Narrator: Roy Gunsolley
Interviewer: Donna Sinclair
Date: March 6, 1999
Place: Umatilla Museum and Historical Foundation, Umatilla, Oregon
Roy Gunsolley and his wife, Evie, came to Umatilla in 1956. The family opened a successful drive-in restaurant in the 1970s, still operated by their son. Roy has acted as a volunteer policeman in the city of Umatilla and served on both the city council and the volunteer fire department when John Day Dam was built. In the following interview, he describes the impact of the dam on the community as well as many of the changes he has witnessed.
[Tape 1 of 2, Side A]
RG: . . . Iím Roy Gunsolley. [states name, address, and phone number, place of birth Mondamon, Iowa, date of birth, November 10, 1925, came to Umatilla in September 1956]
. . . I was transferred here from LaGrande, Oregon where I was assistant manager of Standard Stations, Inc., and I come over here to manage a Standard Station, Inc. and it was just a little six-sided service station with a couple of gas pumps and it wasnít very impressive.
DS: Was it new?
RG: No, it would have been built in 1945, I think it was. It was old.
DS: Can you tell me what the truck traffic was like in those days?
RG: Well, it was very light. In the winter time it would be nine or ten oíclock before youíd get a customer off the highway. This is pretty much a highway town, and there wasnít the traffic, uh, then that there is now. Itís just, it was, most of the traffic was thru-traffic, somebody going to Portland or going to Spokane or going to Boise or Seattle or somewhere like that.
DS: And that has changed?
RG: Oh yes, yes. This traffic is, been, I think itís probably increased from 1956 to today up to today probably is a thousand percent. There is an enormous amount of traffic.
DS: And why?
RG: Just general growth of this area from uh, Walla Walla, Tri-City area. I think itís just from everywhere. Itís really hard to pinpoint where people come from. There is a lot of, with the increase, the development of agriculture that has created a lot of local traffic, but thereís a lot of it just on transient traffic, people traveling on the roads. And thereís just a lot more people in this community than there used to be. . . thereís just an enormous amount of truck traffic. You can drive between Umatilla and the Tri-Cities, and itís not unusual to see six or seven trucks going up the freeway, and you just pass them as you go along. And the weigh station, the Washington Weigh Station on I-82 north has trucks lined up off the edge of the parking area on the right side of the freeway, headed north, waiting to go through the weigh station. And the port of entry in Umatilla will have trucks almost out into the street, going to the Oregon port of entry here at Umatilla, and itís just an enormous amount of traffic. And thereís people traveling, working, Iíd say probably a lot of them area probably people that are going back and forth to work, or going to Tri-Cities area, or Washington people coming to Oregon to visit the stores and, in the Hermiston area.
DS: Didnít you say that I-82, before I-82 was built, that people had to come through Umatilla?
RG: No, huh-uh, no, no. See, when, there was a highway. . . [sound of bell in the Umatilla Museum]There was a toll bridge and it didnít, and that road was very crooked between Umatilla and the Tri-City area, and it was just about as easy time-wise, to go around, follow the Columbia River and head north at Wallula Junction and go into the Tri-City area. And then they rebuilt the road across the river from Umatilla to Tri-Cities, and that created a great increase in traffic. In fact, I think they paid that toll bridge off probably five or six years in advance. And then they uh, built the freeway [bell ringing], and that really started traffic. I think that might have something to do with people traveling through this way. It's hard to say. But the Tri-City area is growing, this area is growing. And it isnít, I donít see any reason for the growth to slow down. I think it will be maybe slow, but it will be steady.
DS: Do you have a farming background at all?
RG: Well, I grew up on a farm in Iowa, but I havenít, Iíve never been a farmer. But I was in business here, in service station business, and then I had a drive-in, and.
[talks about the food at the drive-in]
. . . We bought that drive-in in 1974, my son and I, oldest son and I. And then I bought him out in 1978, and then I run it by myself, and it was uh, well it was on the increase, but it wasnít anything like it is today. Not today.
