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Ochoco Creek

Joel La Follette - Thursday, April 21, 2016
High up in the Ochoco Forest spring waters bubble up to join melting snow and the occasional raindrop as they tumble though rock and pine towards the town of Prineville. Other creeks add their waters to the flow and together they form the life blood that helped build this small community back in 1871. The path opens into meadowland tilled now for generations and eventually is gathered behind a dam who’s predecessor was built by the citizens of the valley. They added their own sweat and blood to it’s flowing waters to save them for when the dry months came.

The town grew as farms, ranches and families took root in the fertile soil nourished by this little creek and the river it flows into. One young family claimed for themselves a small piece of land overlooking the creek and built a modest house. They raised livestock, herded sheep in the surrounding hills, cut timber in the forest and added their own lives to the story of the town. The young son, too young to work yet, spent idol hours in pursuit of the Trout that called the creek home. An old bamboo rod and snelled fly was his constant companion.

The boy grew and moved into town to go to school, but summers were spent living and working on the ranch and renewing his fondness for angling in the little creek. A parting brought him to Portland, but he would still return to the ranch to help his father and grandfather when schools recessed. He became a fine young man and traveled a bit before settling down with a family of his own. He raised a son and became a grandfather, passing on his love of angling. He panned gold, drew maps, tyed flies, built things that needed building, made friends, told stories, loved his family and left a big hole in many lives at his passing.

The old home and bunkhouse still stand, worn by weather and time. Cattle cool in the shade there and rub their hides against the old boards. Eventually, this place will fall and blend into the soil to fade away. The creek will remain and provide for the generations that come to this valley to make their story part of the history here.

When the laws of the land and time allow I will revisit this place and fish the waters of this little creek that will forever flow in my history.


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