A Long Time Ago

Ever wonder what was going on one hundred years ago? Have you ever thought you might like to have lived then? I have, but then I lived seventy-five years ago, which isn’t that far from one hundred.

In my collection of Central Oregon/Long Hollow Ranch information there are stories of life in the area from the time of the first settlers. It’s interesting to see that, if local residents had access to the news, they might have read that 1914 was the year World War I began, the first traffic light in America was installed in Cleveland, OH, and the Ford Motor Co. was paying five dollars a day! I also found that the Army Air Corps consisted of fifty men, and new that year were the Greyhound Bus, Mother’s Day, and Paul Bunyan.

Here in the Lower Bridge area of Central Oregon, life was difficult, but the people were accustomed to hardship. They helped each other out in hard times and worked together to accomplish needed tasks. They enjoyed each other’s company on Sundays at the Sunday School held in the Lower Bridge School and on holidays when they would gather to celebrate and share the bounties of their respective kitchens.

There was a bridge across the Deschutes River and that crossing had been dubbed Lower Bridge because it was downstream from the other major crossing at Tetherow. A post office was in operation at the bridge, and across the river, painted on a rock cliff, was an advertisement for the Lynch and Roberts Store in Redmond, parts of which are still visible.

By 1914 the irrigation ditches had been enlarged and improved to bring life-giving water to the area. Without this irrigation water there could have been no thriving farms or ranches. Of course the work of building these waterways was all done without the benefit of motorized machines. Horsepower (literally) and manpower got the job done.

By 1914, the Holmes family had occupied the big house at Long Hollow Ranch for four years. Apparently the Lower Bridge district consisted of very congenial neighbors. A Mr. Cecil Holloway wrote in his memoirs about the Lower Bridge School, a one-room building heated in winter by a wood-burning stove using the ever-abundant juniper. Drinking water was carried in a large crock from a spring nearby. Most children walked to school; a few could afford to ride a horse which was housed for the day in a small barn on the school yard. Mr. Holloway recounts that the children had good teachers and classmates, and that many of them kept in touch the rest of their lives.

I think most of those original homesteads are gone now, having been abandoned or absorbed by other farms and ranches. But the astute explorer can still find remains of fences, foundations, and roads here and there. Thinking about these things helps add to the “Count your blessings” list.