DS: Is it doing better today?
RG: Oh yeah, yeah. My youngest son has it now. . . thousand dollar days are regular in the summer time. Thatís a lot of food going out that little place.
DS: It sure is!
RG: This traffic is definitely good for the economy, the personal economy anyway.
DS: What kinds of community activities have you been involved in?
RG: Well, several years I was on the city council, and I was on police reserve. At that time in 1956 or probably, this is probably í57 or í58, the city of Umatilla had one policeman, and so I was appointed to the city council and then I volunteered to be an auxiliary policeman. Just to give the, the police department. One man, he was the police department and the police chief [laughs]. So, to give him a day off or so, and so Bud Draper and I, or maybe Phil Long or Hugh Little, I think. We would just drive around with the patrol car and itís a good thing that uh, we didnít have a problem because weíd a lost. I look back on it now and I think of it as being the keystone cops! [laughs] But you know, we had no training, they just put a badge on your shirt.
DS: And hand you a gun?
RG: Well, no they donít give you a gun, but I had a gun so I carried it. But Iíd a probably shot myself in the foot if Iíd a had to use it. But it was pretty quiet.
DS: And then you were on the city council after that?
RG: Yeah, oh yeah I was in the city council. . . in the sixties, that was when the John Day Dam was built, was in the sixties. I think it was on-line, as you said, in 1961, thatís been quite a while ago. That was, I was on the council when the lower part of Umatilla, the Corps of Engineers were negotiating with the people and the city council was a representative of the people. In the negotiations with the Corps of Engineers we were kind of in the middle, and sometimes things got pretty, pretty warm at the council meetings from, Ďcause you know, people were being dislocated and the corps wasnít paying what their houses, thought they were worth and, and.
DS: Did that happen a lot?
RG: I think, well. Yeah, I think probably that most of it, when it was all said and done, they got a reasonable settlement. But you know, I think you always feel like your own property is more valuable than what real estate market would be in a town, at that time was about 650 people, and there was no growth here, so, but nevertheless, the people bought those houses or built them when material was considerably cheaper, then even than it was in the sixties or seventies. They moved their house and put it on another location and remodel it and move into it. But it was some pretty unhappy people with, dealing with the Corps and then they kind of, the people, I guess they expected us to step in and deal with the Corps for them, and I think we did to some extent.
DS: Can you name some, can you tell me about some specific kinds of negotiations that you had?
RG: Well it was, boy thatís a long time ago. As I remember it [pause], it would probably be, be an intermediate between the people and the corps of engineers. There was some, well the utilities, our water treatment, waste water treatment plant is still in that same area down there. And then there was, well now, another place was down on Third Street, I think that was called, thatís Brownell Addition, on the north side. And that was an elevation to where it was above the corps flood line, the high water limit that they would, that you could build a house on there. And I guess there was some city involvement in settling that. But thatís been quite a while ago, to remember.
DS: So there were some negative feelings between the corps and the people in the town, and.
RG: Right, yeah.
RG: Well, you know, they were. They had realtors that uh, and they were negotiators and they was probably a little smarter than we were. But I think, I think when it was all said and done that people that wanted to keep their houses, they were paid for it, and then the, I guess they would buy them back from the Corps of Engineers for a dollar or something like that, and move it out, and relocate it and do whatever they wanted to do with it and live in it. And then some of the old houses were, werenít in good enough shape to move so the fire department. I was on the, and I was also on the fire department then too. And we used them for training for firefighting which was quite an experience to go in a house, a vacant house, and build a fire in the corner. The building closed up, and go out and wait five minutes, and put, have your breathing apparatus on, and youíd go in the room, or in the house and the smoke would probably be down about, from the ceiling down about halfway to the floor and you could see the flames going up the wall and crossing across the ceiling and flashing that gaseous smoke. And then youíd hit it with water and knock it down, and then youíd ventilate it and go in another corner and try it again. But one of the things that impressed me the most was how fast a house can be consumed, be totally involved, in just a matter of minutes. And itís not only that, but itís the danger of asphyxiation because that smoke, as that smoke comes down, the oxygen is consumed by the flames, then thatís what gets people is just asphyxiation. So that was, that impressed me a lot to be, be careful around the house [laughs].
