Sunday, April 23, 2017

"The Telling" from a Canyon Called Hell

"They say the Chinook ain't comin' back,
And the cowman must carry the blame."

Those wistful words by Snake River cowboy poet, Smoke Wade, say a mouthful about how the traditional American cowboy faded from the Snake River canyon. Today, Mr. Wade writes stories and poems that recall his rugged ranching life among the rich native grasses and rock faced cliffs of America's deepest gorge.
Cowboy culture is honored with a bronze statue in downtown Joseph, Oregon
Smoke Wade was raised on a spread in Hells Canyon where the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers meet. Like his father and grandfather before him, Mr. Wade grew up on the back of horses and rode six miles to a one-room school during his elementary school days. It was in his blood. His grandfather, J.H. Jidge Tippett, was placed on the back of a horse with his mother and three siblings at the age of four in 1891, and rode from their camp in the Blue Mountains to a new life along the Snake.

The home ranch lay about seventy miles from the county seat of Enterprise, ore., on a travois trail that climbed 5,000 feet from the river to the prairie above. Mr. Wade's elders were renowned for driving cattle through the tricky rivers and even loading them one-by-one onto a boat (that's all that would fit) to reach grazing lands on the other side.
Smoke's first job off the ranch came in 1960 when he was fourteen years-old and worked as a muleskinner for the Cache Creek sheep drive. In those days, thousands of sheep were grazed at the bottom of Hell's Canyon in winter. In spring they were driven up the canyon, through the heart of downtown Enterprise, and on to summer pasture along the National Stock Drive Trail in the Wallowa Mountains. Mr. Wade celebrated his 15th birthday in the woods, sitting around a bonfire with the other men, nipping on a bottle and telling stories, with coyotes and cougars howling and screeching in the distance.

Tall tales and cowboy poems were a staple of life for America's legendary men of the land. It is how they held fast to essential cowboy wit and wisdom and passed it to the next generation. Now their words mostly memorialize the waning culture of the open range.
"Often, the 'telling' was a way of recalling the significance of events, the lives of other cowboys, or perhaps the general history of the range we rode. After the fall of the Hells Canyon ranching industry, cowboy poetry was a natural way for me to recall the history of the life I once lived and the cowboys I had known." Smoke Wade
 A Change of Season by Smoke Wade

We don't summer at Chesnim' these days,
Not since the For' Service shut 'er down;
They took away our permit to graze,
Now we pasture on the edge of town.

We don't fall ride at Cold Springs anymore,
In the teeth of an early winter storm;
Or hitch our boots by the cow camp door,
And play cribbage inside where it's warm.

We no longer winter by the Snake,
On benches carved below the rim;
The land was sold for the public's sake,
To the For' Service and to the BLM.

No, we don't spring calve on Cactus Flat,
Since it sold to the State Fish and Game;
They say the Chinook ain't comin' back,
And the cowman must carry the blame.

So, we gather now, at Third and Grand,
A beer garden after the parade;
And, here we'll make one final stand,
Until this season begins to fade.

© 1994, Smoke Wade. Reproduced here by permission of the author.
For permission to reprint this article contact Worthwhile Media.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fish Free This Weekend in Oregon

Oregon's free fishing days in 2017 are:
April 22-23
June 3-4
Nov 25-26
Dec 31 & Jan 1, 2018

Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife advises that the need for a license is waived during free fishing days, but all other regulations still apply.  There is loads of good fishing information for beginners at Take Me Fishing, and specific tips for fishing Wallowa Lake is at the Best Fishing in America site.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Nez Perce Trail

During your stay at the Mountain View Motel and RV Park, you may want to check out the Nez Perce National Historical Trail, a portion of which traverses Northeastern Oregon. The trail is part of the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Park which is comprised of thirty-eight various sites of Nez Perce history in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Montana.

 Nez Perce Trail marks historic flight of the Wallowa Band

The Nez Perce Trail marks the attempted flight in 1877 by the Chief Joseph band of Nez Perces from Wallowa County to British Territory (Canada) where Chief Sitting Bull had sought asylum. This flight became necessary in the wake of broken treaties, skirmishes with settlers, and pursuit by the US Army.

