Written by Migin on 28 Sep, 2004
Growing from an idea born in the 1940s to open as a 70-acre garden in 2001 (it will expand to 240-acres over the next decade) the current 80-acre Oregon Garden, divided into 20-plus specialty gardens, showcases various plants and plantings. In total there are…Read More
Growing from an idea born in the 1940s to open as a 70-acre garden in 2001 (it will expand to 240-acres over the next decade) the current 80-acre Oregon Garden, divided into 20-plus specialty gardens, showcases various plants and plantings. In total there are 3,000 varieties of plants now in the garden.
Some Features and Amenities of Interest
--Interspersed are water features, fountains of various types, pools, ponds, waterfalls, streams, and a wetland. An example: the Sensory Garden contains an 8-foot high water curtain, a fountain of downward jets spaced maybe a foot apart along a simple curved pipe-like 20-foot wide frame, and spurting a steady stream of water from each that sways in response to the wind.
--Some water features are expansive enough to comprise the whole of the specialty garden. The 1-acre A-Mazing Water Garden is a series of frog resident water lily covered ponds crisscrossed with paths. There is an 80-foot long water wall running along one side, like a waterfall but with a lighter flow -- a water trickle.
--Inhabited by many local birds (158 different species have been seen throughout the garden), the extensive wetland area is actually a part of the water reclamation and treatment system for the area. During periods of low flow, summer in particular, treated water discharge from Silverton raised Silver Creek water temperature, which can affect its ecology. Now passing through ponds in the wetlands area water temperature lowers, is used for garden irrigation, and returns to the water table indirectly. The wetland was constructed, dug out, built up, 158,000-cubic-yards of soil moved in its creation, but this isn’t apparent -- everything seems well established, grown-in.
--The Bosque is a plaza with 40 maple trees planted in square containers, many of which are sunk in a raised pool to (hopefully) create the illusion that the trees are growing in the water.
is sprinkled throughout the garden. A bronze bust commemorating Bobbie the Wonder Dog sits atop a raised pedestal at the head of a long narrow raised pool fountain. Bobbie, a Scotch Collie, lost on a family trip to Indiana in 1923, walked for six months and over 2500 miles to find his way home. There are more commemorations for Bobbie in downtown Silverton.
--The Pet Friendly Garden is in fact a teaching tool for humans instructing you on which garden plants are safe for pets and which are toxic. If your pets spend time outdoors, you should check this out.
--A Children's Garden has a large sandbox with "dinosaur bones" to excavate, and animal topiaries amongst the features that should appeal to kids. There is a child‘s size amphitheater here that is well used for educational lectures and demos for kids.
--The Axis Fountain forms the heart of the garden. It sits on a rise at one end of the Oregon Way, a series of diagonal paths that cross each other again and again so that the lawn between forms a series of green diamonds when viewed from either end. The way is bordered either side by triangular flowerbeds tucked into the angles.
--The Gordon House is Frank Lloyd Wright’s only design built in Oregon; rescued from demolition, moved to the garden, rehabilitated, and opened for touring; it’s also the only publicly accessible Wright in the Northwest. My entry on the house is here.
--The Rose Garden contains 40 varieties and a number of complimentary plants.
--The Northwest Garden showcases native species and varietals.
--The focus of the Oak Grove is the Signature Oak. It’s over 400 years old and looks it; gnarled, moss covered, some of its thick limbs so heavy they’ve drooped and grow outwards along the ground.
--The Market Garden contains many food and other useful plants. One elegant curved metal arbor supports a burgeoning hops plant while a straight wooden one is climbed by grape vines. These represent two leading products out of the region: beer (66% of the world’s hop supply comes from the U.S. Northwest) and wine.
--The Conifer Garden includes one of the largest collections of miniature conifers (cone bearing plants) in the country. Some are quite strangely shaped. A few of the larger ones look as if they’ve leaped from the pages of a Dr Seuss book. There are substantial standing stones in one hollow that commemorate contributions from the Western Division of the American Conifer Society to this garden’s formation.
