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4A COTTAGE GROVE SENTINEL APRIL 19, 2017
Offbeat Oregon History: When old Portland fl ooded
or most modern Oregonians,
the most intriguing part of the
For The Sentinel
old stories of the 1894 Port-
land and Willamette Valley fl ood is
how undaunted people were by it.
Today, most Willamette Valley residents expect to have schools
canceled when fi ve inches of snow falls. Yet 125 years ago, when
the streets of downtown Portland lay under fi ve feet of swirling,
dirty fl oodwaters following a late-spring arrival of one of the state’s
famous snow-melting “Pineapple Express” weather systems, their
great-great-grandparents took the calamity completely in stride.
No one seems to have considered closing for business until the
fl oodwaters receded. A downtown Portland hotel built a temporary
false fl oor in its lobby, so guests could carry on as normal. The cook
at the Bureau Saloon brought a rowboat into the kitchen and stood
in it while he worked. The Meier & Frank department store built
raised walkways for shoppers — and shoppers came, many by boat.
Erickson's Saloon, on Burnside — known at the time for having
the world's longest bar — moved onto a houseboat anchored in the
middle of the canal formerly known as Burnside Street; here, owner
August Erickson continued hosting his “dainty lunch” buffet and
pouring drinks as patrons arrived and left by rowboats and canoes.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of small craft crowded through
the town's streets, and some folks in Chinatown (then ranged along
Second Street parallel to the waterfront) staged an eight-block boat
race downtown. And one fellow, presumably early in the fl ood
before the water quality had gotten too awful, caught a 15-pound
steelhead in the lobby of the railroad station.
These intrepid show-must-go-on citizens were not outliers. All
around the city, residents were building temporary scaffolding in
front of businesses and residences to serve as elevated sidewalks.
By Finn JD John
This was for convenience at fi rst, but as time went by, with Na-
ture calling to each Portland resident roughly once a day and no
place to dump out the resulting chamber-potfuls except directly
into the fl oodwaters, things got very unsanitary very quickly.
Still, it was all in a day’s work for those early Portlanders. They
knew their river, and they knew it fl ooded up into the streets of
the city once a decade or so. The 1894 fl ood was a whopper, but
it differed from earlier fl oods only in scale — residents already
had a well-drilled routine for dealing with a foot or two of water
in the street, so all they had to do was scale those plans up a bit.
Even up the valley, where the suffering was greater — wooden
farmhouses built close to the streambed were fl oated off their
foundations and away down the river, and thousands of head
of livestock drowned in their pastures — the fl ood was greeted
mostly with a sort of wry “here-we-go-again” resignation.
That “no big deal” attitude was in sharp contrast to an earlier
fl ood — the fl ood that fi rst put the valley’s residents on notice as
to what the river was capable of, and which still today remains
the biggest fl ood in the history of the state.
That fl ood came in the dead of winter in late 1861.
In that year, the winter started out very cold and wet, very early.
The Dalles got a whole year’s worth of precipitation in two months.
The Willamette Valley didn’t get hit that hard, but it did get roughly
double the usual amount. The residents hunkered down in their cab-
ins and new-built houses — built close to the river, most of them,
since it and the riverboats that plied it were the main transportation
route — and waited for spring to come.
It, or rather something like it, came very, very early. At the begin-
ning of December, the “Pineapple Express” wind started, blowing
up from the tropical south, and temperatures shot up into the 60s,
accompanied by lots of rain … and the snowpack started to melt.
From there, everything moved very quickly. Starting at 5 a.m. on
Dec. 2, the river started rising at a stunning rate of a foot per hour,
and kept going for 12 hours.
It was somewhat miraculous that this terrifying show of natural
force happened during daylight hours. In those pre-electricity days,
people were almost as helpless as roosting chickens after night fell.
Thousands hurried to higher ground, and so when the houses started
to fl oat away, not many people were still inside them. (How many
isn’t clear. At least four people are known to have died in the fl ood,
but records from 1861 are very incomplete.)
Water rose in Oregon City until it fl owed through the main streets
of town, high on its bluff over the lower river. Residents of Cor-
vallis, who went to bed that night thinking their homes were high
enough to be safe, learned otherwise when they were awakened
from slumber by the sound of driftwood slamming into the side of
South of Oregon City at Canemah, a riverboat captain named
Pease escorted his family safely to high ground. Then he returned
to the steamboat dock and fi red up the boiler in his sternwheeler,
the Onward, and set out up the valley to rescue people. By nightfall
Captain Pease had saved some 40 people from certain soaking and
possible drowning. His method was simple: He simply drove from
farmhouse to farmhouse making sure everyone was out. When he
found people still inside a house, he would simply drive his shal-
low-draft boat up to the house, throw a rope around a tree or chim-
ney, and drop a board onto the porch or roof. The occupants would
then scramble up the board and onto the boat, and Pease would
move on to the next farm.
Many other people, stranded after having taken refuge in the sec-
ond fl oor or on the roof of a house or barn, were rescued by neigh-
bors in skiffs and canoes as the majority of ground in the valley was
turned into a vast, half-million-acre lake.
Over following week or two, the water level stayed high and oc-
casionally rose. Watchers at Oregon City saw houses fl oating down
the river and over the falls, many with candles and lanterns still
burning in their windows.
When the fl oodwaters fi nally receded, the damage was stunning.
The entire town of Champoeg had been washed away; the general
store was spotted a mile downriver in a clump of brush, but the rest
of the houses were long gone. One building remained.
The same fate befell the town of Orleans, across the river from
Corvallis. Once considered a rival of Corvallis for local primacy,
Orleans was wiped from the face of the Earth by the fl ood, with the
sole exception of the Orleans Church and adjacent cemetery, which
was built on a nearby knoll and escaped the fl ood.
