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No Host event - History Pub - Ditch Walkers and Water Wars

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:

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  • A former member
    A former member

    What amazed me was that looking at the slides, I could barely see where the ditch was in the photographs. So frequently what is left now blends in to the landscape, my impression anyway. But the speaker, having been raised and lived there his whole life, sees the landscape as it was. 14 years of their exploration amounted to a major sequence of time of their friendship and interest in local history.

    October 1, 2013

  • Matthew

    While I believe the event could have possessed better organization in the presentation of the material, I was very delighted with the amount of history shared in a short period of time. The book will also allow me to learn more about the Chinese labors, ghost towns, and the settling of Eastern Oregon post-gold rush. I was surprised to see myself as one of the last people leaving the event, as I lingered learning more of what was discussed. Great evening!

    1 · September 30, 2013

  • Christine W

    Darn something urgent came up. I really wanted to come to this :-( Have fun everyone!

    September 30, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I love Portland and Oregon history, looking forward to an interesting night with new friends.

    September 29, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Will Higgins & Tipton bring a few of their books to sell to us? (Would like to buy one). If so, do you know what the cost would be?

    September 27, 2013

38 went

Our Sponsors

  • Uniquely Portland

    Bring 2 people for the price of 1 to one of our local walking tours.

  • Packard Communications

    Accent Reduction, Pronunciation Training. Free screening or consult

  • Accent Reduction Portland Group

    Accent Reduction Portland Group free classes for pronunciation

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