Similar tragic deaths near Opal Springs
Two graves in Gray Butte Cemetery in Jefferson County mark the resting places of two young girls that met similar fates 25 years apart.
Rose Larkin was 12 years old in 1929, and her parents lived above the Crooked River near Opal Springs. She and her siblings were playing near the Crooked River Gorge, where a windlass was located to draw water up from the river.
The young girl remarked that she was going to take a ride on the slack cable extending out over the cliff. Her siblings urged her not to do so. Rose unheedingly grabbed ahold of the cable and swung high into the air. As the line tightened, the carrier basket, which was operated from a power house on the top of the cliff, started to descend. Her sister ran to her mother and cried for help as she saw her being pulled over the cliff. Her mother found her dangling high above the ground below the cliff. Her mother watched powerless as the little girl lost her grip and fell to her death on the rocks below. She died on Jan. 3, 1929.
Twenty-five years later, in 1944, Ramona Womack, who was 9 years old, was playing in the same area about one mile downstream from Opal Springs above the Crooked River. She was soon going to celebrate her 10th birthday. She bicycled out to the site with her sister and a friend. They began playing in the rim area. Ramona told the other girls that she was going to climb down to the Crooked River. The others heard her scream and ran to the edge but could not see her. The two girls then ran for help at a neighboring farm.
Rescuers arrived with a wrecker from a local business in Redmond. Her body was discovered about 200 feet below the rim. Rescuers descended into the canyon. The little girl was dead from her injuries. She was hauled nearly one-quarter mile to where the wrecker could lower cable into the canyon. The wrecker had to be backed into a precarious position to be able to lower the cable into the canyon. Ramona died on May 2, 1954.
A tragic playground on the cliffs above Crooked River east of present Crooked River Ranch had claimed the lives of two young girls. The two gravestones that mark their final resting place do not tell the tale of their deaths.
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