Georgia Gallagher

Sisters Watershed History Fest/Oral Interview Quotes
Transcribed from tape by Maret Pajutee - May 22, 1998

Born in Sisters, left for 30 years, visited regularly. Father (Ellis Edgington) homesteaded in Tumalo in 1905, traded for Squaw Creek place. The Edgington Ranch was located 2 miles up from town on Squaw Creek. Her father met and married her mother in Plainview. Georgia married and moved to New Jersey for a year, then to Redmond, then to Salem. Occupation - Dietitian

What are your favorite places around Sisters?

Upper Squaw Creek, I like it up there where there are big rocks. There were some interesting places to climb around.

We always enjoyed Three Creek Lake, for fishing and picnicking. My family were great picnickers. We couldn’t stay away overnight. We had to be home to feed the cows and chickens and milk and all those things.

Memories of Squaw Creek- floods

The bridge to the ranch got washed out on a fairly regular basis, whenever the creek was high. The family built their own bridge up there across Squaw Creek. The foundation was dirt and rocks. I can remember one year when it washed out. The ice would block up against it and knock it out- that’s really what would take it out.

There was a road that came down through the Bailey Ranch (now the Patterson Ranch), the back way, so if they couldn’t get across Squaw Creek they’d come that way. They’d come down and drive back up this side and leave the car there. Then Dad would put some logs across and he’d rope the logs together. One time we kids were going to school and walking the log. My sister was walking the log and fell off, but dad had a rope around her and pulled her in.

Time spent on the creek (ranch was down stream of irrigation diversion)

We fished and so-called swam in it, it wasn’t deep enough to swim but you could wade. There were a few places where there would be a pool maybe but it was too cold to swim anyway.

What changes have you seen in the creek?

Squaw Creek changes its channel quite a bit between here and the Three Creek grade, mainly a couple miles above town. When the high water came there were several channels through there. It would change and go into a different one. I know one time (probably in the 1930’s) my Dad blocked off one of the channels, made a kind of earth dam there and in return for doing that the State gave him a little more water, he got a few acre feet of water. But I think in the meantime its all washed out again.

Concerns about the creek?

There was a time when they were talking about building some of those small power plants up on Squaw Creek by that upper bridge and diverting the creek across a point of land and dropping it through a power plant. I was concerned about that.

Concerned about giardia?

I like to hike in the mountains and drink from the streams and I wonder if even the springs contaminated where they come out of the ground.

What would you like to see in the future of our creeks?

Not too much development along them hopefully. Stay wild! I’d like to keep it pretty primitive, not too much development. I wouldn’t mind some trails along Squaw Creek, its beautiful up there higher up and it would be nice to have trails. The only problem with that is more people would go there, but that’s inevitable I guess.

Do you recognize different kinds of fish?

I mostly know Rainbow and Eastern Brook I don’t know that I’d recognize others. We caught some that they call Mountain Trout. I don’t know if they are related to the rainbow or what but they are pretty little gray spotted trout and that’s what we mostly caught in Squaw Creek.

They didn’t like stocking Squaw Creek because the fish all went out in the ditches. At one time they put in fish screens but they were always getting clogged up. It must have been clear back in the 20’s, I can barely remember seeing screens lying out beside the ditch that they’d taken out. And of course the creek is one that washes a lot of debris down, a lot of rocks. Sometimes its high and sometimes its low and when it gets high it washes down a lot of stuff.

I know we talked about a Dolly, which would be a Bull Trout, up at the dam, in a big pool just below the irrigation dam. We’d get all excited about trying to catch that Dolly because they were bigger fish and also they were inclined to eat the trout so we wanted to get him out of there.

What wildlife do you remember seeing?

We didn’t have bear here much. I remember seeing bear tracks up on Pole creek.

Lots of deer. We always said the deer would eat the alfalfa off so it couldn’t grow in our fields. Back in about 1950 they built a six foot woven wire fence around the ranch to keep the deer out of the fields. There used to be a lot more hunters in this area then there even are now. I remember going up to hunt on Broken Top and driving up that road, it seems to me we counted 70 camps on the way up there (in the late 1940-50’s). I’m sure we always saw deer out in our fields. We always enjoyed seeing them. Our back door looked out on this big meadow and someone would say, “ there are deer out there” so we’d all go out and look. I suppose we had a deer or two out of season now and then, but we fed them all the time.

