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BEND, OREGON

A beautiful city

sunny 72 °F

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Night temperatures are cool in Bend. They dipped to 41* last night, something this transplanted Floridian would rather not experience! The daytime temps do rise to the high 70's, however. The elevation of this High Plains city is 3,623' above sea level. From the East I climbed about 900' from Boise to Bend. Bend is located on the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountain Range. This major mountain range extends north/south along the US/Canadian West Coast from Southern British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Major mountain peaks range in elevation from 8,366' (Mt. St. Helens) to Mt. Rainier's 14,441'. Several snow-covered peaks are seen to the west of Bend. Mt. Hood, at 11,250' to the north can be seen from here. It is a beautiful vista.

Bend, OR is a rather small city of approx. 100K citizens. It offers all the amenities one could want. Here, of particular interest to me was the High Desert Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate. Driving across the endless High Plains from Boise facinated me in that it appeared to be 'nothingness'. To my naivete there exists an eco-system in this barren land. The Museum answered many questions about life in this High Desert. "The Desert's varied topography and patchy water distribution result in a mosaic of interconnected habitats for a diversity of plants and animals adapted to the rigors of desert life.", a quote from the museum brochure. My visit to the museum displayed galleries devoted to the Plateau Indians, & a docent-led explanation of Exploration and Settlement of the White culture into the area via the Oregon Trail. In the Desertorium, encased in glass, were live desert animals of the High Desert. Another exhibit depicted Indian village life, a White Settler village, a coal mine, & an Assay Office.

Speaking of Assay Offices, while in Boise the city tour took us past the former Government Assay building. Gold and other precious metals are not mined in a pure form. Therefore, in order to place a value on an ore, the precious metal must be separated from the impurities. This is what an assay office does. hAfter the separation the pure metal was weighed, then the value was paid to the prospector. The 'purified' gold & silver ore was then ground into powder & smelted. Furnaces in the basement liquidified the powder then it was poured into molds forming ingots. These ingots were then transported by armed transport to Federal depositories. Stage coach transport was first used, then railroads. Attempted robberies of the stage coaches and trains were commonplace. We were told that in the 61 yrs. of operation the Boise Assay Office handled/smelted over $1 Billion in gold & silver before being closed by the government in 1933. Idaho is still a major gold-producing state.

Back to the High Desert Museum--In addition, on the grounds is a restored Ranchhouse and Saw Mill, a Raptors of the Sky exhibit, an area devoted to The Changing Forest, and a Birds of Prey Center. All very well done.

Posted by dixter 12:42 Archived in USA Tagged oregon bend

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