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Fishing expedition of John C. Rush and friends, around 1910, near Opal Springs.

100 years ago

Jan. 6, 1921 — Beef Steer Is Stolen And Butchered at Home of Owner

That a steer missed from the herd of Frank Foster at Powell Butte shortly before Christmas was killed and butchered on the premises, or in the close neighborhood, is indicated by the finding of the fresh hide and hoofs in an irrigation flume near the Foster home.

The hide was discovered by several small children while at play on the ditch a half-mile from Foster’s residence. Foster believes the hide and hoofs, which he identified, were placed in the canal in the hope that they would be washed away and all clew to the theft lost. Alfalfa leaves on the hide indicated the beef had been butchered in a nearby hay stack.

75 years ago

Jan. 10, 1946 — Veterans Needing Jobs Here Total 44, Says USES (City Observes Week To Help in Getting Work for Service Men)

Amount of pay veterans may receive from the government under the training program has been increased to $65 monthly for single men and to $90 monthly if there are dependents, it was announced today by the U.S. employment service. Although no definite information has been released, it is probable that the length of training time available to men who were over 25 when they entered the service will also be increased. Previously, those who joined the armed forces after they were 25 were limited to one year of training, but this is expected to be increased to one year plus time in service.

According to records of the U.S. employment office, in Bend there are 44 unemployed veterans of world war II in the Redmond area, including Terrebonne and Sisters. Broken down into classifications by primary skills there is one farm hand registered as out of work. There are ten veterans registered who have experience, as arc and acetylene welders, blacksmiths, carpenters and in other similar skilled occupations in which the worker handles machine or hand tools.

In the semi-skilled classifications, which include many sawmill and lumber jobs, as well as truck drivers and tractor operators, 12 veterans are listed as out of work and seeking employment.

Six men are listed as unskilled laborers. In this category fall building and construction laborers and some sawmill laborers.

Interest on the part of employers in the United States employment service “Employ-a-Veteran Week,” January 6 through 12, is growing and it is hoped that by the end of the week many of the unemployed veterans of the Redmond area will have been placed in jobs. “However,” it is pointed out by J.C. Branaman, manager of the Bend local office of the USES, “there is no special procedure necessary to follow for any employer who wishes to put a veteran of world war 11 to work. “Our principal interest is to get all the veterans possible into gainful employment, and at the same time assist employers in the Redmond area in filling their labor needs,” he continued.

Under most circumstances all that is necessary for the employment of any veteran is that there be a job available for him.

50 years ago

Jan. 6, 1970 — Computerized farming to be taught in Prineville

Computerized farm planning, a new program offered by the Oregon State University Extension Service, is being made available to Central Oregon crop farmers this winter, according to Robert H. Sterling, extension agent.

The program utilizes a mathematical technique to compare combinations of crops so that the net income expected from different combinations can be evaluated. A budget is developed for each of the crops being considered for the farm. Data on acres of land, hours of labor, dollars of operating capital and other information are provided by the farm operator. Computerized farm planning is a management tool to aid in decision making, Sterling said.

25 years ago

Jan. 10, 1996 — Homesteaders first to tap resource

They named it Opal Springs for the abundance of agatized rocks that seemed to boil up out of the water. They weren’t really opals, and the rocks disappeared when someone blasted the springs in hopes of finding the mother lode. The name stuck.

There was even a rambunctious railroad town called Opal City. It disappeared from the landscape by the 1930s.

But the cool, measured flow of long-buried water from Opal Springs hasn’t so much as flinched in close to a century of recorded use by Oregonians.

Percolating from the side of Crooked River Gorge about a half mile before the stream spills into Lake Billy Chinook, Opal Springs is the source of drinking water for most of Jefferson County. Madras, Metolius and Culver’s water systems all tap the crystal-clear liquid, collected and distributed via 500 miles of pipes by Deschutes Valley Water District.

A trio of homesteaders in 1898 were the first to capture Opal Springs water. They used a wheel and pump to water cattle.

In 1913, another farmer erected a water ram and collector trough to collect the resource. As more people settled on the plateau above, surface water became contaminated, causing Typhoid fever. A sure supply of clean water was in high demand.

Earl Thompson, an engineer, bought a homestead at Opal Springs and designed an engine to lift the water 850 feet straight up to the canyon rim. Culver got the first wave on Aug. 22, 1916.

Pipes were laid, reservoirs were built and water districts formed. The non-profit Deschutes Valley district incorporated in 1919. Today it spans 130 square miles — the state’s largest water district by size.

With 23 workers, Deschutes Valley delivers water to 3,200 accounts, charging $12 a month and levying no taxes. Its state-issued water right guarantees the district 24 cubic feet per second, though it averages four or five feet a second, 10 at peak times.

In 1982, a 2.5 million-gallon reservoir was built in Metolius, followed in 1986 by a 1-million-gallon reservoir in Agency Plains. Plus, the water district build a hydroelectric plant near the springs, generated enough electricity to power 1,000 homes. It sells the electricity to Pacific Power, using the revenue to subsidizes water system construction.

A study last year by the U.S. Geological Survey suggested that the water reaches sunlight after 2,000 to 4,000 years under ground, but that’s speculation.

“Frankly, we haven’t the foggiest idea where that water comes from,” said district manager Robert Macrostie.

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