The community wants too much

The relicensing of PacifiCorp’s historic dam and powerhouse on the Deschutes River in downtown Bend is a chance for the community to ensure that the utility makes needed improvements in the facility.

It should not be perceived, however, as an opportunity to demand that the company solve all of the environmental problems on the upper Deschutes River—including sediment problems in Mirror Pond.

This week, local, state and federal government officials weighed in with a long list of improvements it sought if PacifiCorp proceeds with plans to operate the facility for another 30 years. Some said the plant should simply be shut down.

Our belief is that PacifiCorp ought to take care of longstanding damage linked directly to operation of the power plant—including the tens of thousands of fish that are sucked into its turbines each year.

If the utility determines that the small amount of power generated at the site is important, given future projected shortages of electricity, then it should pony up the costs of fish screens and passages.

Too, the utility must renovate the old dam. PacifiCorp officials already have agreed to install an inflatable cover over the dam that would help prevent flooding in the event of ice buildup behind the structure.

But the community is mistaken if it believes it can pile any more requests on top of PacifiCorp. The sedimentation of Mirror Pond, for example, is a function of exposed banks, heavy motorboat use and development along the upper Deschutes River. Yes, the sediment builds up where the river is slowed by the dam, but, no, PacifiCorp had nothing to do with the source of the problem.

And if community leaders are serious about PacifiCorp shutting down the project, which agency is willing to step forward and take responsibility for the dam and the historic power plant? Surely, no one seriously believes Bend would be better off without the dam— and, therefore, without Mirror Pond.

It would be fair to ask PacifiCorp to strengthen the dam, take the turbines out of the powerhouse and hand over the keys to the facility. However, those who want to see that happen should be ready to step up and accept those keys, and the responsibility that goes with them.

Source: The Bulletin

Return Pond’s days of glory

Karen Willard/The Bulletin
Karen Willard/The Bulletin

If Mirror Pond, perhaps Bend’s best known geographic feature, ever regains its original glory it will be due to the efforts of Dick Carlson and Art Johnson and a host of others interested in the project. The idea of eliminating the pond’s present shallow areas has been discussed for several years. Now it finally appears something may be done.

The pond was created by an early-day power dam, still in existence, which backed up the Deschutes enough to create a head for a relatively small electric generator. That plant, plus some surplus power generated from burning lumber mill waste, was adequate to supply the city’s needs when those needs were limited, essentially to public and private lighting. (Growth of the city, plus growth in electric use occasioned by increased lighting, industrial uses, more home appliances and considerable space heating, means the dam at the foot of the pond now supplies only a fraction of current needs.)

The pond slowly has filled. Much of the debris — which has left room for only a few inches of water over much of the pond’s surface — has been caused as light earth and pumice disturbed by fluctuating flows after the creation of Wickiup Reservoir tumbled into the Deschutes. The flows, used by irrigationists, will continue to fluctuate and to erode the river’s upstream banks. The pond, then, will have to be dredged — at intervals of a number of years – if it is to be kept deep enough to inhibit the growth of algae and aquatic weeds.

A city paid study has come up with an estimate that it will take somewhat less than $300,000 to do the job. Carlson, Johnson and others have come up with a way to raise the money. Assessments of a few cents per square foot of property owned by those whose property abuts the riverbanks, or those whose property is improved by a view of the river — including public property — would do the job.

That leaves two questions to answer. Is the proposed method of raising the money fair to all concerned? And will dredging the pond seriously reduce its use by waterfowl, one of Drake Park’s major attractions, particularly to youngsters?

The answer to the first one is easy. The system is about as fair as can be developed. To be sure, riverside residents would have to pay an assessment on their property, plus their share of city and parks and recreation district taxes. But their property values, as a percentage of the total values in either the city or the parks and recreation district, are so low the idea of triple taxation can safely be ignored. The small extra amount it will cost them is insignificant.

The answer to the second question is a little harder. Ducks and geese should continue to use the pond’s islands for spring nesting grounds as soon as the dredging is completed. Ducks and geese are grazers, and can continue to feed on pond-front lawns and on extra feed provided by residents and tourists during the summer. But winter waterfowl get most of their feed from aquatic weeds which grow in the summer. Most of the weeds will disappear after the pond is deepened. Fewer buffleheads and golden-eyes and widgeon and coot can be expected to occupy the pond during winter months.

