Deschutes County landmark mapping project unveiled

Online ‘Story Map’ locates historical rural landmarks, lesser-known sites

By Monicia Warner / The Bulletin

• Original Sisters High School

• Hardy Allen House

• Leithauser Store

• Hotel Sisters

• Aitken Drugstore

• Cloverdale School

• Terrebonne Ladies Pioneer Club

• Laidlaw Bank and Trust

• Tumalo Community Church

• Young School

• Eastern Star Grange

• Alfalfa Grange

• Skyliners Lodge

• Elk Lake Guard Station

• Agnes Mae Allen and Henry Sottong House and Barn

• Camp Abbot Site, Officers’ Club

• Harper School

• Brothers School

• Paulina Lake Guard Station

• La Pine Commercial Club

• Swamp Ranch

• Long Hollow Ranch

• Camp Polk Military Post

• William T.E. Wilson Homestead

• Enoch Cyrus Homestead Hay Station

• Tetherow House and Crossing

• Cline Falls Power Plant

• Petersen Rock Garden

• Jonathan N.B. Gerking Homestead

• Pickett’s Island

• George Millican Ranch and Mill Site

• George Millican Townsite

• William P. Vandevert Ranch Homestead House

• Fall River Fish Hatchery

• Ed and Genevieve Deedon Homestead

• Paulina Lake IOOF Organization

• Santiam Wagon Road

• McKenzie Highway

• Camp Polk Cemetery

• Lynch and Roberts Store Advertisement

• Tumalo Dam Project

• Bull Creek Dam and Bridge

• Rock o’ the Range Bridge

• Tumalo Creek Diversion Dam/Headgate

• Fremont Meadow

• Allen Ranch Cemetery

• Kathryn Grace Clark Vandevert Grave

• Rease (Paulina Prairie) Cemetery

• Improved Order of Redmen Cemetery

• Masten Cemetery

Source: Deschutes County

At Bend’s First Friday Art Walk in downtown last week, the Deschutes County Community Development Department unveiled a new tool that will make historical sites and landmarks in rural areas of the county more visible.

The Deschutes County Historic Landmarks “Story Map” has been in development since summer 2013 according to Peter Gutowsky, the county’s principal planner. The map is an online directory showing pictures and descriptions of 50 historical sites, landmarks and places in Sisters and rural Deschutes County.

“We have been thinking strategically for a couple of years as far as how we can revitalize and almost rebrand our historic landmarks,” Gutowsky said. “We were able to formulate a partnership with some volunteers (and) reach out to landmark property owners (to) ask them for permission.”

According to Gutowsky, the county receives funding every 18 months from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office for having a historic preservation program in line with state standards.

Last year, the development department decided to put that money toward using new mapping technology created by ESRI, a California-based geographic information systems company.

The process involved a long-term partnership with the Deschutes County Historical Society, 13 volunteers from the Cascade Camera Club and one volunteer intern for the website. Once the historical property owners granted permission for photographs of the properties, the county was divvied up into northern, southern and central sections. Then, the photographers were sent on a scavenger hunt of sorts to find the properties.

“It actually turned out to be kind of fun. I just thought it would be a very cool volunteer job that would be educational and that people would find interesting,” said M.A. Willson, a Cascade Camera Club member and one of the site photographers. “I’ve never done volunteer photography on this scale, so it was a little more work than I expected, but it was well worth it, and I’m excited to see how it turns out.”

Gutowsky said the ESRI software was free, and most of the work was absorbed internally. He said, from what he knows, Deschutes County is one of the first jurisdictions in Oregon to use the software in this manner.

“It’s so important to promote historic landmarks and try to make them meaningful in this era of social media and information technology,” he said. “(The map) interface can be accessed on your iPhone or your iPad. It’s not constrained like most websites where you have to be at your computer.”

Gutowsky said the county is using the same program to create a bicycle map showing state vehicle routes, elevation profiles and including “captivating photographs.”

“We think we will have something to display within the next four to six weeks,” he said of the bike map.

Kelly Cannon-Miller, executive director of the Deschutes Historical Society, said she thinks the map will “absolutely” help with preservation and is glad it will draw attention to some of the lesser-known sites in Sisters and rural Deschutes County.

“A lot of focus and historic preservation falls into Bend, so it’s exciting to see something reaching out into rural places in our county,” she said. “Any time awareness is raised about our historic sites and their stories and the stories they can tell, that’s a good thing. You can’t value it if you don’t know the story.”

—Reporter: 541-633-2117,