Bears Ears and Organ Pipe

Way back in the Obama Administration, Bears Ears National Monument was proposed. This national monument in Utah had many Native American grave sites. Thanks to Greg Melville in his book Over My Dead Body that I read and liked very much I learned about both places. Before we arrived there, Organ Pipe National Monument was the scene of some break-ins and the murder of at least one park ranger in roughly the same area. Organ Pipe was also the scene of many sacred American sites that were treasured by up to a dozen tribal groups that I didn’t know about. Organ Pipe was on the Mexican border. While in Organ Pipe that Ruth & I were visiting we saw a drug bust and the visitor center was broken into.

Obama left the Presidential office. I never knew why Bears Ears was finally established by the next Administration. Bears Ears was established after we left the area. The Government was not good at letting the public know about the sacredness of certain areas. All I know is that while we were at Organ Pipe mayhem happened in the area. We were just tourist visiting this National Monument.

Cherokee and Tohono O’odham people lived here was all that we knew about both national monuments. We also knew that some very old Saguaro cacti were in the desert near us as we watched the drug bust unfold among them. We did not learn about the ongoing damage to Organ Pipe that Greg Melville said was happening or about its sacredness to the local people.

The visitor center in Organ Pipe was at the halfway point between the start of this National Monument and the Mexican town of Sonoyta that we hoped to visit. I recall asking the ranger if it was safe to visit Sonoyta at the other end of Organ Pipe and the American town of Lukeville that we had to pass through to go to Mexico. It’s perfectly safe to go to Sonoyta.” I was told “because a drug cartel is in charge and no one steps out of line as a result. We ended up abandoning our plan. to go to Mexico at this time. The drug bust had made us wary.

More recently we returned to this area. We were in Tucson, AZ and decided to visit Bears Ears in nearby Utah. We spent the night in Blanding and the next day we visited Natural Bridges National Monument. We never made it to Organ Pipe National Monument again.



Towns Named Salem

Towns Named Salem is difficult. There are still lots of towns with this name, and their sizes are variable. It is safe to say that the largest Salem is the capital of the state of Oregon that Ruth and I visited on this past Saturday in March 2023 in an attempt to see the Hallie Ford Art Museum. This city now has a population in excess of 150,000 people. One source puts its number of residents at 154,637 and growing. The 2nd largest Salem is still the city in Massachusetts famous for its witch trials. It has a steady population of more than 40,000 people. Texas is said to have 17 towns with this name. What is relatively certain is that there are at least 36 Salems in the United States and lots of towns with this name internationally.

Perhaps the best way to resolve this dilemma is what follows. There are several towns with this name whose population has dwindled to fewer than 1,000 people. These Salems are in Pennsylvania, where a town called New Salem has only 818 residents, Kentucky where the town called Salem is down to between 700 and 800 people, There are Salems under 1,000 people in Idaho, Oklahoma, New York, and New Mexico.

There are several towns with the name Salem that have more than 1,000 residents but fewer than 25, 000. Some of these Salems are in the states of West Virginia, Utah, South Dakota, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, and Michigan.

Towns with this name that have between 25,000 and Oregon-sized populations include the Salems in Virginia, which may be a county called Salem. There’s a Salem in New Hampshire near the one is Massachusetts that has a population of 12,000. There’s a Salem in Connecticut that had 4,200 residents as recently as 2021, but the Salem in Tennessee has become a ghost town. There’s a town called Salem Lakes in Wisconsin with 14,500 residents. There are said to be at least 58 towns with this name around the world. Witches abound it seems but not necessarily in Oregon.

About 6,400 Alabamans live in the Salem near the Alabama town of Auburn, and it is on maps of this state but the Salem in nearby Mississippi is described as extinct. See the problem?


Hallie Ford Museum Salem OR

I found an old brochure for the Hallie Ford Museum in Salem OR among my travel info, so Ruth & I traveled to this place on the campus of Willamette University in the heretofore mostly ignored town of Salem, OR on this past Saturday and discovered a new museum really worth seeing. It was the last day for its exhibit of the Oregon artist Rita Robillard, and she was there to meet Ruth and talk about her work and career. Rita is a mixed media artist of local renown, and we both enjoyed her depictions of Northwest nature, especially her rendering of trees and local landscapes. She has experience in showing what the area is really like, and she has lived and worked in California and Oregon until her recent retirement. We also enjoyed seeing this museum’s extensive collection of permanent art from its own collection that seems to be on continuous display here. This is a fine museum and close enough to us to visit often, which we will do in the future. This museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Salem this year, and we were lucky to see it and meet the artist named Rita Robillard on the closing day of her exhibit.

This museum is at 700 State Street in the capitol city of a troubled state. It is across the street from a one-of-a-kind art deco state capitol that we hoped to tour later that day, but we discovered that it is largely closed until 2025 due to an extensive and ongoing renovation. This happened to us in Wyoming too with a happy result. We will have to go back for a tour of this capitol later.

It’s not that we are unfamiliar with this town. We used to bring excited children to its wonderful Gilbert House Children’s Museum. It was fun to reminisce about these frequent visits to this place that specialized in water treatments that had special appeal to young boys.

