One of Madras' most photographed and painted landmarks – the old weathered homestead house north of town – became a casualty of the recent eclipse, when it was torn down two weeks ago, before tourists flooded into town.
Ironically, the house was featured in the banners on town light posts advertising SolarFest and viewing the total eclipse in Madras on Aug. 21.
Madras resident Darlene Binder, who owns the property the house was on, explained why her family decided to bulldoze the homestead.
"People had stolen the windows out over the years, the floors were very weak, and it had a basement someone could fall down into. We did it for liability reasons. We thought we should do it before all the people came. We knew they would be looking at it and were afraid they would get hurt," Binder said.
"We hated to tear it down as much as anyone else," she said.
As it turned out, a long line of vehicles from visitors arriving to camp at SolarTown was backed up for two days on Cherry Lane, where the old house was, and North Adams Drive, where Binder lives.
"I didn't know all the cars would be parked on our road in front of my house. They were parked in my driveway, the mailman couldn't get in, and were even asking to use my bathroom," she said.
On Saturday, she visited with many travelers. "I met people from all over – New York, Canada and Germany. I was sitting by the road Saturday, helping direct traffic, because people were driving everywhere. They were making a four-lane out of that two-lane road," she said.
The old house originally belonged to the Poulsen family, according to Jefferson County Historical Society member Jerry Ramsey.
Niels Poulsen, from Denmark, and his wife, Dorthea, homesteaded there in 1903, and had a large family. Two sons, Tony and Earl, were high school friends of Ramsey's parents.
"Niels helped organize the Agency Plains Telephone Co. and also the Agency Plains Water District. He and Dorthea moved to Portland in 1929. Earl stayed on the farm until he was injured and left a paraplegic in a car wreck in 1932. As a result, the Federal Land Bank foreclosed on the farm, and sometime later, Kenneth Binder bought the land with the house," Ramsey said.
"I can remember (the old house) being occupied by one of my favorite Madras Grade School teachers, WIllis Keithley, in the early 1950s. The Poulsen boys were avid fishermen, and after Earl's accident, he took up fly-tying and lure-making commercially, and he and brother Tony formed a very successful tackle company in Hood River. For many years they owned the old Dizney Place on the Deschutes River –known as Dizney Riffles," he said.