Forty-five years ago this season, when Bend was a hamlet not yet served by a railroad or a major road, there was completed here a project that now plays a role in attracting tourists and visitors to the area.
That project was the construction of a power dam on the Deschutes river and the creation of a man-made “lake”—the Bend Mirror pond of the Present.
Prior to the construction of the power dam, at the rear of the Pilot Butte Inn of the present, the Deschutes River flowed through Bend in a rather narrow channel lined with willows. It was a fairly swift stream, and it was gathering speed for its plunge through the “narrows” downriver.
Behind the river’s fringe of willows were tall pines and old junipers, intermingled in a marginal zone. Few homes faced the river in that distant day.
Water Backs Up
When the dam was constructed the water backed up and the Mirror Pond came into existence. No one seems to know who was the first to refer to the impounded Deschutes as the Mirror pond.
It was 35 years ago this season that the Mirror pond was drained for the first time, and new arrivals again saw the Deschutes race through its ancestral channel, but now it was a channel that cut through huge mud banks.
Now the home of Bend’s Mirror Pond pageants, the Deschutes lake was recognized as a place of beauty even before the first pageant was held.
Incidentally, old timers recall that the Deschutes in Bend was the home of fine fighting trout even before the dam came into existence.
Source: The Bulletin ©1955