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 History of Wasco County, Oregon
by Wm. H. McNeal

Chapter 14
(approximately 14 pages when printed)


Pioneer Fogs

     It got so thick with fog one day, while they were building Old Fort Dalles, that when the men who were putting shakes on the roofs, came to the edge, they kept right on shaking right out over the edge into the fog!

Salmon Runs

     In the days when Major Handley and Col. Sinnott ran the Umatilla House they used to tell their guests that the spring salmon runs were so heavy that a man could walk across the Columbia river on their backs without getting his feet wet!

     When Lewis & Clark camped at The Dalles in 1805 they never saw Mt. Hood because at that early date Mt. Hood was only a hole in the ground.


     When Hudson Bay Co. trappers lived at The Dalles often cougars would come down into their camp, but these hardy trappers simply grabbed. Mr. cougar by the tail and turned him inside-out and the cougar would tickle himself to death!

Bear Story

     Whenever those Hudson Bay trappers found a wounded bear with a thorn in its foot they al-ways pulled the thorn out and they could there-after depend upon the bear to bring in the hams of any deer they killed, to the hunters, as an expression of gratitude.

Geologists Please Note

     Central Oregon teamsters used to tell how the Indians claimed the Deschutes gorge was made: one day an Indian rolled a large rock down into the canyon and it went up on the other side, tilted on the brink and came back down and went up the other side in like manner, and this magic rock just kept doing that until the canyon walls were worn to the shape we see them today.

Cold Pioneer Winters

     It used to get so cold in Wasco county that the shivering cougars had to sleep in the hay mows of the farmer's barns at night, to keep warm.

     If they left their candles burning too close to the windows at nights the flames would freeze and the sheepherders would eat them for berries!

     Sometimes the cows gave ice cream!

     Smoke would freeze and fall on the roof!

     Sheep herders had to rub tobacco juice in their eyes to keep awake on warm days!

     Stagecoach drivers had to put snowshoes on their horses in the winter to get the mails and passengers through.

Drivers Well Educated

     In pioneer days the "bullwhackers" who drove oxen on pioneer wagons were much better educated than present Truck drivers because a good bull-whacker could cuss in 7 different languages and few, few modern day truck drivers know that many different languages:

Dead Men

     They didn't bother about burying their old cow punchers and sheep herders in those days, they simply poured them back into a barrel and put an yeast cake with them and "let them work some more!"

     For "respectful" burials they put the bodies in metal caskets and filled the caskets with pure grain alcohol to pickle them! In 1952 they inject it in the veins for the same purpose!

The Canadian Postmaster

     The first postmaster at Rossland, B.C. was an American by the name of David Stussi. When Dominion Day (July 1) came around he kept the post office open and 3 days later on the 4th of July he closed it. The Canadians asked why? He said he didn't know Dominion Day was a holiday, until too late so being entitled to a holiday he took the 4th off. They removed him.

Fire of 1891

     During the great fire of 1891 the National Guard counter sign in The Dalles was "martial law," and those on the streets at night who didn't know the counter-sign found out it wasn't any joke.

Iron Men

     In those pioneer days they had wooden ships and iron men; now they have Iron ships and "wooden men."


     Priest to Rabi: When are you going to start eating meat, my good friend?
     Rabi: At your wedding, Father!

The 3 Scotchmen

The 3 Scotchmen went to church one morning and sat in the rear seat. The minister, at the close of the sermon said the church expenses justified $1 from each person present. This was more than the Scotchmen expected to contribute but they didn't know how they were going to get out of it? The collection plate was getting closer and closer. Finally it reached the row in front of them, then one Scotchman fainted and the other 2 carried him out!

Christian: Why do you Chinaman put food on the graves of your relatives, do you think they are going to come up and eat it?
Chinaman: Why do Christian put flowers on grave, do you think your relative come up, smell 'em flower?

Spiritual Communication

Dalles lady to husband's spirit: Are your happy?
John: Very happy, dear.
Lady: Happier than you were here on earth?
John: Very much more.
Lady: What is it like in Heaven?
John: I don't know, I'm not in Heaven!

