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The Glory of Newberry: A new look at the biggest volcano in Oregon 

No matter how many times you visit the Newberry National Monument, south of Bend, you'll see something new every time, and probably something you wonder about, muttering to yourself, as I do so often, Now, how did that happen?

click to enlarge natural-worldlavacastforest-newberryflow.jpg

No matter how many times you visit the Newberry National Monument, south of Bend, you'll see something new every time, and probably something you wonder about, muttering to yourself, as I do so often, "Now, how did that happen?"

I've been cross country skiing, hiking, logging - and now that I'm older - driving through, around and to the top of Newberry for more than 50 years, and it's the same each trip: "Now how did that happen, and how did I miss it before?"

Several times (and not as often as I would have liked to) I had the wonderful pleasure of wandering around Newberry with my dear old friend, USFS Geologist, Larry Chitwood - but that's no longer possible; he's gone out among the stars.

Like all good people who again and again give so much of themselves, Larry shared his knowledge with so many of his colleagues and those like myself, who know very little about what makes Oregon's rocks what they are and what they do.

But all is not lost: Larry had a good pal who himself is a student of Oregon's geology, and especially the forces at work at Newberry: Bob Jensen, retired geologist from the Deschutes National Forest.

Bob has assembled everything he has learned about Newberry over the many years he worked with the DNF, and by so doing, he keeps Larry's observations alive, plus those of hundreds of others who have scratched their heads about Newberry. He has put it all together in a most wonderful publication: Roadside Guide to the Geology and History of Newberry Volcano. What a wonderful piece of work. Don't leave home without it.

Right from page one, in the introduction, Bob provides the information and sets the stage for your visit to Newberry Country, and there's a great part of Central Oregon that's been inundated by Newberry's lava flows and ash, an area of more than 500 square miles. That makes Newberry the biggest volcano in Oregon, and it's right here in our backyard, literally. LaPine is on the western border, Bend on the north, China Hat (butte) to the east and Hole-in-the-Ground on the south end. If you're looking at a map as you read those names you can see there's a lot of real estate within that oval-shaped patch of Oregon.

What Bob offers in his brilliant book is the opportunity for anyone curious about Newberry to tour several parts of the monument and spend either moments or hours pondering the majesty and wonder of the ancient caldera.

Very few people know that East Lake, nestled in the east side of Newberry Caldera, was once the site of an internationally renown health spa, one of the earliest documented commercial uses of the enormous geothermal energy of Newberry. The spa was built in 1913 and operated until 1941, when a fire destroyed much of the facility. As you drive up the road to Newberry on smooth asphalt, think of the bumpy, l-o-n-g ride visitors to the spa had to withstand bouncing around in a stage coach in 1915. Bob covers the prehistoric and historic events of Newberry and its surrounding lands in his book, as well as showing a map of the early logging railroads from 1916 to 1943.

It has been said that Oregon has no faults, but Bob spends a lot of time explaining and locating Bend's (geologic) faults, taking you on a tour from the Baker/Knott Road exit on Hwy 97, all around southeast Bend, the Horse Cave lava tube on up to Hwy 20 and the Badlands.

In addition to clear and concise descriptions of the multifaceted volcanic events that occurred in ancient times and left what we see today, Bob provides so much rich history of the area, especially in the era of Brooks-Scanlon and Shevlin-Hixon lumber companies that were the lifeblood of Bend from 1916 to the 1980s.

The book is filled with day trip suggestions such as, "Newberry and Beyond" a magnificent journey that takes you right through Newberry from west to east with magnificent illustrations that make the land forms come to life. It will be best if you sit down with your family and read this first, to get some perspective on the immensity of Newberry and the events that you'll learn about as you make the trip. Don't waste any of it!

Going to the summit of Newberry is always a rewarding experience, no matter how many times you may have made the trip. Birds abound, wildflowers are always knocking your eye out with the dazzling colors and the birds keep your head turning from the entrance station to the top. But wait until you get there and begin looking at the hundreds of landforms in the distance with Bob's trip guide in your hands. Never again will you say, "I wonder what that peak is over there." Bob has provided the names of over 200 landforms visible from the top of Newberry.

I'd venture to say, that if you digest what Bob Jensen has shared with us about our magnificent Newberry Volcano Monument, you'd be ready to go for a degree in the geology of Oregon country, and have a wonderful time doing your undergrad work.

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