Twenty One

Since I was not wildly successful, on a stormy winter day, capturing what the Palouse region is all about, I have captured the pictures below for you. These rolling hills contain some of the richest soil on earth.

Image Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Wikipedia

It is ideally suited for the growing of wheat, although other crops are also grown. According to this excellent article in the Spokesman-Review newspaper of Spokane, Washington, the Palouse region:

"... is composed of loose, spongy volcanic soil that can reach a depth of 36 feet."

As for the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, the "The Undiscovered Blue Mountains of Washington and Oregon" post of the Northwest Travel & Life Magazine online has this description:

"The Blue Mountains, or simply “the Blues,” occupy more than 4,000 square miles of eastern Oregon and Washington. Named by early settlers for the blue hue of their pine- and fir-lined ridges, they sprawl out southeast of Pendleton, Oregon, over to the Snake River along the border with Idaho, and up into Washington, where they occupy much of the land east of Walla Walla. The Blues are magical and, for the most part, undiscovered by Northwesterners. If you haven’t experienced them, you’re missing one of the Northwest’s best-kept secrets."

You may wish to follow the link above to learn more about this beautiful part of Oregon.

For this American, I am more than a little concerned about our future, given the "prevailing winds blowing" across the land ...

What little "sanity" remains, for this one, is to be found most commonly in the small agricultural communities of America. Where people whose lives are closely linked to literally "living off the land" are found.

While not likely to be any time soon, I can see the possibility of some day living in one of the small towns in this wonderful part of our country.


So, another day - a cold wintery day - in "@roleerob's excellent adventure" comes to a close. Perhaps a bit more "adventure" than desirable, but I am glad to have safely arrived at my destination. Thanks for going along with me, dear reader. I’d love to hear any feedback you may be inspired to provide.

Until "next time," all the best to you for a better tomorrow, as we all work together to build our Steem Community! 👍 😊

Steemian @roleerob

Posted using SteemPeak and “immutably enshrined in the blockchain” on Sunday, 10 February 2019!

  • "R2R" Note: My "shorthand" way of referring to what I first wrote about in my Reflections: My "Road to Recovery" Trip post. "Road to Recovery" <=> "R2R" ... 😉

  • Image sources, unless otherwise noted: My trusty smartphone!

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If you liked this post, you might enjoy others in my "Road to Recovery" Travelogue series:

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