--Contributors are also commemorated in the Honors Garden where a series of cedar posts interspersed with plants in a spiral setting hold brass plaques with names of those who made special contribution to the Oregon Garden‘s development and creation.
--Music in the Garden is a summertime feature. A musician sits under a canopy playing an acoustical instrument for about 4 hours. It’s a very casual, not like a concert but more like having a radio on. People pause, listen, and move on.
--The Visitor Center houses a gift shop and the Garden Café that has both inside (next to large windows) and outside seating with sweeping views of the garden. The menu as it was on my last visit is visible in the images below.
Visiting on a bright summer day places you in the midst of color so vivid and intense the flowers seem to glow like neon. I actually found it painful to look at some of the larger solid colored flower beds. They planted 40,000 summer annuals for 2004. That’s lots of neon (blue), argon (red), etc. Planned as an all-season garden (admissions are lower in winter) there is always something in bloom. I’ve also been here in early spring with a predominantly gray overcast sky and still found it colorful. Much of the garden is unaffected (like the many water features) by seasonal change, always colorful, or appeals through texture and contrast.
The various sections of the garden (the advantage of the gently hilly terrain they created) are laid out in such a way that the view around you is usually fairly restricted to the specialty garden you are currently exploring, even some of the more apparently panoramic areas, probably meant to focus and intensify your immediate experience. There are some viewpoints where you can really get the bigger picture.
A guided-tour Tram (at an additional $2 fee with ages 3 and under being free) roams the garden, taking about 20 minutes to complete its loop. A nice alternative to a self-guided walking tour, it makes stops a various points so you can hop off to explore. Each of the five stops has a large (probably 3 by 5 feet) "you are here" map with a descriptive list of points of interest near that stop.
The Oregon Garden Guide duplicates much of the information on the main website, and expands on some of it. Upon entry to the garden, you will be given a magazine version of the Guide with a map (map available online here) and oodles of other information including, yes, advertisements for local shops, restaurants, and attractions. Although it lacks some details, it includes others not available on either website. We were also given a copy of Dig: The Magazine of Northwest Gardeners on this last visit, but I don’t know if that is an ongoing or short term extra. It includes listings for garden and plant events in Oregon for the current year.
The gardens are located on the outskirts of Silverton, a town noted for its murals, and less than half-an-hour from Salem.
Other Useful Information
--The garden has many benches scattered through out it. An important feature if you decide to walk the whole 80 acres as we did. There are 14,000 feet of pathways.
--Pets are permitted, on-leash (maximum 8 feet), but clean-up is your responsibility.
--Smoking is not permitted. Other restrictions are listed at the visiting link (listed below) near the bottom of the page.
--The garden hosts a number of events throughout the year: teas, special in-depth tours, demonstrations, and plant shows.
--There is a Summer Concert series. The season, just completed, included performers as diverse as the Oregon Symphony Orchestra (which performs every year), Little River Band, and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. These concerts take place after regular garden hours and have a separate admission. Tickets are $20 for non-members.
(Detailed info on visiting the garden.)
879 West Main Street (1 mile south of Silverton on OR214)
PO Box 155
Silverton OR 97381
May to September: 10-6
October to April: 10-4
Oregon Garden Admission
--Oregon Garden members are given discounts at many other gardens throughout the U.S. and Canada. If you are a member of some other garden, check to see if there is a reciprocal program that would give you a discount here.
