Eager to get out of the smoke from the many wildfires burning throughout California, the Northern California Dodge Brothers and Sisters (NCDB&S) started arriving in the Central Oregon town of Cottage Grove. As Members of the North West Dodge Brothers (NWDB contingent started arriving, several volunteers helped Gerry collate the Tour Booklet with local promotional literature from the City of Cottage Grove, Chamber of Commerce. The C of C gratefully provided a map of the town, as well as colorful descriptions and locations of all 8 Covered Bridges we would be viewing in the days ahead.
D-B-C Past President and two-time National Meet Chairman Gerry Egland was our Host for this Joint West Coast Regional Meet. Over previous days, Gerry and D-B ‘Mechanic’ Alan Sharp had been busy ferrying Gerry’s D-B collection from Redmond, Oregon to Cottage Grove for his family to drive. Our Tour Headquarters, The Village Green Resort & Gardens, had graciously set up a large table in the Lobby for Meet / Tour Registration, so our Members did not have to go far to check-in after Registering at the Hotel. By Tuesday evening, Members had arrived from the North: Emerson, Washington, West: Yakima, Washingon, Baldwin Place, New York, South: La Habra, California and West: Hamilton, New Zealand.
Gerry had previously sent out several Tour update e-mails over the preceding week, asking everyone to “Be on Time” as the first Tour activity was to be a visit to the Oregon Aviation Historical Society on Tuesday evening August 18th, the first day of the Tour.
The Aviation Museum was VERY easy to find, as it was directly across the street from the Village Green Resort. We were greeted by the President of the organization and several of the Board Members – A sumptuous catered B-B-Q Brisket Sandwich, Green & Potato Salad dinner with homemade Strawberry Lemonade was served to everyone. Our Cars were displayed in front of the Museum Hangar for all to see. Our Members then began that ritual “Kicking Tires & Talking Dodge” commonly found at ALL Dodge Brothers gatherings. At the end of dinner, Gerry introduced Elaine Gong, President of the NCDB&S and Beverly Devine, NWDB President and President of the Aviation Society, with Gerry proudly pointing out that both women represent the only female presidents of the Dodge Brothers Regional Clubs. The Aviation Society President then gave a brief talk on the significance of the various aircraft in the collection as well as the fact that Oregon was the epicenter of the Homebuilt and Experimental Aircraft hobby in the United States dating from the 1920’s to present day.
As the Aviation Museum visit was ending, Gerry announced the Mandatory Drivers Meeting would begin promptly at 8:45 the next morning, with the ‘Slower’ 4-Cylinder Cars leaving at 9:00 am and the ‘faster’ 6 & 8 Cylinder Cars minutes later.
Wednesday morning dawned with a bit of smoke again in the air, from wildland fires burning in both Northern California and southern Oregon. The smoke was annoying but did not deter anyone from Tour participation. After the Mandatory Drivers Meeting, the 4-cylinder ‘slower’ cars formed up and departed to the East, with the ‘faster’ 6 & 8 Cylinder cars not far behind.
At our Drivers Meeting, Gerry had promised that we would view the famous Covered Bridges of the Cottage Grove area. A few miles after we began the ‘Short’ (40 Mile) Tour, we crossed two and stopped at another Covered Bridge, so individual pictures could be taken of each participating vehicle on the Tour.
We traveled to and around beautiful Lake Dorena to a vista point for our first ‘re-group’ and rest room stop. “Kicking Tires & Talking Dodge” were the order of this brief way side stop. Then the group of 30 cars continued farther up the lush green valley and a slow back road to Wildwood Falls, Community Park. The ‘Falls’ was a slot/chute that water had cut / eroded through a rock ledge, spanning the width of the Row River at that location. An interesting note: At the ‘Falls’ was a hand carved sign placed by the Boy Scouts, which mention the dates and ages of various people who had drowned at this place as a warning to bathers who might not appreciate the dangers.
We continued up the valley and very near the location of the filming of Buster Keaton’s classic Silent Film “The General”. This was the location of the most expensive movie ‘stunt’ ever filmed until the summer of 1926. Keaton had a large local crew build a 200 Ft. Long wooden Railroad trestle over the Row River. In a final scene, the trestle was set afire and blown-up, dropping a full size, working steam locomotive 50 feet into the river. This ‘stunt’ was said to have cost over $ 60,000.00 dollars of the time and had the entire population of Cottage Grove, not cast as movie extras, arriving for the day, they filmed this climatic event.
