Tag Archive | National historic site

Road Trip Photo Faves: Longhorn Steer

With the countdown to Christmas and all its associated chaos/busy-making, I haven’t had much time to write…  Not to mention the fact that I am still having major issues with my internet service, but that’s a rant for another time.

So I’ll entertain you over the next few weeks with some of my favorite photos from my road trip.

This Longhorn Steer lives at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Deer Lodge, Montana.  I love cows – I have always thought they are very cute, and this guy is no exception.

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A Spot Of Tea With Your Fill Up?

On our trip to Yakima, it wasn’t all beer and searching for wine. We also had a chance to finally visit a piece of Americana that I have been wanting to see for years. My friend Sarah at The Practical Historian (sorry Sarah, no brochure) will appreciate this one! The Teapot Dome Service Station.

The Teapot Dome Service Station was built in 1922, in protest of the Teapot Dome Scandal that was being investigated in Congress at the time. I’m sure you have all heard of the Teapot Dome Scandal, but do you really know what it was all about?

In the early 20th century, the Navy converted its main power source from coal to oil fuel, and several oil fields were placed under Naval control to ensure that there would be sufficient supply for Naval operations. One such field was the Teapot Dome Oil Field in Wyoming. Others were in California.

All was going swimmingly until US Secretary of the Interior, Albert Bacon Fall, convinced President Harding to transfer control over the oil fields to the Department of the Interior from the Navy (ownership remained with the Navy). Once Fall was in control of the fields, he quickly leased the Teapot Dome Oil Field and the two in California to private oil companies at very low rates without putting them out for competitive bidding.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, it was determined that the leases were legal. Fall indicated that he did not put the leases out for competitive bidding in the interest of National Security – because the fields were owned by the Navy, a competitive bidding process would have garnered publicity that would have jeopardized national security. I’m not sure I buy that argument, but apparently Congress did.

The problem lay in the fact that Fall accepted money from the oil companies he leased the land to. A lot of money. He covered his tracks fairly well as the money changed hands, and the investigation fumbled along for a couple of years, with Fall covering more tracks as he went. Let’s just say some documents disappeared (this is probably where the execs from Enron learned their tricks…).

But ultimately, Albert Fall couldn’t hide the fact that his standard of living had abruptly increased. Let that be a lesson – people notice if you suddenly and inexplicably become a multi-millionaire and start living high on the hog… Fall ended up serving 1 year in prison after his convictions for conspiracy and accepting bribes, and the leases were ultimately invalidated.

Jack Ainsworth, in tiny, little Zillah, Washington followed the news on the scandal and decided to make a statement – in the form of a 15 foot tall teapot shaped service station with the spout and handle made from sheet metal. It was operated as a service station for many years, and eventually had to be moved for the construction of the freeway in 1978. By then, it had earned its place in the hearts of the residents of Zillah, and was moved 1.2 miles to its current location.

The Teapot Dome Service Station - Built 1922 - Zillah, Washington

The Teapot Dome Service Station – Built 1922 – Zillah, Washington

In 1985, it was listed on the National Register for Historic Places. Residents have been working on raising money to restore it and hope to move it to downtown Zillah and open it as a tourism office one day. The Teapot Dome Service Station is almost 100 years old now! Sounds like the “little teapot that could.”

California Marathon Road Trip: Martinez Adobe at John Muir NHS

In my last post, I gave you a glimpse into our visit to the John Muir National Historic Site, and the house that John Muir owned and lived in during his later years.  Also on the property is an 1849 adobe home, called the Martinez Adobe, located on a section of the Juan de Bautista de Anza historic trail.

The land that the adobe is located on is the Rancho El Pinole, a Mexican land grant of 17,761 acres that was given to Ygnacio Martinez in 1842.  To fulfill the terms of the land grant Martinez built an adobe house, but that’s not the one that is standing today.  The current adobe house was built in 1849 by his son, Vicente Martinez, a year after Ygnacio’s death.  The property was divided up over the years, and the adobe and the land nearby was purchased by John Strentzel (John Muir’s father in law) in 1875.

Martinez Adobe, built 1849 – Adobe Construction

Martinez Adobe, built 1849 – Adobe Construction

The adobe is interesting for what it is, but not completely authentic (a wood section has been added on to the home).  However, the home is set up with an exhibit on the Juan Bautista de Anza historic trail, which follows the route of the 1775-1776 expedition by the Mexicans from Tubac Presidio in Southern Arizona, up through California.  Although the mission was funded and organized by Mexico, the colonists that traveled with Anza were from several areas around the world, including Spain, Basque, Mexico, other parts of Europe and Africa.

An outdoor oven at the Martinez Adobe

An outdoor oven at the Martinez Adobe

We had visited the Presidio State Historic Park in Tubac, Arizona, where the mission departed from, and had seen the signs of the route, but had never stopped at any of the historic sites.  So it was interesting to learn a bit about the end point of the expedition.

The exhibit included some of the history of the Oohlone tribe, who were decimated by disease when the colonists arrived.  It was a good reminder of the not so nice parts of the history of this nation.  The exhibit also documented information about area citizens who belong to the Oohlone tribe, as well as citizens descended from the settlers from the Anza expedition.