May to Oct - $8 Adults, $7 Seniors (60+), $6 Students (8-17)
Sept to April - $5 Adults, $4 Seniors, $4 Students
-- Free – Visitors under seven and members
503/874-8100, toll free 877/674-2733, fax 503/874-8200, firstname.lastname@example.org
Giftshop: 503/874-6016, email@example.com
Gordon House: 503/874-8826, firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a mural that started the whole thing. That was 1992, trickle-down economics had trickled out, the cupboard was bare. Wondering how to get people on their way to Silver Falls State Park or to Mt Angel to stop in Silverton instead of just…Read More
It was a mural that started the whole thing. That was 1992, trickle-down economics had trickled out, the cupboard was bare. Wondering how to get people on their way to Silver Falls State Park or to Mt Angel to stop in Silverton instead of just driving through, they had the idea -- start small, give them something to look at, not requiring much time commitment, quick and easy, just get them to stop. So they had a mural painted. Look at our mural, they said. And people did. It was quick, it was easy. Some of those people looked around and decided to explore. Let’s do lunch.
Aha, it worked. Quick, paint another one. Hey, all you who looked at the mural, we’ve got another one. Come on back over. People did. As Linda Ellerbe says, "and so it goes." There are now eleven murals in Silverton. And so it goes. The tour is a walk through history, not only of what actually was in Silverton, but reflective of the hopes and aspirations of much of small-town America.
The Mural Walking Tour Map (pdf) contains locations for many city services and amenities, and an error - the lower left two locations should each be one block north. The second from the top left marks the location for two of the murals. Most murals have an accompanying explanatory plaque or panel.
Silverton Mural Society
PO Box 880 Silverton, Oregon 97381 USA
Vince Till, president
(*d items are subjects covered more fully by entries elsewhere in this journal.)
*Bobbie, the Prodigal Dog
Lori Lee Webb. 2004.
Location: S. Water and Lewis Streets.
When separated from his people in Indiana Bobbie the collie traveled somewhere between 2551 and 2800 miles on his own to return home to Silverton in 1924. The mural illustrates this true story.
The Four Freedoms
David McDonald. 1992/3.
Location: Second and E. Main Streets.
This mural, recreating paintings by Norman Rockwell, and inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt "four freedoms" W.W. II rallying cry consists of five panels, one for each freedom and an explanatory panel. Captions on an easily overlooked sloped ledge define each freedom. From left to right: of religion, of free speech, from want, from fear.
*Gallon House Bridge
Lori Lee Webb. 2000.
Location: Lewis and S. Water Streets.
Commemorates Gallon House covered bridge just north of town. The poem written onto the curve of road refers to events giving the bridge its name (dispensing of illegal alcohol) as well as other events the artist imagines might have taken place there.
David McDonald. 1996.
Location: 205 S First Street, at Lewis.
Silverton native Homer Davenport was in his time a well respected and influential political cartoonist (some are reproduced within the mural) and the first importer of Arabian horses into the US. Homer Davenport Days are held the first weekend in August with a parade, food, entertainment, and the quirky ‘Davenport Races.’ The International Cartoon Contest really does draw entries of political cartoons from around the globe.
The Mammoth: The World’s Largest Camera
David McDonald. 1992.
Location: 441 N Water Street, at Park.
This extraordinary image is based upon an actual 1400-pound (fully assembled with plate holder) camera, and upon a photograph of that enormous camera preparing to take an equally enormous photograph, on 8 by 4.5-feet plates, of a train in 1900 (for which it was purpose built). A story you can read here. Compare the photo in the article with the image below. Essentially a publicity ploy (for the Chicago and Alton Railway), this mural serves the same purpose in Silverton.
Old Oak Tree
Lori Lee Webb (?)
Location: 213 E Main Street, between Water and First Streets.
This tree was found guilty of blocking traffic (as Homer Davenport wrote in The Country Boy), so, chop, chop, and... timber. In the early days, wagons just drove round it, and it stayed, like a roundabout, until the city achieved a certain size when its presence became an inconvenience. The trunk is enshrined in a nearby park. A rare preserved instance of an occurrence probably duplicated endlessly worldwide.
Location: 1787 Pine Street.