DS: Unplug your appliances.
RG: Yeah, right!
DS: So how long did you use that area for fire fighting practice?
RG: Oh, probably, I would say probably a year because I think the Corps of Engineers would have put a time limit on the time that we could use those houses, because there were several houses down there that we just, weíd go down and light it and when the fire broke through the ceiling or the roof, why weíd put the water on it and knock it down and just basically put it out and then rekindle it and let it burn to the ground. Except Harryís Tavern, and we kindled that one and he had for years had come up to my station and bought kerosene and zerolene oil, itís just a cheap oil, and heíd mix it and then heíd pour it around on the floor of that old tavern because the, to keep the dust down. And so when they moved him out from the, when they bought him out, we burned that building because it couldnít be moved. And we had two and a half inch line, and two inch and a half lines. Theyíre fully charged, hooked up to the fire pump, truck, and we couldnít, we couldnít control that fire. Because that old oil floor for so many years had just been, it was, it was pure kerosene and oil, and boy it got generated and it really created a fire. In fact it melted the aluminum off of the conductors of the supply line of the power supply lines for Umatilla because that supply line was just right adjacent to Harryís Tavern so it had the full benefit of the heat. One other fire we done down there was we burned the old Pendleton Grain Growerís Elevator because nobody wanted to tear that down, and what that was, it was built by, with two-by-fours, not two-by-fours, probably two-by-sixes, and probably two-by-eights, laid flat and just built around. Because those elevators hold a lot of, they, that was a big elevator and it held a lot of grain and they had to be pretty thick, solid walls in order to hold the grain. And then we built a fire in the elevator shaft that went, that elevator shaft went clear to the top of the building.
DS: How tall was it? Was it really?
RG: Oh, probably, I would say at least a hundred and, Iíll bet itís close to a hundred and fifty feet. It was tall, and that fire just went up through that thing like a flame thrower. It wasnít probably five minutes, you could see flames squirting out from under the sheetrock, or the metal roofing, sheeting on the top. And pretty soon those, there was pieces of corrugated metal started bouncing up and down on the wood and then it wasnít but just, I would say maybe twenty minutes that there were pieces of them that the draft was so intense it was just blowing them up, and theyíd come down. And then when it finally went through that, went to the top of that elevator shaft of, the flame was a sharp orange flame. It wasnít no, it wasnít a billowing flame, it was, it reminded me of the flame of a blowtorch. I mean it was, uh, the draught was beyond comprehension.
DS: In the shaft?
RG: Uh-huh, in that elevator shaft, yeah. And then on the river side was a machine, what they called the machine shed. That was for, there was a conveyer went in the river to uh, fill the, load the barges, and it was just literally, it burned the structure and then the metal was pulled into the building, into that elevator building there. So it was, that draught was, it was just beyond comprehension. And people, they saw it in Pendleton and they saw it in Sunnyside. They saw a big old orange glow in the sky and I guess some people come down to take a look, but. . . it was just unbelievable that anything could burn so fierce like that.
DS: How much of the burning did the fire department do versus the Corps? Did they pay you for it?
RG: Oh no, huh-uh, no huh-uh. We just, we burned everything just for training. There was no reimbursement from the Corps of Engineers.
DS: And did you burn everything that got burnt, the fire department did it?
RG: Oh yeah, yeah. Anything that wasnít movable, we burned Ďem.
DS: And so, so, what, what were the consequences of that when it came to recovering material? The bell?
RG: You know that building. Yeah, yeah.
DS: Can you tell that story?
RG: . . . We asked the Corps of Engineers if we could have the bell and they wouldnít, they couldnít give it to us. They said no.
