(Chuck) We arrived at Phillips Lake, neat Sumpter, Oregon yesterday. It was a 137 mile drive, which is about right. A lifetime ago when I was trying to get Jan to quit her job, I remember reading that life was best with the 2 X 2 X 2 rule; drive 200 miles, stop by 2:00 in the afternoon and stay two nights. It really makes things relaxing. Staying longer is an added bonus. This Forest Service campground is entered in my log as: 3/4 October, Sumpter, OR NF, Southwest Shore CG FB (N 44.67625 W118.08360) 4130’. You know by now that the FB means Free Boondock. It is amazing how a person can find comfort in saving a few dollars. It just seems to make us smile and look for another spot down the road. Last year we boondocked 241 days and 209 of them were free. Spending our time in the Mountains and the South West gives us a chance to take advantage of the investment of our solar electrical system. When we stretch our fees for rent, then we can use the money for other things.
Today we journeyed up the river to Sumpter. It is a tourist town now, but was built on a gold rush of earlier days. The main attraction is a gold dredge called the Sumpter Valley Dredge. This dredge is the last of three that were built on the Powder River. It was constructed in 1935 and worked the valley until 1954. More than four million dollars of gold was removed from the valley in it’s short life. As the dredge worked the valley it left a unique mark of a dredge. In this Google Earth photo you can follow the progress of the work by the continuous pile of rocks left in its wake. As always, click on the pictures to enlarge the images.
(Jan) From Sumpter, the scenic drive continues on through Gold Country past the wonderfully quaint town of Granite, which appears to be part thriving village and part abandoned gold mining town. Gold was discovered here on July 4, 1862 and thus the town was originally named Independence but because there was already a Post Office in Oregon named Independence, the name changed to Granite in 1878. Once a bustling community of 3500, 80% of which worked in the gold mining industry, it is now a sleepy hillside village of less than 50 hardy souls. The sign in front of it’s tiny church reads. Service 6:00 on Sunday. I wonder how many it seats? Notice the wood burning chimney on the trailer below? And isn’t this a great sign? It’s 1256 miles to Yuma, AZ and 3442 miles to Honalulu, Hawaii! It seems to be a wonderfully independent, free spirited place.