I expected the Hallie Ford to honor the daughter of a famous writer, but was pleased to learn that Hallie is a local artist who has extensive ties to this area. She is a trustee, teacher, patron, and artist of this particular region, and this is one of the 3 most important art museums in Oregon. Its permanent collection contains several recognizable names and lots of both modern and ancient yet distinguished artifacts from past civilizations. I especially like its display of several amphorae from Chinese and Japanese cultures and was pleased to learn that during the global pandemic when many museums were shut down this museum received 249 artworks containing objects used in daily life by ordinary people in places like Egypt and the Middle East. It is called the Neumann collection and this collector used to work for TWA. I will be amazed if some of its artifacts won’t need to be returned to their base cultures eventually.

Among the treasures I saw and recorded were the works of such distinguished artists from that past as Rodin, the photographer Edward Steichen, the important artist Jean Baptiste Corot, and some lesser known but talented artists like John Wesley Jarvis, an American artist until 1850 I had never heard of whose portrait of William Williams is on vivid display.

This is an art museum worth getting to know and appreciate. I especially liked seeing Blondie Bumstead in one art work seen below. Jarvis’s work is seen above. This was a trip indeed worth taking and an unforgettable Saturday.


Towns Named Quincy

I decided to do towns named Quincy for one reason. There is a town with this name in the state of Washington and it has become important over time. It has become a town with more than 7, 500 residents and the center of a thriving agricultural empire with apples as its number one product. Quincy is in the center of my state between Ephrata and Wenatchee, a central town I have been to Wenatchee several times without ever desiring to move there. It is only 24 miles from Moses Lake to Quincy, WA, which used to be the smallest market where Alaska Airlines flew in this state. I have not verified if this is still true, but Moses Lake has apparently become its own agricultural Mecca with several motels with recognizable names.

There are said to be still 17 towns with the name Quincy in the USA. There are said to be 5 towns with this name in France of all places. I suspect this is a sister city kind of arrangement with each French town more commonly known by its original name.

The largest town with this name is a city in Massachusetts with more than 100, 000 people living in it. It is known as the city of Presidents because both John Adams and his son John Quincy, who became the 5th President, were residents there. The 2nd largest city with this name in the USA is a place in Illinois that is often flooded because it’s on the Mississippi River. Quincy is an old industrial hub where my brother-in-law was born and raised. Ruth and I have been there several times as a result. None of his family has remained in Quincy, which is about 137 miles north of Saint Louis.

The Quincys in Georgia and Florida near Tallahassee are fairly large. The Georgia Quincy reported more than 1,700 residents in 2020, but most of the towns named Quincy have grown smaller. The Quincy in Kansas, for example, is down to 128 residents and its post office closed in 1975. The stand alone town of Quincy, OH is down to 538 people. The Quincy in Kentucky is on the Ohio River. The Quincy in Iowa has become a virtual ghost town.

Many of the towns with this name were named for John Quincy Adams, not his father. The Quincy in Missouri is in this category. The Quincy in Oregon, however, was named for J.W. Barnes who hailed from this city in Illinois originally but moved to Oregon. I have never had this happen before but Wikipedia informed me that the Quincy in New Hampshire does not have an existing page. It encouraged me to write it, but I could never find the Quincy in this state on a map. It apparently exists. There are Quincys in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Tennessee.


Towns Named Avon

There are 26 towns named Avon in the United States, but only 8 of them have fairly large populations. They are in Ohio near Cleveland, New York State, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Indiana, Connecticut, Colorado, and California. The largest of these is. the Avon in Colorado near Vail. Ruth and I know a couple who resided in this town on its golf course. One never knew when visiting them if a golf ball would interrupt the conversation. They remained in Colorado and lived near Wolcott. They are now living in their camper while looking for a residence in the Northwest. The 2nd largest Avon is the town of 25,000 people in Ohio.

At least 3 of the former Avons have become ghost towns. They are in Missouri, Washington, and Iowa. The Avon in Washington has nearly been vacated in Skagit County. The Avon in Massachusetts has become part of Boston. Most of the Avons have become unincorporated communities.

Many of the towns named Avon were named for the river in England. There are in fact 9 rivers in England with this name. The most important Avon is not the one made famous by Shakespeare. It is the 83 mile long Avon that rises in Gloucestershire and ends in Bath. The 2nd most important is the Shakespeare Avon. It rises in Warwickshire and ends at the River Severn. The longest Avon flows past the city of Bristol and is often called the Bristol Avon as a result. There is an Avon River in Wales too, but it is spelled Afon. The name Avon is actually in the Welch language and is the word for river there. There are reportedly 3 Avon Rivers in Scotland. There are lots of towns named Riverside in the world.

The Missouri River that Lewis and Clark followed is the longest river in the United States and is now very dammed up. It begins in Montana, which has a tiny town named Avon. The Missouri River actually begins in Montana at Three Forks and flows to the Mississippi River north of St Louis. There is a Missouri City, but is is unfortunately in Texas and is not associated with the river at all.

There are lots of towns named for rivers that are near it. Hudson seems to be something of a champ in this regard. There are 28 towns with this name in the world.

Many rivers never leave their source state and are only known in their hosts. I grew up with knowledge of the Chariton and the Nodaway Rivers that only exist in Missouri. In Illinois it’s the Sangamon that people know about. It’s big in Springfield. Now I have to get used to the Yamhill River that only flows in Oregon. There are only 4 letters in our alphabet that do not have river names beginning with them in the 50 states. They are Q, U, X, and Z.