While not the route followed by Lewis and Clark the Oregon Trail (Map showing both routes) was a long incredibly arduous trek requiring an amazing amount of stamina and commitment to complete. Many didn’t, one in ten died, dotting the trail with graves and the detritus of the weary, unable or unwilling to transport it farther. Those following the trail did so for so many reasons: get richer, stop being poor, convert the natives, preserve their own beliefs, ‘advance’ civilization or get away from it, because it was there… Nature abhors a vacuum, real or imagined, and so does America (apparently). They came. Possibility, opportunity, advantage. Maybe the only thing they had in common was the willingness to take a risk. Covering a period of decades this is still perhaps the defining moment of Oregon history. It doesn’t matter that Silverton was not directly on the Trail, any and all Oregon communities can claim decent. Unfortunately, this mural fronts a field that‘s fenced, you can‘t really get close to it (hence no attribution or year of execution -- I couldn‘t see them). After that build up I bet that‘s disappointing. I agree.
The Red Sox
Kelly Farrah. 2002.
Location: 500 block of ‘C’, between James and Water Streets. Behind Silver Creek (bowling) Lanes.
The Red Sox (one of Boston’s minor league teams) played ball, fairly successfully, in Silverton from 1937 to 1954. It was the mill workers of the Silverton Timber Company who filled the roster, supplying also the coach and manager, and community support that made it work. Several players went on to the majors, including Portland native Johnny Pesky. One of the more striking features of the mural is the diamond annotated with the names of all players for every position, all the short stops together, etc.
America‘s game, some say, or perhaps, as other say Baseball as America. (Northwest baseball tip #1: Ichiro!)
Santa and Mrs. Claus
Location: W. Main and Fiske Streets.
Roger Cooke. 2002.
Captioned: Silverton, the town that still believes. The caption says it all.
*Silverton: City of the Falls
Lori Lee Webb. 1998.
Location: Main and Water Streets, by the bridge.
Commemorates nearby Silver Falls State Park and its 10 falls. The fall pictured appears to be South Falls.
Our Twentieth Century
David McDonald. 2000.
Location: C Street between Water and James Streets.
My favorite by far. A collage of events and people significant to and representative of 20th-century America, unlabeled but mostly obvious. Raising the flag at Iwo Jima is such an iconic image as to be instantly recognizable. Lucille Ball, Charlie Chaplin, Charlie McCarthy. The woman in the long dress draped with sash reading ‘equality’ carrying an American flag seems an obvious choice for the suffragette movement. Other things are perhaps less obvious. The baby may represent Louise Brown, and the other ‘test tube’ babies. Is the breached red brick wall symbolic of the breaking of the Berlin Wall?
The mural is clearly nostalgic, but also cautionary, reminding us of both the successes and failures of our last century, while reinforcing the idea that the events continue their influence. A suited astronaut with the Earth over his shoulder is clearly the moon landing. The shuttle launch reflected on his helmet brings the program into the present.
Many of the images are multi-representational, but not everything can be included after all. The radioactive shelter icon represents not only the shelters themselves, but the entire cold war, nuclear proliferation, possibly even the Cuban missile crisis specifically, a headline for which fades into the painted cement blocks nearby. Louis Armstrong is more than a man with a horn, he’s an entire musical genre. Jackie Robinson stands for far more than the integration of baseball. You could make an entire day of listing the connections branching from the various images, probably surprising the artist with some he never anticipated, or perhaps never meant.
Between the panels are quotes arranged in columns. From the dark tensions of, "We will bury you," to the inspiration of, "I have a dream," through the energetic burst of, "Awop bop aloobop alop bam boom!" to the imaginative blessing of, "May the force be with you," each set of words evokes moments and moods that like the images expand like ripples.
Part of what appeals to me is analyzing the choices McDonald made and considering what choices I would’ve made. Why include the television remote while excluding any overt reference to computers? Why choose a medic helicopter against a peace sign with a purple heart hanging from it to represent the Vietnam War? I can guess, but I could be wrong. It’s a mural made for contemplation, so take your time.