No we didn’t see eagles. I don’t think there were hardly any here. We saw hawks. In fact hawks were something that were detrimental to our chicken population. So if we saw a hawk someone would run and get the 22 so they could shoot it. That’s against the rules now days. And there were owls. They’d get the chickens too sometimes.

Animals that have decreased:

We used to have a lot of woodchucks or marmots and I haven’t seen many of those for quite a while. They were kind of interesting animals. They’d stand up straight and they had this one whistle, kind of a sharp whistle for danger coming. You see them up in the mountains around here. They’re probably the same thing. Dad had hauled rocks off his fields and he’d make a rock pile. They’d get in there or up in the lava rock piles too. You’d see them in there.

Animals that have increased Deer around town have increased. I don’t think they’ve necessarily increased so much in the woods but they have around town. They’ve gotten used to being fed around town here I guess. They eat our lawns and gardens.

Concerns about fish/wildlife.

I’d would like to see more fish in Squaw Creek and some way to keep them there.

What would you like to see in the future w/ fish/wildlife I like the program of protecting the eagles. Its nice to see some eagles around, and even hawks, now that we don’t have chickens. Eliminate feral cats (eat chipmunks, birds, and other animals).

People & Town
How has town changed?

The business district has increased tremendously. The residential area in town up until recently hasn’t changed much over the years. The Industrial Park is something new. It used to be the sawmill down there, now its all sorts of things.

Concerns ?

People ask me how do I like Sisters and the way it’s grown and I say well if it’s going to grow I think it’s done pretty well so far. I don’t like the idea of filling up all the fields around here with developments though. I think that will change Sisters entirely.

What do you hope for the future?

That growth will slow up... its not slowing, its gaining speed. And I’m afraid with the sewer that every green spot in town will fill up with buildings, all those drainfields will be built on.

Preserve the atmosphere. You know that’s what has made Sisters successful, the kind of openness and the atmosphere. If they start letting it completely fill up in all the fields around, of course there will still people be that will want to come here but the people that are here I think will gradually leave, some of them anyway. And the little houses in town won’t be able to afford the utilities costs.

Forests - looking at map of Edgington homestead

The road coming into the house came right through there and there’s some nice big pines there , kind of a nice entry into the house. Mother was afraid they were going to come in and log those because they were logging around there, so Dad bought those 40 acres (maybe from Sam Johnson) to keep them from logging those big trees in front of our house.

When all this logging was going on were people as upset about it then as they are or was it more understandable?

“No... it was understandable, because most of the people were loggers. I don’t remember the folks being particularly upset about cutting the forests. They weren’t clearcutting though they were selective logging. This section had been logged pretty closely. Most of it was young trees left there when Dad bought it from Sam Johnson.”

Favorite areas in the forest?

That’s what I always enjoyed about hunting was just wandering through the forest. I didn’t have to be going somewhere, you could just wander along and look at whatever you wanted to look at. I’ve always known the woods well enough I didn’t worry about getting lost. I like to hike the trails in the mountains in the summer.

How have forests changed since you were growing up?

Other than the fact that’s there not much old growth in the pine forests.

Was there this much bitterbrush?

Probably not, but I do remember it because we always enjoyed the smell of it this time of year. And you know back in the 60’s’ and 70’s they collected bitterbrush seed and planted it all over the place. The Forest Service encouraged that. I had friends in Bend that collected seed to pay for their skiing in the winter, for ski tickets.

Do you remember any big forest fires?

I wasn’t here but I was very much aware of the Peterson burn. It was close enough to the Ranch that they were somewhat concerned it might come down and burn the ranch too. My brother-in -law was a State Forester. They were always on the lookout for fires. They had so many lookouts around here.

Were people as worried about fires in the past as they are now?

I don’t suppose they were. They were concerned and that’s the reason they had so many lookouts around here so they could spot them quickly and get them stopped. An d they had good size fire crews, fire school, my nephews all were firefighters. And my sister stayed on the radio or phone to hear anybody call. All the lookouts would call in.

Concerns for the forests?

Well I don’t like to see clearcuts. I’m very definitely against clearcuts. Logging the way they did it before they started clearcutting, logging the mature trees didn’t seem to me to be too detrimental. Most of these forests around here have been logged at one time or another, you see stumps out there, but the forests have grown up again . With leaving the younger trees they’ve got 25 - 50 years growth on them it seems to me a shame to cut them down and start over . So I would hate to see anymore of that type of logging. Like I say I have no objection to logging conservatively, lets say, and leave some of the old growth.

Hopes for the forests?

Good care...But they took pretty good care of themselves before people got here.

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