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In 1994, fire on LeClair Butte quickly grows to 12,000 acres on Warm Springs Reservation.

MADRAS PIONEER LOGO - The Madras Pioneer looks back over the past 100 years of newspaper archives.100 YEARS AGO

August 7, 1919

Considerable interest has been taken locally since the report in the Pioneer last week that arrangements had been completed to open up and operate the Black Sand claims on the Peninsula. These claims have been located for some time, a great percentage of them by people residing in Culver and Madras and the country between.

It was hoped that they would be able to open them last year, but the war coming on figured heavily in the delay. M.W. Eaton and W.M. Ober, both of whom have since died, and Captain Eady, well-known mining engineer of Boise who spent the summer of 1917 here, were prominently identified with the movement at that time.

At present, the prime movers in the deal seem to be Portland parties who are more or less heavily interested financially in the claims. W.C. Stanley, of San Francisco, is well enough known in the Pacific Coast as a placer miner to lead one to believe that those who have interests in the Black Sand claims mean business by making a contract with him.

Successful work on this set of claims will mean a great deal to the north end of the county. Head offices of the company and the contractor will undoubtedly be located in Culver.

75 YEARS AGO

August 3, 1944

Boring of Tunnel No. 2 of the North Unit Irrigation project at Smith Rocks, is progressing very satisfactorily, it was reported the first of the week. Workmen have tunneled 1,600 feet, nearly half of the 3,300 feet total distance to be dug. They have also opened up the intake portal to the south, all efforts of the contractors having been centered for some time on completing No. 2 tunnel, planning thereby on using it as a means of transporting machinery and supplies necessary to the construction of the siphon, which will connect the two large tunnels.

50 YEARS AGO

August 7, 1969

Jefferson County's peppermint growers, who together produce just under one-half of Oregon's entire mint oil yield, have begun to harvest the crop about one week early, according to Oris Rudd, Jefferson County Extension agent.

Rudd told the Pioneer that the early start "is due to conditions which existed prior to June 1." Rudd said plenty of springtime moisture and warmer weather than usual "bumped the harvesting up a little."

According to Rudd, this year's yield is not expected to be much greater, if any, than last year. "I estimate that the drop in this county will be worth between $3.5 million and $4 million, which is about the same as last year."

Nationally, there are about 78,000 acres planted with either peppermint or spearmint, according to USDA figures. The major growing areas are Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Rudd said that according to the most recent figures available through his office, Oregon has approximately 36,000 acres of the national total, thus placing Oregon in the number one position among mint oil producers.

Perhaps an even more interesting fact is that of Oregon's total production, Jefferson County alone produces somewhat less than one-half. Of the state's 36,000 acres, Jefferson County has about 14,500 acres. Another 1,500 acres are planted in Crook and Deschutes counties.

The first mint was planted in Jefferson County around 1948 or 1949, "after the water arrived." Mint acreage has increased steadily since then with the first commercial crop being harvested in 1955.

25 YEARS AGO

August 3, 1994

Beginning around 5 p.m. July 25, in a barn on the Warm Springs Reservation, the LeClair Fire quickly swelled to 12,000 acres the first night as a crew of 45 to 50 people tried in vain to contain it.

"We had a hard time getting help because of all the other fires going on. Our own Hot Shots were gone to another region," said Bobbie Brunoe, range and agriculture manager of the Tribal Natural Resources Department.

Named after LeClair Butte north of Kah-Nee-Ta, where the wildfire originated, the blaze burned from there down to Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, over to Trout Creek, then headed up the Deschutes River toward Rainbow Market and the Warm Springs lumber mill. It continued up the Dry Creek Canyon to the tribal fish hatchery and burned all of Eagle Butte, where the tribes' radio tower is located. In all, the fire consumed about a 6-by-4-mile area before crews got it under control.

In the process, the reservation's Route 3, running from Warm Springs to Kah-Nee-Ta and Simnasho, had to be closed and tourists evacuated to the safer lodge a few miles away.

"The fire burned right up to Kah-Nee-Ta Village and people were evacuated to the lodge, which has a sprinkler system and a green belt around it and the brush had been cleared," Brunoe noted.

"After the fire rolled by, only Kah-Nee-Ta workers were allowed through on the highway," he added.

Three subdivisions became threatened and the residents were evacuated Tuesday to a Red Cross shelter set up in the Agency Longhouse in Warm Springs, or were taken in by relatives in that town.


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