There are two reasons to go to Silver Falls State Park, the waterfalls, and then there’s everything else. Annually about 750,000 people come to the park for one thing or the other.
Oregon is blessed with many waterfalls. The Columbia River Gorge (My Gorge Journal…Read More
There are two reasons to go to Silver Falls State Park, the waterfalls, and then there’s everything else. Annually about 750,000 people come to the park for one thing or the other.
Oregon is blessed with many waterfalls. The Columbia River Gorge (My Gorge Journal ), that natural boundary between Oregon and Washington, has the largest concentration of falls in the world. The lushly beautiful northwestern rainforest of Silver Falls, one of the largest State Parks (8,700 acres), has ten falls linked by a single path.
[Waterfall facts: A single drop (unbroken top to bottom) is properly called a fall, multi-drops (dropping to ledges before dropping again) are falls. Groups, like Niagara, are falls regardless of the drop total. A non-seasonal continuous flow defines year-round fall(s).]
The falls range from 27 feet to 177 feet-tall, with both single and double drops. Four overhang the trail, letting you pass behind a wall of water of various density and width. I fully understand that this seems completely thrilling and romantic to most people, myself included, I just don’t fully understand why. But standing behind this liquid wall looking outward through the distortions of the water at a world become surreal, with the wet smell of earth and rock surrounding you while the spray cools your skin is a fairly magical moment. This isn’t a new experience, Vision Quest ceremonies were once held behind the curtain of North Falls. I leave it to you to develop your own theory as to why it resonates for you.
The path, known as the Trail of Ten Falls, twists past large Douglas fir (and other conifers), moss-draped trees, large ferns (smaller ones sprout from the cliff face, from the sides of trees…), wildflowers, and crossing creeks, outflow of the falls you pass. You’re getting a geological tour as well. The volcanic eruptions known as the Columbia River flows (instrumental in creating the Gorge as well) covered an area of 25,000-square-miles, laid down in at least four recognizable layers. Here, the basaltic flows overlaid the previous limestone deposits. Erosion from Silver Creek and its tributaries have contributed to the canyon’s shape, carving out the softer underlying stone to create the grotto like overhangs behind some of the falls. The canyon walls reveal the story. Behind the falls, don‘t forget to look up as well. In some places, decomposed trees (caught just standing around by the lava flows) have left lava-casts of their shape in the roofs of these grottos.
The path, a series of inter-connected trails (see resources below for map links), is 8.7 miles long, configured as two uneven, but overlapping, loops. Mostly narrow, unfortunately unpaved (although roughly graveled),and often not an easy grade – in a couple of places, the rise in terrain has even necessitated inclusion of sizable flights of stairs (marked on the trail map), although some stretches are not only level but covered with pavers. The whole experience can be tranquil, it can enervate, or it can exhaust; certainly doing the entire trail ensures sleeping soundly that night. More lasting are the memories.
Open: 6am-9pm (June 1 to August 31); 7am-8pm (September); 7am-7pm (October); 8am-5pm (November 1- February 28); 8am-6pm (March); 7am-8pm (April l 1-May 31)
Fees: $3 Day Use fee, payable at the yellow box. Boxes will be found next to the North Falls parking area or on your way into the South Falls/Lodge area. Display the receipt on your dashboard or risk having your car towed. A camping permit serves this function.
Charges for overnight stays depend upon your chosen option. (See camping below.) Discovery Season (October 1- April 30) has lower rates. Rates are posted on the Park’s website.
Contact: (State Park info) 800/551-6949, (camping) 503/873-8681, (reservations) 800/452-5687, (Conference center) 503/873-8875; Feedback & Info
Getting to Silver Falls: Highway 214 passes through the park and all the parking for the falls.
--15 miles from Silverton: Drive south on Hwy-214.
--26 miles From Salem: Take Highway 22 east to the junction with 214. Turn left on 214 and follow it into the park.
