A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘John Day’

Dayville, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on December 19, 2008

First timer?  Check out “About Landing.”  OK, so it’s a little long, but well worth the read . . .

Dan –  It looks like a mini-slump (1/5), but I’m hangin’ in there in the mid 160’s.  That’s right, another OSer, another WBer . . . OR; 63/51; 6/10; 10; 165.3.  If you remember, I had 5 USers in a row not long ago.  They still count as part of my last 10, but that 6/10 will start to go down unless I go on another US streak.  As always, we’ll see.

So, for the 5th time, I landed in the John Day R watershed (making the John Day the 123rd river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits); on to the Columbia (115th hit, solidly in 4th place behind the MM, the MO and the CO. 

I landed near the town of Dayville, a town of 138 fine folks, at least back in 2000.  I don’t mean that they’re not still fine folks, I mean there may be somewhat more or less of them.   Anyway, here’s my landing spot (sorry about the cruddy map!):


You’re probably noticing a certain Day-ness to my landing, and you’re right.  Both the river and the town are named after one John Day, a hunter / trapper extrordinaire.  From the website of the town of John Day (which is bigger than Dayville):

Visitors often ask “Was there really a John Day?”  Little is known about the man for whom a river, a dam and two towns (John Day and Dayville) were named. 

 John Day was a hunter from the backwoods of Virginia.  He was described as six feet two inches tall, a handsome man with a manly countenance, straight as an Indian with an elastic step ‘as if he trod on springs’.  It was his boast that in his younger days nothing could hurt or daunt him, but he had lived too fast and injured his constitution by excesses.  Still, he was strong of hand, bold of heart, a prime woodsman, and an almost unerring shot.

  John Day was engaged by the Pacific Fur Company as one of a group of explorers  in the fall of 1810.  They were to cross the Plains and Rocky Mountains during 1811, and arrive in Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River during the winter or early spring of 1812.  John Day’s early excesses evidently incapacitated him for the extreme hardships of this journey.

  During December, 1811 he became ill, and his life was saved only because Ramsay Crooks remained behind with him at an Indian camp near Weiser, Idaho.  The following spring, Crooks and Day made their way across the Blue Mountains to the Columbia River.  They were attacked by Indians, robbed, and left naked near the mouth of the Mau Mau River, thirty miles east of The Dalles.  After the attack the two men started back to the friendly Walla Walla country and reached Astoria in early May, 1812.

 People started calling the Mau Mau River ‘John Day River’ because he was attacked there.  Within a very few years, the maps changed the name to John Day, and then a valley, two cities, the fossil beds and a dam took on the name of the river.  It is likely that John Day never actually visited the area which now uses his name so frequently.


Get the irony?  This very cool river name, the Mau Mau, is renamed the John Day just because ol’ John was attacked when we he was traveling along the Columbia and he just happened to be at the mouth of the Mau Mau River.  And what’s more, John probably never spent time along the Mau Mau, er, I mean the John Day.  Sorry John, my vote is for Mau Mau.

  As you regulars are aware, I like to show back-in-the-day shots.  Well, here’s one of Dayville:

  Dayville Back in the Day

 The John Day (what else?) fossil beds are nearby:

  John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is a 14,000 acre park in eastern Oregon. Located within the John Day River Basin, it is world-renowned for its well preserved, remarkably complete record of fossil plants and animals, a record that spans more than 40 of the 65 million years of the Cenozoic Era (also known as the Age of Mammals and Flowering Plants).

  Many types of fossils in the park deteriorate rapidly once erosion exposes them to the elements. Thus the fossil beds are continually canvassed by paleontologists. Visitors often take rocks as souvenirs, which is a federal crime.

  The fossil beds contain vestiges of the actual soils, rivers, ponds, watering holes, mudslides, ashfalls, floodplains, middens, trackways, prairies, and forests, in an unbroken sequence that is one of the longest continuous geological records. The rocks are rich with the evidence of ancient habitats and the dynamic processes that shaped them; they tell of sweeping changes in the John Day Basin.


 Here are some of the geologic units and scenery in the park:

 Painted Hills


hoo doos


Cool scene


  Sheep Rock

I’d love to check this area out.  Amazing scenic and geologic variety!!






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