But the pond once again would be deep enough so that geese will swim, rather than walk, at its upper end. The summer’s unsightly algae bloom rafts will disappear. That seems to be worth the cost, both to nearby residents and those property owners in the city and parks and recreation district who would make much smaller individual contributions, as little as a few cents a year, to the project.

Source: The Bulletin ©1982

Deschutes claims another victim

The Deschutes has reached out again.

This time it took the life of an 11-year-old boy in the upper reaches of the Mirror Pond near Gilchrist Footbridge.

Through the years, the Deschutes in the immediate Bend area has taken more than 20 lives. Nine persons died in the river in or close to bend the first year mirror Pond was filled following construction of the power dam in 1909.

One of the river tragedies occurred on a summer evening in 1928 when a candidate for president of the United States, representing a minor party, lost his life in an attempt to rescue a boy who, had fallen from the Drake Park span while fishing.

But despite the heavy toll taken by the river, the Deschutes is treated contemptuously. Disregarding a city ordinance, youngsters still fish from the Drake Park bridge.

They not only fish from the span, but dangerously dangle over the stream, swift and treacherous as the heavy reservoir flow races through the channel.

Only the other evening, a 3-year-old boy ran out on the bridge, crawled to the top rail and started to throw a leg across when stopped by a passerby.

During Mirror Pond Pageant days, youngsters played on the booms. They not only played, but ran down the swaying timber.

The Deschutes in Bend is a beautiful stream, but it is dangerous.

Parents might pass this information on to youngsters.

Source: The Bend Bulletin ©1962

Osprey add interest to Mirror Pond

Mirror Pond visitors this week included a pair of osprey, those graceful birds generally known as “fish hawks.”

The birds attracted considerable attention as they swooped over the pines at riverside, scouted the river, then occasionally dived for fish. Their batting average was low, possibly one fish out of 20 dives.

Harassing the osprey were birds that are nesting in the Mirror Pond area. Blackbirds dived on the fishing birds, threw them off course and ruined their nose dives toward the water.

Through the years, these birds, not more than a pair or two at a time, have fished the Mirror Pond. Once they drew the criticism of ardent Bend anglers, it was proposed that the osprey be shot.

But a naturalist who enjoyed the antics of the osprey objected. He was the late Robert W. Sawyer. The birds, he said, had as much right as man to fish in the Deschutes — and had been getting their trout from the river long before man appeared on the local scene.

Sawyer got considerable backing, including a nod from professional naturalists who noted that osprey in their power dives frequently come up with weakling fish.

Some of those fish are possibly diseased, it was pointed out. Osprey, by removing such fish, protect the trout that remain in the river.

Since that day, some 20 years ago, there has been no local campaign to rid the Mirror Pond of osprey. The birds now are welcome visitors.

They add to the interest of Bend’s beautiful Mirror Pond.

Source: Bend Bulletin ©1962

Deschutes River still remains unique among all streams in the United States

The Deschutes is a river unique in the entire United States, we are told. It is a stream that never floods.

But in the weather records reaching back to the beginning of the century and in old files of The Bend Bulletin there is some information that casts doubt of that belief.

The oldest of the old-timers living here will recall an occasion when the Deschutes did reach flood stage here. That flood occurred in November 1909, when a heavy storm, similar to the one of the past week, struck the Deschutes country.

Torrential rains fell around November 20 that year, and a few days later word was received from Laidlaw (now Tumalo) that the Deschutes was flooding in that area, with a heavy flow pouring in from Tumello (now Tumalo) Creek.

The Bulletin’s editor scoffed at the suggestion that the Deschutes could flood and hinted Laidlaw residents were in error in reporting high water there.

Then on November 25, 1909, the Deschutes flood hit Bend.

First damage was to the old Bend Company Mill’s log pond, in the upper reaches of the Mirror Pond of the present. The high water broke the pond barrier and sent afloat, in a rushing stream, 250 logs.

Downstream a short distance, the Bend Water Light & Power Co. dam was well under construction. The wild logs bumped into coffer dam and pillars at the site of the new dam, causing much damage.

The flood of 1909 occurred just prior to the creation of the Mirror Pond, which formed behind the power company dam in later months. Through the pond area of the present, the Deschutes water, log laden, churned in a muddy flow.

Just upstream from the village of Bend of that day, the ferry operated by John Peters went out. Also destroyed was the footbridge that crossed the Deschutes from the east side to the Bend Company mill.