The 2 Pals That Died

     This story of the 2 pals that died had it that one of them went to the Christian Heaven and the other went to the Christian Hell. The fellow in Heaven is supposed to have looked over the brink into Hell and saw his pal sitting on a sofa with a glass of liquor at his elbow and a pretty girl on his lap! So he asked St. Peter how come that his partner rated so many of the good things while he, who had tried to follow the straight and narrow path, did not fare so good?

     St. Peter looked over the brink into Hell and said, "My good boy, you haven't been here long enough to see everything you look at! Now take that glass of liquor, its got a hole in the bottom that you don't see, so it never actually held any 1iquor! Now you take that girl that is sitting on your pal's lap, she is not a girl at all, she is of the neuter sex! Don't envy your, pal, my boy, for he is really in hell."

Bill Lockwood

     Bill Lockwood, Dalles to Salt Lake stage driver had the Indians to race his stagecoach one day into the stage station at Meechan. It is said that Bill's hair stood up like a pompador for a month afterwards, every time he thought about how close he came to losing his black scalp. Bill became a scout for the soldiers and helped put the savages on reservations where they were tamed down and leave his scalp alone.

Moody' s Coal Bill

     At the turn of the century when Malcolm Moody operated a coal yard here a Dalles man called for a ton of coal. The weather was cold and Moody was behind in his orders and by the time he made the delivery the man had been taken to the hospital with pneumonia and as not expected to live. Moody was anxious about his bill so he made a personal call upon the patient. The man asked Moody why he didn't make the delivery sooner? Moody explained that he had heard he was in the hospital so he didn't think he (patient) would need the coal as soon as some of the other people did. This riled the old man up a little and he replied, "Young man, let me tell you I am going to need coal where I am going just the same!"

The Umatilla House Dog

     At the turn of the century all the trains stopped at the Umatilla House and the proprietor or clerk would always go out and ring the dinner bell to indicate meals were ready to be served while the train waited. The Umatilla House dog used to follow out and as the bell rang the dog would yelp and howl. A new clerk one day became annoyed at the dog, threw the bell at it and said, "Shut up you hound, you don't have to go in there and eat. You've got no kick coming!" His words were quickly passed around town and many times he wished he had kept his big mouth shut and fed the dog!

The Chain Gang

     In pioneer days Dalles City maintained a chain gang of men to work out their fines for drunkenness and other causes, on the streets or rock crusher site. One day a minister was walking past the gang and saw a man he recognized and said, "The way of the transgressor is hard isn't it?" "That's what's right," replied the man, "but its not near as hard as the people who put us here!"

Why The Dalles Is Here

     The tourist asked, "Why did they locate The Dalles here?" One of our newly arrived service station men replied, "Its like this ma'am, one day a sheepherder came in from Shaniko and explained it by stamping on the pavement and saying, 'I don't blame 'em for building The Dalles here, the grounds' too hard to grow grass or plow, nohow.'"

Deep Mud Holes

     Up on Dutch Flat they have deep mud holes in the spring and Bert Wyatt used to tell how he was riding to town one early spring day from Matney post office where he lived and saw a man's hat lying in the road in one of those mud holes. He got a stick to fish the hat out of the mud and found it was on a man's head; He says, "Gosh, it looked like you are mired down in the mud."

     "Sure", says the man, "but I ain't worrying about myself, its the team hitched to this wagon load of hay that I am standing on, that I am worrying about."

The Mental Hospital

     Over in Seattle Mrs. Burt Anderson reported that Lt. Gov. Victor Myers was making an inspection of the mental hospital at Sedro Wooley when one of the patients asked him who he was. He replied, "Lt. Gov. Vic Myers of Olympia."

     "Oh," said the patient, "they'll take that out of you before you are here very long. When I came here I was Daniel Boone."

At Pendleton Hospital

     The Pendleton mental hospital is town near the railroad yards and the patients set on benches in the shade and watch the railroad men work. One day, in 1920, one of them yelled to the section crewmen and asked, "How much a day do you fellows get for working out there in the hot sun?"

     "We get $3.80 for 8 hours work," answered one of the men.

     "Well," said the inmate, "are you sure you are on the right side of the fence?"

Few Railway Mail Clerks Make Coffee

     They put a pot of water on the steam radiator in Portland. When they hit Cascade Locks its hot enough to add coffee. At Hood River they test it by attaching a string to a padlock and lowering it into the pot. If the padlock sinks they add more coffee. If it floats the coffee is ready to serve!