The adobe doesn’t take much time to tour, and it provided some great information on a piece of our history that I didn’t know much about.  It was well worth the time.

Fort Vancouver: A Step Back in Time

After my mom, my cousin and I visited the Tacoma Museum of Glass, we got back on the road and continued on our way to Portland.  We weren’t sure if we would have enough time for our second destination – Fort Vancouver, a National Historic Site in Vancouver, Washington.  The traffic gods were with us, and we made it there an hour before they closed!  I had been there before, so I knew that an hour would be enough time to visit.

When we got to the Fort, we stopped by the Visitor’s Center to check out the souvenirs (I had to get a few postcards!) and of course, we needed to get a stamp for my National Parks Passport! And then, we headed over to the site of the Fort.

Fort Vancouver was founded during the winter of 1824-1825 by the Hudson’s Bay Company.  If you are close to the Canadian border, like I am, you have probably heard the radio commercials for the Canadian department store, The Bay.  Same company.  The Hudson’s Bay Company began as a fur trading venture by England into Canada.  In 1670.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The Hudson’s Bay Company is the oldest commercial corporation in North America, and one of the oldest businesses in the world!  When the Hudson’s Bay Company began operations in North America, it served as the de facto government in the areas where it did business, and at one time, it was the largest landowner in the world.

Fort Vancouver was set up to protect the interests of the Hudson’s Bay Company along the Columbia River and to serve as a hub for their fur trading operations in the West.  The fort served as a collection point for the beaver hides that trappers in the West were bringing in.  The site also offered fertile soil along the river, while lying just outside of the flood plain.  The intention was for the fort to be self-sufficient, producing all of its own food and most other provisions, as goods were very expensive to ship.

Fort Vancouver

Fort Vancouver

The fort was built with substantial palisades; the walls were 750 feet by 450 feet, and 20 feet high.  Inside there were homes, and a school, library, chapel, pharmacy, blacksmith shop, warehouses and a manufacturing facility.  Outside the wall were more homes, an orchard, gardens, a shipyard, distillery, tannery, sawmill and a dairy.  At its height, Fort Vancouver oversaw 34 outposts and about 600 employees.

 The Chief Factor's Residence at Fort Vancouver


The Chief Factor’s Residence at Fort Vancouver

The beginning of the end of Fort Vancouver under the ownership of the Hudson’s Bay Company came in 1846.  That year, the United States and Canada signed the Oregon Treaty, which set the border between the two companies at the 49th parallel – right up near my home!  Although the treaty ensured that the Hudson’s Bay Company would be allowed to continue operations at Fort Vancouver, the treaty and the number of Americans moving into the area effectively stifled the fur trade there.  At that point, beaver trapping had continued a such a high volume for so long that beavers were nearing the point of extinction.  The Hudson’s Bay Company abandoned the fort in 1860 and moved north; the U.S. Army immediately took over the fort.

The Porch of the Chief Factor's Residence at Fort Vancouver

The Porch of the Chief Factor’s Residence at Fort Vancouver

The Army had already had barracks right next to Fort Vancouver, but they built more barracks.  During this era, the Indian Wars were happening in the West and Civil War heavies Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Sheridan were stationed there.  The Vancouver Barracks continue to house troops through World War I and World War II, and even continued to serve as home to the Army Reserve and Washington National Guard until it finally closed as an active military installation in 2011.

The Bastion in the Palisade Wall

The Bastion in the Palisade Wall

The buildings that are inside the fort now are reconstructions of the original buildings from the periodic of occupation by the Hudson’s Bay Company.  Archeological digs at the site showed historians where the original buildings were and the size of the structures, so the reconstructions were built directly over the historical structures.  We had the opportunity to wander around at our leisure – some of the buildings are open and you can go inside, but others are only open during special events.

The View from the Bastion at Fort Vancouver

The View from the Bastion at Fort Vancouver

The friendly ranger explained that there are two other sites in Oregon City, Oregon, the Barclay House and the McLoughlin House, which were the homes of two employees of the Hudson Bay Company in their retirement.  We didn’t have a chance to go there on this trip, but one day I’m going to make it over there to check them out too!

Eastern Washington Weekend Sneak Peek

More will be coming soon on my fantastic weekend, but I just wanted to give you all a sneak peek!  In no particular order…

1.  Jon ran his third half-marathon.

2.  We wine tasted in Walla Walla for the first time.

3.  Terror on the pass!

4.  Swimming!

5.  Dinner at Taverna Tagaris, the Tagaris Winery restaurant.

6.  I got a new stamp in my National Parks Passport.

7.  Sunshine.

8.  Great lunch at Olive in Walla Walla.  Mmmm… bacon…

9.  The Thorp Fruit Stand is awesome!

10.  Time with friends.

What a great weekend, and now I’m home enjoying some snuggle time with Martini.  I feel so fortunate that my friend Shelley has a heart of gold and was willing to give Tini her meds so I could have a few days away.  Now that’s friendship.