That was the flood of 1909, which was forgotten in later years as federal hydrologists in various publications said the Deschutes River of Oregon was the only river in the entire United States that never reached a flood stage.

Could a flood similar to that of 1909 occur again? Hardly.

It does not appear probable that the Deschutes ever again will witness a flood such as occurred in late November 1909.

The recent storm, even heavier than that of 51 years ago, provided adequate proof of the even flow of the Deschutes. It is a river, which it can safely be said, never floods.

Source: The Bulletin

“New” Fete Off to Good Start;

Thousands on three nights over the Fourth of July weekend viewed and were thrilled by Bend’s “new” Mirror Pond fete.

It was a river show entirely different from pageants of the past, dating to 1933. The great arch of blending colors was missing. And so were the floats, with fete queen and princesses riding giant swan and cygnets into the dark river.

Yet the 1960 fete was a crowd pleaser. There was more applause Sunday night, when the seating area was packed to near capacity, than in all 26 previous fetes. People were awed by the earlier arch. But awe does not draw applause.

There was plenty to applaud this year. The dancing water feature, blending music with color and motion, was a beautiful show. The young dancers from Spokane, in their colorful outfits, earned the many rounds of applause they received. Miss America was gracious.

It was a grand show, under the July stars and a quarter moon riding over the pines.

Now the show is history, and Bend must plan for other fetes on the river. What of the future?

There are some who would like to see the colorful arch of Mirror Pond fame incorporated in future shows. This is virtually out of the question. The arch is too costly. Also, there has been evidence through local attendance in recent years that Bend residents have tired of arch and floats.

The river shows of former years had a rather simple start. The “new” fete in the aquatic cove facing Drake Park Saturday night had a fine start. From this auspicious beginning, possibly an even better pageant can be built.

Through the years, the Deschutes fetes have been held primarily for one purpose, that of calling attention of visitors in the vacation season to the beauty of the river as it sweeps through Bend. Up until this year, that beauty has been destroyed for periods of more than a month out of each summer by the construction of barges, arch and ugly booms needed for the three-night show.

This year, Bend visitors enjoyed the fete in the river amphitheater facing picturesque Drake Park. And they enjoyed the full beauty of a river unmarred by wreckage.

Pageantarians can start planning for their 1961 show with the knowledge that they planned well for the 1960 fete.

They presented a show that utilized, but still retained, the beauty of the Mirror Pond.

Source: The Bulletin ©1960

Memories drift to other years as Bend prepares to present its river pageant

Pageant days are here again.

Once more the spotlight turns on the Deschutes and beautiful Drake Park, locale of a three-night fete, on July 2, 3 and 4. This year, memories go back Into the past: The occasion marks anniversaries for both the Mirror Pond and for the park.

It was 50 years ago this summer that water backed up behlnd a new power dam across the Deschutes in Bend and a tree-frlnged, man-made lake formed. Forty years ago Drake Park, named for the founder of Bend, was set aside for public use.

Park and pond have provided for Bend one of the most beautiful settings In all America for a water fete.

Bend was somewhat slow in recognizing the pageant potential of the Mirror Pond, just as early-day residents apparently failed to recognize that the “lake” on the Deschutes would be one of the city’s greatest assets as a tourist attraction.

In distant 1933, the first “pageant” was presented on the Deschutes. It thrilled thousands, but It was crude compared with developments of later years. In that first river show, floats guided by boats moved with the river current. Illumination for  the prize-winnlng float was lantern, on a replica of a drifting covered wagon.

The beautiful arch or glowing hues was a development of later years. Gay floats moved through that giant arch.

They were guided by a long boom, and lighted by electricity.

Last year, it became evident that Bend residents were tiring of the costly arch and floats. Comparatively few local residents attended the 1959 fete. The pageant was presented “in the red.”

So a decision was reached for a change in “format”.. There will be no glowing arch or moving floats this year. Action wlll center on a double stage on the Deschutes, just off picturesque Drake Park. About the only carryover from the arch and float days will be the symbolic mother swan and her bood of six cygnets.

But the new show will be in the same colorful setting, the Deschutes River, under July stars. It was a river that was becalmed 50 years ago when the power dam was built.

Over the Mirror Pond as colored fountains of spray reach up from the river will hang a young moon, with brilliant stars of summer as its escort. In this setting, old pines reach to the river edge. Lawns of homes touch the water.

