Pamplin Media Group – 1971: Fire destroys The Met Hotel, shop and post office

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Portland General Electric plans to restore anadromous fish courses above the Pelton Round Butte hydropower plant with three dams

100 YEARS AGO

September 22, 1921

Oregon Trunk Railway Harvest Report: A significant reduction in grain acreage will follow this season‘s banner yield. This year the farmers are cultivating every available morning and in 1922 they will be forced to lay a large part of their acreage fallow in the summer. Threshing is generally done along the entire length of the trunk and splendid yields are the norm. The Madras, Metolius and Culver districts average between 22 and 28 bushels per acre with a harvest of about half. Maupin and Bake Oven Country runs between 28 and 30 bushels per acre and their harvest is nearly two-thirds complete.

Everywhere in this section ideal weather for the harvest in general and within two weeks the harvest will be safely collected this year. Here, as in other sections, grain is pushed into the markets because farmers are unable to fund a farm program. This move, however, restores the producer’s creditworthiness and takes a heavy burden off the banks in the area. Plowing only begins in wet weather, as the soils are very dry and dusty.

Potatoes in Redmond District, if not thrown back by an unforeseen disaster, will yield another bumper crop. The fields are all looking very good and the growers say the harvest is of the best. The livestock is moving slowly and if prices do not go up significantly, traders will lose heavily this year and possibly be put out of business. Much hay will be lost even if current prices rise, as growers say it can only be marketed at a distant loss now. The harvest was the heaviest that has ever been gathered. In summary, this section of Central Oregon had a record year, one that in all likelihood will remain a destination for many years to come.

75 YEARS AGO

September 19, 1946

When OC Hedgepeth, a new timber merchant here who was formerly involved in harmful weed control work in California, discovered a spot of star thistle, a serious nuisance, in some parts of the Pacific coast, he reported it to County Agent RA Hunt, who was working with him with the county authorities. The US Bureau of Reclamation and the Jefferson County Water Conservancy District in a weed eradication campaign. As a result of warnings from Hunt, John Priday discovered a small piece of grapevine and thought it was a star thistle.

“This discovery was a stroke of luck,” explains Hunt, “because the prickly vine, which was previously unknown in Oregon, other than its discovery in a limited area on the Snake River, is a serious pest in California. The local infestation is very low and can be eradicated quickly. ”

The Jefferson County’s program to drain the land to which water from the new irrigation district will be applied is declared of paramount importance due to plans to use a significant portion of the land to grow certified garden vegetables and field seeds.

50 YEARS AGO

23rd September 1971

The Met, a large two-story hotel, shop and post office on the Old Culver Highway in Metolius, was completely destroyed by fire last Thursday afternoon.

Janiece Winnegar, who ran the store at the time, said one of the lodgers, Paul Faith, ran downstairs at 12:20 p.m. to report the fire. Mrs. Winnegar immediately called the Culver Fire Department and had just enough time to empty the register before the smoke fled her from the building.

Cut off from the stairs by flames and smoke, several lodgers are said to have tied sheets and blankets to get themselves to safety. No injuries were reported.

Based on her conversation with Faith, Mrs. Winnegar said that she believed the fire broke out in a fuse box upstairs. The investigating state police could not confirm this, but stated that arson was ruled out.

Minutes after the fire started, thick clouds of black smoke rose hundreds of feet into the air. The smoke was reportedly seen in Madras four miles away.

A strong wind from the north sparked flames that raced through the half-timbered house. When trucks from Madras and North Unit Fire Departments arrived to aid the Culver Department, most of the building was on fire. The fire continued as firefighters sprayed water on a cafe across the street and a gas pump just in front of the building.

Two short hours after the fire broke out, the Met, which was billed as “the most modern hotel in Central Oregon” shortly before it opened in June 1911, was a smoldering pile of black ash.

In its June 16, 1911 edition, the Metolius Central Oregonian reported: “No detail is left out for the first-class guest accommodation … no other Central Oregon hotel can match this in modern conveniences.”

The fire closed a chapter in the history of Metolius. The building was the survivor of a fire that destroyed most of the buildings constructed during Metolius’ heyday before World War I. Lately it’s been the temporary home of travelers passing through. At the time of the fire, 13 people were living in the hotel.

Current owners are Estar M. Belnap of John Day and Wilford H. Belnap of Portland. Insurance is expected to cover the damage.

25 YEARS AGO

September 18, 1996

Portland General Electric officials announced last week that they had committed to restoring anadromous fishcourses above the Pelton Round Butte hydropower plant with three dams.

This will be a major undertaking and there is still no firm cost estimate for the proposal to restore the runs.

The PGE representatives presented their views during a public meeting last Thursday at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

The meeting was also attended by representatives from several federal and state agencies, Jefferson County, the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs, and others.

The meeting was a first step in the process of re-registering the dams with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Pelton project has been operating under its original license since the late 1950s. The current project license expires on December 31, 1999.

Restoring the fish runs will likely be the biggest problem in the re-licensing process, officials said.


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