Then continuing around Lake Dorena to a small marina restaurant, we all enjoyed a No-Host Lunch, again “Kicking Tires & Talking Dodge”. The Group then returned to Cottage Grove, visiting the Bohemia Mining Museum where our Members were guided through “Panning for Gold” (with some finding ‘Color’ in their pans), learning of the perils and hardships of hard rock / tunnel mining in 1850’s & 60’s Oregon.
I’m not sure if anyone found the Mother Lode and ‘Struck-it-Rich’, but everyone had a great time getting their hands wet while panning for gold. Then it was back to the Meet Hotel or for those who wanted a respite from “Kicking Tires & Talking Dodge”, for visiting and antique shopping in Historic downtown Cottage Grove.
When talking with the Cottage Grove, Chamber of Commerce while planning the Meet, Gerry had been asked by the Director of the C of C if our Members would park their cars around a small man-made lake and fountain at the Bohemia City Park during a weekday evening Music-in-the-Park celebration. Members left the Hotel for the Park in groups and once arriving, the Cars and Trucks were parked around the Fountain, so that everyone arriving for the free evening concert, could view the vehicles as Members answered questions while listening to the music.
Thursday morning dawned with blue sky and minimal smoke from Oregon and California wildfires. At the Mandatory Drivers Meeting, the West Coast D-B tradition of having folks who did not bring their D-B’s finding rides in cars with extra open seats was continued. When Gerry sent out the initial invitations to this Meet, he asked everyone to consider that Members of our Regional Groups were all getting older (“Graying Hair”), inviting everyone to bring their Children and Grandchildren so they could share the joy of our Old-Cars with the younger generation. Gerry then introduced his adult Children and Grandchildren along with other NWDB Members introducing their Grandchildren. Tom Barham, one of the NCDB&S Founding Members, explained the tour method called ‘Second-Man Out’ as a very useful way of pointing out turns and hazards of any tour
Then off for the ‘Long’ (60 Mile) tour. This day going North through the lush green, lower Willamette Valley, alongside of rapidly flowing rivers and creeks, crossing several more covered bridges - One of which was built with TWO 125 Ft. Long timbers, making these the longest timbers ever used for Covered Bridge Construction in Oregon.
Our first ‘re-group’ and rest room stop was at Dexter Lake where “Humongous” Rainbow Trout gathered under the deck of another historic Covered Bridge for all to see and enjoy. Several Members mentioned that if they had known about ‘The Fish’ they would have brought Fishing Poles!! After this short break, we headed to our Lunch location at Elijah Bristow State Park for more “Kicking Tires & Talking Dodge” and a tasty Box Lunch, brought out by our always Hard-Working Host Gerry. Bristow State Park is known locally as a Cougar / Puma / Mountain Lion Habitat, however to most Members relief – None were spotted.
We then headed back to Cottage Grove and our Hotel along more rural, 2-lane, country back roads through grain fields, orchards and more flowing rivers and creeks (Northern California Members could only wish that ANY of this abundant water could be carried back to Drought-and Fire ravaged California). The Tour ended at Mid-Afternoon, so Members could get ready for our traditional Camaraderie Dinner at a local Mexican Restaurant.
Again, traveling together with other Members in new or our ‘Old-Iron’, to the Restaurant, we were all seated by 6:30 pm, so we could be served Buffet Style Mexican Fare of Chili Rellenos, Cheese & Meat Tamales, Rice & Beans and do-it-yourself Tacos, all the while assisted by the attentive restaurant staff.
Gerry gave a short speech, thanking everyone for attending the Meet, to his family for their extensive help both with Tour planning as well as guiding our daily Tours and various other Members of both D-B Groups who helped with organization and on-site help & support.
Gerry reintroduced NCDB&S President Elaine Gong and NWDB President Beverly Devine who both thanked their respective Members for attending, as well as both announcing the remainder of 2018 Events and Activities for each Group. Elaine Gong presented the NWDB folks with a “Caution Slower Moving Antique Dodge Brothers Vehicles Ahead’ safety banner for upcoming Tour events.
The “Shortest Election ever Recorded” was performed by NWDB Members who RE-Elected all 2018 NWDB Officers for another term … So much for the Annual NWDB Business Meeting!!
When it was clear the official meeting was over, ALL in attendance gave Gerry Egland a standing ovation for the fantastic Meet and Tour he had presented.
It also must be noted, that Members of both D-B groups stayed over for the following weekend’s “40th Anniversary of the filming of the “Animal House” movie”, where an attempt at setting a new Guinness Book of Records for “Largest Group of People Wearing Toga’s” (4,000) was set. Yes, those D-B’ers who attended this party, did so IN TOGAS - A sight to see!!