The trail was originally added to the National Park Trail System by Congress in 1986, with fourteen additional historic sites in Oregon, Washington, and Montana included eight years later. Of the 55 miles of trail in Oregon, 40 miles cross private property and 15 are on national forest land. This is not a trail you can follow in the conventional sense -- a line with a fixed starting and ending point. And it can only be toured by vehicle intermittently because it traverses rugged and largely inaccessible country.  

gravesite of elder chief joseph with wallowa mountains in background
The Gravesite of the Elder Chief Joseph Near Wallowa Lake
Chief Joseph's Grave

The Nez Perce Trail starts at the grave of Old Chief Joseph who died in 1870. This site, open to the public, is located along Hwy. 82, one mile south of Joseph, Oregon, on the north end of Wallowa Lake. It is the final resting place of the elder Chief Joseph who was originally buried near the convergence of the Wallowa and Lostine rivers, a traditional Nez Perce camp located about 12 miles northwest of Enterprise, Oregon. The chief's original grave was desecrated so it was moved to this spot near the lake in 1928 for protection. This is a sacred and sensitive place for the Nez Perce people.
Stone wall and gateposts built by the Umatilla Tribal Civilian Conservation Corps at Chief Joseph gravesite
Entrance to the Chief Joseph Gravesite near Joseph, OR
The cemetery is separated from the highway by a cobble wall and gateposts built by the Umatilla Tribal Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938-40.  The younger Chief Joseph is buried near Nespelem, Washington, where he died in 1904 on the Colville Indian Reservation after trying unsuccessfully to return to the Wallowas with his people.
Dug Bar

The trail heads northeast and crosses the Snake River at Dug Bar, the traditional crossing site where the Chief Joseph band forded before the 1877 Nez Perce War. They were intending to settle on the reservation near Lapwai, Idaho, but some young warriors were accused of killing settlers before they got there and the Army retaliated, so the Chief Joseph and the band headed to Montana until things cooled down but they escalated instead.

 Joseph Canyon

Another historical site along the trail is the dramatic Joseph Canyon Overlook along Oregon Hwy 3 between Enterprise and the Washington border. It was named after Chief Joseph who is traditionally thought to have been born in a cave on the east bank of Joseph Creek in Asotin County. Joseph Canyon contains Joseph Creek, a tributary of the Grande Ronde River, which flows into the Snake River. Prior to European settlement, the Nez Perce used the canyon bottomlands as a travel corridor from summer camp sites in the Wallowa valley to winter camps along the Grande Ronde and Snake rivers where wildlife and plant foods were plentiful. In later centuries, the Nez Perce grazed horses on the canyon grasslands. The Nez Perce Tribe lost the canyon land because of broken treaties but the tribe has since repurchased it. 
Tipi in foreground at Joseph Canyon Overlook in NE Oregon
Joseph Canyon Overlook in Northeastern Oregon
The Nez Perce Trail goes from Joseph, Oregon, to Northern Montana
The Nez Perce trail enters Idaho at Lewiston and cuts across north-central Idaho, entering Montana near Lolo Pass. It then travels through the Bitterroot Valley, after which it re-enters Idaho at Bannock Pass and travels east back into Montana at Targhee Pass to cross the Continental Divide. It bisects Yellowstone National Park, and then follows the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone out of Wyoming into Montana. The trail heads north to the Bear's Paw Mountains, ending 40 miles from the Canadian border, where the decimated band surrendered to federal authorities.

Driving from LaGrande, Oregon

If you are coming to Joseph from LaGrande on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway you will pass Minam Hill, which marked the westernmost boundary of the Wallowa band's traditional territory, as well as that of the entire Nez Perce people. As the highway crosses the river, Bear Creek flows into the Wallowa River on the south side of the bridge. This excellent hay country supported the Nez Perce herds of thousands of horses and cattle.

About a mile east are the remnants of a marker old Chief Joseph made from poles set in the ground, originally about 10 feet tall. They mark the Wallowa reservation boundary of the 1863 treaty, which Joseph did not sign (and eventually led to the running battle from Wallowa to northern Montana). These poles were maintained by the Indians until 1877. They have diminished markedly since then. 

Hasotino Village Site

Another Nez Perce historical site is the Hasotino Village Site or Hesutiin, one of the largest ancient villages on the Snake River. An exhibit in the visitor center at Hell’s Gate State Park over the border in Idaho provides information.

Pictographs and petroglyphs along the Snake River at Buffalo Eddy, south of Lewiston, Idaho, can be seen by boat.

Interactive Map of the National Historic Nez Perce Trail

FAQs about the National Historic Nez Perce Trail

Here is a good web page about the Nez Perce National Historic Park

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Oregon Printmakers Exhibit

The Josephy Center of Arts and Culture presents an exhibit of Oregon Printmakers from the collection of Christy Wyckoff, April 1 through May 30, 2017, 403 W Main St. in Joseph. Oregon.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

York Comes to Enterprise March 5

The one-man play, "York," comes to the OK Theatre in Enterprise on Sunday, March 5.  

York, played by David Casteal of Spokane, was William Clark's childhood companion and slave. He accompanied the Corps of Discovery as the only black man on the expedition. This stirring performance describes the journey from the eyes of York, his history with Clark, and how became involved with the expedition. The story is interwoven with a blend of African drumming and traditional Native American drum recordings. 