DS: What building was that in?
RG: That was in the old schoolhouse down there. So, some of the firemen took it upon themselves to go down there and recover it. And I canít remember whether they took it down off of the building or whether it was, the building was burned. I canít remember that building burning. So I donít know.
DS: So you werenít actually there when the bell was taken?
RG: No, no I wasnít, but uh, some of the firemen.
DS: Nobody knows who was there.
RG: No, huh-uh, thatís been a long time ago. [interviewer laughs] Well it used to be, well when this was city hall, well in fact it was. This bell was moved down to the new city hall, and then when we organized this museum, why then we, they let us have that bell back. But uh, that was quite a story. Oh, uh, Iíll ask Alva Stephens about that the next time I talk to him.
DS: Was he a fireman too?
RG: No, I donít he was, but it seems heís a little better at remembering than I do.
[End Side A, tape 1 of 2]
[Begin Side B]
RG: . . . It was established when we came here in 1956, and other than detonating thousands of rounds of heavy ammunition, there hasnít been anything to adversely affect Umatilla because they have some pretty bad chemicals, dangerous chemicals, for chemical warfare chemicals that theyíve had since I guess, World War II. And itís up, and to this date, and theyíre in the process now of building an incinerator. I think, I donít know how many people work there now. . . [400-500 people will be working there as construction increases, RG says this is part of the reason for increased traffic, tells a story about having a 7:00 oíclock appointment to have work done on his car in Pasco Ė a solid stream of cars, headlights coming toward him]
". . . There was a bunch of them, there was a bunch of them! Just, not bumper to bumper like that, but you know, theyíd be, youíd see three or four in a stream and then youíd see two or three, maybe theyíd be side by side, and maybe little gaps in Ďem, but it was, it was a real eye opener that they amount of traffic was on that road. . . and Iím sure that those were all people working in that incinerator because thereís, theyíre pretty well union organized in the Tri-City area with Hanford and then a lot of tradesmen, journeymen, craftsmen. So, they draw on quite a reservoir of the various union crafts to work out there at that incinerator. . .
The railroad had a big expansion at Hinkle, south of Hermiston, and so that was, that generated a lot of traffic. And then Wal Mart built that distribution center south of Hermiston. That was, I think they said, a fella told me one day that that was a million eight hundred thousand square feet. Itís an enormous building. . . And then with, farming now is increasing. Now right across the river here, Iíve been watching for the last two years of a fellow, uh, over here on this, on the Washington side when you go past that weigh station, go up to the top of that hill and kind of swing around to the right, youíve heading on to Kennewick. You can look out there to the north there and itís out on what they call Kiona Benton City Road. And he has, Iím estimating two thousand to twenty-five hundred acres of fruit, I think, they look like theyíre fruit trees and a vineyard. And at present they are, have strung out pipe for a water pipeline that looks to me like itís at least a three foot diameter pipe. So they are going to build a pumping station or add to a pumping station, and already existing pumping station above the dam, and pump water up there. So, that goes to another thing about breaching these dams. And if you want uh, the Washington Wheat Growerís League is gonna be very involved in that, to keep that from happening. Well, and I, I donít see how that thereís any way that they can undo what theyíve done with those dams now without just totally devastating the farming economy. Uh, the, thereís miles of vineyards. When you go up, letís see, I think, oh you go up, go to Burbank and then you can go up what they call the Eureka Flats, up that road, and it angles over to go to Waitsburg, Washington. . . you cross the Columbia River and then you go out of Pasco and go on highway, cross the Snake River, and then you take a left and go through Burbank and go up that way. And then you, and that is an impressive vineyards in there. Theyíre just, and thereís orchards in there, and that would be, I think that would be just a disaster.
DS: I donít know exactly the region. Thatís not water thatís coming from the Columbia Basin Project, is it?
RG: No, huh-uh, thatís coming out of the Snake River. . .
DS: You donít know who owns those farms, do you?
