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

Mirror Pond Islands

Bend sportsmen agree that the city has shown real interest in mirror pond wildlife through approval of a dog “tie up” ordinance during the nesting season, but the sportsmen believe that the city should not only provide protection for waterfowl, but should make some effort to improve nesting conditions. This improvement  the sportsmen say, can be obtained if the tule islands just below the Tumalo avenue bridge are elevated a foot or two above the water line.

Over a period of years, various plans for the elevation of the tule islands have been suggested and at least one attempt has been made to erect nesting places on sticks. But the artificial nests apparently did not meet with the favor of the waterfowl.

The sportsmen are approaching the problem on a new angle this year. They suggest that the booms used in the connection with the Forth of July pageants be used to form a temporary bridge to the tules and that rock and dirt be moved over the span. The sportsmen suggest that the city undertake the project. Possibly it can be handle as a small WPA project. Certainly the sportsmen’s suggestion is worthy of consideration.

It is true the Bend’s “tie-up” ordinance will keep Drake park and other river areas fairly free of molesting dogs, but birds nest along the river edge are never safe. Cats certainly play a part in night raids. And it is recalled that only a few years ago a grown youth was found on his way home with 21 duck eggs, which he planned to cook and eat. Island nesting places would provide protection against such molestation.

In past years, swans and ducks have built nests on the available tule islands in the upper mirror pond, but this season, because of the high water, the tule are practically inundated  Consequently  the suggestion of the sportsmen may have merit. Permanent nesting places in the upper mirror pond would be a real asset to a city that is so proud of its river wildlife.

Source: Bend Bulletin ©1938

Keep The Weeds Out

For 10 or more summers preceding that of 1936 the appearance of the Mirror pond was increasingly unlovely. Water weeds, unknown in the first years of the pond created by the power dam, appeared in larger and larger quantity. As the weeds came to the surface they intercepted the bark discharged from the log ponds at the mills and the casual refuse brought down the current until, by the middle or the end of August, instead of a beautiful sheet of water in the heart of the city there was an ugly and disagreeable appearance of weeds and litter.

In the summer of 1936 the water was drawn out of the Mirror pond so that work at the new Newport avenue bridge might be expedited. For nearly two weeks the mud banks and the shoals of the river were exposed, crews worked at cutting down some of the weed beds and property owners along the shore went at the roots of the plants in front of their places. This work, plus–possibly–the effect of the sun on the exposed growth usually covered by water, was effective in eliminating the weeds last summer and none appeared on the surface after the pond was filled again. This summer, also, the river as been virtually free from the disfigurement hitherto objectionable.

While the memory of the weed conditions prior to 1936 is fresh in mind it is well to have a look at the river now and to see what it can be like with the weeds gone. Today it is a beautiful place and attractive alike to the visitor who sees it for the first time and to the resident to whom it is a part of his daily routine. Seeing the river as it now is and remembering how objectionable its appearance can be should lead to the resolve that hereafter it shall be kept clean and clear and, in fact as well as in name, be the Mirror pond.

Source: The Bend Bulletin ©1937

Additional Document: robert-sawyer-phone-directory-1936


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The Celebration 1935

Bend goes about its usual business today with the pleasant feeling that once more it has put on a Fourth of July celebration complete and satisfying in almost every respect. Two days of entertainment and competitive sport came to a climax last night with a river pageant that will be remembered for many weeks to come.

Bend has this feeling, we say but it is to the managers, the committee members, the many other workers, the members of the chorus and of the band, and all who participated in the presentation of the floats that the most thorough satisfaction has come for they did the work. They were the ones who actually did the job in which the whole town takes pride.

It is, of course, the show on the river that gives character and individuality to the whole undertaking and makes of the Bend celebration the unique event that it is. With this successful third pageant there is a felling in everybody’s mind that there will be a fourth next year and so on. All are agreed that it should be an annual event.

The judges of last night’s floats had an extremely difficult task. We cannot quarrel with their decisions but we wish there might have been more awards and some special recognition of the floats that were offered by the groups of foreign born who went to such great pains to show a bit of their homeland.

Source: The Bend Bulletin ©1935