Bears at work...

Allan  Erickson

Eugene, United States

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Artist's Description

From the archives, originally shot on Kodachrome 64 (w/ a Pentax K1000), transfered to digital. While not a “beautiful” photo it is an important documentation of a significant historical era. An example I believe, that sometimes a photo can have a value far beyond what we could ever imagine when originally taken.

This was shot in 1990 in what is now the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Preserve. The Bart Smith Trail was the origin of what is now the official trail system within the preserve. But, back then there was no preserve, the entire basin was to come under threat of logging – over 30,000 acres of uncut ancient forest.

The entity that kept the chainsaws out was the Shiny Rock Mining Company. Originally built in the 1930 the mine and its camp had fallen into disrepair – until the grandson of the founders, George Atiyeh, came back from Vietnam and began working the claims and restoring camp.

A continuous turnover of miners (there was little money for anyone, the redeeming factor was getting to live in this magnificent forested valley) brought me here in 1989 and I stayed until 1993. Bart Smith was one of the many miners before me, he was local and had passed away before I arrived.

The Bart Smith trail was built by persons unknown (“the bears”) and was the avenue visitors travelled into the groves of ancient trees and the pure, crystal clear pools of Opal Creek.

Originally the miners treasured their privacy and visitors were rare. When the threat of logging became imminent (there was even an armed standoff between the miners and US Forest Service personnel) public involvement became critical and hikers bcame welcome and were in turn educated on Opal Creek’s plight.

Fortunately Opal Creek was eventually saved by an act of the US Congress and the Bart Smith trail abandoned in favor of an official trail maintained by the US Forest Service.

I consider being a part of the saving of Opal Creek one of the most important accomplishments of my adult life.

There is but one earth and there is no one but us to save it from those who would extract any and all resources with little or no consideration of the actual costs.

Pentax K1000, Kodachrome 64

Featured in All Oregon USA, 6/20/10

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