Sunset Feed Store Jokes

     With taxes what they are we don't have to pass a civil service examination to work for the government.

     Don't question your wife's judgement, look who she is married to.

     If you can read the hand writing on the wall you are probably in a rest room.

     "The police is going to clamp the lid on vice."
     "Yes, their eyelids."

     There is not much to see in a small town but what you hear makes up for it.

     Another thing untouched by human hands is a boy's towel.

     An Optimist is a woman who thinks the man she is about to marry is better than the one she just divorced.

     A man's age is measured by the degree of pain he feels when he comes in contact with a new idea.

Laugh This Off

     The state of Kansas has been the butt of many jokes because of its dry attitude. But in Kansas, out of 105 counties, 54 are WITHOUT any insane!; 54 are without any feeble minded!; 96 are without any poorhouses!; 53 were without any persons in jail!; 56 were without any representatives in their penitentiary. -- Christian Observer 1948.

If You Must Drink

     Give your wife $18 to buy a gallon of whiskey. Buy all your drinks from her at 50¢ a drink. There are 128 drinks in a gallon. By the time you have guzzled the first gallon she will have $46 profit! If you live 10 years and buy all the drinks from your wife, she will have enough money to bury you, to educate your children with, buy a car, a home, and marry a better man!

Postal Story

     In the 1886-90 period when James Crossen had the post office in the Gates Block where Bohn's Printing office is, a traveling salesman came to the window for his mail. Mr. Crossen looked through the letters but found nothing. The salesman insisted there must be orders from his firm there as to where to go next. "Well" said Mr. Crossen, "look through the letters yourself." The salesman did and pulled out 2 for him-self and said, "It looks like they would hire people here who could at least read and write;" and walked out with his mail.

-- One of Mr. Crossen's own stories.


I stood upon the seashore
Below the Cascade slope,
At sunrise mad with grandeur,
Which filled my soul with hope.

I saw the sunbeams painting
With gold, the mountain peaks,
I heard the water leaping
With music down the creeks.

The dewdrops on the clover,
Like diamonds on the sea,
Were sparkling in the meadow
Till sunshine bid them flee.

The willows on the hillside
In silence shed their tears,
And plumage songsters caroled
Their songs of many years.

The firs with branches spreading
Above the jeweled strand,
Attired with gold and silver,
Stood burning on the land.

All nature burned and glittered,
The sun in heaven rose
And spread his beams celestial
Where fragrance sweetly flows,

Uplifted with grandeur,
I heard a ringing sound,
The woodman in the forest
His work with joy had found.

The pine with music tingled
And heaven shook with song;
The birds outpoured their gladness
The ax the woodman swung.

The sky was blue and mellow,
The mountain peaks did glow
And brooklets warbled seaward
From out the melting snow.

The music rose and scattered
A zephyr gently strolled
And in the trembling deep blue
Were walks of blazing gold.

The ocean panted softly,
Enchanted with the view,
My heart grew meek and tender
Beneath the heaven blue.

The bell on yonder schoolhouse
Was ringing loud and clear
And children on the highway
To school were drawing near.

In groups they chatted sweetly
They talked of books and play,
Of Mamma at the fireside
And babe who sleeping lay.

The fields along the wayside
With golden yield outspread,
And harvest time was nearing
With boy to lass and lad.

Their sickles yoemen whetted,
Prepared the corn to reap,
And echoes rang with gladness
Across the salty deep.

The thought of heaven filled me,
I saw the glory here,
l heard the angels singing
With voices soft and clear.

I heart them in the brooklets
And on the rippling sea,
I heard them sing in chorus
Their songs of jubilee.

I gazed in silence seaward,
The ocean breathing lay,
Where birds on silver plumage
In concert seemed to say:

If only man had vision,
Endowed with gift to see
The Heaven in and round us
Then life would sweeter be.

---- Thos. O. Stine (Coast Magazine June 1905).


I have, seen our Creator
At least in some small part;
And His laving human heart.

I see Him in the sun,
I see Him in the flowers,
I see Him in the power
That supplies this earth of ours.

I see Him in the face
Of every human being.
He is the L-I-F-E
Of every living thing.

I hear his sound and voice
A thousand times a day;
To me He is right here
And not so far away.

