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Willamette Falls story brings back memories


I’d like to take this opportunity and “thank you” for the story you wrote, “A state park for Willamette Falls,” Feb. 6! That “postcard picture” of Oregon City’s Willamette Falls is fantastic to view.

Immediately, it brought to my mind the “writing and witnessed account” by Thomas J. Farnham, a writer in the year of 1839. In writing his story of viewing “The Falls,” he covers “Departure from Vancouver,” “Wappatoo Island,” “Arrival at the Lower Settlement” and a dozen more or less.

The title of this “Letter Size Book” of 108 pages is “An 1839 Wagon Journal Travels in the Great Western Prairies: The Anahauc and Rocky Mountains and in the Oregon Territory.”

I am sure Mr. Rendleman you as a writer, would be overjoyed to read this manuscript and its contents about the Willamette Falls. Farnham alludes to the potential manufacturing power of the area on page 106.

I was surprised many, many years ago to learn the very first high-voltage power was produced by Willamette Falls generators and sent on to Portland. And no other place in the whole world was doing such a thing. I might add that my wife and I visited the Bonneville Dam’s vistors display room, and it was there l found this particular book for sale. I paid $3, and it was worth to me a 100 times that price.

You see sir, l have a good number of ancestors that came to Oregon during the mid 1800s. The well-known Redland Pioneer Cemetery’s land was donated by Richard Cutting from his claim of 640 acres. His wife was Mary Polly Mattoon, daughter of Phillip Mattoon. Mattoon Road, which runs through the Clear Creek Valley, was settled by several other Mattoons. All came to Oregon from back East. And Richard Cutting’s father, “Charles” settled on Dairy Creek where the Meadow-Brook Store is today! On my maternal/maternal Hicinbothom/Sevier side is James Henry Sevier, and he is my great-grandfather who is a descendant of the famous Gen. John L. Sevier. His bronze statue is under the rotunda of our national capitol’s dome. We have his “Life’s Story” in a book named after him.

And on page 485, is the name of James Henry Sevier, son of Ira Benjamin Sevier. James Henry Sevier was hired by Clackamas County’s Road Department to clear out a right-of-way for the new Redland Road, passing through Viola. He was hired as a “Powder Monkey” to do “stump blasting.”

He had done many in years past. But in 1930, one failed to blow up. They always called one like that “a sleeper.” The blast sent him flying upward for some feet. He came down in a running gait, then fell over dead—a real loss to his beloved wife and family.

Yours truly, and thanks again for the story.

Dewain McGraw is a resident of unincorporated Oregon City.