All of this was still fairly fresh in many residents’ minds 32 years
later, in 1894. And although the high water was an inconvenience, it
was a familiar one. Bad as it was, they knew very well that it could
get a whole lot worse. It was all just part of what one had to do to
live in the Willamette Valley.
Since that time, of course, the river has been mostly tamed. Dams
and reservoirs like Cottage Grove Lake and Detroit Lake are lovely
places to go fi sh and water-ski, of course, but that’s not why they
were built; they’re there to provide a brake on the speed with which
snowmelt hits the main-stem Willamette. And since 1948 — the
most recent fl ood to fi ll the streets of Portland, and the same fl ood
that carried away the town of Vanport — those dams have done a
yeoman’s job of keeping the river from pulling another 1861.
But there have been some very close calls. The fl oods of 1996
brought the water level up to within inches of spilling over Port-
land’s fl oodwall and pouring into downtown Portland once again.
That fl ood reached 35 feet in Salem; the Army Corps of Engineers
estimated that it would have reached 42.5 feet without fl ood-control
But the 1861 fl ood reached 47 feet. Which strongly suggests that
the next time that much rain and snowmelt come along, Portlanders
and other Willamette Valley residents are going to need to re-learn
some of their old 1894-style coping skills.
Telomeres are central to the aging process
caps of DNA at
the ends of our
chromosomes that protect our genetic materi-
al and make it possible for our cells to divide.
Telomeres are where the DNA replication ma-
By Joel Fuhrman, MD
For The Sentinel
C ottage G rove
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Copyright Notice: Entire contents ©2017 Cottage Grove Sentinel.
chinery attaches during the cell division process, so that the entire
DNA strand can be copied. Each time the cell divides, the telo-
meres get shorter. For the next cell division to happen, there must be
enough room left on the telomere for the replication enzymes. If the
telomere becomes too short, the DNA can’t be copied properly, and
the cell cannot divide. To prevent excessive shortening, the enzyme
telomerase rebuilds telomeres. Telomere length and telomerase ac-
tivity are factors associated with aging, not only within individual
cells, but of organisms as a whole. As scientists continue to examine
the complex role of telomeres in the aging process and the role they
play in our health, we have come to understand that shorter telo-
mere length is associated with biological aging and lifestyle-related
diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer,
and premature death.
The good news is that telomere length, although infl uenced by
genetics, can also be affected by environmental factors, including
diet and lifestyle choices. A superior diet and a healthy lifestyle are
associated with greater telomere length. Conversely, since oxidative
stress and chronic infl ammation are linked to telomere shortening,
studies have reported factors that promote infl ammation and oxi-
dative stress may also accelerate telomere erosion, namely a high
body mass index, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, chronic
stress and a low socioeconomic status.
What does this mean for you and me? It means that the positive
choices we make when it comes to what we eat or how much we ex-
ercise—among other lifestyle factors—can maintain our telomeres,
one of the many mechanisms by which healthy behaviors promote
longevity. Higher levels of vegetable and fruit consumption, fi ber
intake, vitamin and mineral adequacy, and exercise are the factors
associated with longer telomeres and/or greater telomerase enzyme
When the telomeres get too
short, the cell can no longer di-
vide, becoming what scientists
call senescent. Senescent cells
are still alive, but not able to car-
ry out normal cellular processes,
and as more cells in a tissue be-
come senescent, it impairs the
tissue’s ability to repair damage.
● School district budgets
Plus, senescent cells secrete fac-
● Property auctions
tors that negatively affect the
● Public hearings
function of neighboring cells,
● Local tax changes
including promoting the devel-
opment of cancer.
Telomere length and telo-
Find out about these
and much more in your local newspaper!
merase enzyme activity can be
measured in human white blood
Participate in Democracy. cells. A shorter length or lower
Read your Public Notices. telomerase activity has been as-
sociated with not only the shortening of the human lifespan, but
also a number of chronic, preventable diseases, including hyper-
tension, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes,
depression, osteoporosis and obesity.
In a study assessing the relationship of food groups to telomere
length, vegetables were found to have the most signifi cant asso-
ciation to greater telomere length. In particular, peppers, carrots,
spinach, tomatoes and root vegetables had the highest correlation.
Further analysis showed specifi c micronutrients from whole plant
foods were associated with telomere length. Also, in a study involv-
ing an elderly population, vegetable and fruit consumption were
both signifi cantly associated with longer length telomeres. Another
study in women found dietary fi ber consumption to be associated
with longer telomeres, further supporting the idea that whole plant
foods can improve telomere length.
In addition to a healthful diet, supplementing with a carefully
designed multivitamin can help to optimize the body’s supply of
micronutrients, which may benefi t telomere length by tempering
oxidative stress and chronic infl ammation.
A comprehensive lifestyle change study assessed the impact on
telomeres and found improvements in diet, exercise, stress manage-
ment and social support signifi cantly increased telomere length by
approximately 10 percent. Notably, the more individuals changed
their behaviors, the more dramatic their improvements became.
The aging process is complex, and much has yet to be determined,
but these fi ndings indicate that lifestyle factors can infl uence telo-
mere length and cellular aging. A high-nutrient diet and a healthy
lifestyle supports healthy aging and may even help decelerate the
Dr. Fuhrman is a #1 New York Times best-selling author and a
board certifi ed family physician specializing in lifestyle and nutri-
tional medicine. Visit his informative website at DrFuhrman.com.
Submit your questions and comments about this column directly to
Editor's note: This column first
appeared in The Sentinel on April
20, 2016. Dr. Fuhrman is a syndi-
cated column provided by an out-
side source on a varying schedule.
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