Friday, June 3, 2016

Chiloquin, Oregon, Lumber and the Klamath tribe

May 25 - 29, 2016:

It’s an easy drive on Route 97 north from Tulelake, California to Chiloquin, Oregon.  The drive along Upper Klamath Lake was quite beautiful and then we go into the forest.  This was big logging country years ago, until it was mostly gone, but it continues today on more of a tree farming scale.  We were heading for a Forest Service campground, the Williamson River Campground, not really knowing if we would find open campsites.  It’s a small campground, next to a good fishing river with a holiday weekend approaching, always somewhat of a risk.  The saving grace is that the campsites are not reservable and we are arriving early on a Wednesday.

Highway along Klamath Lake

There was no problem, there were several good large campsites of which we picked the one most open to the sunlight.  There are no hookups, but there are water spigots spaced around the campground and a dump station across the highway at a State Park. This sign made me a bit nervous ?

Sign at the campground

The nearest town, Chiloquin, is a former Lumber Mill town with a railroad connection that was a booming place in it’s day.  After the Lumber Mills died out, the town went straight downhill and there isn’t much left these days.  There does appear to be a resurgence however with a very progressive community center, freshly renovated with a library, a crafts store and various crafts rooms.  We ended up buying a small basket woven from reeds.  Strangle, this Community Center has the fastest WiFi service I have ever experienced, anywhere ?  There is also a decent market across the street that carries about anything you could need.   The rail line, now BNSF, still runs regular freight service through town.

Mural at the Community Center

The Railroad runs through town

This Klamath Indian Reservation once covered approximately 1.8 million acres around here and the tribe was one of the wealthiest and most self sufficient in the country.  They achieved this by selling lumber from the area forests.  This all came to an end in 1954 when Congress took away their official tribal status, benefits and land holdings, another broken treaty !  Tribal members could elect to leave the tribe and receive compensation for their land or stay in the tribe and get nothing ?  This of course had a dire impact on the tribe as planned.  This was partially righted in 1978 when the tribal designation was returned, but of course no land came with it, so now they only have the Kla-Mo-Ya Casino.  The former Klamath tribe is now a confederation of the Klamath, the Modoc and the Yahooskin tribes.

Chiloquin welcome sign

The Klamath tribes of today

One of the best Logging Museums anywhere is the Collier State Park Logging Museum.  The Collier brothers, Alfred and Andrew donated 146 acres to the State of Oregon and a huge collection of old Logging equipment in 1945 to establish this museum.  Most of the equipment was retired right out of the forest, in rough condition and not restored, but the exhibits are very well done. The Museum takes you from the early logging days using Oxen and Wagons to the present.  They also have a recreated village of old log cabins that have been moved to the Museum site.


Collier Museum entrance

Baldwin Locomotive built in 1884

Case steam Tractor

There many old Mack Trucks that were pretty beat, but looking
at the frames and drive components, they are really rugged.
Built like a Mack was a true statement !

This is a rare piece of equipment that  was able to move
down the track and load logs onto rail freight cars

Another special place in Chiloquin is the “Train Mountain Railroad”  which is a huge small gauge toy train layout which gives free 1 1/2 mile rides on Saturdays. The entire train complex has an amazing 38 miles of track and according to the Guiness book holds the record for the longest miniature hobby railroad.  Adjacent to the train ride area is the Rail Museum with a collection of full size rail equipment.  There are 36 Cabooses, several large snow plows, flat cars and related old rail artifacts.  Unfortunately, it was closed on Saturday when they were having their opening day for train rides, we thought that somewhat odd ?


The train is departing

The Spring River runs in front of the Logging Museum and into the Williamson River near our campground.  The difference in the rivers coloration is startling with the Williamson being a dark tannin color and the Spring being crystal clear.  This is because the Spring River comes directly from an artesian water spring a short distance away.  I read that the spring could be reached by taking a road about a mile north on Route 97, but this road seems to no longer exist or be on private property.  We did a hike on the Williamson River Loop Trail with beautiful views and a couple on nesting Eagles.

The Spring River

The Williamson River

On the River Loop Trail

Eagle high up in a tree

Love the colors, grain and texture of this log

And the lush green of the tree lichens

Several kinds of lichens on this branch

On Saturday, we took a ride to Klamath Falls, Oregon about 30 miles south, parked and walked around the historic area.  I immediately remembered taking photos of several of the buildings and murals, although Twinkles did not remember it at all.  We then decided to stop for lunch at “Klamath Basin Brewing” and immediately I remembered being there, Twinkles did not.  On looking back at my blog post from September 14-17th, 2014, I had photos of the same stuff we had just seen and it even mentioned stopping at the Brewery for a couple of beers. I thought I was the one losing the memory function, but when it comes to the photos, I remember every one of them.  You might say I have a photographic memory, but don’t ask me what town I was in a month ago, I have no idea ?

The Williams Building is now a Pizza joint

And this spectacular building is now a restaurant

And the Ewaura Indian village is now a parking lot

We found the Link River Nature Trail which is along the Link River in the area where the settlement of Klamath Falls began in 1867.  Actually, it had been the Indian settlement of Ewauna for centuries before the coming of the white man.  The new white settlement was named Linkville as it was on the Link River.  The Link River had a series of rapids in this area and as a result the town name was changed to Klamath Falls in 1893.  There is now a Dam and Power House on the river and amazingly the rapids still exist. We saw lots of wildlife, many types of birds and even an Eagle.  However, the most impressive thing was a small snake swallowing another equally sized snake.

The Link River still is wild

And the wildlife remains wild

In my quest to learn more about the local indian tribes, I went to the Fort Klamath Museum.  There isn’t anything left of the original buildings, only a small museum building, a blacksmith shop, a campsite, a jail and a canon that they fire for special occasions. They also have the graves of the four Modoc Indian leaders, including chief, Captain Jack, who were hung  there in 1873.  Note, there are no flags flying on their graves.

View across the pasture near Fort Klamath

The Modoc graves

Next stop is Redmond, Oregon;
Twinkles and Slick

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