Abridged Falls Tour
It’s possible to see nine (or possibly all ten) waterfalls without (for whatever reason) doing the entire trail. It requires parking your vehicle four times, viewing one fall from a distance, and backtracking quite a bit. This shortened tour will function too as a comprehensive sampling (at least a little taste of everything) of the trail, is a good workout and sleep inducement. All turns are lefts, unless originating in Silverton, which makes the initial one a right. Total distance walked: about 4 miles. Option B adds 1.2 miles, Option C adds .6 miles.
Parking #1 (1 Fall): Follow signs leading to South Falls and the Lodge. Then follow signs specifically to the Lodge. Park. Visit the lodge (see below). Get maps and other brochures. Walk to the fall overlook. Hike down the trail (about .2 miles) to stand behind the falls. Backtrack. (Option B: The one fall not included in my truncated tour is .6 miles further along this trail, adding 1.2 miles to the total -- if you’re up for it.) Return to your vehicle. Total of about .5 miles.
#2 (6 Falls): Proceed 2 miles east/northeast on Highway 214 to Winter Falls parking. The trailhead is beyond. Follow trail down to North Falls. Continue on. At the fork, go left. Next up are Middle (another walk behind) and Drake Falls. At the next junction, continue on a few feet to Lower North Falls. Backtrack and turn left to visit Double Falls. Backtrack to the fork. Proceed on (without turning) to Twin Falls. Backtrack to the fork, turn left, and return to parking. Total: 3 miles.
#3 (1 Fall): From Winter Falls drive east about .5 miles to the next parking from where you can see the entire distant North Falls. Total: zero.
#4 (1 Fall): Again travel eastwards. From the parking walk over the pedestrian bridge and turn left and proceed to Upper North Falls, the coolest part of the canyon in my opinion -- like air-conditioning. Backtrack to parking. (Option C: If you have the time, you can go straight by the bridge and visit the walk-behind North Falls, adding another .6 miles to this segment.) Now you can continue on to Silverton, Salem, or visit somewhere else in the park. Total .4 miles, or 1 mile.
And the Other
The park contains an additional 25 miles of hiking, biking, and horse trails; swimming, picnicking facilities, a children’s playground, camping, cabins, a conference center, a visitor center housed in an historic lodge, and lots of opportunities to bird- and animal-watch. Last trip I saw six chipmunks, two deer, a number of butterflies, and numerous birds. Fishing is all catch and release, with barbless hooks only.
Built as the park’s food concession in the 1940s, this Adirondack-style building is now used as a visitor center. The Lodge contains a series of interpretive displays, a small gift shop, a snack bar, indoor seating (outdoor seating is also available), and a large stone fireplace. Walls are either windowed or hold historical photos of the falls. Maps and brochures are near the main entrance. The gift shop, run by Friends of Silver Falls, includes a selection of books and videos on Oregon subjects, and a map full of round-headed pins showing the home locations of many visitors over the last few years.
The immediate area around the lodge has multiple picnicking areas, children’s playground, additional snack facility, and ample parking. Last trip here, I found someone painting the view of the creek -- easel and all. It’s a lovely area. The paths are level, with pavers, and fully ADA accessible. There is a great view of South Falls.
There are a number of campgrounds and options. Tent sites, horse camps, youth camps, group camps, RV (singular and group), both one and two room rustic cabins (locking doors and electricity, but no inside cooking or plumbing) are available. The Silver Falls Conference Center also does lodging with meals. Quiet hours in the campgrounds are 10pm-7am.
--Bear and Mountain Lion (Cougar) inhabit more remote areas. Use caution. Report any sightings to park rangers. The visitor center has brochures instructing what to do should you encounter the more dangerous wildlife.
--Hiking trails can be slick in damp weather.
--Damaged by winter storms trails can be closed until repairs are complete, which on a meager budget sometimes takes a while. Check park website for updates.
