Once again we are on the road and all the way down in Oregon, checking out the John Day river area. It does seem that everything in central/eastern Oregon is named after John Day. I have heard his name for years, and thought while we were in the area I would find out all about all the great things he did to get stuff named after him. I started here at John Day National Monument :Site Clarno (what this means is that there are more than one John Day National Monument sites.) This is one of 3.
At this site there was a plaque with the question Who was John Day? I had not thought I would find the answer so quickly. 🤔 This is what the plaque said: “John Day came to Oregon in 1812 as part of an overland expedition to the new Pacific Fur Company post in Astoria. The once large party split up into many small groups before reaching the Oregon Territory. While camped where the mouth of the Mah-hah River meets the Columbia, John Day and Ramsay Crooks were robbed of all their belongings, including clothing. Luckily they were rescued by a party of trappers also headed to Astoria.
John Day became well known at the trading post. Whenever others would pass the spot of the incident, they would point out where he had been robbed. By the 1850’s, the Mah-hah River had been renamed the John Day River. As far as historians can tell, John Day never found a fossil nor came within 100 miles of the monument that indirectly bears his name.”
SO the RIVER was named after him. How it all started……
What a lucky guy, get robbed and then have a river named after you. Look at how hard the present occupant of the white house is trying to get a wall named after him
But wait, the story does not end here. . . .
It turns out that it was Thomas Condon who named the national monuments after John Day, not that John Day had ever been anywheres near the fossil beds in the area, its just it was the John Day river that had carved out the area, exposing the fossils. Thomas Condon was an Irish presbyterian minister, and amateur geologist who actually was the one who discovered the fossils. info on Thomas Condon
I guess I was particularly interested in the town of Condon, as it is the married name of one of my sisters. So I stopped to take a picture
Turns out there is another town just down the way called “Bates”. It seems that a lot more things should be named Condon, VS John Day 🤔
We have found plenty on the John Day river to explore, since this river winds through fossil beds, it also winds through a volcanic region, which is always great for agates and the things we hunt for. The hard thing is finding gravel bars that are accessible. They usually seem to be across the river from where we are.
It really is a slow meandering kind of river, that suits us just fine.
This series of 3 hills appeared to be the same except that the closest one was more eroded, the second one less eroded and the third un eroded.
So these are the “palisades”. There are 3 sites that make up the John Day national monument and this one is called Clarno. I found this info on it “The mostly grassy hillsides bordering the creek are interrupted for a mile or so by a line of jagged, eroded cliffs – the Palisades – which contain a large number of plant fossils, including leaves, sticks and trunks, plus less common animal fossils, all relics of a time when this region was moist and well vegetated, unlike the arid, high desert conditions that prevail today. Facilities are limited to a picnic area, interpretive notices and three trails; the unit is unstaffed, and there are no large towns nearby. It does have a research center (Hancock Field Station), facilitating ongoing paleontological investigations, but this, and the fossil excavation sites, are not open to the public.”
So pretty ho hum. But we shall explore the other sites.
……Back to John Day…….. It turns out there is also a town named after him because the town is on the John Day river. Given the fame of his name, historians would attempt to find out more about him. It seems that there were 3 deaths he succumbed to as well, in 1812, 1813 and (perhaps finally) in 1819. story of the city of John Day
Perhaps dying 3 times might be worthy of at least SOME fame……..True story……..
We have been on the road for a week now, our last evening visit with Dylan, Sarah, and the very clever Talon.
Where other babies are working on mundane things like walking talking, crawling, Talon has mastered …….
…..chewing his toenails… clever boy.
Thats all for now.
Much love from Janet, Ken and Tucker (the ever present rock hound)