Thursday, March 29, 2007

From Wonder Dog to tree wonders: the journey continues

By Tara S. Polinsky

Since my visit to the world’s largest hairball, I’ve been on a mission to take in all the curious wonders Oregon has to offer.

I ticked three more items off the list, including a trip to see a mural devoted to Bobbie the Wonder Dog, a grove of trees from all 50 states at a rest stop and the world’s smallest redwood park.

Before the oddity tour began Sunday afternoon, I took in the tulip festival in Woodburn. Tulips are probably my favorite flower, so that was quite a sight. Not Holland exactly, but I imagine it’s close.

Now, on to the quirky stuff. First, I drove out to Silverton to trace the tale of Bobbie the Wonder Dog.

I think I’m the only person in Oregon who didn’t know this story, but for any others who don’t know, I’ll recount it now. Back in the summer of 1923, I’m told, a couple from Silverton drove across the country with their dog Bobbie.

Somehow when they arrived in Indiana, the dog got lost. And although the couple searched for Bobbie during their three-week visit, he didn’t turn up. They were upset and heartbroken to leave him behind, but they had to get back home.

Six months later — on Feb. 15, 1924 — Bobbie arrived on their doorstep in Oregon! He was much thinner after his 2,800-mile trek, but he apparently had made some friends along the way. He stayed at a few homes, and many people spoke of their Bobbie sightings, which helped authorities retrace his route back home.

Books were written about him, movies were made, and now, Silverton memoralizes the canine each May with a pet parade. The town also has a mural painted in Bobbie’s honor and has declared Feb. 15 Bobbie Day. There’s even a little replica doghouse in town.

I was sure to get a Bobbie pin at the Silverton museum as a souvenir. Again, they didn’t have T-shirts, magnets or earrings, either.

Now, on to the grove. The Baldock Rest Stop just south of Wilsonville on Interstate 5 is reportedly the state’s largest and most visited. Nestled amongst the restrooms and vending machines is a small trail with trees from each state, plus Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Back in 1967, Oregon Attorney General Robert Y. Thornton wanted to commemorate the meeting of attorneys general, held that year in Portland. He arranged for the highway department to plant the official tree from each state for the occasion. All the trees are labeled with a number, state and type.

I was excited to see the grove and maybe catch a glimpse of home — the Pennsylvania tree. However, the first tree on the trail was No. 2 Delaware. I couldn’t find No. 1 anywhere, and I’m guessing that one was from PA.

I’m not sure of the rhyme or reasoning to the numbering system. I only know that it’s not alphabetical or according to when the states ratified the Constitution. At any rate, it’s still an interesting sight to see and one you wouldn’t expect at a rest stop.

Monday afternoon, I spent part of my lunch break at the world’s smallest redwood park in Salem at the corner of Union and Summer streets near the Capitol. For years, it was the smallest park period at 12 by 20 feet. But Portland was not to be outdone, and a 2-by-2-foot park, supposedly inhabited by leprechauns, took the honor. (More on this later when the oddities tour takes on Portland.)

A California salesman was said to have sold a redwood sapling to a Salem judge in 1872. The judge, William Waldo, planted said tree on his property, but as the tree grew, so did the city.

The judge gave up his land for construction of a road, but he struck a deal with the city of Salem that the redwood go untouched. The tree is now about 85 feet tall with a circumference of 22 feet. Proposals have come and gone to remove the so-called traffic hazard, but the tree lives on.

I’m mapping out plans for my next adventures now. I’m not sure where I’ll go next, but I’m really wanting to see the vacuum cleaner museum, the world’s oldest piece of wedding cake and take a tour of underground Portland.

Stay tuned...

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