RG: No, huh-uh. No.
DS: Are they, do you think theyíre small farmers or large farmers, corporate farms?
DS: Well, I think probably, I would rather think that those vineyards are probably more privately owned than they would be corporate farms. Now St. Michelle, I guess they call in Columbia Crest up here on this Patterson Ridge. They have a lot of grapes even up in there. In fact, thereís several vineyards when you drive down that road that way. But I donít uh, I just canít imagine those dams being breached. I think theyíve got to figure some way to get those smolts, small salmon down the river. It isnít, I donít think itís quite such a problem for them coming up the stream because they can go up the fish ladders.
DS: Thereís a recent study that said that there may be less salmon coming upstream because theyíre starting up the fish ladders and then dropping back down and being counted more than once.
RG: Very possible.
DS: And we may actually have less salmon than we think we do because theyíre kind of milling around and being counted more than once.
RG: . . . I think those counting stations are up at the reservoir level, and then they go through a little squeeze down area, uh, but thereís not many fish coming through there now.
DS: Now did you fish?
RG: Oh yeah, I used to, I spent many hours down here on the Umatilla Morrow County line fishing for steelhead in the fall and the winter time.
DS: Out of the Umatilla River?
RG: No, out of the Columbia River, out of the Columbia River, yeah. I had a, it was just a right spot in there where the water was pretty shallow, and at that time there was enough current that the steelhead would swing over into that shallow water that wasnít, didnít have such a strong current, and theyíd migrate upstream. And I caught a lot of fish down there.
DS: Now did you see declines in fish after the dams were built?
RG: No, Iíll tell you what. Because they covered up my fishing hole [laughs], and I kind of lost interest in steelhead fishing. Because at, well I think probably what happened was, it lessened the velocity of the current, so the fish were free to just swim up the river. Same way with those tugboat captains. They had to fight the current when they was coming upstream with just one barge on, and then when they backed the water from dam to dam, why it was just, kind of took the adventure out of it [good quote]. In fact I saw a four barge tow, had to, running aground up, just there at the, when the Patterson Ferry Road ends, down there on the Umatilla Wildlife Refuge. Itís right, itís upstream probably half a mile from the Patterson Ferry, Morrow County Grain Growerís Elevator down there. And itís kind of, this is the elevator here and that river comes in like this around. And they pulled into here to get out of that uh, rough water in a windstorm one day. And Iíve got some pictures of them going down the river, waves are breaking over their bough. But itís a lot easier navigating the river now than it was.
[talks about a riverboat pilot who used to go through the John Day Rapids Ė it took an hour and a half to go up, 3-4 minutes going down]
. . . It would take them about an hour and a half, I think, it was, to go up through the John Day Rapids, and when youíre going down through the John Day Rapids, it took three or four minutes to go through them. Says he was doing about 45 miles an hour, to say that you had to, you had to really pour the coal on those old diesels so you could maintain control. [laughs] He told me they used to, and evidently there wasnít navigation markers on that river at that time, and said that they took quart jars of white paint, and when they get close to a rock wall, they would throw that jar of paint on it so it would splatter and run down and that would make a marker for them to know how to navigate through that stuff. Iíll tell you, that Sagebrush Sailors, thatís really a good thing. Theyíll tell you about the unwritten law that if you run the tug aground or hit a rock, and broke a hole through the hull, you had to stuff your mattress in the hole to keep the thing from sinking [laughs].
DS: Oh, I wanted to ask you. Were you involved with any of the decisions about what to do with the town after buildings were burned? You said you were on city council, so I know there was some discussion about what to do with that land.
RG: Well, um. That lower part of town?
RG: There was, thereís been talk for a long time about, of the Corps building a park down there. But in the meantime, people, artifact hunters had been, and this is several years ago. Were down there uh, digging for artifacts. And so theyíve, the Bureau of Indian Affairs had that area cordoned off along Third Street, and then they built around. Thereís a, evidently thereís a burial ground down there and they put a cyclone fence around that, and then they ripwrapped that shoreline down there because that was, it was eroding just gradually just eroding it away.
