Ruth & I discovered one of our best attractions on our way back from Salt Lake City to our Camas base. The Sage Center was only 162.9 miles from Portland, OR and very informative. I had often seen this building and wondered what is was, so we decided to stop. What I figured was a local entertainment complex for the City of Boardman turned out to be an 8-year-old museum of note.
It was not just a state-of-the art museum, the Sage Center was also that increasingly disappearing but traditional visitor center for the area. And what an area! Boardman is an agricultural powerhouse. Sage is an acronym for Sustainable Agriculture and Energy, and this center’s appeal is to both passing tourists and local schools. Our learning began immediately when we were told that the Port of Morrow on the Columbia River where we were is this mighty river’s 2nd most productive and important port after the city of Portland. From here, agricultural products go all over the world. Boardman is the source for such valuable commodities as potatoes, blueberries, and melons. Its melons go all over the world on boats from here. Only its dairy products remain local commodities for reasons that will become clearer as I proceed. One of the activities that children who visit learn is how to milk a cow as they review modern milking techniques and consider low-impact farming. They eventually get to sample Tillamook dairy products.
Our tour began downstairs with a large potato exhibit that continued on the 2nd floor. I thought that Idaho was the potato colossus in the Northwest, but I quickly learned that Washington is also a center of significant potato production. But other food products do as well here in what was once a desert. This area has the best onion yields on Planet Earth, but onions are not its most significant commodity–wheat is.
When we were newly married, Ruth and I used to visit and bond with her Aunt Ollie who lived in Pomeroy, Washington, a town that was east of Boardman. Aunt Ollie had 13 children. All but one of her sons became wheat farmers. One year we were there for the wheat harvest and spent a lot of time on combines participating in the harvest. The Palouse area of this state was mostly devoted to growing wheat and ascending and descending into gulches.
to be continued by Hank