As I drive to the Bend area in Central Oregon where my family lives, I always cross over a bridge that spans a gorge. There is a park called Peter Skene Ogden Scenic Viewpoint which allows you to stop and see the amazing view of the Crooked River which is 300 ft below. I had never stopped because I’m either going to or from visiting family. When I mentioned this to my dad, he immediately pulled into the park.
The first thing you see when you get out of the car is this:
These signs are posted in front of almost every parking spot in the parking lot. I love the command at the end of the dog warning sign “Put your dog back in the vehicle!” Clearly they know people try to disregard the warning.
This was a bit of a shock to be honest. I knew it was deep, but I guess I didn’t realize the amount of times people (and dogs) go over the edge and die. Clearly enough that it warrants signs…everywhere.
As we walked along the path near the ridge, my dad begins telling the story of the most recent suicide into the gorge. I guess, somehow, the guy drove his car into the gorge. They had to send in a mountaineering team to repel into the gorge to retrieve the body. No one is quite sure how they are going to get the car out of there. The story explains, a bit, why there are signs. You go over the edge, and no one can get out without calling a team to do it. Your chances of survival are slim to none. Nice thought.
There are actually three bridges that span this portion of the river. This one is the new highway bridge; the one I am always driving across.
This one is the old highway bridge. It is still structurally sound; they replaced it because they wanted a wider bridge. It is now a way visitors to the viewpoint can walk across the gorge.
And, this is the train bridge. It is still in use today.
Whenever I encounter these amazing gorges, I can’t help but wonder what the settlers traveling in wagons felt like when they found it. Can you imagine, trying to go west in the high desert where the land is already harsh, and encountering this? And, this is straight down. There isn’t really a gradual slope in the vicinity of where we were.
There are spots well past the train bridge where it looks like it gets better, but if you get down one side, getting back up the other is still almost impossible. I know in some areas along the Oregon Trail, they had to lower the wagons down huge cliffs. I also know they lost many wagons in the process. Nothing like traveling thousands of miles and losing everything right before you arrive to where you are going.
I leave you with a close up of the warning sign about leaving the dogs into the car. I don’t know why, but I find this image to be weird. Doesn’t the dog look like he wants to jump to his death? Maybe it’s the birds soaring that are luring him to do it. I don’t know.