York proved an important figure in the expedition, but as a black man and a slave, he was not recognized as a member of the Corps until nearly 200 years later, when President Bill Clinton posthumously awarded him the rank of Honorary Sergeant in the Corps of Discovery.

The play was conceived by David Casteal and playwright Bryan Harnetiaux, Spokane Civic Theatre’s Playwright in Residence. Directed by Susan Hardie, it premiered in Spokane in 2005 and has been performed for enthusiastic audiences from the Pacific Northwest to New York City.

Doors open at 6 p.m. with curtain time at 7 p.m. Casteal has been on numerous trips to Africa to study drumming and dance and he brings with him his collection of instruments and artifacts to display in the lobby, where savory refreshments will be available at the concession area.

Tickets may be purchased at the Dollar Stretcher in Enterprise, Joseph Hardware in Joseph and, and the Lostine Tavern in Lostine. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for seniors and veterans and $15 for general admission. Please mail group ticket inquiries and other questions to or call (541) 426-3545.

Friday, February 10, 2017

What goes on at the Mountain View Motel & RV Park in Winter?

Mudding and sanding sheetrock, wiring, plumbing, insulation and sealing, tiling, and installing new fixtures, along with the usual excellent guests services, of course. We're working on #2, the Fisherman's Room.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Coming January 2017 in Oregon's Fabulous NE Corner

Jan 13, 7 to 9 pm

Bart Budwig & Marshal Mclean & Kory Quinn perform at Terminal Gravity Brewery and Pub,803 SE School St, Enterprise, Oregon.
Jan 14
Wallowa County Gamblers Snowmobile Club Annual Poker Run; Salt Creek Summit -  30 mile loop on groomed trails.  There will be a dinner and raffle to follow.  Come join the fun, not a member that's OK.  Questions? Call Outlaw Motor Sports 541-426-3491. 
Jan 14, 7-10 pm
Tunesmith Night at Stockman's Lounge, 111 W. Main St., Enterprise, Oregon. Attend the intimate showcase of original music where songwriters present their original work and mingle with other tunesmiths and the public. Tunesmith Night happens every second Saturday, Oct. through May.
Doors open at 6pm, music at 7pm, all ages welcome. This month features: Marshall McLean, Bart Budwig, Kory Quinn. Admission is $10 at the door or by season pass. Food, beer, wine, and mixed drinks available. Call Janice Carper for more info 541-426-3390.
Season Passes will be available for purchase at this performance for $65. That covers all eight shows of the 2016-17 season.

Jan 18 to 21
Eagle Cap Extreme. Oregon's only Iditarod and Yukon Quest Qualifier!
Joseph Community Center and Ferguson Ridge. 541-263-0234.
The Eagle Cap Extreme runs through the rugged Wallowa Mountains in Northeastern Oregon. The event starts with morning Vet Checks on Main Street in Joseph at 9 am followed by afternoon checks in Enterprise at 1 pm. The Vet Checks are a fun way to meet the mushers and interact with the dogs! They are free and open to the public. Then join the mushers at a community potluck at the Joseph Civic Center.

The race starts Jan 19 at 1 pm at the Fergi Ski Area, about 9 miles southeast of Joseph. Fans can line up on the side of the starting chute to root for their favorite team! Race Start Parking is provided nearby, with a shuttle starting at 10:45 or prepare for a 5 to 10 minute walk on a plowed road to get to the Fergi Ski Area. The race start is also free and open to the public. There will be a banquet on Saturday evening.



Saturday, January 7, 2017

View "The Big One" with us in Joseph, Oregon

The major astronomical event of 2017 is coming

 The moon will block the sun on August 21st in our first total solar eclipse since 1979.

Artist Interpretation of Total Solar Eclipse over the Wallowa Mountains

Eclipse chasers from around the world are expected to descend on Oregon in 2017, and many camp sites under the path of totality -- a narrow swath about 75 miles wide that swoops across America in an arc from Oregon to South Carolina -- are already reserved.

In northeastern Oregon, the path of totality includes the area south of the Wallow Mountains. Joseph, just to the north of the Wallows, is one ring out from the path of totality, and most of the sun will still be dramatically blocked by the moon.

View the Eclipse from Joseph, Oregon

The Mountain View Motel & RV Park has a large lawn and a great unencumbered expanse of sky above, perfect for donning eclipse glasses and viewing the spectacle. The good news is, we still have some vacancies. But call quickly because they won't last.

Get Eclipse Shades

No matter where you view the eclipse, be sure to use eclipse glasses that block out harmful ultraviolet light. These glasses should be worn whenever a part of the sun can be seen. You can pick up a pair of eclipse shades online for $2.99 each at

By the way, the accompanying image is our digital artist's rendition of the event, and we don't expect the sun to be that big! Nevertheless, a total solar eclipse is a sight you will never forget.

Call the Mountain View Motel & RV Park today at (541) 432-2982 to reserve your spot.