He inspires us all to help
Others u-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d,
And to lend a guiding hand,
Which makes all life so grand.

Sometimes I pause to wonder
About the things I hear;
All credited to "nature",
Sounds so mighty queer.

Now, who has seen our Creator?
Why, BOTH you and I;
In every single thing,
on earth and in the sky.

-- Wm. H. McNeal, The Dalles, Oregon.

The Lynchpin Wagon by C.C. Masiker
Tune, Wait For the Wagon

Oh, the linchpin wagon
What memories it recalls
Of the days when I gazed
On the mountains afar,

As it ground through the sand
And alkali dust --
The linchpin wagon
With its bucket of tar;

Wait for the wagon, the linchpin wagon
With its bucket of tar.
How the smell of that tar
In my nostrils still lingers;

How softly, yet firmly,
It stuck to my fingers,
How jolting that wagon,
How tiresome its jar-

That linchpin wagon
with its bucket of tar.
When the hot sun beat down
On the glittering sand,

The dust fog around us
On every hand.
How the heat seemed to gather in every bar
Of that linchpin wagon

With its bucket of tar.
Then the redmen attacked us
And fired on our train,
It made us a breastwork,

Again and again.
It was a bedroom at night
And a refuge in war
That linchpin wagon with its bucket of tar.

Twas a couch for the sick
The halt and the lame
It carried our grub, and blankets and game,
Our women and children, It brought from afar
That linchpin wagon and bucket of tar.

The bed of the wagon, A ferry it made,
In the heat of the day twas sought for shade,
But now its replaced by an automo-car
That linchpin wagon and bucket of tar.

To life's lates hour we never shall fail
To remember the loved ones we left on the trail,
Their sad lonely graves on that journey so far
Were planned in that wagon and bucket of tar.

The old pioneers will remember the test
What the wagon withstood in journey out west;
And always will love it tho time be afar
That linchpin wagon and bucket of tar.


We used to see their ankles
And now we see their knees.
All we ask is just to live
A little longer, please.


Here lies the body of Mr. Oaks
He lived and died like other folks.


Here lies the body of Mr. Mound
He was lost at sea and never found.


From the time you're born till you ride in the
herse, there is never a day but what can be worse.


Ice Bound by Mrs. N.Y. White

     In 1873 Mrs. White traveled 5 days by stage from Sparta in Baker Co. to The Dalles with her 3 children (Dec. 5) and had to wait 5 weeks for the river ice to clear so she could go on and wrote the following poem in the Umatilla House.

The bitter cold of December 1873
Will long be remembered by you and me.
The mighty Columbia was then icebound
Letting men walk on her as if on ground.

The travelers waiting the storm's mood
Which will free the ice and bring the flood.
The jolly winter does not care a straw
It will be with us until the thaw.

There's a knot of folks who are having fun
Its just as cheap as sorrow by the ton.
Nearby stands a man, lets watch him for a while
He tries without success to raise a little smile.

Perhaps he has a wife and little children too
Awaiting his coming; no wonder he looks blue.
Santa's plans were jolly, all things were working nice
And lo, the cold snap caught us and now we're bound in ice.

I cannot leave the children, the little trusting things
We continue to linger long with other human beings.
There's a mighty flash, its not a goblin or a spook|
Its friendly, mild-voiced and they call it chinook.

Its like a gentle woman with footsteps light as air
We never knew its coming until we found it there.
If we could gain it's favor and keep it for a day
The storm's icy barrier would melt and wash away.


GOLD by Arthur Guterman

Meed of the toiler; flame of the sea.
Such were the names poets gave to me.
Metal of mammon; curse of the world
These are the labels preachers have hurled,

Dug from the mountain. Washed in the glen.
Servant am I? or master of men.
Steal me, I curse you; Earn me I bless you;
Grasp and hoard me and fiend shall possess you.

Lie for me, die for me, covet me, take me
-Angel or devil, I am what you make me,
Falsely alluring, I shimmer and shine
Over the millions that hold me divine.

Trampling each other they rush to adore me.
He aspiring the dearest of treasure before me,
Love and blessedness, youth and its wealth,
Honor, tranquility, innocence, health --

Buying my favor with evil and pain;
Huge is the sacrifice, poor is the gain,
Naught but my effigy, passionless, cold,
God of a frenzied idolatry -- GOLD.


