Mirrored in Mud

Bend’s scenic Mirror Pond, one of the beauty spots of the state, was replaced temporary by ugly mud flats by this morning.

The pond, a part of the Deschutes River, is being lowered by the Pacific Power & Light Co. to make repair work possible in the grates adjacent to the power plant  The work will be completed some time Wednesday, and the river level will again rise.

Then the mud flats, with their stench, will disappear and ducks and geese will again cruise over the man-made lake that mirrors tall pines and riverside homes.

It was just short of 45 years ago that the Mirror Pond came into existence, when a power dam was constructed across the Deschutes. Before that time, the unharnessed river flowed swiftly past Bend.

The channel through the present Mirror Pond area was not broad. It was fringed, in early years, with willows and alders. There were some fine, deep pools in the area.

Those pools, incidentally, were tempting to early-day staff members of The Bulletin, when the paper was housed in old log cabin in a corner of what is now Drake Park. The Bulletin’s first editor was Don Rea. He wrote entertainingly of the beauty of the river as it slashed its way north through the willows — and he told of the fine catches of trout he had taken from the stream over the lunch hours.

In the years since the power dam was constructed, silt has been filling the basin. After nearly half a century, much silt has accumulated. It forms the ugly banks exposed in the river bottom. This accumulation of mud was not unexpected. Similar siltation is occurring back of all dams. Even massive Lake Mead on the Colorado, back of Hoover Dam, is rapidly silting.

Bend residents who have looked on Mirror Pond as one of the city’s major attractions may be a bit frightened this week as they look over tho ugly flats of black ooze. They may ask:

“What is the future of the Mirror Pond?”

This Is a question that cannot be answered. There may come a time when the mud flats will have to be incorporated into the Drake Park lawn and planted to grass. Should that day ever come, The Deschutes will be again meandering through a narrow channel – a channel super-imposed on its ancestral bed of yesteryear.

The Mirror Pond may not be again drained for many years. Thia might be a good time for the city’s long-range planners to study the exposed mud flats, chart their positions, determine the course of the main channel, and plan for the future.

Source: The Bend Bulletin ©1957

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