Green Ridge
by Michele Morseth

When Lt. Henry Abbot and his party of 10 men and 12 mules camped atop Green Ridge on what is now Prairie Farm, he did not know of the escarpment that lay on his path to the west. In 1855, Abbot was unaware that he was standing on a fault line and Green Ridge and the Metolius River below are testament to the movements of the earth’s crust. Several million years before he arrived, the meadows along the Metolius below would have been at the elevation of Green Ridge and the Cascade Crest 2,000 feet higher than the present elevation. While tectonic plates collided, earthquakes broke the surface of the Cascades. After 2 million years of activity, the land from Green Ridge west to the North Santiam River had sunk, forming the Cascade graben and the Metolius basin on the eastern extent. Green Ridge rose along the eastern edge of the trough and provided a partial barrier to lava flowing from the active volcanoes within the Cascade graben. Volcanic activity continued for 2 million years. The stratovolcano, Black Butte, formed when magma oozed out of the Green Ridge fault. By 100,000 years ago many of the mountains seen today took shape.

Abbot grazed his stock on the grass atop Green Ridge, finding the next morning “an immense canyon, which was found by subsequent measurement to be 1,945 feet deep. Far below us we heard the roar of a mountain torrent…The canyon side below us was so steep and rocky we feared the decent would be impracticable. I directed the animals to be herded and sent three men to explore it…[the route was dangerous, with] narrow ledges and steep slopes of loose rocks which, becoming dislodged, rolled down the precipice, and started others in their course…”

Safe in the valley “bordered by pines and thickly carpeted with bunch grass” they continued following paths made by Native American residents. Green Ridge, abundant with deer, was part of the Northern Paiute and Tenino Indian’s hunting area.

In the 1930s the CCC, as part of a series of projects in the area, built a fire lookout on the western edge of Green ridge to command view of the Metolius Basin and foothills beyond.
Dant and Russell operated a mill at Prairie Farm on Green Ridge in the late 1940s.

Hatton, R.R.
1996 Oregon’s Sisters Country: A Portrait of Its Lands, Waters, and People. Maverick Publications: Bend, OR


Copyright © 2006 Sisters Country Historical Society