The sermon you deliver may be wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lesson by observing what you do;
I might misunderstand you and the high advise you give
But there is no misunderstanding how you act & live.


If preachers lived closer to God
They wouldn't have to talk so loud.


M is for the million things she gave me
O means only that she's growing old.
T is for the tears she shed to save me
H is for her heart as pure as gold.
E is for her eyes with love light shining
R means right and right she'll always be.
Put them all together they spell MOTHER

A word that means the world to me.


DAD by Clara McCully

I think its time to write a rhyme
Extolling the virtues of dad;
Its gone far enough and sure is tough
To think of the snobs he's had.

We write about mother and tell how we love her,
We offer our hearts at her shrine;
We praise her ornately, she takes it sedately,
Hereafter its father for mine.

Of course I'll admit, she deserves quite a bit,
Of love and affection, no doubt;
I always have said it, she gets all the credit,
While dad's most always left out.

He does all the plugging, Ma gets the hugging,
He toils in good weather and bad;
His arms bear the burden, he scarce gets a word in
You can bet your sweet life its dad.

How long has he waited, for praise belated,
We'll make your poor heart feel glad;
And while we're about it
Lets stand up and shout it --
Three cheers for dear old DAD.

-- Louis Fritz Scrapbook.


Where Rolls the Oregon by A.H. Curtiss

Where rolls the Oregon-
At the Cascade's eastern base,
Where the Columbia rushes through
A narrow troughed place.

There, romance has a stronghold,
And the redman has his store;
There he derives his substance
And superstitious lore.

There upon the hillsides
His white eyed ponies graze;
While hollow ribbed coyotes
Await with longing gaze.

And the red man is their master
And the proudest of them all;
If they don't obey his bidding
Before the bow they fall.

-- Rockland (Dallesport) Wash. 1872.


To us for 14 anxious months
His infant smiles were given.
And then he bid farewell to earth
And went to live in Heaven.

-- Helm infant grave, Masonic Cemetery, 1874.


Here lies the mother of 28,
She might have had more but now its too late.

-- A canine cemetery.


AFTERGLOW by Ethel Nelson McAdoc

Only a trifling kindness
To a lonely heart was shown,
But it lifted a soul from the depths of despair,
And taught it a creed of its own.

Only a kind word spoken
To a soul by sorrow riven,
But it gave new faith to mothers' of men
And pointed the way to Heaven.

Only a cheerful greeting
To a woman discouraged and sad,
But it brought full bloom to the bud of success
And developed the talent she had.

Only a quiet blessing
Bestowed by a saintly soul,
But it awakened the hope, lain dormant for years,
And carried her on to her goal.

Only a wholesome interest
In a heart grown tired with strife,
Of this weary old world, but her hopes were unfurled,
And they made her triumphant in life.

So let us give freely of kindness
To those whom we meet as we roam;
Then perhaps they may say, "she has made plain the way" in,
And has shown us the guide posts to home.

-- The Dallas, Oregon in the Gay '90's.


I Wonder

I wonder if she'd care if I would go away?
I wonder if she'd care if I would go and stay?
Should I say, "the time has come for me to do my share?"
In putting down the foe;

I wonder if she'd care?
I wonder if she'd care if I fell bleeding on the plain
Never to get up and ever walk again?
Should I tell her I must go to mingle in the fray?

I wonder if she'd beg of me to really stay?
If I became a soldier boy I wonder if she'd care?
I long to test her love for me, but Lord,
I do not DARE!

-- The Dallas in 1898.


The Old Music Book

I turn with silent reverence its unknown pages o'er,
The lines inspire a sense of something heard before.
I dare not touch the music old in this modern day,
For twas hollowed by fingers long since cold,
And voices that have faded away.

-- Poem of Gay '90's, author unknown.


The Four Leaf Clover by Ella Higginson

I know a place where the sun's like gold,
Where cherry blossoms look like snow;
And underneath a lovely nook
The Four-leaf clovers grow.

One leaf for hope and one for faith,
And one for love, you know;
He put another on for luck--
Search and you'll find where they grow.

Stop my friends and cast an eye;
as you are now so once was I;
As I am now, so you must be.
Prepare for death and follow me.

-- Author unknown.

© Jeffrey L. Elmer All Rights Reserved