--Pets allowed on leash only (except in pet exercise area), but are restricted from the buildings and most of the Trail of Ten Falls.
The *d maps are available in hardcopy at many tourist info stations, various attractions about the state, and at the park.
-- Trail Map* (pdf)
--The Park Map* includes a detail map of the campgrounds. (pdf)
--Bird List (text file)
--Friends of Silver Falls State Park has lots of information on the park. Unfortunately, the last update was in 2002.
--Interactive Park Features Map
[Related locations that can be visited follow this story.]
Mid-August and he’s in Wolcott, Indiana. His curiosity brought three of them upon him, angry and snarling. He flees the sudden violence hoping for an intervention that never comes. Later, he can’t find the rest of his…Read More
[Related locations that can be visited follow this story.]
Mid-August and he’s in Wolcott, Indiana. His curiosity brought three of them upon him, angry and snarling. He flees the sudden violence hoping for an intervention that never comes. Later, he can’t find the rest of his group and realizes he’s lost. He thinks maybe he hears a signal, but he’s disoriented and can’t find the direction.
Days pass and he’s still alone, lonely, and unsure of who to trust. He’s managed as best he could, taking help when offered. Some are caring, some just curious. He may not know where they are now but he knows where they will be at the end. He moves, knowing eventually he can make it there too. He just has to keep moving.
He’s been delayed, held against his will. He’s lost track of time. A moment’s decision to trust is regretted. And yet they thought they were helping, that was obvious. His commitment to keep moving is still firm.
Late November and he’s in Des Moines. These ones will stop him if they can. They almost catch him. Only a mad determined dash breaks their dragnet. He moves and keeps moving. Six days later he’s in Denver. He’s sure he’s headed the right direction, more or less. He moves and keeps moving.
The worst of it is that it’s so tiring. He’s exhausted. He moves and keeps moving. It’s a matter of willpower. He’s been wet and freezing; he’s bled. Sometimes he can barely see. He’s exhausted. But he knows better now which will help and which will hinder. He moves and keeps moving. The closer he get the faster he wants to move.
Mid-February and he’s in… He knows he’s near the end and he’s sure he reached his limit. He hears a sweetly familiar voice. Lifting his head he sees a familiar figure and knows he’s finally really made it. He moves his fastest now. He leaps and lands in the most welcome hug he‘s ever received.
In 1923, Frank and Elizabeth Brazier set off from Silverton, Oregon, to visit friends and family in their old home of Indiana. They had a two-year-old bobtail Scotch Collie (like Lassie, yes, but born without a tail) with a little Shepard in the mix called Bobbie they took with them. By all accounts, Bobbie loved the journey, going on short explorations at almost every stop. In Wolcott, while Frank filled the car with fuel, Bobbie went off exploring.
The next time Frank saw Bobbie, he was being chased by several local dogs. Bobbie must have trespassed. That was the last Frank saw of Bobbie for six months. They searched to no avail, blew the car horn repeatedly -- Bobbie‘s signal to return, but he doesn’t. Having given up, heartbroken, they eventually returned home to Silverton, where they owned a restaurant.
Six months to the exact day, their daughter Nova saw an extremely bedraggled Bobbie-look-alike while out walking in Silverton. Speaking aloud drew the dog’s attention and as Nova fervently hoped, it really was Bobbie. He was thrilled to see her.
He’d made it home. Bobbie was a loyal, loving companion, thoroughly bonded to the Braziers, Frank especially. Bobbie was exhausted and suffered wear from the road. He had a frayed rope about his neck. He’d obviously had help along the way, and maybe some of those people had hoped he’d stay.
He’d also escaped from dogcatchers in Des Moines, they later learned. Many people contacted them with their Bobbie stories. They told him how he searched amongst them, always seeking someone who wasn’t there before moving on. Frank’s odometer showed the trip from Wolcott back to Silverton to be 2,551 miles. But that’s as the road goes, no one knows for sure how far Bobbie actually traveled, but, from reports of those who said they’d seen him during his odyssey, it’s estimated it was about 2800 miles. For six months he struggled to make it back to the people he loved. Determined, he finally succeeded.
