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Cove Palisades State Park takes shape in 1947; Widening dangerous grade over Crooked River Canyon 1922

100 YEARS AGO

June 15, 1922

A grade wide enough for autos or rigs to pass at any place with a strong protection fence all the way from the top of the bridge will be the result of work which the State Highway Commission started at Trail Crossing the first of this week. Crews under Chief R.P. Newland will widen the grade and build the fence.

Trail Crossing, the Highway crossing at Crooked River, near the southern boundary of Jefferson County has long been considered a dangerous grade, although it is a remarkable thing that there has been but very few serious accidents on it. This is generally attributed to the fact that the grade is well known and that more than ordinary care is used in traversing it.

But with the building of The Dalles-California Highway through the county and the designation of Trail Crossing as the Crooked River crossing for the highway, travel has greatly increased. It is reported that considerable criticism of the State Commission has been taken to them owing to the condition of the grade.

Whether the Commission has dropped the proposition of a high bridge paralleling the railroad bridge is not known. The bridge would not cost a great deal more than a proper grade, would be far less dangerous, would be of untold benefit over the grade to farmers of the vicinity who have to haul loads and transact business across the canyon and the upkeep would be no heavier.

75 YEARS AGO

June 6, 1946

Continued from June 8

The Cove Palisades State Park is located in Jefferson County occupying all, or part, of seventeen sections in township 11 and 12 south, range 12 east, W.M.

The north boundary is approximately one- and one-half miles below the junction of the Metolius River with the Deschutes, its south margin approximately one mile south of the county bridge over Crooked River, and less than a half mile south of the Deschutes crossing, a maximum length of six miles and varying from a quarter mile to three and a quarter miles in width, covering most of the Crooked River ands Deschutes canyons for almost the entire park length.

Of this area, 2,671 acres are leased from the United States by and through the Central Oregon grazing project, La-OR-2, under a 50-year Cooperative and license agreement dated October 21, 1941. Another 2,582 acres are also leased from the United States, by and through the bureau of reclamation, under the terms of an annual permit, first dated March 9, 1949. This permit is renewable from year to year until the area is needed for reclamation purposes. In addition, 320 acres were purchased from the state land board, 800 acres from Jefferson County and 423 acres from seven private owners, the total as of June 30, 1942, being 7,066 acres of impressive scenic grandeur, and includes some of the finest trout fishing water in the state, all set aside for the enjoyment and edification of Oregon citizens and Oregon visitors.

The recreational features of the park area were initiated in 1937 and the project, with its accomplished development, was tentatively transferred to the Oregon State Highway commission in 1938, but its care was not fully assumed by the State parks department until June 1, 1941, when the present resident caretaker, R.H. Rands, was placed in charge.

The first development for the recreational purposes was by CCC forces, under the direction of the personnel of the Central Oregon grazing project, LA-OR-2. Work was started on the small flat area at the west end of the Crooked River bridge. Here an acre, more or less, was cleared and sowed to lawn grass, a water system installed, tables and benches hewn from juniper trees were set up, with an adequate number of park stoves and essential out-buildings. The tables and stoves are located between the pleasing vivid green grass plot and the river in the shade of the quite abundant growth of western juniper, white alder, and western choke cherry. These facilities are for the accommodation of picnic parties and campers, this park being an exception to the general parks department rule of "No camping allowed in state parks," as a particular concession to the many anglers who have annually camped in this locality and still desire to camp beside their favorite fishing stream, where they fish for the widely famous redside trout.

In December 1941, a parks department force account crew at the camp site to build a downstream fisherman's trail, but after a few weeks work the crew was recalled and the work suspended until peace again comes to the world.

For a sunshine outing The Cove area has much to offer. The elevation of the Crooked River bridge is approximately 1800 feet and the canyon rim is, roughly 2,600 feet. Rain is infrequent during the summer months and bright, health-giving sunshine generally prevails.

The climatological reports for the years 1935 to 1941, inclusive, show the yearly average number of days for Portland was 81, Salem 76, and Madras, the nearest meteorological station to the park, was 192. The average annual precipitation for the same period was Portland 55.2, Salem 53.1, and Madras 9.5 inches.

There were no cases of illness from tick bites in Jefferson County, and although assumed to be quite numerous in the Deschutes country, very few rattlesnakes were reported in the park area.

The approach to the park is from Culver, milepost 104.71 on The Dalles-California Highway, U.S. Highway 97, nine miles south of Madras and nineteen miles north of Redmond. Leaving Culver, the way is over the well-graded and graveled Culver-Grandview county road, five and a half miles to the park picnic area, just across the Crooked River bridge. Nearing the park, so flat is the plain, and so nearly perpendicular the rim-rock, that at a distance of a mile there is no visible evidence of a wide, deep canyon across the line of vision. Soon there is a break in the surface and a void appears, just before dropping over the east rim where the descent of the Crooked River canyon begins. Rounding a corner, the panorama of the canyon lay before us I the brightness of an early Central Oregon afternoon. Across the canyon was a nearly 600-foot wall of layered basalt, some in columnar form, some in jointed masses, that for untold centuries has been slowly disintegrating into the talus apron that spreads along its base. The road led down an easy grade cut from the stratified volcanic deposits that form the east wall of the outer canyon. In its depths directly below us were the picturesque park headquarters — the old orchards, the bridge over the foaming white water of the river, the power dam, plant and cottages. Beyond, the road winding up the opposite slope to the gap that marks the Deschutes River divide and is also the line of demarcation between the north end of the remarkable intra-canyon basalt island and the eroded sedimentary formation of the long narrow Peninsula that separates the two rivers to the south.

A short distance down stream from the Crooked River bridge are the caretaker's headquarters. These buildings were formerly the farm home of William and Amanda Boegli, who for 26 years lived there, growing and maintaining an orchard which, in earlier days, supplied the grain and stock farmers of a wide surrounding area with a fine quality of cherries, apricots, peaches, pears and apples, but this market was largely lost to them with the advent of paved highway and better transportation facilities. In connection with this farm property there was acquired a fine, generous spring that is of great value to this section of the park. Clear, cold and pure, it bursts from the hillside, less than a hundred feet upstream from the bridge and forty feet, more or less, above the river. The water is piped to the campground o the opposite side of the stream, supplies the caretaker's quarters, and irrigates the orchard to which it is led by ditch and metal flume.

Exclusive of the residence quarters of the caretaker, the entire park area has no occupied habitation. Where the Grandview Road crosses the Deschutes there are visible what appears to have been a field or two, but there were no buildings or other evidence of residence and, so far as known, no one has recently lived in the canyon area of the park, nor is there anything to induce permanent occupancy of these scenic canyon depths. In the past, people have utilized and may have occupied some of the now state-owned land along the outside canyon rims on both the east and west sides of the canyons, but at present no one lives close to the park area on either side.


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