The Falls: History, stories and lamprey

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The Queen of Hearts from my deck of 1909 playing cards (see Surprises in the Mail)

Willamette Falls. Last week was sprinkled with references and stories about this powerful local cascade. Our Willamette Falls. Its beauty and history poked and prodded at me so many times during the week.  Each moment linking the past with the now.

It began with an unforgettable memorial service for our dear friend, Chris, in the magnificent Tumwater Room of the Museum of the Oregon Territory. The standing-room only crowd hugged, cried and laughed together in the sharing of stories of a wonderful, funny, kind man. A man who loved boats, rivers and fishing. All told in a window-rich room displaying a heart-stopping, spectacular view of the heart of the Falls. Our community continues to send love and memories to Chris’s beautiful family.

Friday night I was fortunate to attend the annual Dr. McLoughlin’s Soiree, sponsored by the McLoughlin Memorial Association and held at Oregon City’s lovely Ainsworth House.  I was invited by my newer friend James who I met quite coincidentally last spring at a book reading at the Oregon Historical Society.  Reminding me, yet again – every day we have an opportunity to connect with someone new who just may add remarkable richness to our lives. At the Soiree, unexpectedly, I also ran into friends affiliated with our West Linn Historical Society and the Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition.  As James introduced me to others, he also mentioned that my grandfather (Daddy Dick to us grandkids) authored The White-Headed Eagle, a book published in 1934 on  John McLoughlin. And of course, it felt relevant to mention that my great-great-great grandparents, Chloe and William, lived for a time at the base of the Falls during Doctor John’s time. Imagine – the Falls in those days, journaled by our Chloe Clarke  in 1842, and shared in my Chapter 5: The Falls in My Music Man.

“As they break over huge rocks in a spume of white spray and to see the shining silver, jump up the waters is a sight that I wish I might share with my dear sister,” wrote Chloe. 

Thanks to Willamette University for preserving this journal, and so many other historical documents online.

The epic week of the Falls climaxed with OPB’s presentation of The Hidden World of Oregon’s Overlooked Falls. Mom and I enjoyed it online last night. Just wait till I share it with my Missoulian but still-carp-obsessed-brother, Patrick (My Music Man Chapter 10: Boats, Carp, and Steamers.) The sucking of the lamprey on the rocks at the Falls in the video will set off yet another new theatrical demonstration. Mark my words.

the falls - Linda

The Willamette Falls from Tumwater Room – October 2017 – photo credit: Karen Bonoff.

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The Falls – February 2017

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