DS: What does that entail? Ripwrapping the shore?
RG: Well, taking big rocks and dumping along the bank so that when the wave action hits those rocks then it dampens the effect of hitting the smaller gravel on the natural shore.
DS: Do they? Did they do that right away?
RG: No, huh-uh, I donít. Theyíve probably done those, oh probably five or six years ago.
DS: Iíve seen that, not, not there, but along the Dalles and Celilo.
RG: Yeah, and they ripwrapped that to uh, control shoreline erosion. But now there is maybe some, a little talk from the Bureau of Indian Affairs that they, partly with the Corps of Engineers, of maybe doing something with that down there, so.
DS: Which Department of the Corps would be involved in it? It would be the John Day, or actually, the Seattle, the Walla Walla.
RG: I think thatís the Walla Walla District, yep. . .
[involvement in city council during the years that the John Day Dam was being built]
. . . Each individual home was negotiated with the Corps of Engineers on the price. But, of course they expected, the people kind of expected the Corps of Engineers to intercede and, and I think we did somewhat intercede on behalf of the people down there. But as I remember there was a, it was a tough situation.
DS: Was there a lot in the papers about it?
RG: Oh yeah.
DS: So you werenít, we talked about this earlier, you werenít really aware of any opposition to the dam, other than people trying to get compensated?
RG: No, huh-uh. No, I donít, I think that was the only thing that was really. I donít know of anybody that was around here that was against the dams, because you know, business people, if it would generate business, why, that was the, uh, would be the determining factor of people being for the construction of it, would be the increase in the economy of this area. . . And I didnít know until today that there had been biologists. . . involved in this, but I donít think that they really realized what the effect would be on building those dams. And then at that time, people werenít as environment oriented then as they are now. And uh, I guess thatís something that people are going to have to learn to take care of the environment. Just do the little things thatís going to keep from contaminating streams or.
DS: Do you see that happening around here? More?
RG: Well, now Oregon is working on a law that ranchers have rivers or streams through their land, they have to, I think he has to keep the cattle so many feet away from those now. I guess theyíd have to fence it, to keep those cattle out of those rivers.
DS: To protect the streamside vegetation. . . So, do you think it takes legislation like that? I mean what do you think about that kind of legislation that makes people?
RG: Well, it probably would make people that really didnít, werenít too concerned about the environment, to make those comply. But there are probably a lot of ranchers that uh, were working in some area to protect their environment. So now like, now theyíre talking about no-till farming. In other words, you see these wheatfields over here, this summer fallow on this, when you go up to Tri-Cities. That land lays fallow one season, to build the moisture content up in it. But now theyíre, theyíre promoting no-till farming. I guess they have some different, uh, farming equipment that they can knock the corn stalks down in a field or something, knock the wheat stubble down. And then they can, and drill the wheat right in over the top of it. So their fields are not real neat and tidy and look like a carpet, but you know it saves them hundreds of dollars in fuel that is required to summer fallow that. Rod weed it and keep, knock the weeds down and then.
DS: Do you see farmers practicing that?
RG: Well, not much of it, not much.
DS: But youíre hearing about it now?
RG: Yeah, Iím hearing about it now, yeah.
DS: Where are you hearing that stuff?
RG: Well, I think, I have a brother and a sister in Iowa and I was back there last summer and he was talking about this no-till farming there because that is corn country. And so they take those corn pickers, and run through there, thatíll take six or eight rows of corn at a time, and they just, oh they leave, probably corn stalks about so high and. And they have to knock those down and then plant over it. . .
[must take a special piece of equipment. But it puts money in their pockets. His brother is no longer farming, lives in a picture perfect community. Agricultural techniques have changed the face of that country]
DS: Well, have you seen the face of this country change since youíve been here?
RG: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
DS: Can you tell me like how things looked differently?