Bobbie became a celebrity, included in Ripley’s Believe it or Not, the Oregon Humane Society awarded him with a medal. He starred as himself in a silent movie "Bobbie the Wonder Dog." (Not listed at IMDB.) He was guest of honor at the Portland Home Show, where, within a week, about 100,000 people petted him. They gave him a specially built dog house complete with curtained windows, and an inscribed silver-plated collar. The Braziers were inundated with fan mail. Bobbie was just happy to be home.
Bobbie died three years after his return. About 200 people attended his funeral and famed fellow canine thespian Rin Tin Tin was in attendance. Bobbie is buried at the Oregon Humane Society cemetery in Portland, Oregon, an organization that has made some history of its own, founded in 1868 it’s the oldest such organization in the west and the third oldest in the U.S.
August 15, 1923 Bobbie is lost.
February 15, 1924 Bobbie comes home.
April 1927 Bobbie dies.
Bobbie‘s story as told by Frank Brazier (Excerpted from Animal Pals.)
--Animal Pals. Edited By Curtis Wager-Smith
(Philadelphia, Macrae Smith Co., 1924.)
--Bobbie, a Great Collie. By Charles Alexander Illustrated by Salem Tamer.
(New York, Dodd, Mead. 1966)
--Silverton's Bobbie: His Amazing Journey - the True Story. By Judith Kent.
(Woodburn, OR : Beautiful America Pub. Co., 2004.) This one is available at the Silver Falls giftshop.
Did this story sounds somewhat familiar? Based on the book (1961) by Sheila Burnford,
the Disney film The Incredible Journey (1963), told the story of two dogs and a cat traveling 250 miles cross-country to return to their home. As a child, that movie really had me going, left me vulnerable for similar stories --obviously. Portions of the 1993 remake, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, were shot in Oregon. The remake spawned a sequel. That story, while fictitious, has seemingly been inspirational to a whole generation (at least) of storytellers as its influence seems present in films such as The Brave Little Toaster (1987) and Toy Story (1995), both of which have also spawned sequels. Bobbie’s story is one that really happened, and may have served as Burnford’s inspiration. If only as a curiosity, and, if still existent, it would be nice if Bobbie’s movie were available today.
Places to Visit
The intersection of Water (also Hwy-214) and Lewis (opposite) Streets, a block south of Main, where steps lead down to Gallon House Bridge. (Map below.)
--Bobbie: The Prodigal Dog Mural
A wall flanks the step. To the right (looking towards the bridge) is the mural depicting Bobbie‘s story. Painted by muralist Laurie Webb of La Pine, Oregon.
--Statue & the Replica of Bobbie’s Castle
A few yards to the left of the mural is a realistically colored concrete statue of Bobbie and a replica of the doghouse given him by the Home Show. There is also an informational board here with faded newspaper clippings, photos, and informational sheets telling of Bobbie’s odyssey.
Within the Oregon Garden, about 1 miles south of Silverton on Hwy-214.
879 West Main Street, Silverton OR 97381
PO Box 155
503-874-8100, toll free 877-674-2733, fax 503-874-8200, email@example.com
Admission charged. See OG website or my entry for information on fees and hours.
--A bronze bust commemorating Bobbie sits atop a raised pedestal at the head of a long, narrow, raised pool fountain.
Oregon Humane Society Cemetery in Portland, Oregon.
1067 NE Columbia Blvd.
mailing address: PO Box 11364, Portland, OR 97211-0364
503-285-7722, fax 503-285-0838, online form
Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm, Sun 12pm-7pm.
Hours for adoptions end 30 minutes earlier.
Bobbie’s grave is within the old pet cemetery.