Rodeo, New Mexico
October 22, 2006
In all fairness, I took my walk in mid-afternoon, probably too early for the getting-off-work biking/jogging crowd. There are many access points to the parkway, but I got on it just past the pretty river bird mural, by South Main Street. I walked roughly a third of a mile east to Lee Street Grade, where the river is crossed by a historic 1909 bridge, fabricated by Columbia Bridge Company in Walla Walla. At this point, one can continue east another mile to just past where Wildhorse Creek empties into the Umatilla and the parkway ends at the Little League Ballpark. Or, do as I did, and take SE 8th Street to SE Court Avenue downtown, and turn left to the courthouse, to check out an old clock with a story.
The old courthouse clock: Pendleton’s fancy French Second Empire-style courthouse had to have a quality clock in its central clock tower, so in 1889, a Seth Thomas Model 17 counter-weight was ordered from Connecticut, along with a half-ton bell from Baltimore. Ravages of time and numerous fires took their toll, however, and in 1954 the old courthouse was torn down and a new one built. The clock was put in storage and all but forgotten for 33 years. Renewed interest and vigorous fundraising at the clock’s centennial in 1989 brought the clock out of storage and back to life in a tall, modern archway on the corner in front of the courthouse.
Parkway west: Cutting back onto the parkway from Main Street and heading the other direction, I passed murals, backyards, strategically placed benches for resting, shady underpasses, more bridges, and eventually the back of Round Up rodeo grounds. The river itself flowed languidly and sparkled in the sun, fringed by lush green riparian growth, occasionally so profuse as to obliterate views of the river itself.
Salmon are back: The Umatilla is a good habitat for birds in all four seasons. A painted mural on a wall edging the river on SE Byers tries to include most bird species that could be spotted, as well as fish under its surface. Largely thanks to the efforts of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, salmon have been restored to the river after a 70-year absence.
From journal Wild and Wooly Pendleton