RG: Well, it used to be we were out here running around here in this sagebrush with our jeeps. Itís all farmland now. Oh, itís been a, well the only word I can use is dramatic, the change in the landscape. Instead of looking out across these hills and seeing sagebrush, you see big tall irrigation systems that are, move by themselves in a circle, rather than the old handlines, and they can irrigate it, they can put on fertilizer. I donít know. . . if they use an herbicide they probably drill it right into the ground with the seed, like in corn. But they take tanks that sit out there at the, at this pivot, and.
[End Side B, Tape 1 of 2]
[Begin Side A, Tape 2 of 2]
RG: tank of fertilizer, and they attach it to the pivot, and it fertilizes, put fertilizer on it, and, so it makes it less labor intensive. And thereís no, once the plant, the crop is planted, thereís not, itís, the only thing to do is to irrigate it. Between the time of planting until the time of harvest.
DS: So did you see a lot more of those farms spring up after, because when you first moved into the region, because you moved in in 1956, so that would have been the time.
RG: No this is, I think, the first one was Bill McLanahan and Ray Dunn. They said that Bill was the engineer, and I guess he is, heís probably an electrical engineer, and Ray Dunn, he was the dirt farmer, and he didnít, he just had the feel of the earth to know when it had enough moisture on it. And they cleared some sagebrush land up here, uh, west of town probably about a mile up on those hills and they built a, irrigation circles, and thatís when it started. And it was, it built, it expanded continuously from in the sixties, into the late seventies or early eighties when the economy just went sour and, and at that time there was a lot of those corporate farms were uh, they had a lot of land out there and they started breaking those up and, I think some of them were, pieces of them were bought out by individuals, and farmed them on an individual basis. But I think now that the economy has been sustained here for several years, itís starting to expand now. I donít think itís going to be anything, anywhere near as dramatic as it was in the sixties and seventies.
DS: And most, a lot of thatís due to circle irrigation?
RG: Yeah, right.
DS: Itís due to irrigation, but circle irrigation makes that water from the Columbia River useful.
RG: Um-hum, right. And then I, in the years gone by they would just really pour the water on it, cause the power was cheaper. So I guess itís been three or four years ago, they increased the power costs so now theyíre using a sprinkler head that is, that hangs down from the pipes rather than theyíre, when they stand up from the pipe. And they spray out a fine spray of mist of water on the crop, close to the ground or close to the top of it where it uh, where they use less water, but they still get the same kind of crop yields with it. Maybe a little less, but in the bottom line, the using less water cuts the, the production, the crop production is pretty near normal. . . but the power costs are reduced.
DS: The power costs are reduced?
RG: Just, no power consumption. Less power consumption so they donít, they donít have a big power bill to pay, as quite as big a power bill as.
DS: Those are pretty big power bills, arenít they?
RG: You bet, oh yeah, Iíd say those are probably. Well, each one of those.
DS: For say a hundred and sixty acre tract, isnít it a thousand dollars a month?
RG: I wouldnít be surprised. Because everyone of those towers, thereís a electric motor in it that has to be run to move each set of those pivots. So, and then the pumping, those motors that run those pumps, theyíre probably a hundred, two hundred horsepower. So they use a lot of power. So itís a big item in their farm expense. But when Ray and Bill built that sagebrush land up there they really go the ball aírolling, and itís just any direction you want to go around here. In fact, they have irrigation up above those, on Wallula Gap, on the Washington side, they have irrigation water up there now. In fact, if you look along those cliffs along there, you would find some greenery, uh, growing down those cliffs where Iím sure is waste water from irrigation, coming down there. Because I remember it, there never used to be any green vegetation growing along that cliff. . .
They say that that was washed out when there was an ice dam on the Clark Fork River, broke eons ago.
DS: Many, many times.
RG: Yeah, and washed it out.
[Interviewer thanks narrator. Talk about signing deed of gift agreement for the Oregon Historical Society. End of interview]
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