The Last Thing I Did…..

In December of 1979 I was asked to make a sign commemorating the area the Oregon Trail passed through Sherman County. I had just finished student teaching and had graduated from Oregon State University. I was waiting for February 3, 1980 to enter the convent with the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in Beaverton. A women’s group in the North end of Sherman County asked me if I would make a sign for them. I told them I would be happy to do it. It would be the last thing I would do before entering the convent.

I was living at home on the farm near Kent, OR the southern most part of the county. Wasco was toward the north end of the County. Sherman is the second smallest county in Oregon, only Wheeler is smaller in both population and acreage. The Columbia River to the north, the Deschutes to the west and the John Day to the East cut out the shape of the county.

I found several good pieces of Douglas Fir in the loft of the barn. Who knows how long it had been there. It was just what I needed as it was two inches thick, almost a foot wide and 5′ long. I laminated the pieces together with pegs and clamps to get them to the size I needed. I went to work hand routering the design onto the wood. After finishing, I painted it and finished it. The whole project took about two weeks to complete. I delivered it to the ladies in Wasco and they got one of the farmers to put it up. I saw it over the course of 40 years as I traveled home from time to time.

My cousin, Carsten von Borstel who lives in the county told me the sign had been reported stolen this fall. Someone had seen it in the back of a pickup truck on its way out of the county. There was a lot of commotion on the Sherman County Facebook page over the sign. People were pretty upset by it. No one really knew the details of the sign or how it got to mark the location. My cousin, Carsten informed them. I reached out and told them I would make a new sign. I am posting a photo of the old sign on this blog and at a later date will post the new sign. I have finished routering it on a CNC machine and am in the process of paining it now. It is a different design entirely from the first one. Stay tuned!

1980 Oregon Trail sign commemorating site in Sherman County, Oregon where the trail passed through the county.

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