It is a beautiful show, in a setting with a long history. Bend is mighty proud to serve as host for the colorful pageant of the Deschutes.

Bend’s latchstring is out. May our visitors return in quieter days to view the Deschutes in other moods. They will be welcome.

Source: The Bend Bulletin ©1960

Mirror Pond pageants in grave trouble;

Bend’s Mirror Pond pageant is in serious trouble.

Its in trouble for several reasons, but primarily because it has outlasted its usefulness.

Back in the early 1930’s, the pageant came into existence primarily as a home show, for the amusement of local people. it was a move to keep more people In town over the holidays, in the era when it was customary for a great many to head for the hills, with their camp outfits and fishing gear.

Over a period of years, pageants thrilled home folks and visitors.·The blazing arch pleased thousands, the slow-moving floats were majestic against the dark background of water and trees.

Residents of Bend gave full support to the show over- a period of many years. They purchased tickets. They helped with donated labor.

But the attitude of the public has changed. The shows from year to year are much the same. The great auroral arch· with-its ever changing colors remains a thing of beauty. And so do the mother swan and her cygnets, with queen and princesses riding through the river fairyland.

However, Bend residents have seen these same shows before. No longer willl the majority even pay the $l admission charge. Instead, they look over the fences by the hundreds, just to check and make certain that something new hasn’t been added.

There will be those who argue that the river pageants are not Intended for the home people: they are for the visitor. It was expected that In Oregon’s centennial year of l959 visitors would attend by the thousands.

Possibly the total number of visitors to the 1959 pageant con be placed not around 800. Two years ago when pine cones were provided for visitors, only 600 were given away.

It is becoming evident that home folks will no longer support the show, bear their part of the cost or give or their time. Attendance from outside points is not big enough to meet the ever-mounting costs.

As a result, the Bend Mirror Pond pageant Is In trouble. For the second consecutive year, an imposing deficit has been faced. The deficit this year was over the $3,000 mark.

For the past several years, the Bend Chamber of Commerce has been sponsoring the pageant. Hard-working Pageantarlans have given of their time -and In some Instances of their money.

Two years of heavy deficits have changed the pageant, with its swans and cygnets, into a sort of albatross which dangles around the Chamber’s neck.

What is to be done?

If the Mirror Pond Pageant, acclaimed by first-nighters as one of the grandest shows of its kind in the west, is to be salvaged, there must be some drastic changes.

Possibly a change In format would be the solution. But this Is doubtful as long as people can look over the fence by thousands without paying a single cent to make a presentation possible.

Possibly a pledge bf renewed cooperation by the general public would be the solution, but this can hardly be expected. This past season there were many pleas for such support, but they were in vain.

Pageantarians attempted to guarantee the continuance of the pageants by having the project underwritten. But people who signed those pledges are not paying. So far, only one-third have paid.

Yes, the Mirror Pond Pageants are in grave trouble.

Source: The Bend Bulletin ©1959

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

Litter in the Deschutes

Magnitude of the task that faces Bend in the not distant future became evident when the Mirror pond was recently drained to it expansive mud flats.

That task will be the removal of at least some of the mud and debris that has collected in the basin in the 45 years the Mirror pond has existed.

When the pond bottom was bared recently, it became evident that the accumulation of mud has been heavy in recent years. Practically all of this was deposited a very fine silt that drifted in from upriver sources.

But the Mirror pond, far-famed as a beauty spot when its water laps the edge of lawns and parks, is also an accumulation of debris that largely results from the habits of litterbugs.

Bottles, cans, old tires, bicycle tires–all these and more are a part of the litter strewn over the river bottom.

Some of the litter was tossed from bridges. Much of it found its way into the river from park side. There is considerable debris directly offshore from Pageant park, where the gay pageant fleet assembles each year.

The problem of removing mud and silt from the rapidly-filling basin cannot easily be solved. It will eventually call for planning, and for funds. The mud cannot be dredged from Mirror pond, as was done in the Brooks-Scanlon mill pond upstream.

If the mud is flushed downstream, some major problems will be faced.

But there should be some solution to the problem of halting the year-around activity of litterbugs.

Possibly that solution would be an appeal to the public to cooperate in keeping clean one of Oregon’s most beautiful spots, the Mirror pond of the Deschutes.

Source: Bend Bulletin ©1955