Bend to be featured on C-SPAN
Video crews scoured Central Oregon for good tales

Video journalist Adrienne Hoar struggled to keep her camera lens dry as she interviewed Mike Berry about the Tumalo Reservoir fiasco while the two of them — during a Wednesday morning rain shower — stood atop the massive earthen dam that creates the reservoir.

“I took the day off for this,” joked Berry, who really did take some time off from his job at the Deschutes County Surveyor’s office so he could take Hoar to the dam’s site and explain its history for a piece she was filming about Bend and the surrounding area.

Following a schedule that was half-planned and half-improvisation, three C-SPAN crews crisscrossed Bend this week so they could put together a series of pieces about the city’s history and authors. The segments will run on the cable news network next month.

The production crews’ visit was part of an eight-city tour this winter to gather content for the network’s Book TV and American History TV programs that put a national spotlight on each stop’s history and culture.

“This is going to be great,” said Tim Ryan, president and CEO of the Bend Chamber of Commerce. “I’m looking forward to this and I’m setting my DVR.”

The dam

Berry took advantage of the occasional break in Wednesday’s rainstorm to talk about how Portland-area developer William Laidlaw took advantage of the federal government’s Carey Act and persuaded 200 to 300 people to settle on land that wasn’t properly irrigated.

He said the suffering these people endured led state officials to take over the Tumalo Irrigation Project in 1914 and eventually build a large dam they hoped would create a reservoir capable of providing irrigation to the hundreds of people Laidlaw had swindled.

Unfortunately, Berry said, the state’s plans were based on a faulty engineering study that failed to notice that the rock under the proposed reservoir was extremely porous, and it started leaking water as soon as it was partly filled.

“Since the reservoir was never finished,” he said, “(the site of the dam) is just a rural road that isn’t traveled often, and not a lot of people know about its history or that it ever existed.”

When he finished the story, Berry said Laidlaw was one of many “looters of the public domain” who took advantage of the Carey Act and other programs designed to help settle the West more than 100 years ago.

He said the state’s plan to build the dam was a “good-faith effort” that went horridly wrong and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“This type of thing goes on today,” said Berry, who nailed the ending to his story by comparing Laidlaw’s scheme to the scams that took place during Central Oregon’s recent housing boom and the Tumalo Irrigation Project to the state’s efforts to help those who lost their homes.

Hoar said she thought the story would resonate well with her network’s audience — people who flock to C-SPAN for its continuous coverage of Congress and other government agencies — and should do especially well as part of its American History TV programming lineup because the story involved a government program that went bad.

That’s why Hoar tracked down Berry, who has given lectures on the Tumalo Reservoir project in the past, when she and her colleagues came to Bend this week. Hoar did everything in her power to interview him at its site, even if it meant standing outside in the rain.

“(This weather) has been a real challenge,” said Hoar, who kept a brand-new umbrella and poncho in the back seat of her truck just in case she or someone she was filming needed it.

The tour

Producer Ashley Hill said the C-SPAN Cities Tour is designed to highlight medium-sized cities — particularly those that have “a rich history and great nonfiction authors” — that the network’s executives think their core audience in the Washington, D.C., area might be interested in visiting or at least learning more about.

She said this year’s tour is unique because, with stops in Bellingham and Olympia, Wash., and Salem and Bend, it marks the first time that C-SPAN crews have visited the Pacific Northwest in the tour’s four-year history.

Along with getting a chance to look at how the iconic geography of the Cascades has shaped the region’s lifestyle, stopping in this area lets the tour’s producers cover a whole new period of history — the final days of the country’s westward expansion.

Hill said coming to Central Oregon also gives her network a chance to fully take advantage of the connections it has built with the region through BendBroadband CEO Amy Tykeson, who has served on C-SPAN’s national board of directors since 2007 and whose father helped found the network and served on its original board of directors in 1978.

But while having these connections helps, nothing’s as important as the ground game.

“When we make a stop, we get to embed ourselves in a city and talk to people about the things that really interest them,” Hill said, explaining what she loves most about visiting the cities on the tour.

She said that while the C-SPAN crews have a schedule they like to follow on each visit — Hoar’s interview with Berry was set up at least a week in advance — they’re also up for visiting places they may have missed when planning their trip.

For instance, Hill and her crews found out about Volcano Vineyards when they sent a request on social media asking people where they could find the Bend Emblem Club’s iconic BEND logo. Volcano uses the circular logo on its Bend Blend red and white wine varietals.

Hill also heard about Smith Rock State Park by accident. She said she and her crew found out about the formation when they stopped to get some coffee on their way back from Mount Bachelor — where they went for a ride on the Oregon Trail of Dreams dog sled — and talked to somebody who was standing in line in front of them.

“(They) said, ‘You should go and see this,’ and so we went,” Hill said, explaining how she got to experience Central Oregon’s vast geography by visiting a ski resort and a desert park in the same afternoon. “So many people have suggested things we should cover.”

The final cut

It’s still not certain what is going to make the final cut when the results of C-SPAN’s visit to Bend airs on C-SPAN2’s Book TV and C-SPAN3’s American History TV programming April 5-6, largely because the crews visited so many places.

In addition to the stops mentioned before, they’ve attended an Oscars party at the Tower Theatre, interviewed representatives from the historical society about Bend’s logging history at the Old Mill District, checked into the chamber-sponsored debate between incumbent Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty and challenger John Hummel, and hiked along the Deschutes River with photographer Loren Irving to see one of the many places explorer John C. Fremont visited when he surveyed the area in 1843.

The crews also visited the Old Mill District’s Atellier 6000 to check out its printmaking studio and met with Jane Kirkpatrick and James Foster to talk about their books, Kirkpatrick’s “Homestead” and Foster’s “Bong Hits 4 Jesus: A Perfect Constitutional Storm.”

Ryan, with the chamber, said the C-SPAN Cities Tour isn’t the first time Bend has been featured in a large national media outlet. Even so, he’s excited to see the final product of Hill’s visit because it will be taking a look at things that typically get left out of the national spotlight.

“It’s another level of exposure for us,” said Ryan, who wasn’t really sure whether it would have an impact on Bend’s economy or bring people to the region who weren’t already planning a trip.

However the special pans out, the C-SPAN Cities Tour has already yielded one potential repeat visitor: Hill.

“There’s such a great experience in Bend,” said Hill, who jokingly asked if anyone was looking for a video producer during a Monday news conference at the Tower Theater. “The people here are so engaged in their community and they are so proud of their town.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7816, mmclean@bendbulletin.com

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