Join me for beer and history, sponsored by the Oregon Historical Society, Holy Names Heritage Center and McMenamins, in which you'll hear lively local or regional history while you enjoy a frosty pint or two of handcrafted ale.
This month topic: "Ditch Walkers and Water Wars: The Life and Times of the Eldorado Ditch in the Gold Fields of Eastern Oregon"
Many ambitious gold-seeking projects were attempted in the early days of the state of Oregon, but none so labor-intensive and optimistic as the construction of the Eldorado Ditch. William Packwood, an early 1860s pioneer to Eastern Oregon, provided the main vision for the 14-year, 140-mile-long project. Contracted groups of Chinese were the primary reason Packwood’s vision became reality, providing a cheap and reliable source of labor in spite of the persecution they endured.
This story of the life and times of the Eldorado Ditch is much more than a chronicle of ditch building, however. Woven into the fabric of the story are deeply personal accounts of those who were closely involved in the ditch’s 62-year history. As with most gold mining tales, the trials, both legal and personal, of the individuals and families committed to completion of the ditch – and to its later use and maintenance - expand and enrich the tale of this optimistic, but ultimately disappointing, undertaking.
Authors Mike Higgins and Les Tipton have created a presentation to summarize their own 14-year project in hiking, researching and writing the history of the Ditch. The presentation mixes pictures of their scenic, at times frustrating, seven-season hike with historical photos and stories of the people involved in the creation of this tremendous accomplishment.
In spite of the forces, both natural and man-caused, that have been affecting the ditch for more than a century, much of it still remains, a firm testament to the determination and dreams of its creators.
Please note that there will be a Food Collection box benefiting the Oregon Food Bank at the entrance to the theater! I would very much appreciate it (and so would the Food Bank), if you could bring some non-perishable food donations with you!
I am hosting a Happy Hour in the Courtyard Restaurant beforehand as well, you can sign up for it here: